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Sussex Spaniel
Winner 2009 Westminster Dog Show!

Sussex Spaniel sporting dog

The Sussex Spaniel is a somewhat rare breed though it has a long-standing history in the county of Sussex in England, where it was developed during the eighteenth century.

During World War II, it could have been in danger of extinction were it not for the efforts of Joy Freer, who kept the breed going from a small gene pool.

The Sussex was originally bred for hunting in the field as a gun dog.

His appearance is long and low in profile and supports a solidly built compact body covered with a very full coat. It is no coincidence that his physical attributes and full furnishings are well suited for flushing game in dense undergrowth. As a result, he has earned an excellent reputation in the field.

This is a lovely dog with a demeanor that is calm and gentle and a character that is steady and loyal.

The Sussex Spaniel has the distinction of being the Best In Show Winner at the Westminater Dog Show in 2009. He was registered by the UK Kennel Club soon after it was founded in 1872. The Sussex was also one of the founding breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1884.


Height:13 to 15-1/2 inches
Weight: 40-45 lbs.
Color variations: Golden Liver

sussex spaniel garden flag sussex spaniel garden flag

Coat and Care:

The Sussex Spaniel has an abundant coat with a good amount of feathering on the ears, legs, underside and tail.

The hair around the eyebrows is also rather pronounced.

Despite its fullness, the coat is fairly easy to take care of with a thorough brushing about twice a week.

Also, importantly, the ears should be checked inside for signs of parasites or infection and kept clean and free of excessive hair. In fact, start handling the ears from an early age as this will be an ongoing part of grooming they need to get used to.

Personality and Traits

The Sussex Spaniel's personality is not quite as exuberant as others in the spaniel family.

He is very loving and sociable with everyone and has definite protective traits toward his family, but is otherwise a more calm and docile companion.

Out in the field is a different matter. The Sussex comes into his own as a hunter extraordinaire with nose to the ground and enthusiasm in high gear.

If kept mainly as a family pet, his needs for exploring the great outdoors should not be overlooked.

Training a Sussex mainly requires fairness, consistency and patience. There is no lack of intelligence, but a wee bit of stubbornness.

Health Profile of the Sussex

With good care pet parents can look forward to enjoying their dog for up to 14 years and possibly even 16.

Health concerns that may affect the breed during their lifetime include:
  • Hip dyspasia
  • Heart Conditions
  • Birthing difficulties that may require caesarean delivery
  • Spinal Disc Herniation aka Intervertebral Disc Syndrome
  • Ear Infections (common to spaniel dog breeds)
  • Skin Conditions such as hot spots
  • Bloat

Sussex Spaniels can also be carriers of a PDP1 gene mutation resulting in PDP1 Deficiency. This condition affects a dog's response to exercise. Fortunately, breeders can now screen for this with a genetic test that has been developed. (More about that here: vetgen.com/canine-pdp1.html)

Anyone seeking a puppy should request information about health testing the breeder has completed on the puppy's parents.

Activity Level

This dog needs a fair amount of regular exercise to keep from becoming overweight - about two hours a day when mature according to the breed club.

Some of this can be met by romping in the back yard as well as opportunities to have a swim.

Space Needs of the Sussex Spaniel

The Sussex is very adaptable and will live quite happily in either house or apartment if exercise needs are met.

How Does the Sussex Spaniel Do With Children?

An excellent companion for older children that have been instructed in the considerate handling of pet. This breed won't tolerate mishandling or teasing.

While this breed is both a mellow and gentle, they do need to be well-socialized as a puppy and given obedience training.

As with any breed of dog, interactions with children should always be supervised by an adult.

Seniors or Less Active Families?

The Sussex Spaniel, loyal, loving and calm in nature, is an ideal breed for seniors.

Having someone available to regularly exercise the dog is the only necessary condition.

Share Your Knowledge And Dog Pictures

Do you have a Sussex Spaniel? If you do, we know you must be proud to own this calm and somewhat rare dog breed.

We would love for you to share your dog's pictures and his story as well as your knowledge about the breed in general.

You can upload photos and tell your dog's story here. For inspiration, read some of the stories already submitted by other dog lovers.


dog reading book

Books To Read

sussex spaniel owner guide

Sussex Spaniel, A Reliable Handbook

Current information about the care and training of this unique and intelligent sporting dog. Covers breed history, characteristics and pet attributes, breed Standard, grooming, puppy, care, housetraining, nutrition and feeding, basic obedience training and proper health care. Many color photos.

holistic and natural dog care book
Dr.Pitcairns-Complete-Guide-Natural-Health For Dogs and Cats

Dr. Pitcairn's book is one of the most trusted references for natural pet health care.

Anyone who is interested in the holistic approach to natural healing as well as chemical-free nutrition for their pets will find this book invaluable.

Also, conveniently available to read on Kindle.


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