Sussex Spaniel

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Fast Facts

Country of Origin:England
AKC Group:Sporting Group
UKC Group:Gun Dog
Use today:Bird dog
Life Span:13 to 15 years
Color:Golden liver.
Coat:Long and abundant. Flat to slightly wavy coat with feathers on legs, tail and feet.
Grooming:Brush weekly.
Size:Medium Dog Breed
Height:13 to 15 inches at the shoulder
Weight:35 to 45 pounds

The Sussex is a spaniel with an attitude. It's solid, strong and bullheaded, with a somber and serious expression, but underneath lies a cheerful dog with a great sense of humor, at least as it regards other dogs and people. The Sussex doesn't like to be laughed at, but it smiles and wrinkles its nose when asked if it wants to do something fun, like go for a car ride. The Sussex has been a field dog since the 18th century and takes its name from Sussex, England, where it originated, probably at Rosehill Park, near Hastings. A pack dog heritage makes this breed a good watchdog, if somewhat noisy. It barks with a bell-like voice at doorbells, talks to its people with a "woo woo woo" sound, and has been known to howl along with sirens, stopping abruptly after about three minutes. The Sussex differs from other spaniels in that it has a longer tail, its coat is more natural, it has a liver-colored nose and eye rims, and its body is longer. Its rich golden liver color is unique, and unlike most spaniels, it carries its head low. The Sussex is a medium-size dog, standing 13 to 15 inches and weighing 35 to 45 pounds. The body coat is flat or slightly waved, and the ears are covered with soft, wavy hair. The legs are well-feathered but clean below the hocks. A good brushing every week keeps it in condition. The ears should be examined weekly as well to make sure they're clean and dry. This breed is slow to mature, with the awkward stage lasting from 6 to 18 months of age, and full maturity on hold until the dog is 3 or 4 years old. The Sussex is a calm, sedate dog that can be happy in an apartment or in the country. This breed loves people, especially children, and will follow its owners everywhere. It's not difficult to train and even as a puppy observes new situations calmly and quietly. But when the Sussex is on familiar ground, it can be a wild and crazy dog.


Simply Sussex

Sarah Christie

Imagine crossing an English Cocker Spaniel with a Basset Hound, and you're picturing one of the oldest, rarest American Kennel Club dog breeds: the Sussex Spaniel.

The Sussex Spaniel has a long, low-slung body set on sturdy, heavily boned legs. Hunters do not like the Sussex Spaniel because they perceive the dog's short stature and slower working as disadvantage. Sussex Spaniels, however, perform well in field trials and obedience.

This dog breed has a soulful, almost melancholy expression. But when a Sussex Spaniel is happy, which is usually the case, its entire being exudes joy and enthusiasm. A steady and dependable dog breed, the Sussex Spaniel enjoys sporting pursuits on land and water, as well as a healthy, affectionate home life.

"It's like owning a big dog that can still fit next to you on the couch," says Karen Cottingham, a breeder in Salisbury, Md.

Bred from the leggier Field Spaniel, the Sussex Spaniel was developed in the early 1800s in Sussex, England, as a flushing spaniel. This dog breed quickly became a favorite companion for hunters on foot because the dog was slower, smaller and had a better temperament than its ancestors. The Sussex Spaniel is a dedicated worker with a keen nose for tracking, making it adept at retrieving on land or water. Although it was among the first 10 dog breeds recognized by the AKC, the Sussex Spaniel has never achieved the popularity it enjoys in England. The breeding stock in Europe was nearly decimated during World War II, and the population on both continents has been slow to recover. But Sussez Spaniel breeders are reintroducing the dogs as companion animals and for show and obedience.

Sussex Spaniels are calm, sweet and loyal to their owners but reserved around strangers. Rambunctious adolescents mature into adults that love outdoor exercise but are also content with a sedentary lifestyle-provided they have lots of personal attention.

Sussex Spaniels do not do well with absentee owners. These dogs at least need the company of another dog. While eager to please, Sussex Spaniels learn slowly and require a lot of quality time with their people.

Hip dysplasia and heart defects are the most common health problems. Sussex Spaniel puppies should be purchased from breeders who X-ray their stock. A routine exam can detect heart murmurs.

-More About Sussex Spaniels-


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