Choosing a Sussex Spaniel

The Sussex spaniel is an uncommon breed with a long and low appearance and a gentle and sweet temperament. A good hunting companion, the Sussex is also a good family pet.

History and Origin

As his name implies, the Sussex spaniel originated in Sussex England to assist in hunting of small game and as a companion. He is particularly good at flushing game for hunters but can also retrieve. The Sussex has a very good nose but is a slow dog compared to other spaniels, which may be why the breed has not become popular among hunter in the United States.

It is thought that this breed was developed in the 1700s by breeding various spaniel and hound breeds. During World War II, the breed almost became extinct but was saved by a breeder in England. This is a rare breed with a very loyal following.

In 1884, the Sussex spaniel was one of the first breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The Sussex spaniel is a long and low dog with short legs and a massive appearance. The facial expression is serious and somewhat somber. The muzzle is about 3 inches long and broad. The neck is short and the ears are large and hang. The legs are short and strong, some may bow a little. The tail of the Sussex spaniel is typically docked to about 5 to 7 inches.
The coat of this spaniel is flat or slightly wavy but not curly. There is some feathering. The color of the coat is unique to the breed and is a rich golden liver.

The adult Sussex spaniel stands around 15 to 16 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 40 to 45 pounds.


The Sussex spaniel is a gentle and loving dog. He tends to be calmer than other spaniels but does enjoy retrieving and swimming. Some may be head-strong and some may not get along with other dogs.

Home and Family Relations

The Sussex spaniel is a good family dog that is loyal, devoted and gentle. When compared to other spaniels, the Sussex tends to be less energetic. The breed can do well with children if introduced to them at an early age. If pestered a lot, the Sussex may become snippy. Some may not do well with other dogs unless raised with them.

The Sussex spaniel can live happily in an apartment as long as he is taken on daily walks. A house with a small yard will also provide a good home and as with other spaniels, the Sussex enjoys retrieving and swimming. The Sussex spaniel can do well as an outdoor dog as long as there aren't extremes in temperature and shelter is provided.


The Sussex spaniel is an intelligent dog that can be readily trained but may be a bit stubborn. Consistent, patient and firm training with positive reinforcement is important. The Sussex has a natural instinct to hunt, barking continuously and may bay.

Special Concerns

The Sussex spaniel may bark a lot if left alone for long periods of time. This dog should not be allowed to roam off leash since he may pick up a scent and follow it without paying attention to his surroundings.

Without sufficient exercise, the Sussex spaniel has a tendency to put on weight.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Intervertebral disk disease is a painful condition that can develop when the disk material between the vertebra of the spine moves out of place. The disk material extrudes into the spinal canal and can impinge on the spinal cord, resulting in pain, difficulty walking or even paralysis.

In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.

Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes (cilia) from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.

Dystocia is the term used to describe difficult birthing. Due to their large heads, it is difficult for the mother to pass the puppies vaginally and most bulldogs have cesareans to deliver their babies.

Dermatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the skin and can be caused by allergies, infections or parasites.

Deafness can be present at birth or develop later in life.

The average life span of the Sussex spaniel is 12 to 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.