Sussex Spaniels are high-spirited, intelligent, and friendly. Don't let their characteristic frowns fool you. These long, low pups are happy hunters and good-natured family pets.
Sussex Spaniel History
A rare breed, the Sussex Spaniel originated in the early 1800s in Sussex, England. Augustus Fuller spent more than 50 years developing the breed from a small group of land spaniels.
The resulting Sussex Spaniels had a sturdy build and short legs. This constitution helped them power through dense underbrush and heavy soil while hunting birds in England. But it also created the need for a new skill. Because the cover was so high, hunters often couldn't see the low-riding Sussex. So, to communicate its location to hunters, the dogs developed a language of barks and howls that wasn't typical of Spaniels. To this day, the Sussex is more vocal than others in the spaniel family.
After World War II, the breed approached extinction as the population dwindled to approximately five dogs. But thanks to the dedication of determined breeders, the Sussex Spaniel survived. The American Kennel Club recognized the Sussex Spaniel in 1884.
Sussex Spaniel Traits
The Sussex Spaniel has short legs and a long, sturdy, rectangular body.
Coat and Coloring
The Sussex Spaniel's coat is flat or slightly wavy with feathering on the legs and tail, and soft, wavy hair on the ears. The coat has a golden liver color that's unique to the breed. Alternatively, the coat may be a darker puce liver. But this is discouraged under the breed standard.
Distinctive Physical Traits
The Sussex Spaniel has big hazel eyes, heavy brows, and a frowning expression. These give the breed a somber, serious appearance—despite its generally cheerful disposition.
Sussex Spaniel Temperament
The Sussex Spaniel is a very agreeable, happy, and gentle breed. These pups are devoted and loyal and need plenty of attention from their family to be happy. Left alone, Sussex Spaniels tend to bark or howl.
Though typically friendly to familiar dogs and other pets, Sussex Spaniels are often suspicious of people and dogs they don't know. Early socialization can help prevent this and other undesirable behaviors.
Sussex Spaniels learn fast and adapt quickly. Because they love hunting and being outdoors, they are not suited for apartment living.
Sussex Spaniel Care
A slow-growing breed, Sussex Spaniels need high-quality food appropriate for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior) and activity level. Sussex Spaniels don't tend to overeat. But you should still monitor their weight and adjust meal portions as necessary. And don't forget to consider treats! As a guideline, they should make up no more than 10% of a dog's calories.
Sussex Spaniels require brushing a few times a week to keep their coats free from loose hair and dirt. They may also need the hair on the bottom of their paws trimmed to keep them from slipping on smooth floors.
Clipping your dog's nails regularly is another good habit. Nails that get too long can cause discomfort or lead to problems walking.
Finally, maintaining good dental hygiene is essential for any dog's long-term health. In addition to scheduling professional dental cleanings, establish an at-home care routine that includes regular (ideally daily) teeth brushing.
True to their sporting dog backgrounds, Sussex Spaniels enjoy hunting, swimming, and retrieving—all fun ways for them to meet their daily exercise needs. Events, such as field trials, agility, tracking, and obedience, are also great options. However, keep in mind that strenuous exercise before your puppy is at least one-year-old may damage their growing joints.
Sussex Spaniels are intelligent dogs that learn quickly. But they can be stubborn and may carry a grudge if they're treated harshly. So, the best way to train a Sussex Spaniel is with gentle, reward-based methods using their favorite treats and toys.
Sussex Spaniel Genetic Health Conditions
Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase 1 Deficiency
Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase 1 (PDP1) Deficiency is a metabolic disorder characterized by exercise intolerance.
Knowing if your Sussex Spaniel is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.