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  • Temperament: Friendly, Merry, Even-Tempered
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 172 of 192
  • Height: 13-15 inches
  • Weight: 35-45 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
  • Group: Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Sussex Spaniel standing in three-quarter view
Sussex Spaniel

Find a Puppy: Sussex Spaniel

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

Its short legs, massive build, long body, and habit of giving tongue when on scent made the breed ideally suited to penetrating the dense undergrowth and flushing game within range of the gun. Strength, maneuverability, and desire were essential for this purpose. Although it has never gained great popularity in numbers, the Sussex Spaniel continues today essentially unchanged in character and general appearance from those 19th century sporting dogs. The Sussex Spaniel presents a long and low, rectangular and rather massive appearance coupled with free movements and nice tail action. The breed has a somber and serious expression. The rich golden liver color is unique to the breed.

HEAD

Correct head and expression are important features of the breed. Eyes– The eyes are hazel in color, fairly large, soft and languishing, but do not show the haw overmuch. Expression– The Sussex Spaniel has a somber and serious appearance, and its fairly heavy brows produce a frowning expression. Ears– The ears are thick, fairly large, and lobe-shaped and are set moderately low, slightly above the outside corner of the eye.

BODY

Neck– The neck is rather short, strong, and slightly arched, but does not carry the head much above the level of the back. There should not be much throatiness about the skin. Topline and Body– The whole body is characterized as low and long with a level topline. The chest is round, especially behind the shoulders, and is deep and wide which gives a good girth. The back and loin are long and very muscular both in width and depth. For this development, the back ribs must be deep.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are well laid back and muscular. The upper arm should correspond in length and angle of return to the shoulder blade so that the legs are set well under the dog. The forelegs should be very short, strong, and heavily boned. They may show a slight bow. Both straight and slightly bowed constructions are proper and correct. The pasterns are very short and heavily boned. The feet are large and round with short hair between the toes.

COAT

The body coat is abundant, flat or slightly waved, with no tendency to curl. The legs are moderately well-feathered, but clean below the hocks. The ears are furnished with soft, wavy hair. The neck has a well-marked frill in the coat. The tail is thickly covered with moderately long feather. No trimming is acceptable except to shape foot feather, or to remove feather between the pads or between the hock and the feet. The feather between the toes must be left in sufficient length to cover the nails.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are full and well-rounded, strong, and heavily boned. They should be parallel with each other and also set wide apart-about as wide as the dog at the shoulders. The hind legs are short from the hock to the ground, heavily boned, and should seem neither shorter than the forelegs nor much bent at the hocks. The hindquarters must correspond in angulation to the forequarters. The hocks should turn neither in nor out. The rear feet are like the front feet.

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sussex spaniel illustration

About the Sussex Spaniel

Looking a bit like a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a torpedo, Sussex are long, low-built bird dogs of great strength and endurance. Topping out at just 15 inches tall at the shoulder, Sussex are nonetheless described as “massive,” with a deep chest and heavy bone. Their trademark is an abundant, feathery coat of rich golden-liver. The classic spaniel head, with its wavy-coated ears and big hazel eyes, projects a somber, frowning expression delightfully at odds with the Sussex’s innate cheerfulness.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Sussex Spaniel

Find a Puppy: Sussex Spaniel

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Sussex Spaniel Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

Sussex Spaniels are a very slow-growing breed. The Yorkshire Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).  Intact Sussex are almost never overweight, as they tend to only eat as much as they need. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

General grooming for the breed is simply bathing, brushing, and combing. The hair on the bottoms of the feet should be trimmed to keep the dog from slipping. If the dog is neutered, the coat becomes fuzzy and cotton-candy like, and is much harder to deal with. The Sussex should not be shaved down unless absolutely necessary, as it takes a long time for the coat to recover. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The Sussex Spaniel should not have strenuous exercise before he is at least a year old. Sussex are slow growing, and exercise too early can damage the growth plates. Puppies should be allowed to self-exercise by playing. Adult Sussex love swimming and long walks, but jumping and agility-type work should not start until the dog is at least 18 months old.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Sussex can be stubborn; they have long memories and will never forget nor forgive rough handling. Sussex owners should strive to convey to the dog clearly what they want, and give the dog lots of praise when he gets it right.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

Sussex are difficult to breed, and bitches often skip seasons, re-absorb puppies, and need C-sections. Puppies are fragile until about two weeks of age. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as heart problems. Bloat can affect some Sussex, and cancer occurs in mostly older dogs. A genetic test is now available for pdp1, a heritable metabolic, allowing breeders to identify carriers and avoid producing affected offspring.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • No recommended health tests
Sussex Spaniel
Sussex Spaniel
Sussex Spaniel
Sussex Spaniel

History

Sometime in the 1700s, sportsmen in the English county of Sussex developed a spaniel whose short legs and burly torso were perfectly suited to hunting feathered game while plowing through the region’s heavy clay soil, dense underbrush, and thick hedgerows. Because the dog was built so low and the cover was so high, Sussex developed a language of barks and babbling to mark their location to human huntsmen. And to this day, Sussex tend to be more vocal than other spaniels.

Did You Know?

The Sussex Spaniel is named after Sussex, England, where the first and most important kennel of these dogs was established.
Specimens of the Sussex competed in Britain as far back as 1862.
The Sussex Spaniel was among the first ten breeds to be recognized and admitted to the Stud Book when the American Kennel Club was formed in 1884.
The rich golden liver color of the Sussex unique to the breed.
The Sussex, though lacking the speed of the Springers and Cockers, possesses an extraordinarily good nose and is especially valuable for all forms of upland shooting.
The standard ranks features of the Sussex into three categories in order of importance: color and general appearance; head, ears, back and back ribs, legs, and feet; and shoulders, tail, and coat. Likewise, faults fall into three corresponding categories, though there exist no disqualifications.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Its short legs, massive build, long body, and habit of giving tongue when on scent made the breed ideally suited to penetrating the dense undergrowth and flushing game within range of the gun. Strength, maneuverability, and desire were essential for this purpose. Although it has never gained great popularity in numbers, the Sussex Spaniel continues today essentially unchanged in character and general appearance from those 19th century sporting dogs. The Sussex Spaniel presents a long and low, rectangular and rather massive appearance coupled with free movements and nice tail action. The breed has a somber and serious expression. The rich golden liver color is unique to the breed.

HEAD

Correct head and expression are important features of the breed. Eyes– The eyes are hazel in color, fairly large, soft and languishing, but do not show the haw overmuch. Expression– The Sussex Spaniel has a somber and serious appearance, and its fairly heavy brows produce a frowning expression. Ears– The ears are thick, fairly large, and lobe-shaped and are set moderately low, slightly above the outside corner of the eye.

BODY

Neck– The neck is rather short, strong, and slightly arched, but does not carry the head much above the level of the back. There should not be much throatiness about the skin. Topline and Body– The whole body is characterized as low and long with a level topline. The chest is round, especially behind the shoulders, and is deep and wide which gives a good girth. The back and loin are long and very muscular both in width and depth. For this development, the back ribs must be deep.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are well laid back and muscular. The upper arm should correspond in length and angle of return to the shoulder blade so that the legs are set well under the dog. The forelegs should be very short, strong, and heavily boned. They may show a slight bow. Both straight and slightly bowed constructions are proper and correct. The pasterns are very short and heavily boned. The feet are large and round with short hair between the toes.

COAT

The body coat is abundant, flat or slightly waved, with no tendency to curl. The legs are moderately well-feathered, but clean below the hocks. The ears are furnished with soft, wavy hair. The neck has a well-marked frill in the coat. The tail is thickly covered with moderately long feather. No trimming is acceptable except to shape foot feather, or to remove feather between the pads or between the hock and the feet. The feather between the toes must be left in sufficient length to cover the nails.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are full and well-rounded, strong, and heavily boned. They should be parallel with each other and also set wide apart-about as wide as the dog at the shoulders. The hind legs are short from the hock to the ground, heavily boned, and should seem neither shorter than the forelegs nor much bent at the hocks. The hindquarters must correspond in angulation to the forequarters. The hocks should turn neither in nor out. The rear feet are like the front feet.

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sussex spaniel illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Golden Liver Check Mark For Standard Color 097

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