ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Sussex Spaniel

Sussex Spaniel
John Walton
Written by John Walton

This short dog breed is extremely friendly and loving, which makes him a perfect family companion! The breed is full of energy and is usually in a cheery mood, and playful with children and other animals within the home.

They are not scared of strangers; actually, the Sussex Spaniel will walk up to people they do not know because they have a curious mind. While he may have tons of energy, they do not move as fast as other dogs that are used for sporting, but they make a great friend!

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsBelow Average

Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dogs
Height:1 foot, 1 inch tall to 1 foot, 3 inches tall
Weight:35 to 45 pounds
Life Span:11 to 14 years

The Sussex Spaniel is a loving and gentle dog breed that is used as a sporting dog and originally came about in the 1800s in Sussex County, England.

There were two men who are known for successfully breeding the Sussex Spaniel, named Moses Woolland, who bred them for show and field uses, and a man named Campbell Newington who started breeding these dogs in 1887. The breed nearly went extinct after Woolland died but a man named J.E Kerr started breeding with Newington and saved the breed.

The breed made its way to the United States before the time of the Great Depression and did not attract many people. In the 1960s, more of this breed was imported to America and since then, have remained a rare breed in the country, but are nowhere near endangered. Currently, the AKC ranks the Sussex Spaniel 154th out of 157 in popularity.

In size, you can expect your pup to grow between 1 foot, 1 inch tall and 1 foot, 3 inches tall and they will generally weigh between 35 and 45 pounds if exercised daily and given proper nutrition. They have a lot of energy to burn off but do not require too much exercise besides a walk each day, as they burn a lot of energy naturally by running and playing outdoors.

In appearance, the Sussex Spaniel has a full coat of hair that ranges from straight to a little wavy, and their legs have feathering fur down their legs and tail. The ears will have the wavy hair as well and the neck will have a frill of hair. The breed comes in a “liver” brown color only and there are no markings or other shades of this breed.

This dog breed is known for being calm, gentle, and very loving, so it makes for a perfect family pet, because they love children. Small children should always be monitored around dogs in case of danger, but this breed does well if the children are out of the toddler stage, and especially if they are raised with children.

Children should be taught to interact with dogs, and not bite them or pull their fur. This breed also does well with other dogs or pets in the home, especially if it is raised with them. They get along fine with not only dogs, but cats, gerbils, and other small animals, but you may want to watch them around birds, since they were raised to hunt them.

As far as health, the breed is known to obtain diseases that come from the environment and genetics. Using an experienced and reputable breeder will help keep down the risks of diseases in your pup. Like many dogs, this breed can suffer from hip dysplasia, as well as types of disc disease and heart problems. Your vet can check for signs of these ailments, and getting your dog regular checkups can help to prevent or put off these ailments.

Overall, the Sussex Spaniel is a great dog for the family that has lots of energy and is full of fun! They have a calm demeanor, have a gentle touch about them, and love to interact with the family and other pets!

Main Highlights
  • Be prepared to hear your pup bark! They are known barkers by nature, so using training may be helpful with the dog barking less. This can be good because they will alert you to something, but whether it is important or not cannot be said.
  • The Sussex Spaniel is gentle, loving and very smart, but can be stubborn and get bored, so they need an owner who will be patient and caring. The good thing is, they learn quickly, so training is fast!
  • Do not leave food sitting out throughout the day for your dog. This breed will gain excess weight if their food is not managed by a schedule. Keep the dog food put away until breakfast or dinner.
  • Your dog may get separation anxiety, as they do not like to be alone for a long period of time. They can tear apart your couch, magazines, or shoes while you are away for the whole day. They need to have human interaction and attention through the day and will bark to alert you to give them love.
  • This breed gets along great with children and household animals, especially if they are exposed to them as puppies. Their loving nature allows them to be calm and gentle with children and they can be playful with both kids and animals.
  • You can expect your dog to have a liver colored coat, with a frill around the neck, a hock down the legs and the tail, and have a nice coat that is straight or wavy. They come in no other colors and have no markings.
  • Most dogs require a weekly brush off their coat to remove dander and debris, but this breed needs to be combed two to three times per week in order to keep a beautiful coat. You will have to pay attention to the hair around the feet because that will need occasional trimming.
Breed History

The Sussex Spaniel was originally bred in the mid-1800s as a sporting dog that would chase birds and other waterfowl. The breed was made at a home called Rosehill that was located in Sussex County, England and there are two men who are given credit to breeding the early forms of this dog. Moses Woolland and Campbell Newington bred these dogs as show dogs and field performers.

During the time of these men breeding this Spaniel, the standard for them was released, and the breed gained some popularity. When Woolland died, the breed nearly went extinct, but Newington and a man named J.E. Kerr, began working to save the breed, but it took time because World War I was taking place.

During the war, the breed nearly died completely, but a woman named Joy Freer basically saved it from further extinction.

During the late 1960s, the breed was brought to the United States and is still rare. Still, they have a steady following. They are no longer endangered and America is finding that this breed is smart, wonderful, and would make a great addition to their home. However, they do remain 154th out of 157 in popularity, as told by the American Kennel Club.

Size

This small dog breed only stands between 1 foot, 1 inch tall and 1 foot, 3 inches tall. If healthy, they should weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. They require a daily walk with their owner, as they burn off a lot of their energy during the day.

Personality and Character

If you take your Sussex Spaniel hunting, you can expect him to be slower than other sporting dog breeds, but he has a heart! This breed has a lot of energy and can withstand a long day’s work. At home, you can expect to have a near perfect family pet due to his friendly and gentle demeanor.

They may suffer from separation anxiety and could destroy things within the home, which is why training is helpful. Overall happy, you can find them to be stubborn on occasion, which is why a firm and fair trainer is key when raising this breed. Most of the time they are playful and love people, and they love to be held and cuddled!

Health and Potential Problems

Spaniels overall are prone to certain diseases or conditions that are genetic and environmental. Using a breeder that is responsible and trustworthy is the first step in making sure your pet is healthy. Remember to keep your vet appointments because checkups can detect early conditions and possibly prevent them.

  • Pulmonic Stenosis is a type of heart disease where the blood does not flow to the heart correctly. This will cause the right side of the body be become weaker, causing the heart to work more. This can cause heart failure and can require anything from medication to surgery.
  • Patent Ductus Ateriosis is a heart disease that happens when the ductus arteriosis blood vessel does not close after the dog is birthed. This can cause blood to form in the lungs, difficulty breathing, heart failure, heart murmur, and more. Generally, a simple surgery is all that is needed.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease is a back issue in the dog that happens when a disc herniates or even ruptures and pushes on the spinal cord area. This can cause paralysis, either short or long term, and the vet is likely to issue medication and possible surgery for this.
  • Hip Dysplasia is a condition in which the bone in the thigh does not fit correctly into the hip joint. One way to tell if this is hurting your dog is to check for pain and lack of use of that area. While this condition is hereditary, it can be attained from other factors like diet, falling, or any injury. A veterinarian can help to provide comfort for a dog with hip dysplasia.
  • Cataracts, which occur in the lens of the eye, cause cloudiness and therefore will give your dog blurry vision. When they become thicker, the dog can go blind if surgery is not an option. Most times, genetics are the cause of this but injury, age, and other diseases can inhibit this type of degeneration.
  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to process sugars correctly. Check for the symptoms which include increased appetite, being really thirsty, and going to the bathroom a lot. A dog will live with diabetes for the rest of its life so it is important to get them on insulin shots and control what they eat.
  • Parvo Virus is a viral and very contagious disease that is either defined as the intestinal form, which is most common, or the cardiac form. The intestinal form has symptoms of weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. The cardiac form will affect the muscles in the heart. Parvo can lead to death and the dog should have shots to prevent this from happening.
  • Food allergies can be avoided if they are eating a proper dog food. Contact allergies could be from shampoos, powders and other chemicals in the house. Also, inhalant allergies can affect your dog because of pollen outside or dust and mildew.
  • Lyme Disease is a common disease found in dogs and comes from ticks that leave behind a bacteria that spreads in the dog’s body. This can cause inflammation and lack of use of the affected area. Some dogs lose their appetite and subsequently lose weight, and may become depressed. If the disease is very serious, the kidneys and nervous system can be affected.
Care Features

While this breed is great overall, they can have stubborn moments, which is where proper training and patience come in with this dog. They are very smart, and learn fast, and can get bored or do their own thing unless reeled back in. Training them to bark when necessary may be hard at first as they are natural born barkers, which is what they do when hunting animals.

For exercise, they need a half hour walk per day, which does not seem like much considering that they have a lot of energy. However, they burn off a lot of energy through the day, especially if they play with the children or other dogs or cats in the home.

They do love being outside and having a big fenced in yard to watch birds from and run around in. Remember to not leave them along for really long periods of time as they can be prone to separation anxiety and can destroy things in the home, bark a lot, and have accidents. There are ways to train your dog to be better about this.

Feeding Schedule

This breed can gain weight easily, especially if food is left out to graze all day. It is recommended to feed this breed one cup of dry kibble twice daily, in the morning and at night. Keep fresh water available for your dog, and be sure to provide them a dog food that has lots of protein, vitamins and nutrients.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The furry coat of this breed comes either wavy or straight, with a hock down the legs and the tail with some feathering. The frill around the neck is noticeable and an indicator of this breed. This breed only has one coat color which is “liver” brown, with no markings either.

As far as grooming, you will want to brush up to 3 times per week to get off dead hairs and debris from outdoors. Watch the hair around the feet as it will need to be trimmed sometimes. You can brush your dog’s teeth three to seven times per week, trim their nails once per month or as needed.

Be sure to check weekly for rashes, scrapes or anything unusual on the dog’s body, as well as checking the ears, mouth, nose, and feet to keep up on their health.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

This breed loves children and other pets! Within the home, they are gentle dogs that love attention and children. So, they will play with them, love them, and guard them because they are family. Not only will they play in the yard with the kids, but they will do so if there are other dogs within the home!

They usually get along with other dogs, especially if they are raised around them, like with children. Children and small or young pets should be monitored around this breed, and they do like to pay attention to birds, so having a pet bird may cause an issue.

In closing, the Sussex Spaniel may be a barker, but they make a wonderful pet for the family! They are caring, gentle, loving, and like attention from their owners, kids, and family pets! The breed needs some maintenance and training, but not only do they provide years of love and fun hunting memories, they will also steal your heart by lounging on the couch with you!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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