Sussex Spaniel

"Long, Low, Loud, and Lovable"

Photo of Sussex Spaniel


Sussex Spaniels have been bred at least since the late 1700s, when the first important kennel known for them was established in Sussex, England. These long, low dogs became popular in the area as upland bird dogs, and were soon called the “Spaniels of Sussex.” They had good noses and were slow-working, so it was easy to keep up with them. They also tended to bay when on a scent, which made it easy to find them if they did get out of sight. However, when field trials became popular, people preferred quiet hunters, and the comparatively noisy Sussex fell out of favor. American hunters, especially field trialers, also preferred faster working dogs, and the slow-but-steady Sussex just didn't catch the American fancy. The Sussex was among the first ten breeds recognized by the AKC, and one of the first to compete at dog shows back in the late 1800s. The breed was never a big show or field trial winner, and it never became popular as a pet, either. Throughout most of the twentieth century, the Sussex has been perilously close to extinction, so much so that in 1954 a cross was made with a Clumber Spaniel in an effort to expand the gene pool. The breed still remains among the rarest, ranking 145th out of 155 AKC breeds.


The Sussex Spaniel is a calm fellow, far more laid back than other spaniels. He's affectionate, but won't smother you with enthusiastic attention like some spaniels do. He makes friends easily, but can be reserved at first. He's good with kids, good with cats, and pretty good with other dogs. He is somewhat independent, at times even stubborn. He can bark a lot, especially if left alone. His somber expression is misleading: he's a cheerful, playful dog.


He's long and low, with a fairly wide body and muscular physique. His expression is serious, with somewhat pendulous lips, liver-colored nose, large hazel eyes, and large low-set ears. His tail is customarily docked in America from 5 to 7 inches – and it wags a lot! The coat, which is always a dark gold, is medium length, either straight or slightly wavy, with long feathers on the ears, chest, behind the legs, and between the toes.


The Sussex isn't known for being a snap-to-it obedience prospect. He's too laid back, with an independent streak. Besides, he'd rather be hunting. Or playing. Or sleeping. But if you give him the chance, and use lots of positive rewards, he can actually learn quite a bit. It's just that few people have ever tried to train him beyond the basics.

Grooming & Care

Brush the Sussex Spaniel's coat and comb through to get all the tangles two to three times a week. Clip nails, clean ears and teeth, and call it a day! The Sussex doesn't mind lazing around the house and yard, as long as he gets out to exercise every day, or if you play some energetic games in the yard with him. Of course, his first choice is to go run free in the field and sniff out some game, but he can manage with a long walk around the neighborhood.

Health Concerns

The Sussex Spaniel's major health concerns are hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease (spinal disc rupture). They also suffer from ear infections. Heart problems in the form of murmurs and enlarged hearts occur at a greater rate than in most other breeds. Breeding stock should have hips, backs, and hearts screened before breeding. Ask your breeder to see the results of these tests.

Famous Sussex Spaniel

Stump, the top winning Best in Show Sussex of all time; number one Sporting dog in America in 2004, and #4 of all breeds.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 6
Home 44
Children 49
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 61
Challenges Not a playful dog.
Height 13 to 15 inches
Weight 35 to 45 pounds
Life 9 to 15 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 21
With Strangers 91
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.