Sussex Spaniels

Sussex Spaniels

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Breed Notes

Developed in Sussex, England, the Sussex Spaniel is a deliberate, slow-going hunter. He is the only spaniel that gives voice when he hunts thus there may be some hound in his ancestry. He is distinctive in his rich golden liver color. He was bred as much for companionship as for hunting. His lack of speed has kept him from becoming a popular hunting dog. The breed almost disappeared during World War II but has survived. He is still rare both in and outside of his homeland. He is recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (which registers breeds primarily in European countries), The Kennel Club of Great Britain, the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club.
The Sussex is a happy and willing worker. If not used for hunting, he will find his own quarry: neighborhood birds, insects, butterflies. He is a good house pet and does well with children. He is calm but can be stubborn.
The skull of the Sussex Spaniel is moderately long and wide. There is an indentation in the middle of the forehead and a definite drop off (stop) between skull and muzzle. The eyes are hazel in color, large and soft. The brows are fairly heavy. The ears are thick, large and lobe shaped. Set fairly low, they are carried close to the head and covered with soft, wavy hair. The muzzle is three inches long and square. The nose is liver colored. The neck is short and strong. The chest is round, wide and deep. The back is long and muscular. The legs are muscular, heavy boned and short with large feet. The forearm has a slight bend in order to accommodate the chest. The hind legs are straight and well feathered above the hock. The tail is docked to between five and seven inches. It is set low and not carried above the back. The coat is covered with abundant hair that lies flat or slightly wavy. It should not curl. Coat color is a rich golden liver. Average height is between fifteen and sixteen inches. Average weight is between thirty-five and forty-five pounds.

Name withheld by request of the UK writes:

The most magnificent dog you'll ever own.
I have owned two breeds of Spaniel, and I can honestly say that the Sussex is the best by far. My bitch is a joy to be around. She, like others, has a genuine smile for me whenever I come home, especially if she has "decorated" the house with shredded paper whilst I have been away. My bitch is one of the unusual few which actually doesn't like to eat much (except of course for the paper) &shyp; preferring to have one or two largish meals in a week, rather than a regular feed. However, this is not indicative, as her brother and mother (who both live with my mother-in-law) eat like normal dogs. Our Sussex have not been docked, so they can forget that they have long tails which can swish around rather, but as they are quite low to the ground this doesn't do too much damage around the house. Regular grooming can honestly be kept to a minimum &shyp; a weekly comb (especially around the ears) and regular trimming of fur between the toes is usually enough. However, Sussex are known for their love of water, so if they managed to take a swim in some less than fresh areas, they don't object to a quick bath or shower. I thoroughly spoil my bitch, and as a result she is very possessive of my husband and me and is very vocal when we have visitors to the home. However, she is by no means vicious, and will calm down quickly once the visitor is in the house &shyp; but this did take some training from a very young age. Sussex also like to howl, usually when they are in a pack and think that you have gone out and left them to it; it is quite difficult to quiet three Sussex once they get going! All in all, if you are looking for a funny, friendly, intelligent family dog which will gain many admiring glances and lots of questions, they are the tops. of London, England writes on 11/30/00:

Clowns with character.
Having bred and shown Sussex and English Cocker Spaniels in the UK some years ago, I can honestly say that for character and personality, the Sussex left the Cockers streets behind! You'll never truly appreciate just what ridiculous idiots they can be until you've lived with one (note, you live with them, not the other way round). They are incredibly loving (though you need to watch they don't become too attached to one person in the family, as some can be a little possessive at times). But they have great personalities. I used to laugh out loud every time I came home from work to be greeted by my Champion dog with his lips pulled back over his teeth in a cheesy, wrinkle-nosed grin of welcome, thick, stumpy tail madly thrashing from side to side.
Sussex love water. You can't let them off the lead anywhere near it and seriously expect to get a dry dog back. It just doesn't work. Word to the wise - they are prone to temporary deafness, especially when near water or another dog within eye-sight. I spent many an hour trying to catch my mad, loose Sussex - but that's probably more a reflection on my slack training than anything...
The word on maintenance is "low." They don't need much trimming at all - just round and under the feet and inside the ears really each month or before each show and a regular brush through the long hair on the ears daily. They are definately best suited to outdoor living. They will happily live indoors (especially if there's a TV to snooze in front of), but if you're an exhibitor, you'll never have a Sussex with the correct sun-kissed, golden-liver coat if it lives indoors. Speaking of snoozing, don't be alarmed if your Sussex seems to lose the use of its back legs from time to time. They're just lazy and will often drag their curiously double-jointed back legs around behind them like a seal, rather than get off their back-sides and walk! Characters, one and all. I'll must have another some day.. of Metairie, LA writes on 7/22/00:

The sweetest and most loveable dogs you can imagine.
My husband and I own two Sussex Spaniels. Both females, We can not say enough wonderful things about this breed. Truly sweet and affectionate , these dogs would make a wonderful addition to a loving household. They are excellent with children and other animals - actually they love them. Wonderful travelers, our dogs often travel with us and have been all around the country. They just love greeting people on the street with a smile (literally - this breed grins when they are happy) and an immediate roll over (so that the greeter can pet their stomachs). A new owner must get ready for the usual questions "What kind of dog is that?" or more often "Is that a cocker spaniel?" But most of the time they also tell you how beautiful and sweet they are. My wish is that this breed becomes more familiar to the public. Any dog lover looking for an interesting and loveable animal would benefit from researching Sussex breeders. They are truly wonderful to the core... of West Sussex, England writes on 4/14/00:

Naughty by nice.
I own two Sussex Spaniels, a dog and a bitch of similar breeding. They are without a doubt the funniest dogs I have ever owned, never does a day pass without one of them having made me laugh. They are exceptionally loyal to the point of protective. People invading their space if having a cuddle with me are not welcome. Sussex are kinestetic in nature so they can develop seperation problems if the owner is not careful. They are prone to howling and are not selective to when and where they do it. They like the sound of their own voices and let you know if they hear a strange noise. If a Sussex is in a situation where he feels fearful his strategy for coping is to display signs of aggression. These signs are often mistaken, people tend to think they are being dominant. With careful handling, ignoring behaviours you dislike and rewarding the ones you do, signs of aggression will not be seen.This applies to training also. My bitch will do anything if I bring out the clicker while my dogs passion is paper! Sussex need a daily brush, especially their ears which can become easily matted. Tails and feet need trimming once a month depending on the speed they mature. Some sussex are very slow to mature and may not grow a full coat for several years. Dietary needs depend on the individual dog. It is not unheard of for a sussex to be a poor eater whilst others will eat anything and everything. Sussex Spaniels are a joy to own and I cannot imagine life without them dispite their fobiles.

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