Sussex Spaniel


PetMD Editorial

Published Oct. 6, 2009

The Sussex Spaniel, which derived its name from the eponymous county in England, has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Its coat, rich golden liver in color, is unique to the breed, and its body is long, low, and somewhat stocky. 

Physical Characteristics

The Sussex Spaniel has a muscular physique that is rectangular-proportioned. Its body is long and low, with short legs, and its coat, which is rich golden liver in color, is abundant, flat, or wavy. Additionally, its hair should be allowed to grow long between its toes and completely cover its toenails.

The Sussex Spaniel has the habit of barking while on the prowl and a serious expression that may be perceived as displeasure. However, this gentle animal is rarely moody, continuously wags its tail while trotting; it even slightly rolls to and a fro when it moves.

Personality and Temperament

When kept indoors, the Sussex Spaniel is gentle, friendly, and cheerful. Compared to other spaniels, the Sussex is more relaxed in nature. It absolutely loves bird hunting, but will acclimate itself to urban living.


The Sussex Spaniel performs best when kept inside the house with access to the field. To stay fit, a Sussex Spaniel must be kept on a regular exercise routine of walking or running. Its coat, meanwhile, should be brushed two to three times a week.


The Sussex Spaniel, which has an average lifespan of 11 to 13 years, is susceptible to major health conditions such as intervertebral disk disease and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). Other minor conditions seen in this breed include otitis externa, heart murmurs, and enlarged heart.

History and Background

Among the rarest of American Kennel Club breeds, the Sussex Spaniel is a land spaniel that derived its name from the county of Sussex, England. These dogs have a keen sense of smell, but are slower in their work than most spaniels. As such, they were not preferred by hunters in America, mainly because they required a breed that could hunt faster.

The Sussex Spaniel has the credit of being among the first 10 breeds to receive American Kennel Club recognition. However, despite being one of the few breeds on display in dog shows in the late 1800s, it failed to garner much popularity and nearly became extinct by the turn of the century.

Thus, a large scale crossbreeding program was undertaken to increase the breed numbers. The pinnacle of the program's success occurred in 1954, when existing Sussex Spaniels were crossed with Clumber Spaniels. Despite this, the number of Sussex Spaniels remains very low today.

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