The Sussex Spaniel

descriptive text

Dog breed info
Sussex Spaniel
Weight: 35 — 45 lbs
Height: 13” — 15”
AKC Rank 2008 #145
Lifespan: 11—14 yrs
Group Sporting
Origin: England

  • Books-Training Therapy Obedience/First Aid
  • Dog Health, Dog Illness, Medical Problems

    Dog Breed Info - The Sussex Spaniel

    Breed Overview

    Origin 1800’s. Original function: Small game tracking, flushing. Today: Bird flushing, retrieving. Colors: Rich golden liver.

    This breed comes from and gets it’s names from Sussex, England, the location of the first main kennel dating to 1795 for these small land spaniels.. The breed became popular among estates around Sussex County. They were good as upland shooting dogs but were slow working. They had a good nose but barked and howled when chasing their prey. This trait of barking and making excessive noise hurt the breed and American hunters rejected the breed in the early 1900’s because they wanted quiet (and faster) dogs. The Sussex has never been an especially popular show or hunting dog, but it is a good companion dog. Thus, the Sussex has been close to extinction during most of the twentieth century. In 1954 a cross was made with the Clumber Spaniel in an effort to expand the gene pool but this is still one of the rarest of the AKC breeds. In 1884 the Sussex Spaniel was registered by the AKC.

    This is a very hard-to-find dog in America.


    This breed is trainable but needs patience and a firm upper hand and leadership by the trainer. The dog can be stubborn. The best method is clicker training with positive reinforcement which is ideal for this type of dog. Keep training a happy, upbeat, lively session but be firm and consistent in voice with the clicker as your enforcer. Your Sussex Spaniel will appreciate the kind and gentle approach of the clicker.

    Crate Training

    Want to crate train your Sussex Spaniel? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your dog will save many headaches and problems.

    Potty Training

    The Sussex Spaniel puppy is smart but takes up to 2-1/2 months to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. They are very slow, especially the females. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

    If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


    Compared to other spaniels, the Sussex Spaniel is more laid-back and easy-going. He tends to bark or howl more too. Some also tends to howl or bark when left alone for too long. The Sussex is a hunting dog that will bark and howl while chasing down game in the field, making the dog less popular with hunters than other hunting dogs. Around the house, they are calm, easy-going and cheerful, in spite of it’s somber expression. The problem this breed has is being left alone because it does howl and bark to excess. This is a very social dog that needs lots of family interaction, loves children, can mix with the family cat and mingle with other house pets. This is a loyal family pet. It is not suited to apartment living due to the noise it makes.

    The Sussex Spaniel needs early socialization, starting at 4 or 5 weeks of age and continuing on. This will make it a sweet, lovable pet for children and family alike. The dog needs to get outdoors and run or chase balls in games of fetch in a fenced yard to stay trim, as he is prone to obesity. Never let this breed get the idea he’s “top dog” in the family or you’ll have real trouble. Be a strong pack leader and you’ll have a good companion.

    If you happen to get a Sussex Spaniel with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."


    Friendly Toward Other Dogs

    Okay with most dogs but can be picky. May not like all dogs. Will choose his dog friends.

    Friendly Toward Other Pets

    Known to get along with most house pets including cats. Introduce them slowly. Other dogs should be introduced on dog walks on common turf such as a park or parking lot. Put the cat in a crate in the center of the living room for an hour a day for 4 days and let the dog get used to seeing the cat. Then let the dog and cat mingle together and so on.

    Friendly Toward Strangers

    Likes people so should not have a problem with strangers.


    Moderately playful, especially with children.


    Very affectionate. Rate this 7 or 8 bars out of 10.

    Good with children?

    Yes, does well with children, although does not cope with very young, silly, screeching, screaming, boisterous kids that poke and pull and push. Well-mannered kids 6 or 7 and up preferred.

    Good with Seniors over 65?

    Yes, The Sussex Spaniel is good for seniors. Easy to care for, affectionate, loyal, good watchdog, low exercise needs and playful with plenty of grooming time needed, this dog would make a fine pet for a senior.

    Living environment

    House with a medium size fenced yard, farm, ranch all okay.

    This dog barks and howls too much for apartment life.

    Energy level

    Moderate. Rate this 5 bars out of 10.


    Exercise needs, daily

    Two good walks on leash plus a 15 minute training session will take care of the exercise.

    The Sussex Spaniel loves to play fetch and enjoys swimming,. If you live near a river, pond or lake, by all means take him swimming.


    Good. Will announce the doorbell and maybe he’ll announce an intruder in the basement.

    Guard dog

    Maybe. Not known to be vicious but may attempt to guard his family.


    Sheds some.


    Use a stiff bristle brush. Brush the coat three times a week at least.

    Pay special attention to the ears. Make sure they are clean and free from oil dirt and wax buildups. Use a cotton swab to gently remove dirt from the ears and clip excess hair that can trap bacteria to prevent ear infections.


    Suggested Reading - The Sussex Spaniel
    Click on the cover pohotos for more book information and reviews.

  • Sussex Spaniel (Comprehensive Owner's Guide)

  • 2nd book from left - "A Dog Who's Always Welcome" takes your Sussex way beyond ordinary obedience training and into THERAPY DOG training. You'll have the best behaved dog possible that you can take anywhere to meet anyone!

  • 3rd book from the left is "101 Dog Tricks" and is great mental stimulation for dogs. There are things is this book for your dog to learn that I never imagined!

  • The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health, dog illness, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners.



    Dog Health Issues For The Sussex SpanielBelow are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Sussex by various vets.

    This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog health and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

    The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

    • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, hind/back leg acts lame, can't move, weak legs. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing the Sussex Spaniel great pain, weakness and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

    • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the Sussex Spaniel’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

    • Intervertebral disc disease—Biochemical changes in a young dog of certain breeds can cause at least one diseased or mineralized disc in the spine of a dog. A disc that is not functioning properly will cause pain, problems walking, stumbling, severe neck pain and even paralysis. The Dachshund has an 80% chance of having this problem. Treatments can go from non-invasive doses of anti-inflammatory steroids, muscle relaxants and bed-rest to surgery. Pain meds are also given as needed. Mess with the spine and you have a serious situation and it’s tough on the dog!

    • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

    • Otitis externa—Ear infections—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

    • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

    • Heart murmurs—Caused by congenital heart problems of acquired heart disease. A murmur can suggest an abnormal heart valve, muscle disease, and abnormal opening, heartworms, a thyroid problem, or even anemia. Symptoms: Breathing problems, slow or fast heart rate, loss of appetite, total collapse, weakness, coughing. There are many causes of murmur for the Sussex Spaniel. Treatment depends on the cause and source.

    • Dilated cardiomyopathy—A serious heart disease. The muscle of the heart loses it’s ability to pump blood properly causing a backup of blood, an enlarged heart, and an improperly functioning heart results. Prognosis is generally 4 weeks to 2 years, depending on the dog and how advanced the problem is. The vet may try medications to alter the heart function, but this one is a killer.

    Other health problems could occur with your Sussex Spaniel. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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