Originating in Southern England’s Sussex region, the Sussex Spaniel primarily developed as a hunting dog. Besides its golden-liver coat that gives it a striking appearance, this small-sized spaniel breed, is further characterized by a rectangular built, broad skull, low-set hanging ear, square muzzle, and big hazel-colored eyes. Beneath its frowning and serious expression, lies a happy, affectionate and enthusiastic dog, a trait that makes it exceedingly popular as house pets.
|Coat||Thick, wavy with a silky outer coat and water resistant undercoat|
|Group||Sporting, Gundog, Rare dogs|
|Lifespan/ Life Expectancy||11 to 13 years|
|Height||13 to 15 inches|
|Weight||35 to 4 pounds|
|Litter size||2 to 8|
|Behavioral Characteristics||Playful, intelligent, cheerful, loyal|
|Good with Children||Yes|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/ Information||ACA, AKC, ACR, CKC ( Canadian Kennel Club), APRI, CKC ( Continental Kennel Club), FCI, NAPR, DRA, NZKC, KCGB, NKC|
This breed derives its name from the Sussex region of England where it developed in the latter part of the 18th century by one Mr. Fuller. In fact, Mr. Fuller had started the breeding of gun dogs that could assist hunters to catch their prey in the rough and dense terrain. However, spaniels were needed to work hand-in-hand with the gun dogs, their main task being informing the hunter of the prey. Hence, Fuller went on to cross several spaniel breeds like the presently extinct Norfolk Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel as well as the Field Spaniel to develop this variety. The Sussex Spaniel was even expected to adapt the barking skills, an essential requirement for hunting dogs, that spaniel breeds of the time lacked.
Being one of the ten breeds to enter into AKC’s stud book in 1884, it was also a part of the dog show held at Crystal Palace in 1862. Because of their numbers limited to the Sussex County, they were mostly inbred, though some were occasionally crossed with the Field Spaniels to develop new breeds. Moreover, the need for new hunting dogs almost sidelined this breed. It was the joint effort of breeders Campbell Newington and Moses Woolland that saved the Sussex from extinction.
During the World War II, the breed’s existence was at stake for the second time, but the efforts of Joy Freer, an English breeder who gave over 60 years in working for their betterment, saved their numbers from declining. The modern breeds were descendants of the canines that she had saved.
Since the number of dogs registered annually was less than 300, it was enlisted in the Vulnerable Native Breed category by the British Kennel Club in 2004, with only 56 puppies registered in 2008. The Sussex Spaniel Association of UK developed in 1924 for preserving and protecting the breed.
Besides, UK, they have also been introduced in the United States, ranking 155th among the AKC recognized breeds. The Sussex Spaniel Club of America, formed in 1981, with over 140 members, have been working towards revival of these canines, which is still rare but no more at the risk of getting extinct.
These Spaniel breeds are enthusiastic and even tempered, bonding well with the members of their family, also displaying an immense amount of loyalty towards them. They enjoy living in households where someone of the other is present to give them company throughout the day, but may get destructive on being left by itself for prolonged periods.
They make for great therapy dogs, since they are calm and composed in nature. The Sussex shares a great rapport with children though the younger ones should be supervised to ensure that they do not manhandle them, particularly the puppies.
They are highly protective of their family, which makes them wary of strangers, causing them to howl or bark at any unfamiliar face spotted at their premises.
Possessing an excellent sense of smell, they are said to be the only spaniel breed to emit a howl and alert the owner of the presence of a game the moment they track the scent.
Though they get along well with other dogs, they are not a good choice for houses with smaller pets keeping their chasing instinct in mind.
Though calm and gentle these dogs are stubborn at times making it difficult to train them. However, they are fast learners, and under the guidance of a firm yet patient trainer they would do really well. Avoid harsh methods, since they are sensitive enough never forgetting instances that hurt them.
Feed your Sussex spaniel with one and a half to two and a half cup dry dog food on a daily basis.