Make your acquaintance with the distinctive and rare Sussex Spaniel and find out if this is the right pet for your home! We will talk about the breed’s early history, some fun facts, physical description, temperament, health issues, and other important factors you need to know before adopting or buying a Sussex Spaniel.
Cool facts about the Sussex Spaniel
- The Sussex spaniel originated in Southeastern England in the late 1700s. Today, they are not just hunting companions but also loyal household pets.
- Sussex County gave the breed its name. A breeder named Mr. Fuller was credited with developing these beautiful golden liver colored dogs.
- After World War II, the breed declined in numbers. At that time, some fanciers took to crossbreeding them with Clumber Spaniels to revive the breed. Through the 1950s, the breed continued to slowly come out of extinction.
- In the early days, these dogs were considered loyal hunting companions. There was a trend in those days of hunting on foot, and the Sussex made a great hunting partner as he was not too fast. In the United States, these dogs were considered slightly slow for hunting purpose, and, as a result, not many Sussex spaniels were imported to the country.
- The AKC registered the Sussex spaniel in 1884. Their popularity shot soon and the Sussex Spaniel Club of America was formed in 1981. By early 2000, more than 800 Sussex Spaniels were registered with the AKC. In America, these dogs have gone on to do well in obedience training, rallies, agility, and other canine events.
Sussex spaniels differ from other spaniel breeds in that; they are usually smaller. They also have a keen sense of smell. Male adults weigh between 35 and 45 pounds while their height is about 13 to 15 inches at withers. Bitches are smaller and lighter. Puppies mature slowly and are fully grown only by 3 to 4 years of age. They are usually brownish at birth and only develop their characteristic golden-liver color at maturity. Their noses are brownish pink and darken with age.
Sussex spaniels have medium coats which are golden-red in color and slightly wavy not curly. The color is always golden-red.
The Sussex Spaniel’s temperament
Do not let the sad, frowning expression of the Sussex spaniel fool you; this dog is steady in temperament, calm, and extremely loyal and loving towards his family members. In fact; the reason behind the popularity of the breed is their cheerful disposition, extreme loyalty, and of course the loving companionship they provide on hunts.
With strangers, a Sussex will come across as aloof. He will thoroughly inspect the newcomer and only after he senses his owner’s approval, will he readily accept them into his circle of friends. Sussex spaniels are known to ‘communicate’ their feelings through the expressions in their eyes, a characteristic snort, and also by using their body language. Ask an owner about a Sussex’s personality and they will likely describe them as comical. Many a Sussex is known to develop funny little antics to entertain and amuse its loved ones. They love getting the approval of their masters and will go to great lengths to please them. A Sussex also has a ‘comical’ grin wherein he draws back his lips to expose his teeth.
With other animals, a Sussex spaniel gets along well, including with cats, provided you socialize them from an early age. The same is true in case of children; a Sussex will make a loyal and loving companion to your kids provided you teach your kids to respect the dog in return.
This is not a dog that can be left alone for long periods of time. He is bound to howl and that could annoy your neighbors.
Your Sussex needs plenty of exercise and although he would love to laze around on the couch near you; do not be fooled. Without exercise, your pet will get bored and also not receive the mental and physical stimulation he needs. Take your pet out walking or jogging once or twice a day. These dogs are also prone to weight gain; so, daily activity is must.
A Sussex spaniel needs to be exercised daily for 20-30 minutes each. You can play a game of fetch and even take your pet swimming. This will keep them happy and also prevent unwanted behaviors like digging, chewing furniture, and whining.
Training and socialization
Start housetraining your puppy as soon as he comes home. You can teach him where to go potty. If you have a yard, that is a good place to let him void. Take him outside several times a day; young pups need to empty their bladders several times a day. You can also train your young Sussex to sleep in a crate.
As your pet becomes 3 months old, start teaching him some basic commands. Puppies are like sponges and they absorb everything that you teach them. So, it is best to start early. You can also enroll your pet in a puppy kindergarten. Always use positive training techniques. Never shout or raise your voice during training, as that would only make your pet shy or timid.
Socialization to other human beings and pets is also a must. Make sure that your pet meets your friends and your household pets, if you have them. This will prevent many behavioral issues later on. Also get your pet used to daily sounds like those of the doorbell, TV, food processor, vacuum cleaner, etc. This will provide your puppy with mental stimulation and also help you avoid issues like unwanted barking.
Sussex spaniels shed moderately and they need to be brushed regularly to keep their coats tangle-free. You must also clean their ears regularly to prevent infections and odor. Clip their nails once in a while and bathe them about once a month or as needed. You must brush your Sussex spaniel’s teeth 2-3 times a week to prevent tartar buildup. This breed needs regular trims to prevent excess unwanted hair growth in between its paws.
Health issues and lifespan
The Sussex spaniel is prone to certain diseases such as platonic stenosis which is a heart condition where there is irregular blood flow to the heart. Like many other breeds, they could also suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia which affects the joints. The Sussex spaniel’s life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years roughly.
Where to find a Sussex Spaniel
Start your search for a Sussex spaniel puppy by checking with a home for abandoned pets (local animal shelters). You can also seek reputed Sussex breeders through the Sussex Spaniel Club of America’s website.