Sussex Spaniel Breed Info


Spaniel Breed

Breed History

The Sussex Spaniel originated in Sussex County in England.  Originally developed as field hunting dogs to accompany hunters on foot, this sturdy hunter boasts an excellent nose, as well as great strength and stamina.  The Sussex Spaniel is most likely a cross between a spaniel and a hound, embodying the best hunting qualities of both.  These dogs make excellent trackers, hunters, and guard dogs.

During World War II, the breed was pushed to the brink of extinction, but ultimately saved by a breeder named Joy Freer who owned eight of these dogs that she kept throughout the war, allowing the Sussex Spaniel to make a comeback afterwards; although to this day they remain rare.



The Sussex Spaniel has abundant hair that can be slightly wavy, but not curly.  He boasts a liver-colored coat (reddish brown) with a fringe feathering on the legs and tail.  His ears are covered with soft, wavy hair with additional hair around the neck called a frill.  The eyes are usually hazel in color.

The Sussex Spaniel has a long, low, well muscled body with short legs.  Most tails are docked to roughly five inches or so, although the practice of docking is illegal in most parts of Europe.  The Sussex Spaniel stands 15 to 16 inches and weighs between 40 and 45 pounds, but can quickly become overweight if not fed and exercised properly.

Sussex Spaniel


Sussex Spaniels make excellent family pets.  They are gentle and affectionate and need lots of human interaction.  They do not do well in a home where they are alone most of the time.  They do not thrive in this environment and can become destructive as a result.  When choosing a puppy, look for him to be playful and friendly, eager to meet and be held by you.  Be certain to meet the mother before choosing to assess her temperament as it will be a good indication of your puppy’s future personality.  Look for one who is not extremely shy or extremely aggressive.

The Sussex Spaniel is very social and gets along well with cats and other dogs.  He is also very loving and gentle.  He can be prone to excessive barking, so this must be curbed early on.

Health Concerns

Every dog has different health concerns so it is imperative to know what conditions generally afflict the breed and what clearances to expect from a breeder.  Many certifications cover a multitude of breeds, meaning there will be some standard health clearances to expect from your breeder.  Many problems do not arise until a dog is at least two years old, so make sure the parents have not been bred before then.

Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects many dog breeds, and the Sussex Spaniel is no exception.  Clearances should include one from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.  These Spaniels can be subject to back problems, and some heart problems, also covered by the Foundation certification.


The Sussex Spaniel can be trained for dog sports, agility, and tracking, but they can be a bit of a challenge to train.  They are very intelligent but can be a little stubborn, so repetition and patience is needed.  Training should begin as soon as you bring your puppy home, around 8 to 12 weeks.  He responds well to treats and praise, but harsh corrections will be counterproductive, causing him to shut down and refuse to participate.

Grooming Requirements

Daily brushing will keep shedding to a minimum, but you can get by with weekly brushing if you choose.  No trimming is necessary, but you can trim the leg hair for a tidier look.  The Sussex Spaniel loves to swim so bathing will be on an as needed basis – more if he gets smelly swimming, less if he does not.  As with all dogs, his teeth should be brushed regularly, and his nails should be trimmed.  Getting him adjusted to having his feet handled should be done in his puppyhood to reduce resistance later.

Thinking The Sussex Spaniel Is Right For Your Family?

Please consider adopting before purchasing through a breeder and please avoid purchasing an animal from a pet store. There are many good pure bred dogs in need of good homes. Click here to search for you a Sussex Spaniel in need of adoption near you: <Petfinder> or  <Sussex Spaniel Rescue>


Photo Credit:

WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.