Sussex Spaniel

A Winning Breed in More Ways Than One

Calm and composed for the most part, Sussex spaniels make their presence known when playing, hunting or sometimes left alone and bored—their trademark baying can not be ignored.

Howling aside, this dog breed is devoted, gentle and sweet and gets along well with children and both dogs and cats, and makes a terrific companion pet.

Recently, a Sussex spaniel named "Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee," a.k.a. "Stump," won best in show at the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. At 10 years old, Stump, who won over the Westminster audience with his charming personality, was the oldest dog to win the title.

Sussex Spaniels

The Sussex spaniel traces its roots back to Sussex, England, during the early 1800s. Initially bred as a hunting dog to work in rough terrain and dense undergrowth, the Sussex spaniel’s popularity began to diminish during World War II.

Through the efforts of one woman—Joy Freer, who saved eight starving dogs during the war—the breed survived and began to flourish again by the mid-1950s. Most of today’s Sussex spaniels are believed to be descended from Freer’s rescued dogs.

With a lower energy level than other spaniel breeds, the Sussex spaniel is none the less a quick learner and responds well to consistent training. Despite its short stature, the breed has a great deal of stamina and a terrific sense of smell and can therefore be taught to retrieve, track and hunt and makes for a reliable watchdog.

You might notice the dog’s somber and serious expression, but don’t be misguided: the Sussex spaniel is very friendly and has a cheerful disposition. The breed simply tends to be a bit reserved at times.

Firm guidance from owners will help prevent Sussex spaniels from asserting their dominance and misbehaving.

This dog breed is devoted, gentle and sweet and gets along well with children and both dogs and cats, and makes a terrific companion pet.

Stump wins "Best in Show"

On average, Sussex spaniels stand between 13 to 15 inches tall and weigh between 35 to 45 pounds.

With its rich golden liver-colored, slightly wavy coat, the Sussex spaniel requires regular grooming to prevent tangles and help maintain cleanliness. The breed also has large, long ears that can be prone to ear infections if not cared for properly.

Be careful not to overfeed your Sussex spaniel as they tend to gain weight easily. Daily exercise is recommended to help maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity.

The Sussex spaniel has a characteristic rolling gait when it moves. Some young puppies and even adults propel themselves with their front legs while extending their rear legs behind them; this peculiar movement is known as kippering and is said to be normal in the breed.

Sussex Spaniel

While Sussex spaniel puppies are known to grow more slowly than other breeds and can take longer to reach developmental stages, such as crawling and walking, a healthy dog will live on average 12 to 14 years of age.

Hereditary medical disorders occasionally foundin Sussex spaniels include:

  • Cardiovascular disorders such as pulmonic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus and tetraolgy of fallot. A heart murmur in a puppy is often associated with one of these conditions.
  • Hip dysplasia is common but not often seriously debilitating because of the breed's short compact stature.
  • Deafness and eye problems are sometimes seen in the breed.

The breed is also predisposed to the following disorders:

  • Intervertebral disc syndrome.
  • Otitis externa: ear infection.
  • Whelping issues: females with this difficulty may require a Caesarian section to deliver pups.

While any dog may have the tendency to develop breed-specific medical conditions, this does not mean your dog will necessarily be diagnosed with them.

One of the best things a pet owner can do for his dog is to visit a veterinarian regularly to monitor his health and take preventive measures to ensure his well being.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.