The Sussex spaniel gets its name from Sussex, England. It was one of the first ten breeds to be registered with the AKC in 1884, when the AKC was first started. This breed was preferred because it is very good for flushing game out of dense underbrush. This dog is good at this because it is built low to the ground with heavy duty bone work. It is something that makes them very efficient.
This breed can be traced all the way back to 1860. A certain English gentleman named Mr. Fuller, who ran a kennel, developed the golden-liver color that has become the only color accepted in a registered Sussex spaniel. The dog can have no white on him except for the chest, and even that is considered as a defect, albeit an acceptable one.
During World War II, this dog would have gone extinct if not for the heroic efforts of Joy Freer, who had eight dogs which she saved. Almost all the Sussex spaniels that are present today are descendants of those eight dogs.
This breed is short and compact. It is 13 to 15 inches (33 to 38 cm) tall, and weighs from 35 to 45 lbs (16 to 20 kg). Although now the golden-liver color is the only one accepted, it is said that there have been sandy and black colored dogs as well. The coat consists of a silky outer coat, a weather-resistant undercoat, and long, silky feathering on the chest, legs, and ears. Its eyes are hazel in color.
Because this breed is longer than it is tall, it gives it an appearance of being rather rectangular. With this type of body, this dog gives the impression of being massive and heavy. However, it has a nice gait and can move faster than it looks.
The coat of this dog should be either flat or just a little bit wavy; a curled coat is not accepted. There is quite a lot of feathering on this dog, on its legs, belly, and neck, along with its ears being covered. Trimming the coat is not accepted unless it’s to give shape to the feathering on the legs, and to clear out some of the hair in between the pads on the paws. Otherwise, it is better to just let the dog be as it is.
This dog does not retrieve naturally like a Golden Retriever. Hence, if you want a dog that will retrieve the way it is supposed to, then you will have to train it. The Sussex spaniel does retrieve from the water, going about it in a very deliberate fashion, swimming at a moderate pace, and retrieving what he is supposed to. The same thing can be said about its hunting. It does not go around in general looking to flush a bird, it finds the scent and follows it in the same deliberate fashion.
This is a calm breed that is known to keep its enthusiasm under control. This is the reason that makes it a wonderful family dog, as it is especially good with children. It protects the family, and is a good breed to be used as therapy dogs.
The average lifespan of this dog is 10 to 12 years. This breed is usually affected by conditions such as hip dysplasia, which is a genetic malformation of the hip. Another common ailment is otitis externa, wherein the dog is affected by ear infection due to moisture being trapped in its long, floppy ears. It is also known to be affected by heart ailments such as pulmonary valve stenosis and patent ductus arteriosus.
When taking care of a Sussex spaniel, make sure that he/she gets sufficient exercise, and keep an eye on his/her food intake. Just help him/her a little with the diet. Also, regular brushing is necessary to keep that shiny and long coat in shape.