The long, low, “rectangular” body, coupled with a muscle and quite massive body, enables the Sussex to penetrate dense cover when searching. Its motion is rolling and deliberate due to its short legs and relatively wide body, a gait that highlights power over rate. The abundant body coat is flat or slightly wavy, providing protection against thorns. A distinguishing feature is that the extended feather between the feet, that need to be long enough to pay the toenails. The saying is both somber and serious, even frowning, but the wagging tail belies its true character. The Sussex will bark when searching, which aids the hunter find it in thick cover.
The Sussex spaniel will be less lively and demonstrative than other spaniels, using a lower energy level. This makes it better suited to town, but it still enjoys the opportunity to take into the wilds and search birds up. It is inclined to bark when searching, that has made it less popular with predators than other strains; a few additionally bark or howl if not searching. At home it’s calm, stable and easygoing, though it might be aggressive to strange dogs. Its somber saying is misleading since it’s fairly cheerful.
|• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: intervertebral disc syndrome, otitis exerna, heart murmur and enlarged heart
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: cardiac
• Life span: 12 – 14 years
|The “spaniels of Sussex” are cited in a sporting novel of 1820 as great working dogs. The title has been adopted from Sussex, England, the home of the very first important kennel (based in 1795) of those little land spaniels. The strain soon became popular amongst the estates around Sussex County. They were skillful as upland shooting puppies, slow functioning but with a fantastic nose and inclined to provide tongue when on odor. This latter attribute hurt the strain at field trials at the early 1900s, when silent hunters were favored. Additionally, American seekers usually preferred a quicker hunter. Although among the initial 10 AKC-recognized breeds and one of the first breeds to compete in dog shows, the Sussex hasn’t been a particularly popular or competitive show dog. Maybe due to these reasons — that the Sussex spaniel was perilously near extinction during the majority of the 20th century. Sometimes the strain has had so few people that inbreeding needed to be practiced to a larger extent that otherwise desired. In 1954, a prosperous cross has been created with the clumber spaniel in an attempt to enlarge the gene pool. The Sussex gene pool remains restricted because the strain remains one of the lightest of AKC breeds.|