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Small, low and similar in appearance to the Clumber Spaniel, the Sussex was built for comfort not speed. Despite this though, it has bags of energy and is a very playful dog, especially with children who tend to loves the effervescent nature of this breed.
The Sussex Spaniel has been resident in the UK since the 1800's. Mr Augustus Elliott Fuller, is credited with being their founder and he kept them as working dogs on his large estate. Though there were other Sussex Spaniel breeders, by the time of World War II the population of this little Spaniel had taken a nose dive. This resulted in only 5 known Sussex Spaniels remaining by 1945. After this rapid and sad decline, one Mrs Joy Freer devoted her life to breeding the Sussex Spaniel and her dogs were well worked in the field. The Sussex Spaniel Association was formed in 1924.
Today in the UK there is still a very small gene pool. The Breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in 2004 as a Vulnerable British Breed, and at its lowest, only 52 puppies were registered in 2010.
Average height to withers: Both males and females are between 13-15 inches.
Average weight: Up to 20kg.
A low and very compact Spaniel which is similar in shape to the Clumber Spaniel, but on a smaller scale. Their coat is a beautiful and unique liver russet red colour, and the coat is silky, soft and can have a slight wave to it. The ears are typical of all Spaniels - long, pendent and set moderately low on the head. The eyes are usually a lighter brown or amber colour. This dog has profuse feathering on the belly, legs and tail.
Unlike most other Spaniels, the Sussex prefers a slower pace of life. That is not to say that it does not have energy. This dog is an excellent field dog, and displays the natural 'quartering' ability shown by Cockers and Springers. A helpful dog, once trained it can be very obedient but his can be accompanied by an endearing stubbornness. While intelligent, the Sussex chooses when it want to learn, and so responds best to positive and reward based training methods. The trainer must also be capable of showing considerable patience and always finish a training session on a high note to reinforce the good work done.
It also makes for a first class family pet, being more patient with children than some Spaniels. It is playful and fun loving and quite happy to keep children occupied under supervision. Early socialisation will enhance these traits, as well as its ability to live harmoniously with other pets in the household. This dog really likes peoples, and once in the house after a walk, it is happy to curl up loyally with its owner and have a cuddle. This behaviour also makes it an excellent PAT therapy dog in hospitals, schools and hospices.
At the time of writing, a comprehensive health survey of the population of this breed in the UK was being undertaken to fully understand health issues relating to this dog. It is, however, considered to be a hardy type of dog by breeders and one average lives up to the age of 15 years of age.
Due to the longer coat of the Sussex Spaniel, they require frequent grooming, preferably each day, and may also benefit from the professional touch every 2-3 months by being clipped out or strapped for easier maintenance. The longer ears of this breed have a tendency to trap moisture and detritus under them, so it is preferable to check the ears each day and clean away any dirt with a clean, lint free cloth.