The Sussex Spaniel originates from Sussex, England, as its name suggests. This breed was developed during the 19th century to work as hunting dogs. Primarily, they were used to flush game birds out of dense cover for hunters. They are one of the oldest recognized spaniel breeds, and their lineage can be traced back to dogs that existed in England since the time of the Romans. The dog is built low, but the brush they typically moved through is tall, which resulted in the dogs developing a specific barking language and type of "singing", so that their human hunting companions would know their location. Sussex Spaniels are known as one of the more vocal of the spaniel breeds.
Sussex Spaniels are susceptible to heart murmurs, enlarged hearts, cancer, intervertebral disk disease, hip dysplasia, and otitis externa. They are susceptible to bloat, also known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly, so it’s important to know the warning signs and get an affected dog immediate veterinary care. Sussex Spaniels can be difficult to breed, as the females may skip seasons, reabsorb puppies, and/or require C-sections. Puppies are also very fragile for two weeks. Genetic testing for conditions such as pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency and chondrodystrophy (with or without chondrodysplasia) can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
These dogs are known for their even-tempered and calm nature. They are typically affectionate, friendly, and good with children, which makes them excellent family pets. Despite their hunting origins, they're quite laid-back, preferring a leisurely stroll to an energetic run. They are also known to have a somewhat vocal nature, often barking or 'singing' (a unique vocalization often described as a series of howls and bays) to express themselves.
The Sussex Spaniel has a unique 'roll' to its gait, which distinguishes it from other spaniel breeds.
Despite being a sporting breed, Sussex Spaniels are one of the slower and more methodical workers in the field. This trait made them ideal for hunters who preferred to shoot on foot rather than horseback.
Sussex Spaniels are considered a relatively rare breed. In the mid-20th century, they were close to extinction, with only a handful of registered breeders remaining.
The Golden Liver coat color is unique to the Sussex Spaniel breed.