Sussex Spaniel

AKC Sporting Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Sussex Spaniel is a small-game hunter and companion dog, developed in Sussex County, England. The breed was probably developed from crosses of spaniels with hounds. The Sussex is very rare, and only survived World War II through the efforts of English breeder Joy Freer. Most of today’s Sussex Spaniels are descended from the eight dogs she saved and fed during the war. The Sussex hunts slowly, but has a fine nose, and very good strength and stamina in the field. Best at flushing game for hunters on foot, the Sussex Spaniel can also be taught to retrieve.


The Sussex Spaniel is a hefty, short-legged, heavy-bodied, strong golden-liver-colored spaniel with a flat or slightly wavy, thick coat. The legs, undersides, and tail are feathered. The expression is somber. The eyes are hazel and fairly large, and the nose is brown. The head is broad and somewhat heavy. Lips are somewhat pendulous. The thick ears are fairly long, pendant, and hair-covered. The tail is docked to 5 to 7 in., and is usually wagging.

Key Facts

  • Height:  13 to 15 in.
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  35 to 45 lbs.
  • Availability:  Very difficult to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, tracking, retrieving, and watchdog


Bays sometimes when hunting (this is the only spaniel to do so). Might howl a lot when left alone. Prone to ear infections, so the ears should be cleaned regularly. Also known to have hip dysplasia and back problems. Do not overfeed, as this breed tends to gain weight easily. The coat blends into a wooded landscape near sunset, so hunters using Sussex Spaniels need to be very careful not to shoot their dogs accidentally!


Steady and calm around the house, but not very outgoing or demonstrative compared to other spaniels. Sweet, gentle, and devoted. Might be willful: needs firm, patient training. Novice owners should be willing and able to assert their dominance. Can be snappish if annoyed. Tends to be aggressive with unfamiliar dogs.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Somewhat difficult to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Likes to howl
  • Indoors:  Moderately active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Docking:  The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A fair jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  A small yard is sufficient
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Sussex Spaniel Breed Standard

Sussex Spaniel Breed Profile

Sussex Spaniel Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Sussex Spaniel

Sussex Spaniel Gifts