Dog Health & More
Long and low, with a unique golden liver color, the Sussex Spaniel dog breed was developed in Sussex County, England, to flush birds into the air for hunters. He has a reputation for being slow and sedate, but he livens up when he scents birds. With proper training and attention, the cheerful Sussex is an excellent companion.
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This rare and unusual spaniel with the happy tail remains true to his heritage as a hunting dog, and he's often found in the field or participating in hunt tests. A deliberate hunter who moves at a moderate pace, he has lots of endurance and a "never give up" personality, characteristics that make him a good companion for people who might not be hunters but enjoy long walks or hikes with a nature-loving dog. If he's not used as a hunting dog, he'll be satisfied with such backyard prey as birds, butterflies, and insects.
The Sussex stands out among spaniels for his voice. He's vocal about letting the hunter know how he's doing, and he carries that talkative tendency over to home life. The Sussex is likely to bark or howl at noises or visitors, so he makes a good watchdog. It's important, however, to teach him when to stop barking so he doesn't disturb the neighbors.
Affectionate and companionable, the Sussex thrives in a home where he's not left on his own for hours each day. He likes to follow his people around and enjoys the company of other dogs as well. A Sussex bonds strongly to family members and can become anxious and destructive if ignored.
This gentle, even-tempered dog does well with children when he's raised with them, but he's best suited to a home with older children who understand how to interact with a dog. Sussex puppies can be injured if they're dropped, hit or stepped on by young children, so supervision is a must.
In general, Sussex Spaniels love people, but they can be possessive of their own family members, unwilling for other people to approach them. Early and frequent socialization is important to prevent this. Because of their sporting dog heritage, they usually get along well with other dogs, but if they're not socialized to other dogs at an early age, they can be aggressive toward dogs they don't know.
The versatile Sussex is talented at many dog sports, including agility, tracking, and hunt tests, but he's moderately challenging to train. He has what's known as a soft personality, meaning he tends to be easygoing, but he can also be stubborn. Training a Sussex requires patience, kindness, encouragement, and a strong sense of humor. He responds well to praise and rewards but stops trying if he receives harsh corrections. Begin training as soon as you bring him home at 8 to 12 weeks of age, while he's still amenable to training. Despite his medium size, the Sussex is strong and powerful, so it's important for him to learn to listen to you before he becomes too hard to handle.
Brush a Sussex daily to prevent mats from forming. Trim the feet and the inside of the ears monthly to keep them neat. The Sussex loves playing in water, so he'll need a good rinse or a bath any time he goes for a swim in a stinky pond or lake, a chlorinated pool, or saltwater. To prevent ear infections, keep this breed's floppy ears clean and dry.
As a breed, the Sussex Spaniel has faced many challenges, including near extinction after World War II. It was only through the efforts of a dedicated handful of people that the breed survived. Although the Sussex is still uncommon, those who know him love him for his calm, even temper, deep howl, and social disposition.