Sussex Spaniel Breed Information and Buying advice

Sussex Spaniel

Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Sussex Spaniel?

Quick Sussex Spaniel Facts

Average Size of Adult
Medium (3/5)
Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy
Grooming Requirement
High (3/3)
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High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Average Life Span
10-12 years (4/8)
Exercise Requirements
High (3/3)
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High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Low (1/3)
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Child friendly
Yes (1/2)
High (3/3)
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Breed Group
Gundog (1/8)
No (2/2)

Sussex Spaniel 


The Sussex Spaniel is a rare British breed that is highly prized as a gundog as well as a show dog and family companion. Sussex Spaniels are good-natured dogs that have lots of energy and enthusiasm when outside, this is a breed that loves to run around and be busy. The Sussex Spaniel is intelligent, easygoing and is just as happy in a home as they are working. Sussex Spaniels are not as popular as other spaniel breeds, they tend to be calmer than other spaniel breeds and also have a slightly different look with a heavier build, wider head and a wrinkled brow. Sussex Spaniels have a distinctive golden/ liver coat. 

Physical Appearance 

Sussex Spaniels are medium-sized dogs that are lower to the ground but heavier built than other spaniel breeds. Sussex Spaniels have large but well-balanced heads with a moderate curve between their ears, long necks and large ears that are set low and lay close to the dog’s face. This spaniel has hazel eyes that often hold a soft expression and a furrowed brow that gives a frowning appearance. 

The Sussex Spaniel has short, well-muscled legs, a well-developed chest and round, well-padded paws. Their low tails are medium-length, feathered and are carried level with the dog’s back. Sussex Spaniels tend to wag their tails a lot when they are happy and feel enthusiastic about something. 

The coat of a Sussex Spaniel is always golden liver in colour. The coat has a flat topcoat and a soft, dense undercoat. Their ears are also covered in soft, wavy hair. 

How big do Sussex Spaniel dogs get? 

  • Height - Males: 38 - 41cm. Females: 38 - 41cm. 

  • Weight - Males: 16 - 23kg. Females: 16 - 23kg. 

Character Traits

Sussex Spaniels are cheerful, energetic dogs that like to do things at their own pace. In comparison to other spaniels, the Sussex Spaniel is more laid-back with an easygoing nature. They have happy, well-rounded personalities provided they get enough exercise each day. The Sussex Spaniel is high energy when they are outside and they love hunting, but if your spaniel won’t be working they also enjoy scent work and interactive games. This is a breed that you will need to invest time into to ensure they are well socialised and well trained. 

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs intelligent? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs affectionate? Yes.

Do Sussex Spaniel dogs have high or low energy levels? High energy levels (5/5).

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs loyal? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs playful? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs aggressive? No, but they can be very protective. 

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs easy to train? Yes, but they like to do things at their own pace and can get bored quickly.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs good guard dogs? Yes.

Ability to Socialise 

Sussex Spaniels love to be involved in everything around them, they are part of the family and want to be treated like it. The Sussex Spaniel is a great choice if you have children as they are known for being wonderful around youngsters, particularly when they have grown up together. Early socialisation is important for the Sussex Spaniel as otherwise, they can be off with other dogs. When it comes to other animals, the Sussex Spaniel has a high prey drive so wouldn’t think twice about chasing cats and smaller animals they don’t know. When it comes to strangers, Sussex Spaniels will often be suspicious and will bark. 

Do Sussex Spaniel dogs get along with other pets? Yes, if they have grown up around them. However, they are not good around smaller animals as they have a high prey drive. 

Do Sussex Spaniel dogs get along with other dogs? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs good with kids? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs good with strangers? They are naturally wary and will often bark at people they don’t know.

Lifestyle Suitability

The Sussex Spaniel is a suitable dog breed for first-time owners providing they are with an active family that has the time to exercise and train them. As Sussex Spaniels are very people-orientated dogs, they want to please their owners and enjoy keeping their family entertained. Although the Sussex Spaniel is a highly adaptable dog, they need enough space to live comfortably and they need access to a large, secure garden which means they are not suited to life in an apartment. 

This is a breed that does have the tendency to drool as they have heavy jowls; Sussex Spaniels also bark a lot. Although the Sussex Spaniel bonds strongly with their family, they are not known to suffer from separation anxiety and can be left for short periods of time without an issue. 

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs good for first-time owners? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs hypoallergenic? No.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs prone to drooling? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs a good breed for apartment living? No.

Do  Sussex Spaniel dogs shed a lot? Yes, they shed moderately. 

Do  Sussex Spaniel dogs bark a lot? Yes.

Can Sussex Spaniel dogs be left alone at home? Yes, they can be left alone for short periods of time.

Can Sussex Spaniel dogs handle the heat? Yes.

Can Sussex Spaniel dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes.

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs sensitive to loud noises? No. 

General Health & Health Issues

Sussex Spaniels have an average life expectancy of 12 - 15 years. Although they are a healthy, robust breed there are a few conditions that seem to affect Sussex Spaniels including:

  • Hip Dysplasia - It is quite common for Sussex Spaniels to suffer from hip dysplasia. This is a degenerative condition that is caused by weak hip joints. This results in discomfort and in severe cases can require surgery. 

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease - Sussex Spaniels are more susceptible to back conditions including intervertebral disc disease. This develops when a disc ruptures or herniates causing weakness or paralysis. Treatment options include anti-inflammatory medicine, pain relief, strict rest and surgery. 

  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Deficiency - This is a metabolic disease that produces lactic acid buildup in the muscles leading to pain. Dogs can be DNA tested for this and treatment options include restricted exercise and a high fat, high protein diet. 

  • Pulmonic Stenosis -  This is a congenital disorder that affects the heart and prevents blood from flowing as it should. The pulmonary valve obstruction needs to be treated which can involve medication or surgery. 

  • Bloat - Some Sussex Spaniels, particularly older spaniels, are prone to bloat. This is when the dog has a swollen belly and it is a medical emergency that requires veterinary attention immediately. 

Sussex Spaniels can also suffer from skin problems and ear infections. 

How long do Sussex Spaniel dogs live? - 12 - 15 years

Exercise & Play Time

When outside, the Sussex Spaniel is a high-energy, enthusiastic dog that enjoys walking and running across various routes and terrains. You cannot walk the same route every day with a Sussex Spaniel, they will become bored and frustrated. This is a breed that needs vigorous exercise of at least 2 hours per day. A Sussex Spaniel is best suited to country living where there is plenty of space for them to run around off-lead. It’s important to take care to ensure there are no animals around when walking a Sussex Spaniel off their lead as they will chase any smaller animals they see. Ideally, a Sussex Spaniel should also have access to a secure garden where they can play and use up some of their energy in between walks. 

How much exercise does a Sussex Spaniel dog need? At least 2 hours per day.

Do Sussex Spaniel dogs like water play? Yes, they tend to love water and swimming.

Nutrition & Feeding

Sussex Spaniels are high energy dogs that need to be fed high-quality dry food, the amount they need is based on their age, build, weight and activity level. As Sussex Spaniels are prone to weight gain it’s best to use toys or lower value rewards rather than high-value treats during training sessions. 

When it comes to feeding time, a Sussex Spaniel puppy requires between 175 - 300g of food split into 3-4 portions. The actual amount will depend on the dog’s age and build. This is just an estimate, every dog is unique so it is important to have a personal dietary plan made to ensure your Sussex Spaniel is getting the right amount of food for their needs. A Sussex Spaniel suffering from pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency requires a specialist high protein, high fat diet as prescribed by a vet.   

Are Sussex Spaniel dogs prone to weight gain? Yes.

How much should I feed a Sussex Spaniel puppy? Between 175 - 300g of high-quality dry food per day, depending on the puppy’s age and build.

How much should I feed an adult Sussex Spaniel dog? Between 195 - 305g of high-quality dry food per day, depending on the dog’s weight and activity level. 

Care & Maintenance

Grooming: The medium-length coat of the Sussex Spaniel needs daily brushing to prevent it from knotting. When brushing, special attention needs to be paid to the spaniel’s ears, legs, chest, abdomen and tail as these are the areas most likely to tangle. The Sussex Spaniels' coat needs to be trimmed to keep their high maintenance coats neat and easier to handle. In addition to daily brushing, a Sussex Spaniel’s ears need to be checked and cleaned regularly to prevent ear infections. 

Emotional Care: A Sussex Spaniel is an intelligent, high energy dog that needs to be trained regularly and walked a lot to keep them happy. Without at least 2 hours of exercise each day, a Sussex Spaniel can become bored and frustrated which often leads to behavioural issues. It’s best to incorporate scent work, interactive games and obedience training sessions into a Sussex Spaniels routine to help keep them physically and mentally stimulated. This is not a dog breed that can just be left inside all day, Sussex Spaniels need a secure garden, interesting daily walks and plenty of exercise. 

History of the Sussex Spaniel

The Sussex Spaniel has been around since the early 1800s and is one of the UK’s oldest native breeds. Mr Augustus Elliott Fuller is known as one of the Sussex Spaniels main enthusiasts, he kept and bred spaniels on a large estate in Sussex for 50 years. These spaniels were bred as working dogs but their numbers dropped during the World Wars and in 1945 there were less than 10 known Sussex Spaniel individuals. Breeders and breed enthusiasts worked hard to save the Sussex Spaniel from extinction. 

Careful breeding meant that the Sussex Spaniel numbers have risen steadily up to the present day where around 100 pedigree puppies are bred each year. There are still only a small number of individuals and the Sussex Spaniel is listed as a native vulnerable breed. This is a British breed that has a place both as a working dog and as a family companion. 

Interesting Facts About Sussex Spaniel Dogs

  • The Sussex Spaniel is one of the UK’s oldest native breeds. 

  • They are calmer than other Spaniel breeds. 

  • The Sussex Spaniel is listed as a native vulnerable breed.  

  • A Sussex Spaniel was the oldest dog  (10 years old) to win the Best In Show at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. 

Getting a Sussex Spaniel Puppy

Bringing a dog into your home is a huge commitment, take a look at our buying guide for advice and information on finding a puppy from a responsible breeder. As most buying is now carried out online, it is important to be aware of scams and irresponsible breeders. Never pay a deposit for a dog you have not seen. All breeders on Puppies have been vetted to ensure they are responsible, take a look at our Sussex Spaniel puppies page to find this rare breed in your local area. 

How much does a Sussex Spaniel cost to buy? £900 - £1500

How much does a Sussex Spaniel cost to feed? £30 - £40 per month.

How much does insurance for a Sussex Spaniel cost? £30 per month.

As Sussex Spaniels are rare, it can be difficult to find puppies without joining a waiting list. Another option is to consider rescuing a Sussex Spaniel. Have a chat with your local dog rescue centre or talk to the associations below about adopting this unique, British breed: 

Talk to the Sussex Spaniel Association about rehoming a Sussex Spaniel. 

Rehome a Sussex Spaniel with the Dogs Trust.