THE SUSSEX SPANIEL
(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)
The Sussex Spaniel was among the
first ten breeds to be recognized and
admitted to the Stud Book when the
American Kennel Club was formed in
1884, but it has existed as a distinct
breed for much longer. As its name
implies, it derives its origin from the
county of Sussex, England, and it was
used there since the eighteenth century
as a field dog. During the late 1800's
the reputation of the Sussex Spaniel as
an excellent hunting companion was
well known among the estates surrounding Sussex County. Its short legs,
massive build, long body, and habit of giving tongue when on scent made
the breed ideally suited to penetrating the dense undergrowth and flushing
game within range of the gun. Strength, maneuverability, and desire were
essential for this purpose. Although it has never gained great popularity in
numbers, the Sussex Spaniel continues today essentially unchanged in
character and general appearance from those 19th century sporting dogs.
The Sussex Spaniel presents a long and low, rectangular and rather
massive appearance coupled with free movements and nice tail action.
The breed has a somber and serious expression. The rich golden liver
color is unique to the breed.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size--The height of the Sussex Spaniel as measured at the withers
ranges from 13 to 15 inches. Any deviation from these measurements is a
minor fault. The weight of the Sussex Spaniel ranges between 35 and 45
pounds. Proportion--The Sussex Spaniel presents a rectangular outline as
the breed is longer in body than it is tall. Substance--The Sussex Spaniel
is muscular and rather massive.
Correct head and expression are important features of the breed.
Eyes--The eyes are hazel in color, fairly large, soft and languishing, but
do not show the haw overmuch. Expression--The Sussex Spaniel has a
somber and serious appearance, and its fairly heavy brows produce a
frowning expression. Ears--The ears are thick, fairly large, and
lobe-shaped and are set moderately low, slightly above the outside corner
of the eye. Skull and Muzzle--The skull is moderately long and also wide
with an indentation in the middle and with a full stop. The brows are fairly
heavy, the occiput is full but not pointed, the whole giving an appearance
of heaviness without dullness. The muzzle should be approximately three
inches long, broad, and square in profile. The skull as measured from the
stop to the occiput is longer than the muzzle. The nostrils are
well-developed and liver colored. The lips are somewhat pendulous. Bite--
A scissors bite is preferred. Any deviation from a scissors bite is a minor
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck--The neck is rather short, strong, and slightly arched, but does not
carry the head much above the level of the back. There should not be
much throatiness about the skin. Topline and Body-- he whole body is
characterized as low and long with a level topline. The chest is round,
especially behind the shoulders, and is deep and wide which gives a good
girth. The back and loin are long and very muscular both in width and
depth. For this development, the back ribs must be deep. Tail-- The tail is
docked from 5 to 7 inches and set low. When gaiting the Sussex Spaniel
exhibits nice tail action, but does not carry the tail above the level of the
The shoulders are well laid back and muscular. The upper arm should
correspond in length and angle of return to the shoulder blade so that the
legs are set well under the dog. The forelegs should be very short, strong,
and heavily boned. They may show a slight bow. Both straight and
slightly bowed constructions are proper and correct. The pasterns are
very short and heavily boned. The feet are large and round with short hair
between the toes.
The hindquarters are full and well-rounded, strong, and heavily boned.
They should be parallel with each other and also set wide apart--about as
wide as the dog at the shoulders. The hind legs are short from the hock to
the ground, heavily boned, and should seem neither shorter than the
forelegs nor much bent at the hocks. The hindquarters must correspond
in angulation to the forequarters. The hocks should turn neither in nor out.
The rear feet are like the front feet.
The body coat is abundant, flat or slightly waved, with no tendency to
curl. The legs are moderately well-feathered, but clean below the hocks.
The ears are furnished with soft, wavy hair. The neck has a well-marked
frill in the coat. The tail is thickly covered with moderately long feather. No
trimming is acceptable except to shape foot feather, or to remove feather
between the pads or between the hock and the feet. The feather between
the toes must be left in sufficient length to cover the nails.
Rich golden liver is the only acceptable color and is a certain sign of the
purity of the breed. Dark liver or puce is a major fault. White on the chest
is a minor fault. White on any other part of the body is a major fault.
The round, deep and wide chest of the Sussex Spaniel coupled with its
short legs and long body produce a rolling gait. While its movement is
deliberate, the Sussex Spaniel is in no sense clumsy. Gait is powerful
and true with perfect coordination between the front and hind legs. The
front legs do not paddle, wave, or overlap. The head is held low when
gaiting. The breed should be shown on a loose lead so that its natural gait
Despite its somber and serious expression, the breed is friendly and has
a cheerful and tractable disposition.
The standard ranks features of the breed into three categories. The most
important features of the breed are color and general appearance. The
features of secondary importance are the head, ears, back and back ribs,
legs, and feet. The features of lesser importance are the eyes, nose,
neck, chest and shoulders, tail, and coat. Faults also fall into three
categories. Major faults are color that is too light or too dark, white on any
part of the body other than the chest, and a curled coat. Serious faults
are a narrow head, weak muzzle, the presence of a topknot, and a
general appearance that is sour and crouching. Minor faults are light
eyes, white on chest, the deviation from proper height ranges, lightness of
bone, shortness of body or a body that is flat-sided, and a bite other than
scissors. There are no disqualifications in the Sussex Spaniel standard.
Approved April 7, 1992
Effective May 27, 1992
We have included links and pages to help you find a Puppy or Breeder
or to simply help people learn more about this breed.
We invite Clubs, Organizations and Reputable Breeders to submit
links and information to help make this site as informative as possible.
CONTACT: Stacy at
SPORTING BREEDS CENTRAL
Sporting Breeds Central SUSSEX SPANIEL Breeders Directory and Litter Ads
The SUSSEX SPANIEL Parent Club
SUSSEX SPANIEL Rescue Organizations
SUSSEX SPANIEL Kennel Clubs