The Sussex Spaniel appears to have been evident in the UK in the 1800's. Mr Fuller of Rosehill Sussex, England, is credited with being their founder and kept them for 50 years until the 1850's. They were kept as working dogs on his large estate. Though there were other Sussex Spaniel breeders, by the time of World War II there were still only a few Sussex Spaniels about. However, breeding was discouraged in wartime and resulted in only 5 known Sussex Spaniels remaining in 1945. Mrs Joy Freer devoted her life to breeding the Sussex Spaniel for posterity and provided a link over six decades. She always worked her dogs in the field. In the 1950's breeding problems had emerged and an outcross was undertaken by the Association. Today in the UK we still have a small gene pool. Only 79 puppies were registered in 2004.
The Sussex Spaniel Association was formed in 1924 for the '"protection of the Sussex Spaniel" Today we have about 200 members, all devoted to the future of this lovely breed. Our members, particularly our elder ones, are an endless source of information about the breed and very willing to offer advice.
The Sussex Spaniel is a happy healthy dog. He makes a good gun dog, a show dog, or a pet and is very adaptable. They are a guarding breed and quite possessive of their Owners. They are fine with people and children but they need plenty of socialisation, puppy classes, obedience classes, time and patience. They live happily with other dogs, though they are usually top dog! We do not advise that puppies are brought up with very young children, chiefly because Mother has not the time to care for both her child and a demanding puppy.
Skull. The Skull should be wide and show a moderate curve from ear to ear, neither flat nor apple-headed, with centre indentation and a pronounced stop. Brows frowning - occiput decided, but not pointed. A well balanced head is about 8½ inches from nose to occiput.
Foreface. Strong, finishing in a deep square muzzle, lips not too pendulous. Nostrils wide and well developed and liver colour.
Eyes. Hazel colour, fairly large, not too full but soft in expression and not showing the haw overmuch.
Ears. Thick, fairly large and lobe-shape, set moderately low but above eye level. Should lie closely - hair soft and wavy but not too profuse.
Neck. Reachy, muscular and not carrying the head much above the line of back, not too throaty, but good frill.
Shoulders and Chest. Former sloping, not too fine to bring fore action too close, chest deep and roomy giving a good girth. A fair shoulder height for a 45lb. Sussex dog is 16 inches. Bitches should be 15½ inches and weigh not less than 40lbs.
Body. Back and loin well developed and muscular with good depth of ribs which should be carried well back, though not too far to interfere with movements of stifle joints. The whole body should be level with no sign of waistiness from withers to hips and longer, relatively, than in any other spaniel variety. A fair body outline for a 45lb dog 16 inches at shoulders, is 17 inches from withers to root of tail. On this basis, nose to root of tail should be 33 inches - i.e. nose to stop, 3½ inches - stop to occiput, 5 inches - occiput to withers (neck measurement), 7½ inches.
Mouth. Strong and level, neither overshot nor undershot, with a scissor bite.
Legs and Feet. Heavily boned with strong muscular arms and thighs. Forelegs straight and nicely feathered and pasterns short. Stifles with sufficient angularity to give freedom and power in hind movements. Liberal hair growth on breaching and not too profuse below hocks. Feet circular and well padded and well feathered between toes.
Tail. Set low and not carried above the level of the back. Free actioned and thickly clothed with hair, but no feather. Customarily docked to a length of from 5-7 inches.
Coat. Abundant and flat, fine in texture (not woolly) with ample under-coat for weather resistance.
Colour. Rich golden liver, hair shading to a golden tinge towards the tips, the gold predominating.
General Appearance. Massive and strongly built. Weight not less than 45lbs. Dogs. Weight not less than 40lbs. Bitches.