Sussex Spaniels: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Sussex Spaniel temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Sussex Spaniel dog breed

Sussex Spaniel Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Sussex Spaniel Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Matching his somber, almost frowning expression, the Sussex Spaniel is calmer and steadier than most other spaniels, though he does conceal a dry sense of humor.

This long, low, heavyset dog is rather phlegmatic indoors, but loves the outdoors and will bound through the fields in search of lurking creatures.

The Sussex Spaniel is aloof with strangers and sometimes even protective (very unusual for a spaniel). But once guests are accepted, he becomes polite, even charming -- as long as he has been well-socialized.

Sussex Spaniels can also be pushy with strange dogs (again, unusual for a spaniel). His tendencies toward dominance and stubbornness require a consistent owner who knows how to lead and who will use positive, upbeat training methods. This proud dog will stand up for himself if handled sharply or teased.

Finally, the Sussex Spaniel is noted for being one of the most vocal of the spaniels, tending to bark and howl, especially if left alone too much. And he can be slow to housebreak.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized and heavset, built long and low to the ground, with a brown silky coat
  • Matching his somber expression, is calmer and steadier than most spaniels
  • Is rather phlegmatic indoors, but comes alive outdoors and romps with enthusiasm
  • Is polite with strangers, yet makes a better watchdog than other spaniels

A Sussex Spaniel may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing enough exercise to keep his chunky body in shape
  • Destructiveness and baying/howling when left alone too much
  • Stubbornness
  • Regular brushing and combing
  • Shedding
  • Slobbering
  • Waiting lists (very hard to find)

A Sussex Spaniel may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Sussex Spaniel

If I was considering a Sussex Spaniel, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise. Sussex Spaniels were developed to run through the fields seeking birds for the hunter to shoot. So life in an apartment or an occasional walk around the block isn't enough for this breed. Provide them with enough space to vent their energy with a vigorous daily romp. Otherwise they will become bored, which they usually express by barking and howling and chewing destructively.
  2. Stubbornness. Despite their easygoing nature, Sussex Spaniels are stubborn, and to get their own way, they can be manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    In other words, you must teach your Sussex Spaniel to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Read more about Sussex Spaniel Training.

  3. Grooming and shedding. To keep their silky coat free of mats, Sussex Spaniels require regular brushing and combing, and occasional trimming. And like most spaniels, Sussex Spaniels shed a lot.
  4. Slobbering. Some Sussex Spaniels with heavy jowls tend to slobber their water, and some drool.
  5. Finding one. The Sussex Spaniel is one of the rarest breeds in the United States, so you should expect to go onto a waiting list.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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