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Buying or Adopting a Sussex Spaniel

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Sussex Spaniel

Interested in the Sussex Spaniel? Read each post on this page. Make sure the breed is right for you (and that YOU are right for the breed). Decide on sex and age. Then begin the exciting adventure of finding and evaluating breeders and rescue groups and selecting the right Sussex Spaniel. Don't be in a hurry!



Don't set your sights on the Sussex Spaniel until you read my advice in these posts.

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Should You Even Get a Dog? Are You Sure?
Important – I've been helping people choose and find dogs for nearly 40 years, and honestly, some people who decide to get a dog are making a big mistake... [read more]

Purebred dogs The Truth About Purebred Dogs
Pros and cons... (most people don't know about the cons)

Crossbred dogs The Truth About Crossbred Dogs
Pros and cons... (don't get taken by breeder hype)

Mixed breed dogs The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs
Pros and cons... (are mixes inferior to purebreds and crosses?)

Is a Sussex Spaniel the right breed for you?

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Sussex Spaniel Review
I'll tell you what's good about 'em, and what's bad about 'em... most honest review you'll ever find

Are YOU the right owner for a Sussex Spaniel?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (not an electronic/underground fence)
  • Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Sussex Spaniel stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (hunt tests, tracking); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • Brushing – moderate
  • Trimming/clipping – every few months
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Sussex Spaniels are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with moderate/heavy shedding
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Sussex to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior or aggression
  • Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Sussex Spaniel, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Which sex? What age?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Where can you buy or adopt a Sussex Spaniel?

Sussex Spaniels are very rare in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, Sussex Spaniels rank 172nd. It's hard to find this breed.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
You might find a Sussex Spaniel available from a Dog Rescue group affiliated with the breed's national club. But not many Sussex Spaniels are turned over to Rescue groups, because not many people own them in the first place. Also Sussex Spaniels are not that difficult to live with, so fewer owners tend to give up on them.

Sussex Spaniels may be turned over to Rescue because they need more exercise than the owner expected. There might be dominance issues, or destructiveness due to boredom. Other Sussex Spaniels are given up simply because of changed family circumstances, and these dogs may have no behavior problems at all.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
I've never heard of a Sussex Spaniel being adopted from a shelter. Sussex Spaniel Rescue groups keep their eyes peeled on shelters and humane societies across the country. On the off chance that a Sussex Spaniel turns up at a shelter, the rescue group typically moves in quickly to take the dog.

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy a Sussex Spaniel from a show breeder, who breeds Sussex Spaniels to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring. You might also be able to buy a Sussex Spaniel from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of a Sussex Spaniel puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal elbows
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or a report from a veterinary cardiologist – dated within the past year – certifying that the dog has had an Advanced Cardiac Exam and has a normal heart

Also, at least ONE PARENT of a Sussex Spaniel puppy should have:

  • a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a metabolic disorder called PDP1 (aka exercise-induced collapse).

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Sussex Spaniel ends up with cataracts and crippled joints.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
I have never seen a Sussex Spaniel in a pet shop. Which is good, because I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!

Which puppy?

Symbols for male and female Choosing the Right Sussex Spaniel Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Sussex Spaniel puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.

Girl hugging a dog AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you buy only an AKC registered Sussex Spaniel puppy? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?

Dog Quest book Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams
My dog buying/adoption book will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.