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Sussex Spaniels: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Sussex Spaniel temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Sussex Spaniel dog breed

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. 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.
  3. Slobbering. Some Sussex Spaniels with heavy jowls tend to slobber their water, and some drool.
  4. 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.
  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.

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.

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