How to groom a sussex spaniel

How to groom a sussex spaniel

The Sussex Spaniel has a very unique coat. It is a golden liver color that matches the bark of trees at sunset, effectively camouflaging it during a hunt. The coat also protects it in cold and damp weather and allows it to retrieve fowl from waterways. When properly groomed the Sussex Spaniel is a beautiful dog that is very showy and lustrous. There are some grooming issues that need to be kept up with regularly to keep the Sussex Spaniel in tip-top shape.

The Sussex Spaniel does shed a bit. You can keep the amount of stray hair down by brushing it down twice a week. They do have hair in between the pads of their feet that also need to be trimmed. Like all dogs the nails should be trimmed to keep the dog well groomed. The ears and eyes should also be checked during a weekly grooming session for signs of disease.

The dog can suffer from ingrown eyelashes and should be checked for this condition during a grooming session. Teeth also need to be checked to make sure new teeth aren’t pushing aside older teeth and causing them to grow in at angles.

All in all, the dog was bred to be an outside dog and can do well with just moderate grooming. You don’t have to really deal with the shedding if it is outdoors all the time. It should still be brushed to keep matting down and maintain a shiny look to the coat.

Even if you are showing this dog, the grooming needs are minimal compared to other dogs. They like to be shown in a natural state, for the most part. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the dog’s coat trimmed during hot weather, it’s just that it isn’t necessary. They typically don’t require a professional groomer. Since the dog does shed, it is probably not a good dog for people with dog allergies.

The dog is considered to have moderate grooming needs. There is a bit of work to brush the coat out, but it isn’t a long session and the coat generally takes care of itself. The things that are really important in a grooming session are looking at other small details like the hair in between the pads, looking between the toes for seeds and other vegetation, checking the teeth, the ears, and the eyes and eyelashes. These things should be done just as regularly as brushing to be able to pinpoint any problem in the dog’s health early. This breed does have a history of eye and thyroid problems and a possibility of deafness too. By grooming the dog at least weekly, you can get a good idea of what your dog looks like when it is healthy and it can give you an early warning system for when the dog is starting to deteriorate.

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How to groom a sussex spaniel

How to groom a sussex spaniel

Sussex Spaniel Breed Info

  • Origin: United Kingdom
  • Coat Type: Single Coat with Feathers
  • Height: 13 to 15 inches at the withers
  • Weight: 35-44 pounds
  • Life Span: 12-15 years
  • Classification: Sporting Group in North America
  • Purpose: Hunting Dog
  • Temperament: Devoted, Calm, Sociable

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As groomers we tend to think that when a dog enters our salon for a haircut we should immediately pull out our clipper. However, there are many breeds and mixed breeds that have a flat natural back coat that needs nothing other than a little carding and thinning shear work to polish the appearance.

Breeds like the Irish Setter, Longhaired Dachshund, Cocker Spaniels, Brittany Spaniels, Sussex Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel , for example, have this type of coat.

How to groom a sussex spaniel

When these breeds are clipped the coat can change texture and become very thick and wooly. If this is the case, clipping may be the only option. If clipping has previously been done, removing undercoat in conjunction with clipping will help the blades glide through the coat with ease.

Surprisingly there are dogs that have been clipped in the past and yet their coat will still remain flat and natural. In this case clipping the coat is not necessary. To shorten the length of the back coat on these breeds, backcombing and tipping the ends of the coat with thinning shears can be done for a natural appearance. When using these techniques on these breeds it not only saves time by unnecessary clipping it also saves time from blending the clipped lines into the longer furnishings. Carding and thinning shear techniques will give a beautiful seamless appearance.

How to groom a sussex spaniel

When puppies come into the salon for the first time their coat type should be evaluated. If the back coat appears flat and natural… don’t clip it! They are your clean slate to begin these techniques on.

Carding techniques are very important for dogs that have a double coat like many Sporting breeds. Undercoat is defined as the short, soft, dense hair that supports the outer coat or guard hair. The term “carding” describes the technique of removing undercoat from the follicles with the use of a stripping knife. Keeping undercoat at bay by using carding techniques is beneficial to the skin and the appearance of the coat.

This technique will promote healthy skin and coat by clearing the follicles of excessive undercoat. Undercoat is soft and dull in color and can prevent the skin from breathing if it becomes excessive. Once the excess undercoat is removed, the coat will shine and the skin will be able to breathe and will be healthier.

When using a stripping knife it is important to hold the skin taut with one hand while combing through the coat with the other. If the skin is not held taut it will move with every stroke, which can be uncomfortable for the pet. When the skin moves the tool will not be productive. The stripping knife should be held almost flat to the skin.

How to groom a sussex spaniel

When dogs are not carded, blades will often leave track marks in the coat. It is common to want to shave them with very short blades to ensure a smoother finish. However, the undercoat is what causes the blade to leave track marks, almost like the look of corduroy. Carding techniques will eliminate the corduroy issue so a longer blade can then be used which will result in a more natural appearance.

Carding techniques take very little time and will be beneficial in the end for the groomer and the pet. Maintaining a flat natural back coat with the use of carding and thinning shear techniques not only saves time, but will give a beautiful, shiny and natural appearance to these breeds.

How to groom a sussex spaniel

General Appearance: 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.
Head: 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 fault. 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-The 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 back.

Forequarters: 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.

Hindquarters: 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.

Coat: The body coat is abundant, flat or slightly waved, with no tendency to curl. The legs aremoderately 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.

Color: 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.

Gait: 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 is evident.

Temperament: Despite its somber and serious expression, the breed is friendly and has a cheerful and tractable disposition.

Faults: 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 flatsided, and a bite other than scissors. There are no disqualifications in the Sussex Spaniel standard.

Approved April 7, 1992
Effective May 27, 1992

How to groom a sussex spaniel

How to groom a sussex spaniel

The coat of a Spinone Italiano is tough, thick, slightly wiry and close fitting with no undercoat. It is about 1.5 to 2 inches (4 to 6 cm) on the body, shorter on the nasal bridge, ears and head. It is even shorter on the front of the legs and feet. The eyebrows consist of longer, stiffer hair. Even longer, softer hairs cover the cheeks and upper lips, forming a mustache and beard. The color is white; white with orange or brown markings; white speckled with orange (orange roan) with or without orange markings; white speckled with brown (brown roan) with or without brown markings.

Grooming the Coat

This is not a glamorous breed. The Spinone Italiano is a rustic, functional dog and part of its attraction is its slightly disheveled look. Care must be taken not to over present this breed. Too frequent bathing softens the coat, and show dogs are best hosed down and dried naturally. Regular brushing with a slicker will remove burrs and seeds. A comb should be used on the head.

Beards need constant attention and regular washing. These dogs are very prone to ear infections — therefore, ears should be checked every day and cleaned twice a week. Hair inside the ear should be removed with a finger and thumb. Ear powder will help.

A Spinone Italiano born with the unique and very desirable “pigskin-like” skin will have the correct single coat, which needs little stripping other than to enhance the shape of the head. However, many dogs are born with longer, softer coats, and regular stripping will help to improve the coat and encourage a harsher texture.

Strictly speaking, this task is undertaken by hand, although most owners use a stripping comb. A stripping block is useful for finishing and removing stray hairs.

Dogs born with soft double coats always have thin skin and these coats are almost impossible to strip. Rather than cause the dog distress, it is better to bathe and clip it.

Equipment needed: Slicker brush, bristle brush and comb.

Breed tip: Strip the coat out several weeks before a show, paying particular attention to the head and legs. Brush the body coat regularly as the coat grows in. Heads may be tidied a couple of days before a show.

The Sussex Spaniel is a breed of strong, medium-sized dog that originated in England. It belongs to the sporting breed family which is known for their amiable nature, and being well-rounded companions. Sussex Spaniels have been bred for flushing and retrieving upland games. Their coat could either be flat or somewhat wavy. It has feathering around the neck, tail, legs, and feet. Coat color comes in rich golden liver.

Height and Weight

Both the male and female members of the Sussex Spaniel breed normally stand a height of 15 to 16 in at the withers, and weigh between 40 to 44 lbs.


Sussex Spaniels, in general, require ample exercise to remain stable and calm at home. They are not as outgoing as the other spaniels, but they tend to work very enthusiastically. The breed barks continuously when on the field for hunt. Unlike any other spaniel, Sussex dogs tend to bay when it’s hunting. They can readily adapt to hunting as well as retrieving games, especially in the wooden areas. The breed is gentle, loyal, and loving towards its family owners. They are very sociable, and they make excellent companions. They bond well with children, dogs, and other animals. They learn quickly, and tend to bark a lot. Sussex Spaniels need a firm yet gentle owner who can be consistent in their leadership approach. Otherwise, the breed would develop behavior problems.


Sussex Spaniels are easy to groom. They only need to be brushed twice a week to prevent mats from forming. Handlers are encouraged to pay extra attention to their long ears. Cleaning it regularly will help a lot to keep the breed from acquiring ear infections. Trimming the hair around their paws on an occasional basis is also recommended to keep these dogs from tracking dirt.

Health Concerns

Members of the Sussex Spaniel breed are generally prone to hip dysplasia, heart disorders, and ear infections. They are also known to be plagued with patent ductus arteriosus, and spinal disc herniation. The breed has an average life expectancy of 11 to 12 years.

Best Environment

Sussex Spaniels generally make fair apartment dogs so long as they get to receive ample exercise. They are relatively active indoors and will appreciate access to a small yard. The breed is capable of thriving in living outdoors under temperate climates provided that they are given warm shelter. Because the breed loves to be with people, kennel-living is not a good idea.


Our mission is to promote excellence in all activities while acting as custodians of the Sussex Spaniel Breed.
The Sussex Spaniel was among the first ten breeds recognized by the AKC in 1884. Founded in 1981, The Sussex Spaniel Club of America is the official National Breed Club dedicated to the protection and preservation of the breed.

Sussex Spaniel
National Specialty 2021
November 11-13, 2021 Salisbury, MD

The Sussex Spaniel

See the versatile Sussex Spaniel at work in Conformation, Companion, Performance, Title, and Recognition Events!

Looking for a Sussex Spaniel

Interested in getting a Sussex Spaniel Puppy or an Adult Sussex? Find a breeder with help from our Breeder Referral Liason.

  • How to groom a sussex spaniel
  • How to groom a sussex spaniel

No “Designer” Sussex

Never Breed a Sussex to Another Breed

SSCA has taken a strong position as opposed to any breeding of Sussex Spaniels to other breeds. It has come to our attention that there are breeders who have bred their Sussex to other breeds. Although this is apparently rare, we must strongly oppose any practice that permits or allows the interbreeding of Sussex Spaniels with other breeds. It is contrary to the health of the puppies, and it is damaging to the breed.

Sussex Spaniels are a rare and venerable breed, preserved today through the diligent efforts of the original British breeders and breeders here in America who have worked very hard to preserve and protect this vulnerable breed. The study of the health, legacy, structure, temperament, and genetics of Sussex Spaniels began early and continues today. Through these efforts, our breed has become known for its charm, good health, and consistency. We love our Sussex and wish to preserve the breed for now and the future.

We believe that those who are fortunate enough to own one of these wonderful, rare dogs should never squander their good fortune by breeding “designer dogs.” Please never cross-breed your wonderful Sussex. Please make sure your puppy buyers never cross-breed any puppy you produce. This is for the betterment of the dogs and the breed. Thank you.

Heavily built and sturdy on rather short strong legs, the Sussex Spaniel has a short, abundant coat in a rich golden liver, shading to gold at the hair tips. Their broad head and somewhat serious, quizzical expression make them an attractive companion.

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Quiet dog
  • Welcomes everyone happily
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight: 23kg
Height: 38-41cm
Colours: Rich golden liver
Size: Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 2/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 2/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5

These happy and adaptable dogs can be very laid back, though it is important that they are introduced regularly to children, dogs, cars etc. until mature. They love hunting and are sometimes more interested in this than anything else when outside, so training when they are young is essential. Time invested in this dog is well worth the effort and the result is a happy and loyal companion.

The Sussex Spaniel dog breed was around in the early 1800s as part of a melange of land spaniels. The main interest in the breed began with Mr Fuller, a Sussex landowner, who kept several spaniel breeds, including Sussex Spaniels. He bred them for working and owned the breed for 50 years until the 1850s. By the time of the Second World War there were few Sussex being bred from and it is thought that after the war only 5 Sussex Spaniels remained. Fortunately the breed has had dedicated followers that have kept the breed alive, though it is still numerically small.

The Sussex Spaniel is generally a relatively hardy breed, as with many breeds however, they can suffer from hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems) and spinal disc disease. They are also prone to ear infections. For up-to-date health information visit the Kennel Club website or consult the breed club.

When young the Sussex Spaniel should be exercised carefully and not allowed to damage their growing joints. Youngsters and adults should receive plenty of mental stimulation in the form of games, training and scent work. Adults will need around 2 hours or more of daily dog exercise across a variety of routes and terrains, including swimming, to keep them mentally and physically happy.

The Sussex Spaniel is a big dog on short legs, so they do need some space and won’t cope well with steep flights of stairs or confined urban living. Plenty of outdoor space in a secure garden, and a home that can accommodate a large, muddy wet spaniel without fear for the furniture or décor is a must. Access to interesting and varied walking routes – and novel and interesting scents to follow – is essential to stave off boredom for both dog and owner.

The Sussex Spaniel needs to have a balanced diet including all the main nutrient groups and a constant supply of fresh water. It’s also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
There have been cases of bloat in this breed. Smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.

As a rule, a brush or comb through is required several times a week. The ears should be kept clean and checked for foreign bodies regularly. The hair around the pads should be trimmed and check between the claws for grass seeds. You can find out more about dog grooming and daily care with our article.

As you might imagine, the Sussex is a slower moving spaniel than many and this means they are steadier and less energetic. However, the Sussex is still a spaniel and they have a busy, active brain which must be kept entertained and well trained. Positive dog training methods using food, toys and the opportunity to perform enjoyable tasks such as scent work will keep a Sussex happy and pleasant to live with. Pay attention to training a good recall and teaching a solid retrieve and ‘drop’ early on, as many spaniels easily get themselves into trouble over carrying objects around and ‘stealing’ found items to fulfil that need to hold and carry.

For the active outdoor family, the Sussex Spaniel can be a great companion, keeping in mind the spaniel traits of collecting, carrying and holding found items. They may be better with older children who can follow rules not to leave precious treasures lying around. With those who enjoy a good long romp in the countryside at a steady pace, the Sussex will be a fine friend.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

How to groom a sussex spaniel

Did You Know?

Although one of the first breeds to be registered when the UK Kennel Club was formed in 1875, the Sussex Spaniel has always been rare and is now so rare there are more giant pandas (1864) than there were Sussex Spaniel puppies registered in 2018 (34).