Showsight Presents the Sussex Spaniel

THE SUSSEX SPANIEL

By Danita Slatton Sussex Spaniel Breeder and AKC Judge

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he Sussex Spaniel is one of the most unique in the Sporting Dog group. Th ey are still one of the rarest of the rare breeds, with approximately 600

in number. Th is has stayed pretty much the same for the past 20 years. Th is little brown dog, as most breeders refer to them, is long, low and level. Th ey are exuberant in the field and their tail action is quite lively when on the scent of a bird. Th ey are slow and methodical, with quartering (back and forth movement) covering the entire field. Th ey are the true gentleman’s hunting dog, which simply means, they stay close to their master and within gun range. Th ere are many misconceptions regard- ing the Sussex Spaniel in the show ring, so we will discuss a few of them in this article. Anyone judging the Sussex (or other Span- iels as well) should be well versed in just what some of the terminology really means and how it relates to that particular breed. We will start with the Sussex being long, low and level. Th ey are rectangular, which I believe most judges understand; they are low, 13"-15" in height and they should car- ry a level topline. Th eir lively tail action is something you will only see while they are in the field, doing the work for which they were

bred for. Th ey should have a nice wagging tail in the show ring, but please do not expect “lively” tail action. Th at tail action comes when they are on scent of a bird and assists their master in identifying where they are by the movement of the cover. Th e Sussex is, most generally one with a happy disposition and should have a nice moving tail, but the field is where the meaning of “lively” should come into play. Th ey are slow and methodical. Th e word “slow” is relative. Relative to what, one might ask. Th ere have been many judges that demand that exhibitors “slow down”, stating this is a slow, gentleman’s hunting dog. Th ere doesn’t appear to be a good knowledge of field work, for the

Sussex is not slow while in the field or anywhere else, for that matter. Th ey are, indeed a Sporting Dog and should rep- resent the same vim, vigor and vitality in or out of the field as any of the other Sporting Dogs. Again, the word “slow” is relative to other sporting dogs, such as the English Springer, Setters, Retrievers, etc. Do they cover as much ground, as say a Golden and in the same amount of time? We would all agree that would be a “no”. Th e Sussex is indeed slower than the rest of their group, but they are not slow! Th ey cannot (nor should they) keep up with the Springers, Goldens, etc. However, those short legs cover some pretty thick, heavy cover while on scent and they don’t

“The Sussex is, most generally one with a happy disposition and should have a nice moving tail, BUT THE FIELD IS WHERE THE MEANING OF ‘LIVELY’ SHOULD COME INTO PLAY.”

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