Showsight Presents the Sussex Spaniel


While a judge must take into consideration deviations from the standard’s language, the judge must also give greater weight to the enumerated faults. In other words, these faults warrant special attention.

A legitimate question arises as to why positive emphasis is placed on certain features, and negative emphasis on faults that may involve the same features mentioned in the positive. The answer lies in a careful reading of the existing “Faults” section (and the old scale of points). Notice that the ranking of positive features alludes to the different headings of the standard, while the list of faults are specific faults , not just deviations from the descrip- tions noted in the headings. While a judge must take into consider- ation deviations from the standard’s language, the judge must also give greater weight to the enumerated faults. In other words, these faults warrant special attention. The following example illustrates how a judge should use the ranking of positive features: Assume two exhibits appear in the Open Dog class. Both are equal in quality except that exhibit A’s topline is level and his back ribs are deep, but he is rather straight in the shoulders. Exhibit B’s topline is not level and his back ribs are not deep, but his shoulders have the proper moderate layback. Neither has any of the specific faults listed in the “Faults” section. Since the breed standard lists back and back ribs as a feature of sec- ondary importance, and chest and shoulders of lesser importance, the judge should place Exhibit A first. A judge would apply the specific faults under the “Faults” sec- tion in a similar manner. Again, assume two exhibits in the Open Dog class. Exhibit A and B are similar in appearance and are evenly matched in structure. Exhibit A has light eyes and is undershot. Exhibit B has proper eye color and a scissors bite, but the dog is very dark liver in color. In this situation, the judge should again place Exhibit A first as his two faults are considered “minor,” whereas Exhibit B’s color fault is considered “major.”

When applying statutory construction to legislation, lawyers must give every word meaning. Those on the Sussex Spaniel Stan- dard Revision Committee applied the same principle to the for- mer standard. The scales of points added additional language not found in the main body of the standard. The committee wanted to preserve the language of the point scales and keep the ranking of virtues and faults intact. To accomplish this, the Committee translated the positive points as follows: Those features assigned 15 points were labeled “most important features,” those assigned 10 points were labeled “of secondary importance,” and those assigned 5 points were labeled as “features of lesser importance.” Similarly, the committee translated the scale of negative points as follows: Those faults assigned 15 negative points became “severe faults” in the new standard, those assigned 10 negative points became “major faults,” and those assigned 5 points became “minor faults.” The ”Faults” section of the current standard reads: “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. Seri- ous 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 flat-sided, and a bite other than scissors. There are no disqualifications in the Sussex Spaniel standard.”


John Robert Lewis, Jr., otherwise known as Bobby, established his “Lexxfield” line of Sussex Spaniels in 1972 with the English import Ch. Oldholbans Fionnlagh. He is one of two living founding members of the Sussex Spaniel Club of America, and has held most offices within that organization. He is currently the club’s delegate to the AKC. Bobby is also a life member of both the American Spaniel Club and the Sussex Spaniel Club of America. Through his forty-nine years in the breed, he has been an active breeder and conformation exhibitor. The Lexxfield breeding program is now in its 16th generation.

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