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Taking the spotlight as the Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 2009, Sussex spaniel breed earned its new fans. Despite being a guard breed, the Sussex makes a good show dog or a pet, is adaptable, and is good with children. Considered as bird dogs, it has a rectangular body sporting its trademark—an abundant, feathery-rich, golden liver coat. Sussex has its own association solely supporting the breed. However, it is considered as a vulnerable native breed having very few registered pedigree puppies with the Kennel Club every year. The Sussex, with its frowny-looking face, contradicts its cheerful and energetic nature.
The Sussex spaniel originated in the eighteenth century in the UK. Mr. Augustus Elliott Fuller, a rich British landowner, was recognised as the Sussex founder. For fifty years, they were kept as working dogs on his large estate. Its breeding was limited mainly to Sussex County, and the spaniels were occasionally inbred with field spaniels.
There were other Sussex spaniel breeders; however, their numbers dropped during World War II. Since breeding was discouraged during wartime, their numbers dwindled and only about five to seven known Sussex spaniels were left. Gratefully, through the hard work of breeder enthusiasts, Mrs. Joy Freer in particular, saving the lovely breed was a success. The breed is recognised by Kennel Club in the UK.
For the protection of the breed, the Sussex Spaniel Association was formed in 1924. The breed was soon identified by the Kennel Club in 2004 as a vulnerable British breed with only about fifty registered dogs in 2016.
Considered as bird dogs, the Sussex spaniel has a long, rectangular body and sporting its trademark—an abundant, feathery-rich, golden liver coat. In comparison with the rest of the spaniel breeds, Sussex yields a very unique look. Its head is wider, having a defining curve between its ears. It is strongly built and moves with a distinctive roll.
The breed has hazel eye colour showing off a soft and a gentle expression. It has thick, fairly large ears set moderately low. One of the noticeable features is visible around its neck, full of long, slightly-wavy ruffles.
Round in shape, its feet are well built with feathering in between. The tail is pleasantly feathered, set low, moderately long, and couldn’t be carried way above its back.
The Sussex spaniel is distinctive with its abundant coat. Its ears are covered with soft, wavy hair. Its body is moderately well-feathered, with golden liver as the only accepted breed colour. Gold is the predominant colour.
This well-feathered breed needs regular grooming to keep its coat untangled and flea-free. Trim the hair at the bottom of the feet to avoid slipping.
In contrast to its sombre and frowning expression, it is actually a friendly, cheerful dog. It makes such a good companion because it loves being around people, hence, joining into any activity with its tail wagging with enthusiasm. It doesn’t like to be left alone. It is very communicative through barking when it finds something unusual or exciting. It can be a good choice for first-time owners as it has a laid-back nature and is always willing and eager to please the owner. Bear in mind that as a gun dog, this breed needs exercise routine or regular walks. Though compared to the other hunting dogs, the Sussex moves at a slower pace.
The Sussex spaniel is known to be intelligent and is easy to train. Owners are encouraged to train their dogs as early as eight weeks old. With late training, the breed tends to do things its own way and could develop some unwanted behavioural issues.
As this canine is intelligent and trainable, it is also sensitive particularly on 'voice' commands. Therefore, using the technique of raised voice doesn’t always end up with a desired positive result for this breed. The best choice is to use positive reinforcement during training.
It is important to have a feeding schedule and provide the same food your Sussex is used to in order to avoid stomach upsets. However, if you need to shift to another type of high-quality food, do so gradually. This helps your canine to adjust accordingly without complications.
Its nutritional requirement will largely depend on its age and size. However, as it is a very slow-growing breed, it is best to feed it with high-quality dog food. You can add some extra meat source such as hamburger, beef liver, or chicken. It’s also essential for dogs to have the right amount of exercise to avoid obesity.
The average Sussex lifespan is ten to twelve years. This breed is known to be affected by the following health conditions:
As a very energetic dog, the Sussex spaniel should be exercised for at least two hours every day. However, the more tired this pooch is, the happier it will be, so going beyond the minimum time is a welcome treat.
The average rate for a well-bred Sussex pup is between £500 and £600. Insurance may cost about £22 (basic) to £42 (lifetime) monthly. The food cost is estimated at £30 to £40 monthly. For vaccinations, boosters, annual checks, and other veterinary costs, pet care expenses may add up to more than £1,000 annually.
On average, a Sussex spaniel owner will spend about £60 to £90 per month. The insurance costs can also affect these cost estimates. For its lifetime (10–12 years), the costs can range from £7,200 to £12,960 overall. This estimate does not include the costs incurred in buying a puppy yet.
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