This handsome breed derives its name from the county of Sussex, where it originated, or at least has existed for many years. The Sussex is one of the oldest of the Spaniel family. The breed, however, have been kept pure only by excessive in-breeding, which has impaired their constitutions. In consequence puppies are often delicate and hard to raise, but are hardy after they arrive at maturity.
The well-bred Sussex is a beautiful Spaniel, for his symmetrical proportions are clothed in a rich red coat that would lend distinction to any dog. In the field they are most reliable workmen, somewhat slower to be sure than the leggier Springer, but surpassing them in patience and perseverance. They will force their way through the thickest cover and allow nothing to escape them. They differ from the rest of the Spaniels by giving tongue on scent, and those who are accustomed to them can tell by the difference in their tone whether they are after fur or feather.
The modern Field Spaniel gets his size and weight from the Sussex Spaniel, and in years gone by they have undoubtedly been resorted to in developing other breeds.
The chief points to look for in the selection of Sussex Spaniel puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: A short, massive head, square muzzle, well-defined stop, lengthy body on short, straight forelegs; great bone, flat coat of a deep golden color, down-carried tail.
The descriptive particulars of this breed are as follows:
HEAD. -The skull should be moderately long, and also wide, with an indentation in the middle, and a full stop; brows fairly heavy; occiput full but not pointed, the whole giving an appearance of heaviness without dullness.
EYES.-Hazel color, fairly large, soft and languishing, not showing the haw overmuch.
NOSE.-The muzzle should be about three inches long, square, and the lips somewhat pendulous; the nostrils well developed and liver color.
EARS.-Thick, fairly large, and lobe-shaped; set moderately low, but relatively not so low as in the Black Field Spaniel; carried close to the head, and furnished with soft, wavy hair.
NECK-Is rather short, strong, and slightly arched, but not carrying the head much above the level of the back. There should not be much throatiness in the skin, but well-marked frill in the coat.
CHEST AND SHOULDERS.-The chest is round, especially behind the shoulders, deep and wide, giving a good girth. The shoulders should be oblique.
BACK AND BACK RIBS.-The back and loin is long, and should be very muscular, both in width and depth; for this development the back ribs must be deep. The whole body is characterized as low, long, level, and strong.
LEGS AND FEET.-The arms and thighs must be bony, as well as muscular, knees and hocks large and round, and with short hair between the toes. The legs should be very short and strong, with great bone, and may show a slight bend in the forearm, and be moderately well feathered. The hindlegs should not be apparently shorter than the forelegs or be too much bent at the hocks, so as to give a Settery appearance, which is so objectionable. The hindlegs should be well feathered above the hocks, but should not have much hair below this point. The hocks should be short and wide apart.
TAIL should be docked from five to seven inches, set low, and not carried above the level of the back; thickly clothed and moderately long feather.
COAT.-Body coat abundant, flat, or slightly waved, with no tendency to curl; moderately well feathered on legs and stern, but clean below the hocks.
COLOR.-Rich golden liver. This is a certain sign of the purity of the breed, dark liver or puce denoting unmistakably a recent cross with the black or other variety Field Spaniels.
GENERAL APPEARANCE.-Rather massive and muscular, but with free movements and nice tail action, denoting a tractable and cheerful disposition. Weight from 35 to 45 pounds.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Head, 10; eyes, 5; nose, 5; ears, 10; neck, 5; chest and shoulders, 5; back and back ribs, 10; legs and feet, 10; tail, 5; coat, 5; color, 15; general appearance, 15; Total, 100.