The Sussex Spaniel tend to have a long, low, “rectangular” body, coupled with a muscular and rather massive physique. Their movement is deliberate and rolling because of their short legs and comparatively wide body, a gait that emphasizes power over speed. Their abundant body coat is flat or slightly wavy. A distinctive feature is the long feather between their toes, which is oftentimes long enough to cover the toenails. Their expression can be somber and serious, even frowning, but their wagging tail belies their true nature. The Sussex Spaniel tends to bark.
The “Spaniels of Sussex” are mentioned in a sporting publication of 1820 as good working dogs. Their name was adopted from Sussex, England. This breed soon became popular among the estates around Sussex County. They were adept as upland working dogs, slow working but with a good nose and apt to give tongue when on scent. Although one of the first ten AKC-recognized breeds, the Sussex Spaniel has never been a particularly popular. Perhaps because of these reasons, the Sussex Spaniel has been perilously close to extinction throughout most of the twentieth century and is still among the rarest of the recognized breeds.
The Sussex Spaniel is more laid back than other spaniels. This makes them well suited for city life, but they still appreciate and need daily exercise. They may be noisier than other spaniels. If left alone while other activities are ongoing, they may feel left out and bark or howl. They are usually calm, steady, and easygoing members of the household. Their somber expression is misleading because they are often quite cheerful.
The Sussex Spaniel needs daily exercise, but their needs can be met with a good walk or a short romp in a fenced yard. Given the chance, they will appreciate a longer walk. Their coat typically needs brushing and combing two to three times a week.