Spaniel (Sussex)

Last updated October 2009

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Strongly built. Active, energetic dog, whose characteristic movement is a decided roll, and unlike that of any other Spaniel.


Natural working ability, gives tongue at work in thick cover.


Kindly disposition, aggression highly undesirable.

Head and skull

Skull wide, showing moderate curve from ear to ear, neither flat nor apple headed, with centre indentation and a pronounced stop. Brows frowning; occiput decided, but not pointed. Nostrils well developed and liver in colour. Well-balanced head.


Hazel colour, fairly large, not full, but soft expression and showing little, if any, haw.


Thick, fairly large and lobular, set moderately low, just above eye level. Lying close to skull.


Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.


Long, strong, and slightly arched, not carrying head much above level of back. Slight throatiness, but well-marked frill.


Shoulders sloping and free; arms well boned and muscular. Knees large and strong, pasterns short and well boned. Legs rather short and strong.


Chest deep and well developed; not too round and wide. Back and loin well developed and muscular in both width and depth. The back ribs must be deep. Whole body strong and level with no sign of waistiness from withers to hips.


Thighs strongly boned and muscular; hocks large and strong, legs short and strong with good bone. Hindlegs not appearing shorter than forelegs or over angulated.


Round, well padded, well feathered between toes.


Previously customarily docked to 13-18 cms (5-7 ins).

Docked: Set low and never carried above level of back. Tail thickly covered with hair but not feathered.

Undocked: Set low, of medium length, and not carried above the level of the back. It should taper gradually to a point and be moderately feathered. Lively tail action is typical of the breed.


True fore and aft with distinctive roll.


Abundant and flat with no tendency to curl and with ample undercoat for weather resistance. Ears covered with soft, wavy hair, but not too profuse. Forequarters and hindquarters moderately well feathered.


Rich golden liver and hair shading to golden at tip; gold predominating. Dark liver or puce undesirable.


Ideal height at withers: 38-41 cms (15-16 ins). Weight: approximately 23 kgs (50 lbs).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.