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THE SUSSEX SPANIEL
The Sussex spaniel is a smaller dog than the Clumber, and of a golden liver colour, which is the test of its purity, as any deviation in tint to a darker shade is proof presumptive of an out-cross. It is certain that a local strain of spaniels existed in Sussex a hundred years ago and more ; at any rate the country had a reputation for producing good spaniels, as you may read in the Sportsman's Cabinet. But the recorded history of the modern Sussex spaniel only goes back to a comparatively recent date. I am obliged to Mr. Campbell Newington for an article on the breed, which he contributed to Land and Water many years ago, and deals with it from the established point of departure which carried it out of obscurity to the showbench. The strain was in the possession of Mr. Fuller of Rosehill Park, near Hastings, who, in days long gone by, had many fine specimens. The breed had smaller ears then than at the period of Mr. Newington's article (1883), and was not feathered below the hock. Mr. Fuller was a great sportsman of the old school, who derived his satisfaction from a small bag brought to book over dogs, and won with hard work in the extensive woods that surrounded his mansion. He died in 1847 ; and as he had kept this strain of spaniels for fifty years, we are able to arrive at its
approximate antiquity. On his death Mrs. Fuller allowed Relf, the head gamekeeper, to select a couple of the spaniels from the kennel by way of a legacy, and from these emanated the pure-bred specimens that existed thirty-five years later. The rest of the kennel was sold, and realised “ fabulous prices,” which serves to show in what high esteem a strain, confessedly local, was held in those days. Descendants of the keeper's dogs have passed into the hands of Mr. Campbell Newington, whose kennel prefix is “ Rosehill,” and of Mr. Moses Woolland, and these two kennels represent the leading ones in the modern fancy.
In the article I am quoting from, Mr. Newington thus describes the Sussex spaniel of that period :
The Sussex spaniel is, without doubt, one of the most-if not the most-useful spaniels we have. It contains within itself all the most essential qualities for a sportsman-pluck, endurance, perseverance, and last, but not least, a most delicate nose. Owing to the thick texture of his coat, he is able to stand any amount of cold and wet ; he is the most inquisitive mortal, every little piece of cover likely to hold game he searches into; his short, thick, powerful legs and grand loins, combined with strength and pluck, enable him to break through obstacles which no other dog would face. With his keen nose he is able to hunt a cold scent when no other spaniel would own it ; in fact I have seen them hunt trail where the birds have been roosting at night, and where they have been feeding in the early morn. To my mind there is as much difference between a Sussex spaniel and a modern spaniel as between a good old southern hound and a modern harrier. . . . The Sussex spaniel was never what you may call a handsome, drawing-room dog ; he was rather the opposite, somewhat coarse and strongly built, and bred to suit the country from whence he takes his name, where large woods abound, and the covers are thick and thorny, and where pluck and endurance are required to carry a dog through the day.
From this description of twenty years ago I pass to the same authority's views of what a modern Sussex spaniel should be.
MR. CAMPBELL NEWINGTON'S IDEAL SUSSEX SPANIEL. Head large, not long or narrow ; forehead rather round from back to front; stop not too deep; from stop to tip of nose, fairly short ; well chiselled under the eyes; muzzle square ; eyes large and hazel colour ; ears, lobe-shaped, set fairly low, not too long ; body, fairly long but well ribbed up, with good loin ; stern, set on low and carried on a level with the back; legs, straight, with good bone, not too short, but by no means leggy; coat, golden liver, dense and wiry ; legs well feathered, but not below the hocks. Weight about 50 to 55 lbs; bitches 45 lbs. More attention should be given to the coats. I find, from practical experience, the coats of the modern Sussex spaniels are too silky and soft for hard work; they are unable to stand the cold and wet, and will not face the bushes and brambles as they ought to do.
The following is Mr. Moses Woolland's description of a Sussex spaniel, as it should be :
The head should be moderately long and wide, with a pronounced stop; brows fairly heavy; eye, hazel colour, large and languishing—a staring or yellow eye being most objectionable'; muzzle square, lips pendulous, and the mouth large ; ears should be thick, fairly large, lobe-shaped, and set moderately low, well furnished with silky hair, and should hang close to the cheeks. The nose should be large and liver - coloured ; neck strong and muscular; chest wide, and shoulders well thrown back; body long and barrel-shaped. Legs should be moderately short and very strong and muscular; feet round, well arched, and furnished with moderate feathering ; loins should be very strong, and back ribs very deep and round; tail set low and not carried above the level of the back. Body-coat flat and abundant, moderately feathered on stern and on legs, but clean below the hocks; colour, rich golden liver,- dark liver or puce unmistakably denoting an out-cross with the field spaniel. The following measurements might be of interest :-Length from eye to nose, 35 inches ; length of fore leg, 91 inches ; from tip of nose to set on of tail, 33 inches ; and in general appearance should be massive and muscular, with free movement and nice tail action, and should weigh about 45 lbs.
The following are the criticisms and notes on the breed which I have received from my contributors :
MR. CAMPBELL NEWINGTON.-I am satisfied with the type of the present day, but should like to see them a trifle higher on the leg ; this would render them much more useful for work. Sussex spaniels have been my only breed for twenty-two years. I use them for shooting over and for field trials, and consider they have better noses and are better scented than any other spaniel, provided the strain is right. They are very hardy, good retrievers, and stand wet and cold, provided they are not bred from parents with silky coats. I think Mr. Woolland's Bridford Bredaboy and Bridford Daisy the most typical dogs of the breed, but I must say their coats are not so thick and hard as my old “Rosehill ” strain. For sporting purposes I consider the coat one of the most important points, and unless they are thick and hard the dogs cannot stand cold and wet, and soon get perished; also these two dogs might be a trifle higher on the leg, and they would then be more active in the field. I have exhibited Sussex spaniels for over twenty years, and have won just over four hundred prizes with them. My old dog Laurie, a son of Mr. Hudson's Dash, was considered by the late Dr. Williams the handsomest Sussex spaniel he had ever seen. I mated him with a beautiful bitch named Lady Rosehill, which came direct from Mr. Fuller's kennels. She had eleven puppies by him. My strain dates back to Ch. Bachelor, owned by Mr. Saxby, one of the best and most typical specimens ever whelped, and from whom the best modern Sussex spaniel strains are descended ; also Rosehill Ruler II., one of the best I have ever had, sire of my Ch. Rosehill Rush, who died last year, was bred from the same strain.
Col. R. CLAUDE CANE.-I am satisfied with the type of the Sussex spaniel as it exists to-day. I prefer the breed to others because it is an older and a purer breed, and on account of its beautiful colour ; also because it is scarcer. In characteristics of temperament, etc., it differs very little from the other varieties.
Mr. F. E. SCHOLFIELD.-I am satisfied with the type of Mr. Woolland's dogs.
MR. F. WINTON SMITH. — Personally I consider the dogs winning to-day too heavy, long and low to the ground. I like Mr. Newington's dogs, as being more workmanlike, and I have found the working qualities transmitted in dogs descended from the Rosehill strain.
A unanimous vote has been given for Ch. Bridford Bredaboy as the most typical Sussex spaniel living, and
Mr. Woolland has supplied me with a very good photograph, which I reproduce, as well as one of Mr. Campbell Newington's famous Rosehill strain.
Ch. Bridford Bredaboy was bred and is owned by Mr. Moses Woolland; by Bridford Giddie ex Bridford Brida II., and was whelped in April 1892. He is of a golden liver colour, weighs 42 lbs., and his owner describes him as having a beautifully chiselled head, well balanced and proportioned throughout ; eyes dark hazel ; ears well placed ; body long and deep, and well ribbed up; stern well placed and carried low; legs straight and powerful, with good bone; excellent feet ; coat golden liver in colour, perfectly flat and the correct texture ; is moderately feathered, as a Sussex spaniel should be. A splendid mover, and full of spaniel character. Has won three championships and prizes too numerous to mention
Rosehill Rock, bred and owned by Mr. Campbell Newington, is by Bridford Bibelotex Rosehill Rhonda, and was born in October 1901. He stands 15 inches at the shoulder, weighs 50 lbs., and is the correct golden liver colour. His description runs : “Eyes large, round and hazel in colour; ears set on low; tail rather low, and never carried above the level of his back ; coat straight and flat, dense and not silky; legs strong and bony, with plenty of feather, except on the hind legs below the hocks; hair on ears straight, with no curl ; colour of coat correct. From an exhibition point of view Rosehill Rock might be considered by some judges to be an inch too high on the leg, but from a working point of view I think this is an advantage. The photograph is a perfect likeness of the dog, and cannot be improved. The dog is a very good retriever and worker, and won a certificate of merit at the last field trials, and his sister Roshill Rag has won the silver challenge cup twice for the best working Sussex spaniel at the trials. Rock is also a great winner on the show-bench."
The following Standard of Points is extracted from the book of the Spaniel Club; it will be observed that the limit of weight is given at 35 to 45 lbs., whilst Mr. Campbell Newington prefers a heavier dog for his “ ideal.”