2016 SSCA Health Committee presents Survey #2, Reproduction

If you have ever bred a litter of Sussex Spaniels, please click on the link below and submit a suvey.

2016 SSCA Health Committee Survey #2: Reproduction



Sussex Health

Sussex Spaniels can trace their lineage back to virtually six dogs at the end of WW2.  Consequently, in-breeding on deleterious health issues should be avoided if at all possible.  Recommended testing for possibly life-shortening genetic issues would include:


  • Cardiac auscultation by Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist

  • Thyroid Blood Panel - relating to possible autoimmune mediated diseases such as Protein Losing Enteropathy


Hip dysplasia is diagnosed about 42% (per OFA records) of the time in this chondroplastic breed but seldom debilitating.  Other potential health concerns in Sussex are allergies, ectropionism (drooping lower eyelids) and buildup of excess tartar resulting in tooth loss. Females can experience difficulty in conceiving and whelping.  Sussex puppies are slower to mature than most breeds, particularly in walking and opening their eyes.

Possible Quality-of-Life issues to be tested for in breeding stock would be:


  • Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia - radiographs submitted to OFA for evaluation of Penn Hip diagnosis

  • Patella Luxation - clinical exam by experienced veterinarian (may require surgical repair in worst case scenarios)

  • Eye Exam by Board Certified Veterinarian

  • BAER testing for deafness

  • Test for PDH deficiency



Although not a major health concern unless puppies are unable to "get up on their legs", Sussex youngsters, and even older Sussex, will propel themselves forward on their front legs while dragging their hind legs stretched straight out behind them; it’s called kippering and is a very normal trait for Sussex.



Health Testing

By health screening of breeding stock and selectively breeding for the best, many health issues can be eliminated or greatly reduced in frequency depending on the mode of inheritance.  For example, the PDH deficiency is a single autosomal, recessively carried gene.  With the tests now available, it is entirely possible to never produce an affected pup again.  Testing (called the PDP1 test) is being offered at the following two locations:

The University of Missouri. Further information can be found at www.CanineGeneticDiseases.net. Submission forms and instructions are also available at this site. Just click on either submission or instructions.

VetGen is now also offering PDP1 testing using swabs rather than a blood draw: http://www.vetgen.com/ordertests.aspx?id=Sussex


Health-Related Reading

Control of Canine Genetic Diseases. George A. Padgett, DVM, Professor of Pathology, Michigan State University. Howell Book House, NYC. 1998.

Canine reproduction and Whelping, a Dog Breeder's Guide. Myra Savant Harris, RN. Dogwise Publishing. 2005.

Canine Hereditary Deafness B: Is it a Problem in the Sussex Spaniel Breed?  George M. strain, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, Baton Rouge, LA




Health-Related Links

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

Dedicated to collating & disseminating information concerning orthopedic and genetic diseases in animals.

AKC Canine Health Foundation


Canine Health Information Center

A repository of health testing information by breed, bloodlines and dog, a part of the Canine Health Foundation.




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