History of the Breed in America

The following excerpt (taken from Sussex Spaniel, A Complete and Reliable Handbook, John Robert Lewis, Jr.) has been reprinted.

The history of the Sussex Spaniel in America is as old as the American Kennel Club itself. As the Sussex was one of the first recognizable breeds of spaniel, the AKC included it among the initial breeds the club recognized.  Although there were a couple of Sussex entered into the AKC’s Stud book in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the first registration of a documented Sussex Spaniel occurred in 1924 with the registration of the English import Oak Mermaid. The first documented purebred Sussex litter born in America arrived on September 6, 1924. This litter was from Oak Mermaid out of the Scottish import Clackmannanshire Scotty. Mermaid proved to be an influential bitch who founded an American line that lasted six generations.

The majority of Sussex puppies born during the first half of the 1930s were registered in the Field Dog Stud Book and not the American Kennel Club Studbook. Between 1936-1940, Elmina Brewster, who later appears under her married name Elmina Sewall, imported some of the best stock available in England; Mrs. Sewall (Tarralong Kennel) went on to breed seven litters over the next six years. Col. and Mrs. Edmund Russel of Rumford, Rhode Island, played an important role in Sussex history during the 1940s. There were only four other people to have bred Sussex in America during the 1940s:  Harry Bradford, Dr. & Mrs. Larrabee, Daniel Farrell, and Boyd E. Hayward. By war’s end there were more Sussex Spaniels alive in the US than in the United Kingdom. Tragically, there is no link between the American-bred Sussex of today and those of the 1940s. The last litter of the Sussex born in America during the 1930s and 1940s arrived on April 24, 1951. The only other Sussex Spaniel litter born during the 1950s occurred in 1957. A few Sussex were imported during the 1960s but only two have relevance in today’s pedigrees. In 1969, Nadine Prokop of Richland, Washington, imported Doric of Creswelshaw; in the same year, Milt and Eunice Gies imported Sedora Quettadene Damon. 

The revival of the breed in America began in earnest in the early 1970s.  It was during this time that most of the Sussex that were to become the foundation of the breed in America made the journey from England. George and Marcia Deugan began their Ziyadah Kennel of Sussex Spaniels in 1970 with the importation of Ch Oakmoss Witch, CD. The following year the Deugans added the litter brothers Ch. Sedora Galega and Ch. Sedora Galingale. In early 1972, the Deugans bred Galega to Witch and the resulting litter, born March 2, 1972, became the first Sussex puppies to be born in the US since 1957. This was the most influential litter born during the 1970s. The Ziyadah Kennel has played a dominant role in ensuring the survival of the breed. William and Margaret Reid imported Ch Sharland Sussex Mayfly and Sharland Sussex Gold and these two became the cornerstone of the Wilred Kennel. The first of the Wilred Sussex litters arrived on August 19, 1972. Ch Wilred Country Gentleman and Ch Wilred Royal Velvet both came from that litter and these two figure prominently in the pedigrees of most American-bred Sussex. John Robert Lewis, Jr., began his career with the Sussex in 1972. He imported Ch Oldholbans Fionnlagh in 1972 and Ch Fourclovers Lapwaiin early 1973. The first litter of Sussex was born at Lexxfield Kennel in March 1973 from a breeding between Ch Oldholbans Fionnlagh and Ch Sedora Quettadene Damon. Fionnlagh’s second litter by Ch Fourclovers Lapwai arrived a year later. These two litters formed the foundation of the Lexxfield line.

In many rare breeds, the breeders of one or two litters play a significant role. This is the case with Sussex. The Sussex Spaniel has always been fortunate in having one or two long-term breeders who have helped the breed through difficult times. Without the owners who have bred the occasional litter, however, the very existence of the Sussex would have been in question.

Interested in Learning More about the Sussex Spaniel?

The following publications and links can be recommended:

Sussex Spaniel-A Complete and Reliable Handbook, John Robert Lewis, JR, T.F.H. Publications

The Sussex Spaniel, Peggy Grayson, Boydell Press, 1989

A History of the Sussex Spaniel, Edward J. Orton, 1987

The Sporting Spaniel Handbook, Loren Spiotta-DiMare, Barron’s, 1999

The Book of Dogs Volume IV, A catalogue of Sussex from June 2003— December 2012.

The Book of Dogs Volume III, A catalogue of Sussex from January 1998—April 2003.

The Book of Dogs, Volume II, A catalogue of Sussex from January 1994—1998.

The Book of Dogs Volume I, A catalogue of Sussex from 1972-1994.

The above Book of Dogs are currently out of print.



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