This dog for years was called a “spaniel,” but since his work performance bears more in common with pointers and setters, he has gone by simply Brittany since 1982. He was developed in the Brittany region of France between the 17th and 19th centuries and came to the US during the 20th. He makes a highly versatile gun dog/retriever and a loving family pet.
The first known account of hunting with a Brittany happened in 1850, when an Englishman wrote down his experiences in hunting with a small, brown and white dog that performed exceptionally well in thick brush. The dog pointed instinctively, retrieved happily and was easy to manage in the field. The hunters of today choose the Brittany for many of the same reasons.
The French dog registry first recognized the breed in 1907; the orange-and-white dog was named simply “Boy.” The first breed standard was issued that year and mandated the dog be born with a naturally short tail. Black-and-white Brittanys were also excluded. The Brittany arrived in the U.S. in 1931 and was registered with the AKC in 1934. The American breed standard retained the prohibition of dogs with black in their coats, but eliminated the requirement of a naturally short tail.
Even today, there are subtle distinctions between French and American Brittanys. This article deals with the American variety.
Brittanys stand from 17.5 to 20.5 inches at the shoulder. Weight should be between 30 and 45 pounds. Usually, females weigh slightly less than the males.
Their coats can be a number of different colors — orange and white, liver and white, or roan. A tri-colored mixture of liver, white and orange. The breed standard requires very specific color placement on these tri-colored dogs.
Brittany owners describe a good-natured dog who is easy to train; hunters prize them for their pointing and retrieving prowess, as well as their endurance and love of the outdoors.
Training a Brittany must be based on praise positive reinforcement, as they are sensitive dogs who will grow up to be shy if treated too harshly. They do learn quickly and are eager to please.
Training should always involve or include socialization, and once socialized the Brittany will grow up to be friendly to all and devoted to his family.
Like most hunting dogs, Brittanys very much need exercise, and lots of it. Therefore, the Brittany is not an ideal apartment dog -- he needs room to run, preferably in his own large backyard. They can also be walking and running companions, and they even enjoy swimming.
When in an unfenced outdoor area, a Brittany must be kept on a leash, lest he take off in pursuit of a passing bird.
Conditions the Brittany may face include hip dysplasia, ear infections, renal problems and seizures. If your dog is young, ask your vet to check for signs of these problems. Ear infections can be prevented with an inexpensive cleanser available from your veterinarian.
One of the “up-sides” of the Brittany is that he is a very light shedder. When regularly brushed, it can seem like he’s not shedding at all. Unless dirty — for example, mud-covered from a hunt — he can be bathed about every three months.
Again, this breed is prone to ear infections, so you’ll want to keep his ears cleaned about weekly with a cotton ball and a cleaning solution available from your vet.
When looking for a dog please consider rescuing. Here is a link to a Brittany rescue: https://nbran.org/
Click to sign our petition to amend the Animal Welfare Act to claim that all dogs must be given 20 ft. of space above and below their dimensions, measured from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail, that is not obstructed.