Brittany

If it has feathers, then there’s a great chance the Brittany will hunt it. This industrious, medium size breed is a prolific hunter and a versatile athlete. While anyone can own a Brittany, not everyone can keep up with this bright and upbeat dog.

Today, most people tend to forget that this breed was once a “spaniel” type. However, once the breed hit the states in the early 20th century, a new name for the breed would emerge.

Why the name changes and what makes this breed such a great choice for prospective dog owners?

Here is what you need to know about the Brittany.

History

The Brittany comes from the western tip of France. Moreover, the common belief is that the breed’s development took place in the Bretagne region. And like other French breeds historians can trace the breed’s existence from 17th century tapestries and paintings.

In fact, those paintings seem to depict a dog that was more pointer than spaniel in type. According to the Brittany Club of America, the spaniel name may be a result of erroneous translating.

Regardless, this breed was bred to be a hunter of all things feather. Whether the bird was duck, woodcock, partridge or pheasant, the Britt could and would hunt it. Many historians believe that this breed was originally a dog for the common man. While others point specifically to a dog for poachers and peasants.

Although there’s no absolute confirmation on their ancestry, many believe the breed to be a cross between English pointers and spaniel types with white and liver coats. 

Fast forward to the 20th century, where things began to line up nicely for the breed. In 1907, thanks to the formation of Club de L’Epagneul Breton, the breed would gain its first official recognition. The standard became official in 1908 after being drawn up the year before in Nantes, France.

The first Brittany import to the United States came in 1928. This was met with great fanfare, as the breed gave hunters in the state plenty of versatility. For centuries, the breed was known for their tracking and scenting abilities. The Britt would obtain official recognition with the American Kennel Club in 1934 as a Brittany Spaniel.

However, unlike spaniels, this breed has more of a pointing style than flushing its game. This would lead to a bit of debate on hunting type and in 1982, the American Kennel Club chose to drop the name “spaniel” designating them into the sporting group.

Today, the Brittany still works as a gun dog. According to the American Kennel Club, Britt’s are the 25th most popular breed among the club’s rankings.

Size

The Brittany is a medium size dog. Both males and females share the same height and weights. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed should stand between 17.5 to 20.5 inches. The standard in weight should be from 30 to 40 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

If you live an active lifestyle, then the Brittany is your type of breed. This breed enjoys participating in many outdoor activities and is quite fond of K-9 sports. The Brittany has great stamina and is willing to test it out for the right master. Although they don’t need a huge amount of space, this is by no means an apartment dog. 

Daily jogs, walks, or visits to the park are all vital to the Brittany. They love to play with their master and are considerably good with children. Agility, flyball, or field trials are all great activities the Britt can do without problem. They should be fine with other dogs, for as long as early socialization takes place with them as puppies. 

Many breeders call this breed a dual dog because they can thrive in the field and show ring. Faithful and alert, this breed can make for a fine watchdog as well. However, they are an easygoing breed and friendly with most people. 

This is a breed that is eager to please their master and wants nothing more than to spend plenty of time with their family. They aren’t big fans of being alone, so you should always find time for your Brittany. Plenty of affection and attention is crucial in keeping the Brittany happy. 

All in all, this is a breed that can live outdoors but should be an indoor pet. If you can manage their high needs of exercise and activity, the Brittany is a simple breed to tend for. At the end of the day, this is a breed that wants to be a part of family endeavors and needs a home with love and consistency.

Health

Having a hard time finding a healthy breed? You’re in luck, the Brittany doesn’t have a long list of health complication. Dog experts consider the Britt a hardy and healthy breed. They enjoy a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years.

With that said, you do have some things to consider with regards to health. You can reduce the chances of having an unhealthy dog by purchasing them from a reputable breeder. This breeder should be able to provide you proper documentation and health clearances. Couple with routine visits, and your Brittany will be in good standing.

The Orthopedic Foundation For Animals found an occurrence rate of 14.9 for Hip Dysplasia among this breed. That ranks 74th, which is a pretty decent occurrence rate. Hip Dysplasia is due to abnormal development in the hip joint or at times results from a fracture which causes cartilage damage. When there is a reduction in elasticity your dog will end up suffering discomfort, pain and eventually, Osteoarthritis. Breeds like Pugs,  Bulldogs, Boerboels, Dogo Argentino and Basset Hounds are some of the most common culprits for this disease.

Canine Discoid Lupus Erythematosus or DLE, is an autoimmune skin disease in canines and is the second most common autoimmune skin disease found in dogs. DLE can affect the pigmentation of a dog’s nose, at times leading to ulcerations and tissue destruction. Treatment with steroids and omega fatty acid 3 and 6 typically helps. DLE is most prevalent in breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Brittany and Rottweilers.

While the occurrence rate for Canine Epilepsy isn’t high for the Brittany, you should be on watch for the possibility. Many owners of this breed have come forward about this breed suffering from seizures. Be aware of foaming at the mouth or muscle spasms as sure signs for Epilepsy. Breeds like Boxers and Beagles have some of the highest occurrence rates.

Other issues like Hypothyroidism and cardiac complications may impact your Brittany. However, this breed is 49th at .4 percent in occurrence rate to suffer from cardiac issues. You should always inspect their ears for bacterial infections, especially if you have a working Brittany. 

Cataracts and other complications affecting the eyes is not known to be a serious enough problem for this breed, according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

Care

The Brittany is definitely not a candidate for apartment living. While they only bark when it’s absolutely necessary, the need for regular exercise and playtime is great. You should always keep them as an indoor pet, although they do want to be an outdoor dog. 

Moreover, regular exercise from 45 to 60 minutes per day will keep this breed happy. On top of that, giving this breed a job or task will keep them from self destructive behavior from boredom. Also, you do want to avoid leaving this breed alone for great periods of time. This is a dog that wants to be a part of family events. 

This is a breed that is fine with temperate climates, so you certainly don’t want to test their limits in areas where extreme heat or cold is a likeability.

The Brittany is hardy dog, that is low maintenance. They do aim to please and aside from a few essential care items, they are simple to tend.

Checking their ears and wiping them clean helps stave off infections. You should brush their teeth regularly to fight off build up from bacteria and bad breath. Trimming their nails will help reduce the chances of overgrowth and damage to floors.

They will require early socialization with other dogs. The Brittany should do fine with other pets or dogs but that hinges on socialization. Positive reinforcement and consistency is huge with this breed. They may experience a small dose of prey drive due to their natural bird hunting traits.

Feeding

Your Brittany may beg for a ton of food, but what and how much you feed them should depend on how active your dog is daily. Other factors like metabolism and age can play into consideration as well. Of course, even spaying or neutering your dog can impact their diet.

Most Brittany owners suggest a daily feeding of 1.5 cups to 2 cups. Moreover, you should feed your dog a meat first ingredient. Anything from lean chicken, turkey, lamb and salmon should suffice. If you feed them dry kibble just make sure it’s high quality food. 

Items like omega fatty acid 3 and 6 will help protect your dog from certain autoimmune disease like DLE. Furthermore, your dog will benefit from a more healthier coat, joints and skin. Veggies and fruits are fine, for as long as the food is seedless.

Relax on dry food with preservatives and fillers.

For a dog that is 30 to 40 pounds and is a standard companion, you can feed them between 890-1100 calories per day. If you have a working dog, which is a good chance with this breed, then you will need 1500 to 1850 calories per day for a dog that is between 30 and 40 pounds.

Meals with proper protein value will help as well. Dog that work of this size should get at the minimum of 18-22 percent daily protein value.

Of course, you should always provide your Brittany with fresh drinking water.

Coat

The Brittany enjoys wearing a dense coat that protects them from the wet weather conditions. Their coats can be flat or wavy but never wiry or silky looking. There should be no excess hair or feathers, as well as patches of skin hanging off.

This breed has 7 colors that fit the breed standard. Those are; liver and white, liver and roan, liver white and orange, orange and white, orange roan, white and liver, white and orange.

The American Kennel Club doesn’t allow any markings. This is a seasonal shedder, and you will need to brush your Brittany 2-3 times per week to maintain a healthy and good looking coat.

Fun Brittany Facts

  • After merging with the Spaniel Club of North America, in 1944, the American Brittany Club made the decision to form and become an AKC affiliate.
  • AKC prohibits black coats on the Brittany, even though this type can be seen all over the world except for the U.S. and Canada.
  • According to Beefeaters.com, the most prolific Brittany in pop culture was Pete, a pet of Sex and The City’s character, Aiden.
  • Although the French and American have identical DNA types in this breed, the U.S. made the decision to disqualify black coats in favor for longer leg Brittany’s, that could cover open prairies. 
  • This breed is a multiple champion in American Kennel Club Dual Championship competitions.

Closing Words

The Brittany is still a force to reckon with when it comes to bird hunting. Make no mistake, anywhere in the world, regardless of coat color, this breed is a headache for any animal with feathers. 

However, once you get to know the hardy and intelligent worker, you can’t help but fall in love with their upbeat and bright demeanor. The Brittany may be from France, but by the looks of it, this is a breed for the entire universe.