If you’re looking for a medium-sized dog that works just as well as a loyal family pet as a sporting dog, the Brittany Spaniel may be the pup for you!
This breed, which hails from Northern France, is also known as a Brittany Dog or simply a Brittany. Sparky, intelligent and fun, it’s easy to see why these dogs are growing in popularity. Read on to learn more about this elegant pooch!
What is the Brittany Spaniel?
The Brittany Spaniel is a medium-sized dog, bred as a gun dog for hunting birds. Originally from the North-Western French region of Brittany, the breed is now popular all over the world, both as a pet and as a working dog.
There is some disagreement over the breed’s name, these days. In their native France, these dogs are still known as l’épagneul Breton, or Brittany Spaniel, whereas in the USA, the “Spaniel” part was dropped in 1982, and these dogs are now simply known as Brittanys or Brittany Dogs.
A Dog That Can Hunt! History of the Brittany
The earliest example of the Brittany Spaniel, or at least similar-looking dogs, is in 17th-century tapestries and paintings from French, Dutch and Flemish masters.
Often pictured in pastoral scenes, it seems that similar liver-and-white hunting dogs were popular throughout Europe during that period as bird dogs.
These dogs typically belonged to farmers and peasants, who would have valued a versatile, “all-round” type dog that could retrieve many sorts of game. At some point, it is thought that these dogs were bred with English Setters, creating the modern breed.
Indeed, these dogs now have a working style that is closer to a Setter’s than a Spaniel’s.
The breed standard for Brittanys was created in 1907, and these dogs were first brought to America in 1931. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed just three years later.
Later in the 20th century, the breed diverged into French and American lines. The French Brittany Spaniel is typically smaller and works close to the guns, while the American Brittany is larger, and a stronger runner.
However, some dog breeders maintain that these differences are overstated, and the two lines are one and the same.
Nowadays, the AKC lists Brittanys as the 26th most popular dog breed in the USA, up from 30th in 2013. They are one of the most popular hunting dogs in both France and America.
Appearance and Personality of the Elegant French Brittany Spaniel
The Brittany Spaniel is medium-sized, with an average weight of 30–45 lb (14–20 kg) and an average height of 17.5–20.5 in (43–52 cm), with females and the French Spaniel at the lower end of that range.
These dogs typically have an athletic appearance, with a compact, solid build. They have long, floppy ears with a small amount of feathering, similar to those of a Welsh Springer Spaniel.
There is also some feathering on the backs of the long legs. These dogs have a single-layered coat that needs very little grooming. The Brittany’s expression is alert and intelligent, and they have a smooth, long gait.
Most Brittany Dogs are born with a naturally short tail, though some are born with long tails that are then docked to a few inches in length.
The Brittany’s temperament is generally very sweet, with good trainability. Some dogs of this breed are prone to shyness outside of their immediate families. While this trait can be minimized with proper socialization from a young age, some Brittanys will remain wary of strangers.
Brittanys are known as sensitive dogs and can react badly to harsh reprimands.
Colors of the Pretty Brittany dog
For American Brittany Dogs, the only colors accepted under the AKC breed standard are orange and white or liver and white, though clear, roan and ticked patterns are all accepted, as are dogs with a combination of orange and liver with white.
French Brittany Spaniels are permitted to have black, or black-and-white coats, in addition to the colors mentioned above.
The French breed standard was updated in 1956 to allow black coats, and there are some American Brittany breeders who call for the AKC standard to also be updated.
5 Fun Facts About this Pretty Spaniels!
- As show dogs, Brittany Spaniels have more dual champions than any other breed, meaning that they have excelled both in the show ring and in field trials.
- Brittany, where these dogs hail from, has its own ancient language that is distinct from French, and still in use. Why not consider a Breton name for your Brittany Dog? Some pretty Breton names are Bernez (“strong as a bear”), Tanet (“fire”) or Gwenneg (“he who is fair/blessed”) for males, or Bleuzen (“white flower”), Loana (“good light”), or Maelis (“princess”) for females.
- These dogs love to dig! If you have a well-manicured garden, you’d better watch out!
- Unsurprisingly, given the size of their ears, these pups love an ear scratch and will go into an almost hypnotized state if you manage to hit the sweet spot.
- These dogs are very versatile and are used for hunting almost any kind of bird—and sometimes even hares.
American Brittany Vs the French Brittany! Is there A Difference?
American Brittanys and French Brittanys are different lines of the same breed. While the American line tends to be slightly larger, the French one is more compact.
The two have slightly different hunting techniques, though this also comes down to training. French Brittany Spaniels can also have black coats.
Are These Pups Healthy?
Generally, this breed is strong and healthy, with good stamina.
They have a slightly increased likelihood of developing hip dysplasia; a 2003-2004 study by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found that 10.3% of Brittany puppies displayed the condition. The breed can also develop epilepsy and Canine discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE).
How Long Do They Live for?
The average lifespan of Brittany Spaniel dogs is 12 to 14 years, though some people have claimed to have dogs of this breed that have lived to be as old as 18!
Brittany Spaniel Puppy Trainability and Exercise!
The Brittany Spaniel is typically a very trainable dog, especially if you start young. These dogs respond well to a firm but gentle tone and can react badly to harsh corrections.
Indeed, some Brittany owners say that their dogs just need a strong look to deter them from mischief. That being said, these dogs can be very boisterous and energetic, so training is necessary to make sure that they know how to behave, especially around younger children.
Making sure your Brittany gets sufficient exercise—at least an hour a day—is one of the best ways to ensure that you have a happy and well-behaved pup.
These intelligent dogs also need mental stimulation, in the form of training, games, and puzzles.
Ready to Get A Brittany Spaniel Puppy?
Brittany Spaniel puppies make great pets, but as with any puppies, they take a lot of work! If you think you’re ready to get one, you’ll need to decide if you want to go to a breeder, or through a breed-specific rescue center.
When buying a Brittany Spaniel puppy, or any puppy, make sure you only buy through reputable, registered breeders. Never buy from a breeder who will not show you where the dogs are born and reared, and never buy puppies from pet stores.
The AKC keeps a registry of Brittany breeders, as does the International French Brittany Club of America. The American Brittany Club offers advice on finding a reputable Brittany breeder.
Adopt from a Breed Specific Rescue!
There are some wonderful older Brittanys looking for their forever homes—could you be the one? Check out American Brittany Rescue for Brittany rehoming, tips, and contacts.
The Price of a Pup!
It also gets you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your puppy had an ethical, cruelty-free start in life.
5 Tips for Pet Lovers Crazy About Brittany Spaniel Puppies
- Brittany Dogs are a very sociable breed and don’t do well left alone for extended periods. If you will be leaving your dog alone, consider getting a pair, so that they can keep each other company.
- These dogs need a lot of exercise, and do best when they have plenty of space to run around in, such as a fenced yard. As such, they don’t tend to do well in apartments.
- These dogs throw themselves into life headfirst, which is very endearing, but can be hard to keep up with! Make sure you’re willing to use a lot of energy keeping up with your pup before getting a Brittany.
- These dogs are happiest with a job to do, and love to learn new tricks, solve puzzles, and, of course, play fetch. Remember to build mental activities into your pup’s daily routine, as well as physical exercise.
Whether you’re looking for a family pet, a show dog, or a hunting companion, the small but sparky Brittany certainly fits the bill. Just make sure you’re committed to a rigorous exercise routine!