Brittanys are charming, gentle and personable members of the household. Except for the Golden Retriever, you would be hard-pressed to find a more personable family dog. Lively and fun, Brittanys are always up for a roll on the carpet, a game in the back yard or a cuddle on the couch.
Brittanys were bred as gundogs, and they definitely have birds on the brain. Although they’re often called Brittany Spaniels, the American Kennel Club dropped the word “spaniel” from this pointing breed’s name in 1982. The energetic Brittany is a versatile family companion and hunting dog who works more closely to the hunter than other pointing breeds.
Great balls of fire! Life with a Brittany is never dull. This breed is smart, active, agile and relatively easy to train. For an active home with room for an active companion, you can’t do much better than the Brittany, a moderately sized dog with relatively few health or temperament problems. This dog can hunt, if that’s what you’re into, but for most people, the appeal is that the Brittany is athletic, bright and people-oriented.
If you want a dog that will do anything you want to do as long as it’s active, this is a great dog for you. His wash-and-wear coat can be kept in shape with a weekly brushing to keep shedding under control, and he’s typically friendly with other dogs, cats and children.
But make no mistake: this is not a couch-potato puppy: The Brittany is a canine overachiever and needs daily, heart-thumping exercise to keep his high spirits from bounding off. Don’t get a Brittany if you’re not going to make him a part of your family, or if you’re not going to give him mentally and physically challenging activities.
That work doesn’t need to be hunting, although the Brittany does remain very popular among people who value a good bird dog. The Brittany does well in all kinds of canine sports, including agility, flyball and obedience and will be an active participant in any human-centered activity as well, from running and hiking to playing fetch with the kids.
When we say you need to keep your Brittany busy, we’re not just thinking of the dog but of you. Left to his own devices and without sufficient exercise, the Brittany can become destructive and noisy instead of the happy family dog he was meant to be.
- Brittanys are high-energy dogs. They need at least an hour of intensive exercise each day. Without sufficient exercise, your Brittany may become neurotic and destructive.
- Brittanys are smart and need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Training for dog sports is a great way to provide this.
- Brittanys don’t respond well to harsh treatment. Be gentle and consistent but firm — don’t let them run the household.
- Brittanys are people-oriented and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time without something to keep them busy. If you work outside the home, you should consider getting two Brittanys to keep each other company.
- Although they are friendly and like children, it’s not recommended that you let your small children play with your Brittany without supervision. Your Brittany has so much energy and enthusiasm, he may accidentally injure your child.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
- The Brittany is a French breed from the province of Brittany. He was developed to point and retrieve in different types of terrain.
- Brittanies have a short coat with a little feathering on the legs and are easy to groom, but like all breeds they shed.
- A Brittany’s coat is white and orange or white and liver. Some Brittanies have tricolor coats, but that’s not a popular pattern.
- Comparable Breeds: Cocker Spaniel, English Setter
The name “Brittany” is taken from the Brittany region in northwestern France where the dog originated. Images of orange and white Brittany-like dogs hunting and retrieving game were first seen on tapestries and paintings from the 17th century. The first written and verifiable record of Brittanys comes from a hunting description written by Reverend Davies in 1850. He described hunting with small “bobtailed” dogs who pointed and were excellent retrievers. It was around the same time that the modern Brittany is rumored to have been bred by mating with English Setters. The Brittany was first shown at the Paris Dog Show in 1900.
The Brittany was first recognized as a breed in 1907 when an orange and white male named “Boy” was registered in France. As a result, the first standards were outlined in the same year. America recognized the Brittany in 1931 and the breed was approved by the American Kennel Club in 1934. In 1982 the “Spaniel” was officially dropped from the name.
Brittanys are happy and alert. As befits a pointing breed, they are curious and independent, but respond well to their people and want to please them. They can be singleminded when it comes to birds, but when they’re not focused on their feathered prey, they enjoy spending time with their people, especially if they’re doing something active. Brittanys are not just energetic, they’re smart, so they needs loads of exercise and mental stimulation each day. When it comes to training, be consistent but never harsh.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, Brittanys need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Brittany puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Brittanys are generally healthy and hardy dogs. The median lifespan for Brittanys in France is 12.6 years.A UK Kennel Club survey puts the breed’s median lifespan at 12 years 11 months, with about 1 in 5 dogs dying of old age at an average of 14–15 years.Brittanys have no undercoat and need minimal grooming or bathing. However, their floppy ears tend to trap moisture in the ear canal and should be cleaned regularly.
Diseases found in the breed include Hip dysplasia, with 14.9% of Brittanys tested between 1974 and 2009 by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals displaying the condition, and a lesser rate of 10.3% for dogs born 2003-2004. The breed is listed among those commonly affected by Canine discoid lupus erythematosus. Epilepsy is also found, with owners of affected dogs encouraged to submit DNA to the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab’s ongoing project on Brittany and canine health.
Mental and physical exercise are very important for the Brittany, as the breed is strong and tough by nature. One need not spend a great deal of time on coat maintenance, though. Brushing a Brittany dog once or twice a week is all that is needed. Brittanys are also quite adaptable to living in temperate weather outdoors.
The Brittany is not recommended for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do best with acreage. This breed is resistant to cold and damp conditions.
Brittanys need and love extensive exercise and have great stamina. They should be taken on a long, brisk daily walk or jog and need an active owner.
The Brittany’s flat or wavy coat has a little feathering on the legs and belly, and it’s easy to care for with a weekly brushing. His coat sheds moderately, but regular brushing will keep loose hair off your floor, furniture and clothing. A bath is necessary only when he gets dirty.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every couple of weeks, and brush his teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.
Children and other pets
Brittanys are a good choice for a family with active children, but their energy level might be overwhelming for toddlers.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Brittanys enjoy the company of other dogs and can also get along fine with cats, especially if they’re introduced at an early age.
Did You Know?
Brittanies are hunting dogs, but don’t skip this breed if you’re not a hunter; they also excel at canine sports, including agility, flyball and obedience, and enjoy running, hiking and playing fetch with their people.