History of the Brittany Breed
While some claim that the Brittany breed was developed as early as 150 AD, the first written record of the dog was penned by Reverend Davies in 1850. The reverend described a small hunting dog that featured a bobtail and had a talent for pointing and retrieving. Apparently, this breed was quite popular with the poachers of the time, because the dog was also easily handled. Paintings and tapestries depicting a dog resembling the Brittany date back to the 17th century, particularly in the works of Oudry and Steen. According to legend, the first tailless Brittany was developed at Pontou, a small town in the province of Brittany, in the middle of the 1800s. In fact, it is believed that this breed is named for that French province. Speculation suggests that the breed was developed further in France around 1900 when the native spaniels of Brittany were bred with the pointing dogs of vacationing Englanders. This cross between the Brittany spaniel and the English pointer strengthened the Brittany's talent for sport. Others claim that the Brittany is the result of breeding an orange and white setter with an unidentified French dog. The breed was first recognized in 1907, and the first registered Brittany spaniel in France was an orange and white Brittany named "Boy." The breed is thought to have been brought to America in 1931, and it was first recognized by the AKC in 1934.
Size and Appearance of the Brittany Breed
Considered to be one of the leggiest sporting breeds, the Brittany spaniel is a square-proportioned dog. The shoulders are sloping and muscular, and this dog is slightly higher at the shoulder than it is at the rump. The front legs feature graceful leg bones, while the strong hindquarters have broad, muscular thighs. The feet are strong and have arched toes and thick pads. The expression of the Brittany spaniel is best described as eager and alert. The eyes are protected from the field by a heavy, yet expressive eyebrow. The eyes are generally dark or amber in color. The short, triangular ears lie flat against the head and have short, dense hair. The medium-length muzzle is gradually tapered, and it features a fawn, tan, brown, or deep pink nose with well-opened nostrils. The jaws meet in a true scissors bite. The medium-length neck blends smoothly into sloping shoulders and a short, straight back. The Brittany spaniel can be tailless, or the tail can be up to about four inches long. It may be docked or left natural. The gait of this breed is considered to be smooth and efficient. The dense coat is either flat or wavy, and the texture is described as neither wiry nor silky. There is usually a little fringe found around the ears, and the front and back legs normally have some feathering. The coat of the Brittany spaniel comes in a variety of colors including: orange and white or liver and white. The coat can come in either clear or roan patterns. This breed is also found in tri-color, which consists of a liver and white dog featuring orange markings on the face and under the tail with orange freckles on the lower legs.
Good-natured, sweet, and easily trained, the Brittany spaniel is a sensitive, loving dog that is excellent with children. However, this exuberant breed should be monitored around small children as it may accidentally hurt them with its enthusiasm. This dog also gets along quite well with other dogs, and it likes to be part of a team. Careful, sensitive training is recommended to prevent breaking this charming dog's spirit. It can become withdrawn and timid if not treated with kindness. Socialization from an early age helps to ensure a playful, happy dog. It enjoys running and scouting.
Brittany Recommended Maintenance
Coat care for the Brittany spaniel is minimal because the coat is not very long or thick. Brushing once or twice a week should be sufficient. This breed should be bathed, but only when necessary. Be sure to check the ears regularly, particularly if the dog has been out in the field. The nails should be cared for on a regular basis, and minimal trimming is recommended around the hocks and feet. The Brittany spaniel is considered to be a light shedder. This active dog requires a lot of exercise on a daily basis. It should be allowed to run and play for at least an hour in addition to a daily walk. This breed does not do well in apartments, and a home with a large, fenced-in yard is ideal. The Brittany spaniel may become nervous and destructive if not provided with enough exercise and stimulation.
Life span: 12 - 13 years
Major concerns: CHD
Minor concerns: epilepsy, lipfold pyoderma
Occasionally seen: spinal paralysis
Suggested tests: hip