The Brittany dog breed is a versatile and capable gun dog.
The Brittany dog breed is listed by the AKC under 'Spaniel-Type breeds', but in fact the word 'Spaniel' was dropped from the name in 1982, as American Brittany owners and breeders considered their dogs to behave more like Pointers when in the Field.
This breed is known for its gentle nature, and they are soft dogs, sometimes verging on being shy. They are also quite sensitive, and can be intimidated easily and accidently.
The Brittany must be socialized early and carefully to introduce them to new and strange sights, sounds, smells and people as well as other dogs and animals. Even with thorough socialization, some dogs of this breed may still be shy of strangers.
Being eager to please and affectionate, these dogs make very good family pets, companions, and of course excellent dogs in the hunting field. They have a lot of energy, and need at least one hour of vigorous exercise every day. Some individual dogs may need more than this, if they start to show signs of boredom and destructive behavior.
Ideally, they are best suited to people with an active, outdoors lifestyle, such as brisk walking, hiking, and running. They also enjoy the mental stimulation of going through a dog obstacle park, and they do extremely well in dog agility trials and tests, as well as obedience trials and Flyball.
Brittany is the north-western corner of France, and it was here that the Brittany Spaniel was developed. The original hunters and breeders needed an extremely versatile dog, as they were not wealthy and could not afford to keep several types of dog for different purposes.
The liver-and-white type of Spaniel was common in Western Europe in the 1700s and 1800s, but it was in Brittany that they were bred for versatility. They were used for hunting by scent, pointing, flushing and retrieving. They can perform all these hunting roles. And they can work with partridge, pheasant, woodcock, ducks and grouse. In fact, just about any game bird.
It is generally believed that from around 1850 onwards, the Brittany dog was crossed with English Setters, to develop a dog with longer legs than other Spaniel breeds. The breed was first recognized in 1907 as the L'Epagneul Breton (Brittany Spaniel) in France.
According to the AKC, the Brittany Spaniel first arrived in America in 1931, and was recognized by the AKC in 1934 under the same name. Development of this dog continued in America, and after a few decades had passed, the breed started to look and behave differently from the original French lines. By 1982 the differences were sufficient for the AKC to drop the word 'Spaniel', so that the breed is now just called the Brittany in America. However they still include the Brittany in their list of Spaniel breeds.
In Europe, the Brittany dog breed as recognized by the AKC breed standard may also be referred to as the 'American Brittany', to distinguish it from the slightly smaller French version. Also, in America, Black is considered a fault for the Show Ring, whereas it is accepted in France.
Height; 17.5 inches to 20.5 inches
Weight; 30lbs to 40lbs
Life Span; 12 to 14 years
Liver-and White; Orange-and-White; Black-and-White (France)
Brittany dogs are intelligent and learn quickly, and are keen to please their owners. This makes training relatively easy, although it's important to socialize your puppy from an early age. Once old enough, puppy training classes are an excellent way of teaching your dog the basics.
These dogs will pick up advanced training very quickly, and they can do extremely well in obedience, agility and hunting tests and competitions.
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Because they are alert and have a tendency to shyness with strangers, they make very good watchdogs, picking up any unusual activity quickly. They will bark repeatedly to warn you of strangers.
On the other hand, they are not good guard dogs, if protection is what you are looking for. They are not big enough to intimidate intruders, from a physical appearance point of view. In fact, their cautious nature means that they are more likely to be intimidated by the intruder than the other way around.
Finally, although they will continue barking, this breed is extremely unlikely to take any action against an unwanted intruder. If protection is what you want, I recommend you look for another bigger breed.
The Brittany dog breed has a short, slightly wavy coat that is much shorter than other Spaniels. They do not have an undercoat. This makes it easy to groom them, needing only a careful brush 2 or 3 times a week. However, they DO shed seasonally, and you will need to brush your dog more frequently at these times.
The ears should be checked weekly for any signs of redness, swelling or infection. If the dog has been out in the field, they may pick up the occasional ear injury.
The dog's teeth should be brushed every day with a small, soft brush and a dog toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste, as it contains Xylitol.
The claws should be checked monthly and trimmed if needed. You may feel more comfortable getting your vet to do this.
This is usually a very healthy breed, with few genetic issues to be aware of. The 3 main areas to get your vet to check are;
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