Introduction Of Brittany Dog
Named after the French province in which it originated, the Brittany (also known as the American Brittany, the Brittany Pointer, the Brittany Wiegref and the Epagneul Breton) was first registered by the American Kennel Club as the Brittany Spaniel in 1934. However, given its manner of hunting, it belongs to be associated with pointing breeds rather than spaniels and is a member of the AKC’s Sporting Group. Brittanys are intelligent, sensitive and high-energy animals famous for their skills as all-around working gun dogs. Their compact size, amiable disposition, loyalty and wash-and-wear coat also make them excellent family pets.
The Brittany should stand from 17½ to 20½ inches at the highest point of the shoulder. Any deviation from this height range is a disqualification. They typically weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. The Brittany’s coat should be dense, flat or wavy but never curly. Their legs should have moderate feathering, with less always being preferred over more. Acceptable colors are orange-and-white and liver-and-white, either with roaning and ticking or in a clean piebald pattern. Black is unacceptable under the American standard and tri-coloration is not preferred. Their tails may be naturally short or docked.
Brittany Dog Breed Quick Facts
Brittany – Appearance & Grooming
The Brittany is a medium-sized dog with long legs and short, single coat. They are trim dogs, without appearing too muscular. They come in orange and white or liver and white, while some may be tri-colored. They have hazel or amber eyes, depending upon the color of their coat. The ears of the Birttany are set high atop the head and are triangular in shape. Their naturally short tail may also be docked. They should not have black noses, but can have tan, fawn, brown or pink. The AKC standard sums up the breed by stating they are, “Alert and eager, but with the soft expression of a bird dog.”
Size and Weight
The Brittany stands from 17.5 to 20.5 inches at the shoulder. In the show ring, dogs who stand shorter or taller than this standard are disqualified. This breed weighs in between 30 and 40 pounds, with females averaging slightly smaller than males. Proportion is important for showing – the dog’s height at the shoulder should be the same as the length of the dog.
Coat and Color
The Brittany has a flat, dense coat that is sometimes wavy, but never curly. There is slight feathering on their ears and legs, but it should never be long in length. They have loose skin that protects the dog from thorns and burrs as he works with hunters among dense brush. The Brittany comes most commonly in orange and white or liver and white. They sometimes come in roan patterns, which consist of a fine mix of white and colored hair. Ticking – small areas of black hair on a white background – is desirable. Less frequently, Brittanys come in tr-color – liver and white with orange marks on the brow, muzzle, ear, tail, legs and cheeks.
Brittanys are low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. They shed very lightly throughout the year and regular brushing can make the shedding seem almost nonexistent. Dry shampoo can lessen the need for baths, and Brittanys only need bathed every few months, unless they like to get into the muck outdoors. The ears should be checked weekly for signs of redness, irritation or infection, especially if the dog is used for hunting or spends a great deal of time outdoors. Weekly cleansing of the ears with a veterinarian-approved product can help prevent painful ear infections from developing.
Brittany – History and Health
The Brittany descends from France, although as with most other bird dogs the precise facts surrounding its early development and spread of the breed have been lost to antiquity. The first documentation that can realistically be interpreted as referring to a Brittany dates to 1850, when an English clergyman wrote of hunting with small, bobtailed dogs that had rougher coats than English pointers and worked especially well in thick brush. They pointed instinctively, retrieved gamely and were easy to handle. At some point, the native Brittanys probably had some influx of English setter and pointing-dog blood, which intensified and refined their natural pointing and hunting abilities. Brittanys were all-around working dogs for frugal French peasants, being treasured as beloved family pets and guard dogs in addition to their hunting talents.
The Brittany first became a recognized breed in 1907, when an orange-and-white dog simply called “Boy” was registered in France under the breed name “l’epagneul Breton queue courte naturelle”, which soon was shortened to “l’epagneul Breton”, or the Brittany Spaniel. The first breed standard was outlined that same year, requiring that the tail be short at birth and that black and white dogs be disqualified from breed registration. The natural bobtail requirement later was dropped. The breed came to the United States in 1931 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1934, using a translation of the French breed standard. The American Brittany Club was founded in1942 and promptly came up with a more accurate written standard for the breed that did not prohibit tail docking but did disqualify dogs with black in their coats. The AKC recognized the breed’s official name as simply the Brittany in 1982, to more accurately reflect its hunting style.
The Brittany enjoys immense popularity among hunters. It has a superb nose and an intense willingness to please. This, coupled with its compact stature, gentle nature and innate talent as a gun dog, endears it to hunters and to their familes. Brittanys excel in AKC field trials and hunting tests, and compete equally well in the conformation ring. In its short time in this country, more than 500 Brittanys have attained the title of AKC Dual Champion – being recognized for excellence in both field and show.
The average life span of the Brittany is between 10 and 13 years. Breed health concerns may include ear infections, hip dysplasia, familial renal disease and seizures.
Brittany – Temperament & Personality
With a trust zest for life, Brittanies are a happy, energetic breed that loves the outdoors. They are excellent family dogs who love to go on hunting and outdoors trips with dad as much as they enjoy playing with children in the back yard. They are even-tempered and loyal, their family is their pack and they can always be counted on to be happy and affectionate.
This medium-sized dog may seem like an ideal dog for a condominium or apartment, but the best living situation for the Brittany is a house or farm with lots of room to run. They need several hours of vigorous exercise every day, and neighborhood strolls aren’t enough to satisfy their daily activity requirements. Hunting families can benefit from this breed – they are excellent in the field, working very closely with the hunter, and despite their soft appearance and happy nature, Brittanies are sturdy dogs who will happily endure the elements in search of birds.
The Brittany is a gundog, developed specifically to assist bird hunters in the field. They need to be engaged in activities that keep them interested and keep their minds sharp. Brittanies excel on agility courses and also enjoy a good swim from time to time.
Highly intelligent, Brittanies take well to obedience training. Positive reinforcement is the best way to teach them as harsh behavior will cause the Brittany to develop avoidance behaviors and can upset their sensitive nature. Hunters don’t need to train Brittanies in the field, beyond basic commands as their abilities are hard-wired.
Early, frequent socialization is important with this breed. Though they are sturdy hunters, Brittanies have a tendency to be shy. Exposing them to new people and situations can keep timidity from becoming an issue.
Separation anxiety can be a problem with a Brittany. They crave companionship and when left alone too long, can become depressed or destructive. If not exercised enough, the Brittany will become hyperactive and hard to control. Lots of mental and physical activity can stave off these potential problems.
Their shyness can lead to excessive whining and urination in the house. When overly excited or nervous, Brittanies can be sure to piddle on the floor and whine uncontrollably. Early and frequent socialization will prevent this nervous behavior.
When outside, unless in the field with a hunter, Brittanies should be leashed or in a fenced-in area. They can take off after birds without warning, and it can be next to impossible to break the spell and get your Brittany to come home.