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Brittany Dog Breed – Is a Brittany (Spaniel) Right for You?

Profile photo of Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH.By Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH, DACVPM

Among the most versatile of all dog breeds is the beloved Brittany pal!

Classified as a sporting canine breed, the Brittany breed is a bird dog at heart known to thrive in hunting duck, woodcock, pheasant, and partridge, to name a few.

True to his name, this breed hails from Brittany in the westernmost region of France.

He is a durable hunting pal with relentless stamina.

His nose is practically tailored to hunt birds, and yes, he is among the most popular and successful field dogs in the United States.

Should you pause to say hi, the Brittany will greet you with a smile and a quick wave of his tail.

He is happy by nature and loves anyone considered a friend.

Before we continue, there’s one distinction to be made.

If you’ve spent any time researching the Brittany breed, you’ve likely encountered both the American Brittany as well as the French Brittany.

To be clear, these are both actually the same breed.

However, the American Brittany tends to stand just a bit taller and run slightly faster.

The French Brittany, on the other hand, is known to work more closely with his breeder.

With that cleared up, let’s take a look at the specs of this breed.

Appearance, personality, health, history, and more!

I’m glad you are here.

Let’s get started.

Brittany infographics

Appearance

A perfect size for hunting birds, the Brittany is both not too large and not too small.

He stands between 17 – 19 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs anywhere from 30 – 40 pounds.

Thanks to his moderate size, he’s an excellent size for accompanying you on your next adventure.

He won’t overtake your car, but he’s large enough – and has the stamina – to embark on a host of adventures.

The life span for a Brittany pal ranges typically between ten and thirteen years.

When talking coat color, orange and white or liver and white are the most common color duos.

Sometimes you’ll meet a pal sporting a roan pattern where there is a fine mixture of colored and white hairs.

Another possibility is ticking, in which you’ll notice small isolated spots of black hair against a white background.

And of course, there is the occasional tri-color pal.

For these pals, you’ll notice a pal with mostly liver and white colors, with orange markings on the muzzle, cheeks, and eyebrows.

If you look closely, there are typically orange freckles also on the lower leg parts, along with orange patches inside the ears and beneath the tail.

Brittany Spaniel dog lying in the grass in the sun.

Personality

There is so much to love when noting a Brittany’s true personality.

Provided she is socialized and trained well from a young age, the Brittany breed is happy, effervescent, and straight-up delightful!

She carries a touch of elegance alongside her excessive enthusiasm for life.

While small children may feel overwhelmed, she’s a delightful companion for families with older children.

She plays hard, she adores being outdoors, and she’s always up for a good companion.

The question is: can you keep up?

Care

Brittany dogs are the energizer bunny of the dog world.

As such, she will need frequent exercise if you expect her to remain smiling and happy.

And no, a quick walk around the block will not do in sufficing this pal’s love for action.

At a minimum, expect to spend at least sixty minutes every single day providing your pal with adequate exercise.

Exercise can include walking through your neighborhood, hiking in the woods, or spending time at a local dog park.

Alternatively, playing fetch in the backyard or strolling through an outdoor shopping center together may be the perfect way to spend an evening together.

Try a variety of activities to find a favorite for you and your canine pal.

Does your Brittany enjoy company?

Or do you both prefer adventuring alone?

Are there specific doggy games you’ve found to be a favorite?

Where are your pal’s favorite places to visit?

As you embark on adventures together, be attentive to how your dog is responding.

Look for activities that you both enjoy while allowing your Brittany space to run off high levels of energy.

Should you opt for too little exercise, everything I’ve said about a Brittany being happy goes straight out the window.

Never mind that this breed is typically happy and charming.

When you remove frequent exercise for a Brittany pal, she will likely morph into a miserable and destructive canine.

So when you are not spending time together, provide your pal with things to do.

Brittany dogs are task-oriented and thrive on work to do.

When you leave the house, never expect this breed to simply lounge around your home until you return.

If you don’t provide her with mental stimulation, she will find her own form of action.

One day it may be dragging shoes to the far corners of your house, another day she may decide that chewing on sofa cushions is a perfect pastime, and still another day…you get the idea.

Grooming

Brittany dog in outdoors garden standing still looking away.

Thanks to her short, easy-care coat, grooming is low to moderate for the Brittany breed.

Her coat is dense and either flat or wavy.

You’ll notice a very slight feathering on her legs.

She has a moderate shed, so a weekly brushing should suffice in keeping the coat clean and shiny.

In addition, take time for an occasional bath and take care to use a vet-approved shampoo.

Like with all dog breeds, check the ears frequently and look for any signs of infection, redness, or tenderness.

Brush your pal’s teeth several times each week for beautiful teeth and fresh canine breath.

And the nails?

You’ll want to trim them before they start clicking on the ground.

Nails left untrimmed will not only cause discomfort for your pal but may actually injure your canine’s paws.

A fun feature is the Brittany’s loose skin.

While not excessively loose, it does have a bit of give in order to add protection from burrs and thorns when out hunting.

Training

Believe it or not, it’s the Brittany dog breed that currently holds the top spot among all canine breeds for the most dual championships won.

Meaning, she has one unusually impressive record of wins in both field trials as well as conformation shows.

As her record implies, she combines high intelligence with stunning elegance.

She’s smart, quick to learn new things, and highly attractive.

A natural hunting instinct runs deep in her veins and she’s happy to retrieve both on land and in water.

In addition to hunting, she thrives in activities such as flyball, obedience, and agility.

Running and hiking are a favorite pastime, making the outdoors a favorite place to be.

She could play fetch for hours and loves anything in the dog sports arena.

Because of her high levels of energy, the Brittany may not be the best match for city and apartment living.

Unless, of course, you have a park nearby which you plan to visit often.

Regardless of where you call home, it is always important to socialize your pal while still just a puppy.

Take her along shopping, introduce her to new friends, and visit dog-friendly restaurants together.

Look for opportunities to expose her to new sites, sounds, and smells as she matures from just a puppy into adulthood.

When it comes to training, the Brittany actually has a sensitive conscience.

So always, be firm yet gentle when teaching your pal the ropes of life.

Positive reinforcement is excellent for training a Brittany.

Within positive reinforcement training, you overlook negative behaviors while lavishing praise on good behaviors.

In addition to verbal praise, you can reward good behaviors with a favorite toy, an occasional treat, or extra playtime together in the backyard.

Health

Brittany pals are generally healthy and hardy by nature.

However, you may encounter an occasional illness or injury.

Things to be aware of with the Brittany breed include:

  • Hip dysplasia: a malformation of the hip joint. The severity of hip dysplasia can range anywhere from being unnoticeable to crippling, in which surgical repair is required.
  • Hypothyroidism: a common hormonal disease among dogs in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of thyroxine.
  • Epilepsy: seizures that can require lifelong medication to control.
  • Adult cataracts: when the lens of the eye becomes white and cloudy, preventing light from reaching the retina and ultimately causing blindness.
  • Cleft palate: a developmental issue where the roof of the mouth fails to close, causing an opening between the nose and mouth. If not surgically corrected, this can lead to both lifelong respiratory problems and trouble eating.

Unfortunately, many of these weaknesses are not able to be detected in a puppy.

Rather, they make their appearances as a puppy matures into adulthood.

As a result, it’s important to buy from a trusted dog breeder who screens his breeding stock for genetic diseases.

History

 True to her name, the Brittany made her first appearance in the westernmost region of France.

Surrounded by the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay on the south, it’s no surprise this breed was developed by French hunters.

First appearances of the Brittany are found on tapestries and paintings dating back to the seventeenth century.

Based on the frequency of the paintings, it appears the Brittany was a popular dog used frequently by peasants and poachers who needed a highly versatile dog.

Not until 1931 did the Brittany first arrive in America.

Just a few years later in 1934, she was registered with the AKC as a Brittany Spaniel.

The first registered Brittany dog responded to the name, “Edir du Mesnil”.

By the mid 20th century, many dog lovers considered the Brittany Spaniel to be more pointer than spaniel.

So in 1982, throughout the United States, her name was shortened from Brittany Spaniel to simply, Brittany. 

To date, France still refers to her as “I’epagneul Breton”, meaning Brittany Spaniel.

Where Can I Find a Brittany?

Brittany Spaniel puppy outdoors in the grass

As already mentioned, because of the health issues that can arise later in life, it’s important to purchase from a trusted breeder who carefully screens and tests his breeding stock.

So, avoid purchasing from pet stores.

Instead, look for breeders who are knowledgeable about their breeding stock.

When communicating with a breeder, you are ultimately talking to your puppy’s expert.

He knows the breed, he knows the parent dogs, and most importantly, he’s been with your puppy since day one.

It’s the breeder who understands your puppy’s behaviors.

He knows how well a puppy is being socialized, and he’s observing how each puppy is interacting with his or her littermates.

You should feel free and comfortable asking the breeder any and all questions about a puppy you are interested in.

To find new puppies for sale from trusted breeders, click here.

FAQ

Q. Do Brittany dogs make good house dogs? 

Brittany dogs are fine house dogs, provided they are given lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Once their exercise needs are met, Brittany dogs are happy and gentle homebodies.

Q. Do Brittany dogs bark a lot?

Thanks to his exuberant energy, unless the Brittany is given ample exercise and adventure, he will soon prove restless and anxious and will likely resort to excessive barking.

Q. Is a Brittany a good family dog?

They can make excellent family companions for highly active families. However, note they are not ideal around small children as their excessive energy can send a toddler rolling.

Q. Is a Brittany dog a good first dog?

When properly trained, a Brittany is happy, cheerful, and polite. However, thanks to their exuberant energy, they require a firm yet gentle master who is skilled in positive reinforcement training.

Q. Can Brittany dogs be left alone?

Thanks to their high energy, the Brittany needs a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise each day. Beyond that, when left alone, they need a job to do to keep out of trouble.

In Closing

And that’s a wrap.

You now have the basics covered for what to expect when bringing home a new Brittany puppy:

High energy, new adventures, and lots of puppy laughs.

All this and more are yours when your new Brittany puppy arrives home.

So come on over and meet these newest puppies for sale today.

Until next time,
-Heather

Dr. Heather Venkat's Signature

References:

AKC (n.d.). Brittany. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/brittany/.

Brittany (n.d.). Dogtime.com. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/brittany/.

Brittany (n.d.). Vet Street. Retrieved from http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/brittany#finding

Brittany Dog Breed (n.d.). Hill’s. Retrieved from https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/brittany.

Brittanys: What’s Good (n.d.). Your purebred puppy. Retrieved from https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/brittanys.html.

Reisen (2021). 8 Things to know about the high-energy Brittany. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/8-fun-facts-about-brittanys/.

Profile photo of the author Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH.Dr. Heather Venkat has been a veterinarian since 2013, working in companion animal medicine with dogs and cats, as well as veterinary public health. Her passion is in prevention, One Health, and strengthening the human-animal bond. A bonafide animal-lover, she competes in dog sports and currently shares her home with a border collie mix named Luna, three cats, and two leopard geckos.

 

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