Brittany dog breed was earlier referred to as Brittany Spaniel, but it has more in common with setters and pointers than spaniels. These dogs are known for their lively nature; always playful and full of life. Though they have an independent nature, they are extremely sensitive to the owners’ commands. They are good watchdogs and family pets, all rolled into one, as they love to be with kids and are protective of their family. This high-energy dog would be a great companion for active people.
The name of the breed comes from its place of origin in the northwestern France. A breed of dog similar to Brittany was depicted in the tapestries dating back to the 17th century, and descriptions of the breed being used for pointing and retrieving game occur in an 1850 manuscript. Brittany dog breed of today is a result of interbreeding these orange and white French dogs with English Setters.
These dogs were used for hunting birds, mainly woodcocks, and their excellent sense of scent, combined with unwavering obedience, helped greatly in pointing and retrieving the birds. They found favor with both the gentlemen engaged in hunting as a sport, and the poachers who wanted to get a share of the game. Some of these dogs were naturally bobtailed.
Brittany as a breed was recognized by the French in the beginning of the 20th century. Although they reached the United States within a decade or two of becoming an official breed, they were not recognized as such, partly because of their bobtail. No dog with such a short tail could be considered a hunting dog. But the hunting prowess of the dog made it popular soon enough. AKC accepted the dog officially in 1934, but it was known as Brittany Spaniel until 1982.
Brittany dog breed is easily recognizable by its orange and white coat, but color variations, such as a darker brown or liver in combination with white or in roan pattern, do occur.
These dogs are of medium size, measuring up to 20 inches at the withers and weighing about 40 pounds, but some American Brittany dogs may even weigh 50 pounds. They are generally larger and heavier in build than the French Brittany dogs.
They have floppy ears that hang on either side of the face. Many are naturally bobtailed; others are usually docked to 2-4 inches.
The Brittany dogs were originally hunting dogs, but they were especially favored for their sweet nature and trainability even at that time. They are extremely sensitive to their owners’ commands and rarely need repetitions and harsh corrective measures. They are highly intelligent and very alert, always aware of their immediate environment. They learn very quickly, and have very good memory too. They are regular winners in field trials in dog shows.
These dogs become excellent family pets as they are loyal and become very attached to the family. They are playful and friendly with the family members but can be reserved or shy with strangers, especially if they are not socialized early enough.
Lack of exercise can bring out the worst in these dogs. Hyperactivity and destructive behavior can be traced to lack of mental and physical stimulation.
Grooming and exercise
Brittany is a very handsome dog that requires very little by way of grooming. A light brushing down once or twice a week should keep its single-layered coat in good condition. But care should be given to cleaning and drying under their large floppy ears as excessive moisture can lead to ear infections.
Being an active breed of dog, Brittany needs quite bit of exercise and activities to fill its day. A bored dog can resort to destructive measures such as scratching and digging the yard to expend its high energy reserves. At least an hour or more of rigorous activity a day is a must. Since they need a lot of outdoor space for running around, they are not suitable for people living in apartments. This dog loves to explore; providing opportunities to engage its curiosity may help keep it happy.
These tough dogs can stay outside year round as long they are protected from extreme weather. But they make such delightful pets with sweet nature that they deserve to spend the nights indoors with the family.
Common health issues of Brittany dog breed
Brittany as a breed has a robust constitution, and is rarely affected by common canine health issues. Exceptions are hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism occasionally seen in some dogs. A few of them tend to have epilepsy, and an autoimmune condition affecting the skin called Canine discoid lupus erythematosus. Brittany dog breed has an average life expectancy of 12-15 years.