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Formerly known as the Brittany Spaniel, the Brittany is actually a pointing breed with an intense prey drive. Even though the AKC officially dropped the “Spaniel” from the breed name in 1982, because they aren’t typically flushing dogs like other spaniels, many Brittany owners and several Brittany breeders still refer to them as Brittany Spaniels.
History of the Brittany
Located in the northwest corner of France is one of the great historic provinces known as Brittany. Brittany is set apart from the rest of France because of its strong Celtic heritage and previous independance. The Brittany province has a long history of seafarers, often providing the French Navy with the majority of its sailors. Records that date back as far as 1850 indicate that the local Bretons would cross their French Spaniels with English Setters attempting to develop a breed of dog that was superior to either breed. One might assume that the breed developed would have similar traits but, somehow the Brittany is very different from its’ ancestors. The French Spaniel was quiet and has a laid back personality whereas the Brittany is extremely personable and brave, often considered hyper. The typical English Setter was capable of several activities at once however, the typical Brittany is single-minded and not able to handle too much activity at one time without getting stressed out. In 1902 the first Brittany Spaniel, named Myrrha D’Amorique competed in a field trial labeled and identified in a class of French Spaniels. Myrrha won and therefore Brittany owner’s began the process of developing clubs and eventually a standard which led to the first official Brittany Spaniel champion in 1909, named Max De Callac. The breed has become a family and hunting favorite ever since.
Historically the Brittany was trained for bird hunting however, because of the original sea loving developers of the breed, the Brittany is right at home in the water and is an excellent retriever never fearing cold water or unsuitable conditions when a bird or waterfowl is involved. The Brittany has won more dual championships than any other AKC breed. Although the Brittany is not exactly fearless because of his one track mind he often forgets his surroundings and will dart for the game without thinking, and that includes darting into oncoming traffic even with proper training. Some Brittany owner’s will refer to their dog as being stubborn but, it is usually just the fact that once his mind is on one thing, it is very difficult for him to change direction. Most of the time an e-collar is a great choice to alert him to the danger at hand or to bring his focus back to where it needs to be.
Who Should Consider A Brittany?
The Brittany is a medium size dog usually not reaching 40 pounds. His size and his kindness make him a good choice for the home however, his energy level can prove very difficult to contain inside your home especially if he has to stay inside all day. His size will trick many dog owners into thinking a Brittany is the perfect choice for an inside dog however, his enthusiasm and happy go lucky attitude can be very difficult to suppress therefore, he needs to have the freedom to run and jump the majority of the day or he can become depressed or destructive. One of the most important responsibilities of owning a Brittany is to make sure he gets the proper amount of exercise. A daily walk will not be enough for him to expel his endless energy. He needs the freedom to run and play more often than the average dog. Brittany’s are often found at rescue centers because previous owner’s didn’t do the research and their dogs became destructive and they were no longer able to take care of them. Make sure you have the space and the energy to offer a Brittany before you make the decision to bring him home.
The Brittany is an excellent choice for dog owners with children. They never run out of energy and can keep up with the most hyper energetic children out there. The Brittany is a loyal breed but, not a particularly protective breed. They will stick by you as long as something more interesting doesn’t come along. Brittany’s are not a good choice for off-leash walking in areas that will contain distractions. Even with the best of training, it is in his nature to dart off in the direction of birds, squirrels, other dogs, or even people.
Hunting With A Brittany
Hunting with a Brittany can be extremely enjoyable. He will work somewhat like a pointer but, will have a shorter range than your GSP or other pointing breeds. The Brittany will stay much closer to you during the hunt. The typical Brittany will retrieve for you on land and in water usually not fearing or even noticing his surroundings while completely focusing on the bird. He will have a remarkable amount of prey drive and doesn’t have to be taught to go after a bird of any kind (Including your flock of backyard chickens!) A Brittany is easy to train as long as you take the time to be thorough in your training. Most Brittany’s need firm yet gentle training and react rather quickly to a low setting on an e-collar.
Brittany’s are highly sensitive to change and can often react to even small changes rather dramatically. If their routine changes or if a companion pet dies it can cause quite a reaction from your Brittany. It is best to ease into changes, when possible, in order to allow him time to adjust. A sudden change can send him into a panic. Thunderstorms and lightning are often very upsetting for him and he may need an extra amount of comfort in order to deal with bad weather. As long as you are aware that he will have a strong reaction to change, you can usually comfort him or at least allow for some mishaps knowing why they are happening and help keep your stress to a minimum.
The Brittany is a versatile family and hunting dog that can bring plenty of energy and excitement to the right family. Doing the research and learning exactly what to expect from a Brittany will arm you with the information to decide whether a Brittany is a perfect fit for your family or not.
“New Complete Brittany Book” by Maxwell Riddle