The Brittany Spaniel is A Lovely, Pleasant Companion
Are you looking for a lovable, intelligent and easy-to-manage dog to add to your family, perhaps one who can also go hunting with you? If so, the Brittany is a perfect choice. This affable dog needs a lot of exercise and enjoys a good hunt, but is a perfect family pet – agreeable, enthusiastic, and very affectionate – as long as you've established the role of "alpha dog" as pack leader for yourself. Properly socialized and with appropriate boundaries set, the Brittany will become a beloved – if independentthinking – member of the family, agreeable and eager to please, good with children and very high in energy.
Named for the French province of Brittany, the Brittany was originally called the Brittany Spaniel, but has since had its name changed to just the "Brittany" because it is more of a Pointing breed rather than a Spaniel type. It resembles the Welsh Springer Spaniel, and it's possible that Spaniels native to Brittany mated with Pointing dogs of English origin around the turn of last century, contributing to today's modern Brittany who displays superlative hunting prowess.
The Brittany was first established as early as 150 A.D., although its true origins are unknown. Most conclude that all bird dogs come from the same basic stock, although early records are confusing and unclear. Dogs from both Wales and Brittany seem to have the same ancestors and have followed similar developmental paths, with some possible interbreeding between the two. This case is made stronger because of the aforementioned resemblance between the Welsh Springer Spaniel and the Brittany.
In the 17th century, Brittany-type dogs are seen in the tapestries and paintings created then, although these are also similar to the dogs that were developed close to the Atlantic Coast and ultimately became the Wachtelhund, another modern breed that also closely resembles the Brittany. The first Brittany ancestor to be born without a tail was documented about the mid-1800s in Pontou. The existence of the Brittany itself was first verified by a Rev. Davies, who described how he hunted with small dogs with "bobtails," who had rougher coats than the Pointer but who were nonetheless good brush dogs, with retrieval and pointing abilities.They were also very popular with poachers because the Brittany was very obedient and easy to handle.
Some speculate that English Pointing dogs and native Spaniels from Brittany mated around 1900 when pointing dogs' owners vacationed in France to partake in various sporting pursuits. These matings purportedly enhanced the Brittany's natural propensity for sport. The breed was officially recognized in 1907, when the first and previously named Brittany Spaniel was recognized in France, with the first standard established in 1907, as well. Introduced to the United States in 1931, it was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1934. Today, the Brittany is still a superb hunting and show dog, as well as an excellent companion pet and house dog.
Medium-sized, long-legged, and sturdy but not heavy, the Brittany is compact, athletic, and very energetic, with a vigorous, alert and intelligent expression. Some Brittanys are born with short tails, but if a puppy happens to be born with a long tail, these are usually docked in the United States (although this is illegal in Europe). Coat colors can be white and liver, or orange and liver, although liver roan and orange roan are also acceptable colors for show dogs, as is the tricolor of white, orange and liver with specific pattern. The coat can also be black and white or black tricolor, although the AKC does not recognize black. The coat is single, not curly, but can be wavy, dense or flat. Ears are long and floppy.
Adult Brittany dogs weigh between 30 to 40 pounds, and stand 17 to 21 inches at the shoulder
The Brittany is an extremely intelligent dog and (as long as he or she is given proper direction and stimulation) is very easy to handle. Loving and gentle around those he or she loves, obedient and very eager to please, this family pet is perfect for anyone who has plenty of time and attention to offer – and as long as there's plenty of mental and physical activity on a daily basis. The Brittany likes to roam because it is a hunter by nature, and you as his or her owner will have to make sure that you are in charge at all times – indeed, your very obedient pet actually wants this. If you don't provide proper direction and a firm hand (albeit gentle) with your Brittany, he or she may become destructive simply because of unhappiness and lack of socialization. Don't leave your pet alone for long, as he or she is most definitely a people dog.
That said, if you have the desire to buy a dog that will be your shadow, your constant companion, and will bond with you very closely with sincere devotion, the Brittany is for you. Properly socialized, Brittanys behave very well with small children (raising them with small children from puppyhood is ideal, in fact), and in general are happy, pleasant, and lovely companions to have.
If you are someone who likes to hunt, you'll find no better dog to be your accomplice. The Brittany is excellent as a brush dog and general companion dog when you're out. Again, properly trained, the Brittany is very obedient and follows direction exceptionally well. And if you're not a hunter? No problem. The Brittany will be as content at home with you and your family as out and about – although it's worth noting that this outdoorsy dog has no problem with rain, wet or cold and will enjoy the great outdoors with you in a variety of situations. Give your pet a lot of exercise and he or she should do quite well in most environments, although he or she can have a tendency to roam so that a large yard or other access to somewhere to run and play will keep your pet happy.
The Brittany is a very healthy and hardy breed, with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. His or her long floppy ears can result in ear infection unless you keep them clean as per your veterinarian's directions. In addition, sometimes hip dysplasia can be a problem, as can epilepsy and something called discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), a skin disorder. Treatment for DLE is generally to use sunscreen, although those that contain zinc are toxic to dogs. With proper treatment, remission is possible.
Regular brushing is necessary, with an occasional bath or dry shampooing as necessary. It's important to check your pet's ears regularly, keeping them clean, to avoid possible infection. Other than that, this is a very low-maintenance pet that should give you years of companionship and love.