The Brittany is among the most classic of the hunting dogs. Lithe and graceful with boundless energy and intelligence to match, they are excellent hunting dogs. The Brittany is an antique French breed, with roots in western France in the late Middle Ages.
Developed over time to be a versatile, capable bird hunting dog, Brittanys became popular across Europe, often featured in the paintings by Dutch, French and Flemish painters of the Renaissance and Reformation eras.
Upon their arrival in North America in the 1930s, the breed quickly became a favorite of hunters and sportsmen.
BRITTANY BREED CHARACTERISTICS
The Brittany is an attractive, showy breed with many distinctive traits. Let’s get to know these delightful dogs.
The Brittany is a most striking animal. With their patterned coats of white and vivid colors, Brittanys can be found in the United States and Canada in the recognized color combinations of white and orange or white and liver, a deep reddish-brown. In Europe and the rest of the world, they may also be white and black.
Brittanys weigh between 30 and 40 pounds and stand around 17 to 20 inches tall at the shoulders. They are quite compact with long legs for their overall size. They have a deep chest and sloped back with straight, refined legs set underneath. Brittanys are very muscular and athletic without appearing bulky. As endurance athletes bred to chase and retrieve birds, they tend to be more lean.
The face of the Brittany is one of the most endearing features. With soft eyes and fringed high-set ears, they carry a friendly, eager and willing expression. These dogs look every bit as personable as they are!
Temperament and Personality
The Brittany is among the most outgoing, athletic dogs you can find. They are remarkably kind and make excellent pets for the right owners. Their boundless energy makes them a poor fit for many families.
In a family, Brittanys are lovable, affectionate members. They love to play with children but do best with older, more active kids. While they are gentle, they are rambunctious and can accidentally bump or knock small children down.
They are known to be friendly and open to other dogs, both familiar and unfamiliar. They can also successfully integrate with cats and small pets if they are introduced early in their lives. That strong hunting drive can make a good game of chase with a small critter too appealing to pass up!
Brittanys require at least an hour every day of very vigorous exercise, preferably running and chasing. They are very sensitive to this, and without a consistent way to get their release their endless stores of energy, they will become destructive, anxious and hyper. Many benefit from the use of calming medicinal products to help take the edge off of their raw energy. This makes them a poor fit for apartment living, or even for living in a small yard.
Their history as a hunting dog, working closely with an owner to accomplish an important goal, has made the Brittany incredibly sensitive and attuned to human emotions. They are somewhat delicate in their sensibilities, and do not tolerate harsh handling or scolding well. They get their feelings hurt quite easily! But there is nothing that they love more than affection and sharing laughter with their owners.
CARING FOR YOUR BRITTANY
Keeping a Brittany does require a greater input of time in terms of managing their energy, but in other ways they are an easy dog to care for.
A Brittany needs to be fed a high quality dog food, whether purchased or made at home. They will eat around 2 cups of food each day, and do best when fed two meals a day. Be sure to work with your veterinarian to decide on the best feeding plan to fit your Brittany’s age and activity levels.
Many sportsmen find their working dogs perform well on grain free and organic dog foods. As Brittanys age, it may be time to consider a senior dog food to help optimize nutrition and combat obesity. Some Brittanys tend to gain weight as their exercise slows.
As mentioned before, Brittanys are near the top of the ranks of energetic dogs. They are quite happy to spend hours every day outdoors, running, playing and working. Brittanys fit best as dogs for sportsmen who will either use them consistently for hunting and dog sports, or for families who are very active and outdoorsy.
If they are not being used to hunt birds, Brittanys perform well in agility, flyball, dock diving, obedience, tracking, and field sports. At home, owners might find a toy like an automatic fetch machine handy. A device like that might be the only thing that can match a Brittany’s endurance!
Driven to work and accomplish tasks, Brittanys excel in sports that have a competitive element. They are among the best hunting dogs that can be found, and learn the sport easily without extensive training. Many new hunters select Brittanys as their first bird dogs due to their instinctual ability to perform without much direction.
They are very sensitive dogs and must have training that is positive, play-based and that uses lots of reward. An owner who is easily frustrated or quick to anger will not be a good fit for a Brittany.
The Brittany is a strong breed. They do not have as many common and genetic health conditions as many other breeds. With light, general care they should remain healthy and sound.
They require fairly minimal grooming outside of occasional brushing and shampooing. Their paws should be inspected regularly to check for injuries or irritation, especially if they are allowed to run the distances they prefer. Be sure to keep their nails neatly trimmed to further avoid injuries.
Their breeders or veterinarians should screen Brittanys for hip dysplasia and eye issues. Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition that causes the dog’s hips to be abnormally structured. Sometimes, the two parts of the ball and socket hip joint are improperly shaped. In other cases, underdevelopment of ligaments that connect the bones to surrounding muscles cause the problem. Regardless of the cause, it manifests in stiffness and pain in the hip joints.
Another point to be aware of with the Brittany is related to their desire to run. In order to keep them safe from injury, it is vital to be sure that they are leashed at all times when in public places or near traffic. Even when in safe, open spaces, be sure that your Brittany is well trained and will come when called before allowing them to be off leash.