The energetic Brittany is speculated to come from 18th century France. Bred from French Spaniels and possibly English Pointers, Brittanys were prized for their versatility in the field, being able to do the work of up to four types of hunting dogs in one. Muscular and agile, the medium sized Brittany is both graceful and quick. Usually white and orange in color, the breed’s short, easy to maintain coat makes it a dream to groom. The Brittany is a tireless and agile hunter, and a sweet and loyal family companion, ready to play, protect, or just run all day long.
Some claim that the Brittany was first developed around 150 AD, although tapestries and paintings depicting a Brittany-like dog only appeared in the 17th century. In 1850, Reverend Davies wrote of the small hunting dog with a bobtail who could point and retrieve. The breed was originally bred for hunting in the small town of Pontou in the Brittany province. These French dogs were valued for their versatility and ability to work in different kinds of country. It has been speculated that further crossbreeding occurred around 1900, though there are varying stories. While there are some who claim that an orange and white setter was bred with a French breed, others believe that the native spaniels were bred with English pointers owned by vacationing Englanders, possibly setters or Welsh springer spaniels. The resulting breed was originally called Brittany Spaniels, named after the province of their origin. Due to the Brittany’s wide range of hunting talent, which included pointing, setting, flushing, and retrieving, the breed has gained popularity in many countries within the last century. In 1907, the Brittany was first recognized in France as a distinct breed, during which time a breed standard was set. By 1931, the Brittany had come to the United States where its moderate size and friendly disposition gained the breed popularity as a family dog. In 1934, the American Kennel Club recognized the Brittany Spaniel, but the name was shortened to Brittany in 1982 to reflect the characteristic hunting style that resembles a Setter more than a Spaniel.
The Brittany is a leggy, square-proportioned dog of medium size. Muscular, sloping shoulders gracefully meet a medium length neck, then lead to a short, straight back in this breed. Graceful front legs and broad, muscular thighs give the Brittany a smooth and energetic gait. The shoulders are slightly higher than the rump. This is a rugged and quick hunter. Amber to hazel eyes overshadowed by an expressive brow peer out of an eager and alert face. The triangular ears are high set and feature short, dense hair. The medium long muzzle tapers to well-open nostrils in shades of tans to pinks. The teeth meet in a perfect scissor bite. Thick pads and arched toes are featured in the strong feet of this breed. The tail can be naturally bobbed, or is often docked to about four inches. A dense coat of wavy to flat medium length hair has been described as neither silky nor wiry, and often features fringe near the ears, and feathering on the legs. The Brittany is generally a bicolor dog, either in orange and white, or liver (reddish-brown) and white. Tricolor coats can be found, which entails a liver and white dog with orange face and tail markings. Colors can be clear or roaned, with streaks of color showing through the white markings.
The short Brittany coat is easy to care for. The breed can lightly shed, so brushing your Brittany weekly with a pin or soft slicker brush will keep loose hair from spreading around the house. Bathe once in a while when dirty. Clean the ears regularly, especially after trips to the field, and be sure to keep the nails trimmed. Brittanys can develop dental issues, so be sure to brush the teeth on a regular basis. This hunting breed has a high energy level and will need a lot of daily exercise. Daily walks should also be supplemented with time to run and play for at least an hour every day. Brittanys do not do very well in apartments, and thrive in a home with a fenced-in yard. Without proper exercise, the Brittany can develop destructive habits and nervous behavior. The energetic Brittany is well suited to performance sports, such as agility, flyball, field trials, and dock diving. If puppies grow too quickly, they can develop joint conditions such as osteochondritis dissecans. Often, these dogs need monitored diets during puppyhood, and may need supplements to ensure proper growth.