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Brittany (Brittany Spaniel) | Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Brittany (Brittany Spaniel)

Height: 17–20 inches
Weight: 30–40 pounds
Lifespan: 14–15 years
Colors: Roan, white and brown, white and orange, tricolor, black and white
Suitable for: Active singles and families, hunters
Temperament: Agile, attentive, intelligent, adaptable, playful

The Brittany breed originated in France and was primarily bred as a gundog for hunting small birds and waterfowl. The name “Brittany” comes from the region of the same name in France where the dogs first originated, probably in the 17th century. They were commonly known as “Brittany Spaniels” until the American Kennel Club dropped Spaniel from the name, as these dogs are more akin to a Setter or Pointer.

They are athletic, compact, and solid animals that are well-suited to outdoor activities like sporting and hunting. These dogs are sweet and affectionate and love to be around their owners and are more sensitive and gentle than most other hunting breeds. They are not only great working dogs but also make loving and gentle companion dogs that are eager to please and easy to train. Like most working and sporting breeds, these dogs have an abundance of energy to spare and will not enjoy being cooped up indoors. They are enthusiastic and playful pups that make ideal playmates for children.

If you are an active person looking for an energetic exercise companion, the Brittany may be the ideal choice. Read on to find out more about this unique and adventurous breed.

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Brittany Puppies

Brittany Spaniel Puppy
Image Credit: MDDECE, Pixabay

The Brittany is a small to medium-sized breed with vast reserves of energy, and while small in stature, these dogs are big in energy and are not ideally suited for apartments or urban homes. They are people-oriented animals that love to be around their owners, especially children, and do not do well being left at home for extended periods. They are sensitive, loyal, and sweet-natured dogs that are easy to train and make the perfect family companions.

Brittanys are naturally happy dogs with perpetual optimism and lust for life. That said, they can be shy and wary of strangers, so early socialization of the puppies is essential. Because they become distressed when left alone, they will quickly chew up anything they can find and will likely fill your garden with holes. They are not the ideal choice of breed if you are away frequently.

These dogs are particularly adorable with their friendly, soft faces and expressions and stoic nature. You can be sure the puppies will be much the same, so be prepared to be unable to resist bringing one home should you go to view them!

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Brittany 🧠

If you are looking for a dedicated, skilled, and enthusiastic hunting companion, look no further than the Brittany. That said, if you are looking for a persistently happy and good-natured family dog with tons of energy, the Brittany will fit right in too! These sweet dogs are highly intelligent, eager to please, and easy to train. They will likely become your shadow and will want to be enthusiastically involved in whatever it is you are doing.

They are truly social animals in every sense of the word and love nothing more than being with their families. That said, they are sensitive pooches that can be shy at times and wary of strangers.

The most important point to note about this breed is that they are primarily a working and sporting breed and consequently, have tons of energy. They need a specific job to do for them to remain happy and out of mischief. If you are looking for a hardworking and athletic dog that is still great with a family, the Brittany is a great choice.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Because Brittanys are social dogs that love to be around people, they make ideal family dogs. They can become highly attached to their owners, though, and do not like being left in the yard, let alone spending the day by themselves. This means that they may not be a great choice for you if you are away frequently.

They love children and will quickly become best friends, but their high energy and boisterous nature may prove to be too much for young kids and toddlers.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Brittanys are usually fine with other pets, but they are hunting dogs and may have a strong prey drive. This can be a problem for cats and small family pets, but early socialization and good training can help. Introducing them to the other family pets on the day they come home will help your Brittany view them as friends, not prey!

Brittany on snow
Image Credit: doloresa, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning a Brittany

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Brittanys are active and highly energetic dogs and will need a diet to match. This does not mean they will simply burn off any food you give them, though, and special care must be taken to ensure that they get the best quality food you can afford.

We recommend high-quality kibble with a large percentage of protein to help them sustain their boundless energy. Around 2 cups per day should be sufficient, with constant access to fresh, clean water. The kibble should be supplemented with lean meats or canned food to add variety, moisture, and extra protein. Homemade meals like bone broth and vegetables are great but should be kept as additions to their diet rather than their sole intake. It can be difficult to monitor nutrient levels with these kinds of meals, so high-quality dry kibble is the best staple.

These dogs will eat far more than their fair share and should not be free-fed. We recommend feeding them two small meals a day and strictly avoiding “treats” or table scraps, as they are prone to getting overweight. The same goes for other “human foods,” like wheat, soy, corn, and dairy.

Exercise 🐕

These energetic pooches require a great deal of intensive exercise and stimulation, both physically and mentally. They have a sporting and working heritage and will thrive from having a specific task to do. At a minimum, they’ll need around 2 hours a day of vigorous exercise. This can include walking, jogging, and hiking, and they’ll love a fast run too. We recommend splitting their daily exercise into two sessions, each focused on physical and mental stimulation. Fetch, frisbee, and ball games are also great activities to keep their smart mind busy and working.

Brittanys will benefit greatly from agility exercises and courses and will excel at them too! Brittanys have won more dual championships than any other breed, with titles in both conformation shows and field trials. These activities test their bodies and minds, and they will love the challenge.

brittany dog running
Image By: contagionpseudomonas, Pixabay

Training 🦮

Brittanys are a breeze to train. They enjoy and constantly seek attention and approval from their owners and are highly intelligent animals. The key is to be gentle with these dogs, as they are highly sensitive and can be scared easily. Positive reinforcement training is well suited to their sensitive nature, and they will take well to the reward-based structure with their innate desire to please.

Obedience training can and should be started early on with these dogs, as soon as 4–6 weeks old. While Brittanys are not aggressive or dominant animals, they like to do things on their own terms at times. This results in a passive resistance at times, and they’ll use their charm to the full advantage if you let them. Of course, making training sessions fun and interactive and short will go a long way in avoiding this.

The basic beginnings of training these agreeable pooches require time, patience, and an on-hand treat. Simply get them to sit a few times, and reward the behavior with a treat when they get it right. They will soon be sitting and staying on command. Other ways to incorporate this simple command is to always make them sit before you feed them, sit before you throw a ball, and sit before you let them outside. They will swiftly get the idea, and this is a simple and effective way to begin training from the moment you bring your Brittany home.

Grooming ✂️

The short coat of Brittanys is fairly easy to care for. They don’t require much brushing—once a week should do it—and they only shed lightly. The main concern with grooming is their long and thick ears. These need to be regularly checked for infection and be kept clean and dry. The lack of airflow underneath these drooping ears can quickly cause them to become infected.

Brittanys are prone to dental issues, so be sure to give them a regular tooth brushing to avoid bad breath and tartar build-up. If their coat gets really muddy, a rinse with clean water is sufficient. Avoid using shampoos unless absolutely necessary, as this can disrupt the natural oils on their coats. They may need occasional toenail clipping, though, they will often wear these nails down themselves through regular outdoor activity. A good rule of thumb is if you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, then it’s time for a trim. Nails that are too long can cause pain and discomfort and may eventually become infected.

brittany spaniel dog smiling at the camera
Image Credit: Annette Shaff, Shutterstock

Health Conditions ❤️

Brittanys are generally a fairly healthy breed and do not suffer from many genetic disorders. That said, there are a few common health issues to be aware of, including:

  • Hip Dysplasia. This is the most common genetic disorder found in Brittanys. It is a genetic joint condition caused by abnormal formation of the hip and elbow joints.
  • Epilepsy. This disease unfortunately has no cure and can only be carefully managed with medication to reduce clinical signs. Your dog can usually live a normal and happy life with epilepsy.
  • Hypothyroidism. This condition is characterized by an underactive thyroid. The signs include abnormal weight gain, skin issues, and lethargy. Thankfully, the condition is fairly mild and can be easily treated with the correct medication, and your dog can usually lead a normal life.
  • Diabetes. This is fairly common in the Brittany breed but can be mostly prevented with a good diet.
Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Bloat
  • Obesity
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism

Male vs Female

All the best traits of Brittanys, like loyalty, affection, and playfulness, are not sex specific, and there is no real good reason to choose one over the other. Character and personality vary from dog to dog and are determined more by their environment and upbringing than sex. Physically, the two are almost impossible to tell apart, though the males may be slightly larger than females.

If you are not planning on breeding your Brittany, we highly recommend spaying or neutering your dog. This simple procedure has many health benefits and will stop males from wandering, stop females from mood swings, and stop neighborhood dogs hanging around, resulting in unwanted pregnancies.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Brittany

1. The Brittany Is an Ancient Breed

Some speculate that the Brittany was first developed as early as 150 A.D., though visual records through paintings and tapestries only appeared around the 17th century. Still, the breed has a long and rich history as working animals. While they were known as the Brittany Spaniel for centuries, the name was shortened to Brittany in the early 1980s, as these dogs resemble Setters more than Spaniels. Additionally, the name was dropped as they are pointing dogs, not flushing dogs like Spaniels.

2. There Are Two Distinct Types of Brittanys

Although officially recognized as two subsets of the same breed, many breeders differentiate between two different types of Brittany. The “American Brittany” is the larger of the two and better suited to running ahead and pointing out game. The “French Brittany” is smaller and nimbler, being used more closely to run alongside the hunters. Most breeders consider these and the other small differences as negligible, and the American Kennel Club does not make a distinction between the two.

3. They Come in a Wide Variety of Colors and Markings

The officially recognized color standards for Brittanys are usually orange and white and liver and white, but years of breeding have led to a much wider variety. They can also commonly be found in black and roan on top of white, but these are not favored among breeders. Their pattern varieties are even more varied, with parti-color, tricolor, clear pattern, ticked, and washed-out possibilities.

A Cricket and a Brittany Spaniel
Image Credit: contagionpseudomonas, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

The Brittany is a happy and cheerful breed, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a dog with a more positive outlook on life. They are social animals that want nothing more than being with their family, whether at home or out in the field. Consequently, they do not like being left at home alone and will quickly act out by chewing or digging to express their anxiety and disapproval. While they are sociable, they are also sensitive and shy and may take a while to warm up to new faces. You’ll have no problem training these dogs, and they’ll learn quickly and love the process.

If you are looking for a cuddle-worthy animal that can still hold their own out in the field, look no further than the adorable Brittany!

Featured Image Credit: Keith Bell, Shutterstock

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