Are you looking to welcome a new dog into your life, and you’ve whittled your choice down to the Brittany breed? Or maybe you’ve already welcomed him into the fold, and you need to double-check all the breed 101. Brittanys are great dogs, that are great for families, and even first-time dog owners.
The Brittany is a much-loved dog breed in America, and he is becoming increasingly popular. He is smaller than a Setter but taller than a Spaniel. He is upbeat, hard-working, and full of love for his favorite humans. But he is an intensely energetic pup that isn’t suited to all families.
In this guide, you’ll learn all about this breed’s personality and exercise needs (it’s a lot!). You’ll also learn some breed-specific training tips, and the unique nutritional requirements of this breed. So, read on to find out whether the Brittany is the best breed for you and your family.
It is not known exactly the Brittany breed first came into existence. But what we do know is that they first appeared in 17th-century tapestries and other art forms from all over western Europe. Leading canine historians to believe that they are a few hundred years old. We also know that the breed is from the most western region of France, known as Brittany. Hence his name.
Back then, French hunters devoted much of their time to create a versatile hunting dog and one that wasn’t too expensive to keep. Because of his appearance and his skills, it is thought that he is of Pointer and Spaniel origin. The breed quickly became known as one of the best field dogs in his own right. Capable of successfully hunting all different kinds of birds, including woodcock, partridge, duck, and pheasant.
His versatility meant his thrifty owners didn’t need to keep a full kennel of dogs for different roles on the farm. This versatile dog was found on most estates in western Europe, and the French have forever remained in love with the breed. His close work with humans means he is also a family-friendly dog who is super affectionate. Which is a big reason why he is now becoming increasingly popular.
It wasn’t until 1931 that the breed sailed across the ocean and first arrived in America. He was entered into the American Kennel Club stud book in 1934. Back then, he was listed as the Brittany Spaniel, which he is called in France. But during the 20th century, there became a clear difference in the French and American breeding lines. So, to make a clear distinction, the breed name was shortened to just the Brittany in 1982.
The breed is famous for having more than 600 dual champions (meaning specimens who have earned top prizes for hunting and appearance conformation) than any other sporting dog.
The Brittany is known to be energetic and enthusiastic in everything he does. From his daily exercise to playing with toys at home, nothing has ever been so fun! Even escorting you taking out the trash cans is an adventure to enjoy!
This excitement makes him quite an intense dog to have around. And not everyone has the energy to match this eager beaver. But if you love passionate pups, he will make a great companion.
This also makes him super fun. Forever willing to play a game and always pawing for mental and physical stimulation, there is never a dull moment with this pup around. He makes a great companion for energetic families and kids looking for an exciting four-legged sibling to play with.
Once he has had enough exercise for the day (although he could keep going!), he will happily settle down for the evening on the sofa with his family. He is enthusiastic about snuggles too!
His love for humans links into his sensitivity – he doesn’t like to be left alone. This means he needs to be homed with a family that can spend most of their time with him. If you work long hours, this is probably not the right breed for you. Some people love his reliance upon humans, but some find it a bit too needy. You need to know which side of the fence you sit on before you welcome him into your life.
He has a huge prey drive, and he always has birds on his brain. This means that you need to be on top alert for anything with feathers when you leave the house for walks. Many a Brittany owner has been caught out having to prize a bird out of his mouth in front of a crowd of horrified people.
Size & Appearance
The Brittany is a medium-sized dog. He weighs between 30 to 40 pounds and measures between 17.5 and 20.5 inches from paw to shoulder. Males are usually larger than their female counterparts. His size is one of his many appeals. He is big enough to be successful and powerful on the hunting field, but not too big that his size is a problem for families.
It’s easy to see he is of Spaniel and Pointer genetics. He looks very similar to the less-popular Welsh Springer Spaniel, and they likely share common ancestors. He is proportionate in size but leggier than many other sporting dogs. So much, that the distance between his paws and shoulders is the same as the length of his body. He is sturdy yet elegant.
He has the soft expression of most gun dogs but always appears alert and ready for action. His ears are short and triangular. His tail is either naturally docked or purposefully docked at around four inches. Some dogs are born tailless.
Brittanys are not meant to have black noses, and if they do, they cannot be shown in the conformation ring. Instead, brown, fawn, tan, or deep pink are more common. Darker-colored eyes are more common than lighter amber colors.
Coat & Colors
Brittanys have a gorgeous double coat that is dense and either flat or wavy. His coat is the middle of the road when it comes to texture, meaning it is not silky or wiry. Their ears should carry a little feathering, as should his legs. His coat is medium in length, measuring a few inches. His skin is slightly loose to prevent puncturing when out on the field as it moves with the underbrush.
The two main colors of the breed are orange and white and liver and white with either clear or roan patterns. Roan is a fine mixture of white and colored hairs. Some ticking is a desirable pattern. Rarely you’ll find a tri-colored dog, which is a liver and white-coated dog with orange markings across his body.
If you want to show your dog, he must conform to the breed standard. Black and blue coats, either with or without white, are found in the breed. A solid black coat is accepted in the European breed standards, but not in America.
The Brittany is a super active canine who is bursting at the seams with energy. If you are seeking a couch potato, this breed is not the one for you. Of course, he’ll make a brilliant hunting dog, but he doesn’t need to be worked as a hunting dog. If he is a family pet, he must join a very active family who can meet his exercise expectations. Ideally, he needs 90 minutes of exercise every day.
Without regular and intense exercise, he will quickly become hyperactive and behaviorally problematic. This is the most common reason why he is surrendered to rescue homes. Because the average family does not have the time or energy to meet his needs. So please only take this dog on if you are a very active and outdoorsy family.
He is very intelligent and curious too. Meaning that exercise should be fun, challenging, and varied. A 90-minute stroll is not going to cut it every day. Instead, he loves to participate in local competitions, agility courses, and he makes a great jogging partner. Mix it up with a trip to the local water for a dip and splash around – just watch for the birds! And local doggy parks are a great way to socialize with other canines and burn off excess energy.
If his needs are met, the Brittany is a relatively adaptable dog who is happy to live in most family environments. Small and cramped apartments are not ideal because they do not give him the space to play and burn energy.
Larger homes with access to private and secure yards are his ideal living situation. His high prey drive means that his yard needs to be secure and escape-proof. This includes installing high fences as he will jump to chase his feathered ‘friends.’
He does not make a great guard dog as he has no protective instincts. And he is relatively friendly with strangers and will accept most people into the family home. The one thing that he will not adapt to well is a family who is forever on the move or hosting loud parties most weekends. He is a sensitive pup who does not handle change very well. Instead, he prefers a stable environment and a quieter country lifestyle with his close family.
The Brittany makes a great family pet for the right family. Despite being crazy energetic, he is respectful and not overly boisterous in the home. He is gentle and sweet with children. So as long as you teach your children how to properly interact with a dog, he should do well in a young family. He also likes the company of other dogs and does well in a multi-pet household. Unless, of course, multi-pet means ducks or chickens, then it’s a definite no.
The Brittany is a very intelligent dog breed, and he is super eager to please his master. These traits combined make him an obedient dog who is relatively easy to train. Start his training young, be consistent, and he should smash his training and new commands. The one thing you will not be able to train out of him is his prey drive. He can be the most obedient dog in the world, but if a bird shakes their tail-feathers at him, he’ll be off!
His enthusiastic personality means that he will strive to do his best at everything, including training sessions. Always use the positive reinforcement training method for this pup. His sensitive soul cannot handle being told off harshly. A firm no and a stern look are enough for him to know he has done something wrong. Otherwise, he’ll sulk and avoid you for a few days. Instead, focus on rewarding him with treats, toys, and praise when he is a good boy.
Socialization is a huge part of the puppy training process. And for your Brittany to transform into a polite adult, he needs to be socialized well. A good quality breeder will start the process by raising him with his littermates and exposing him to human contact. It’ll be your job to continue mixing him with as many different dogs as you can. As well as loud noises, his grooming routine, and other things he might experience as an adult.
The breed is notorious for being anxious when left alone. So it’s important to leave him for short periods as a pup to ensure that he does not become dependent on constant company. It’s also a great idea to crate train this breed. You’ll specifically want to consider crates that are equipped to secure anxious dogs. Dogs naturally crave shelter, so you can be sure that he’ll quickly fall in love with his crate.
If you are looking for a gun dog but have little experience in gun dog training, the breed could be a great first canine choice. He is naturally brilliant as a gun dog. His enthusiasm, intelligence, eagerness to please, and nose for feathers mean he’ll pick up training faster than most others. To be a good gun dog, thorough socialization and basic obedience are crucial.
It’s your responsibility to keep him as healthy as possible, and there are several things you can do for him to enjoy a longer lifespan. Visit your vet for regular health checks, keep him healthy with daily exercise, and feed him the best nutrition that you can afford.
All dog breeds are prone to a select number of health concerns more so than others. And although your Brittany might suffer from none, some, or all of these, it’s an important place to start your health research. Work with a reputable breeder who will screen for most or all of these health conditions when possible. Here are the most common health concerns to affect the breed.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common health concerns in medium-sized through to giant-sized dog breeds. If the dog’s parents suffer from poor hips, their pups are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hips develop abnormally and form unevenly. This uneven growth causes additional wear and tear, as well as mobility issues and pain. Look for symptoms such as struggling to stand, lay, or climb the stairs, as well as general exercise intolerance.
The Brittany breed is prone to several eye conditions. The most common is glaucoma. And two other conditions to look out for are primary lens luxation and progressive retinal atrophy. All of these conditions can result in permanent vision loss. Any changes to his eyes’ appearance, poor vision, or excessive scratching or rubbing require a visit to the vets.
This is caused by a lack of hormones created by the thyroid glands, which has many effects on his body. These include tiredness, mental dullness, weight gain, dry skin, and heightened risk of other skin conditions, to name just a few. This can be managed with daily hormone medication.
Your Brittany will eat approximately two cups of food every day split into two meals. The specific amount that you feed him will depend on his age, size, and energy levels. If he is a gun dog working the field all day, he will likely need more to fuel his muscles.
Always read the instructions of the kibble packaging for tailored advice. If you adopt a puppy, always feed him a kibble designed for puppies. These are richer in proteins and fats for better development and growth.
Feed your Brittany a high-quality kibble within your budget that meets all of his nutritional needs. A well-balanced diet is essential, and avoid feeding him human foods that’ll cause him to become overweight. And if he is a working dog, you will want to feed him a kibble higher in protein, fats, and energy. Sporting or performance kibbles are designed for the needs of working dogs.
The Brittany has a beautifully dense coat that is elegant and lush. He has a relatively simple grooming routine, but his coat tends to pick up dirt easily when exercising or hunting. He’ll need brushing several times a week to keep him looking and feeling his best.
After every exercise session, run your hands through his coat to check for any twigs, leaves, or other debris that will quickly turn into matting. A soft-ended pin brush is a great tool for his coat, just be gentle on his loose skin.
Generally, the breed isn’t known to be prone to intense shedding. They will shed moderately during the seasonal changes. He only needs bathing once every 8 to 12 weeks, depending on how dirty he gets during his adventures. Try not to wash him any more than this if you can, because it will irritate his skin. Always use doggy shampoo, and one that is made from natural ingredients is always best.
When grooming him, be sure to check his underbelly for signs of skin infection. Being scratched and punctured is all part of the gun dog course. Wash him gently with a clean cloth to remove the dirt and just keep an eye on it. Most of the time, it will heal itself.
Clean his ears weekly with an ear-cleaning product as they are prone to infection. His teeth also need cleaning several times a week too with doggy toothpaste to avoid periodontal diseases.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
The Brittany is a relatively popular dog breed, who finds himself between the 20th and 30th most popular dog breed in America. Depending on where you live, you probably won’t have to travel too far to find a responsible breeder. A great place to start your search for a high-quality breeder is on the AKC’s Brittany breeder page. The average price for a Brittany pup from a responsible breeder will cost anywhere between $1,000 to $1,250.
When it comes to the breed, you will want to ask the breeder if the pups are Brittany Spaniels (the French line) or Brittanys (the American line). Brittanys are understandably more common in America than the Spaniel type. Although their personalities are similar, there are subtle differences. American Brittanys are slightly taller, faster, and more independent than Brittany Spaniels, who are smaller and work more closely with their master.
It’s important to work with a good quality breeder who does everything in their power to produce healthy puppies. Signs of a good quality breeder include having years of provable experience, a professional website, and being knowledgeable and honest about what to expect. They will ask you questions about your lifestyle and make you feel welcome. As well as insisting that you meet the pups in person. Always do your research before making any commitments.
Avoid irresponsible breeders or those working as part of a puppy mill. Puppy mills do not care for the health or well-being of their puppies, and you’ll likely inherit an ill pup. If they are cagey about details, do not allow you to meet them in their home environment, or generally seem off, walk away! Trust your gut, and do not be lured in with lower puppy prices.
You also need to remember that the initial puppy price is not the only cost to factor into your budget. You need to think about setting up your home and buying beds, crates, collars, and high fences! There are also ongoing costs for his whole lifetime, including high-quality food, medical expenses, and boarding if you need it. The Brittany is not the most expensive dog breed to care for, but like all dogs, they are not cheap either!
Rescues & Shelters
Buying a brand new shiny puppy from a breeder is not the only option that you have. Sometimes raising a puppy is not the best option for families. And occasionally, finances dictate that rescuing is the cheaper option in terms of the initial price. In this case, consider adopting a Brittany, and what a wonderful thing to do! Unfortunately, many Brittanys end up in rescue shelters because families do not understand what goes into caring for them.
You have two main options here. Firstly, head out to your local shelter and speak to the staff about your Brittany preferences. Alternatively, there are a few organizations that dedicate their time and resources to rehoming the Brittany breed. The American Brittany Rescue, Inc is a fantastic nonprofit organization set up in 1991. Head over there to check out the Brittanys waiting for their forever home.
As Family Pets
- The breed is a naturally excellent gun dog.
- They need at least 90 minutes of intense exercise every day
- He is a clever canine who is highly intelligent.
- They need to be mentally stimulated throughout the day.
- This can be done with interactive playtime and dog toys.
- He is a gentle and sweet dog inside the home.
- They crave human companionship and can be intensely needy.
- He is a sensitive pup who doesn’t like to be left alone for too long.
- If left alone for long periods, they can become anxious.
- The Brittany is friendly with strangers and generally outgoing.
- They make excellent canine companions and get along well with dogs.
- He has a super high prey drive, especially for anything with feathers and wings.
- He is great with children and can live with any type of family.
- The Brittany is very enthusiastic about everything he does.
The Brittany is one of the finest gun dogs in the world, and for very good reason. He is also becoming an increasingly popular dog as a family pet. He is fun, sweet, enthusiastic, and has an infectious smile. But, it is super important that you can meet all of his needs. His biggest need is intense daily exercise.
He isn’t much of a lapdog, to say the least. But if you can meet his needs, you are certain to find one of the best canine companions. He’ll keep you on your toes and super fit, and he is super dependable. Plus, he’ll smother you with doggy kisses and shower you in a whole lotta love!