Brittany Spaniels originate from a region in northern France called Brittany. They have been included in artwork from the 17th century. The exact breeding history of Brittany Spaniels is hard to pin down, but it’s generally believed that they come from the breeding of English sporting dogs with native spaniels. The Brittany Spaniel was first recorded in writing by an English clergyman in 1850.
The Brittany Spaniel became an officially recognised breed in 1907. It spread from Europe to the USA in the 1930’s. Showing characteristics of pointers and setters alongside those of spaniels, the American Kennel Club shortened its name to just “Brittany”.
Brittany Spaniels are small but very athletic. They are built quite solidly, with long legs and a compact body. Natural tail lengths vary. Their coats come in a variety of colours, including red and white, black and white, liver and white and tri-colour. These coats are not overly thick and may be a little wavy. Their weight usually ranges between 16 and 19 kilograms and their height around 43 to 52 centimetres at the withers. Males are usually larger than females and around the top end of the scale. A healthy well-cared for Brittany will normally have a lifespan of around 12-14 years.
Brittany Spaniels are known for their intelligent, expressive faces. Their eyes are usually amber or hazel. Their ears are triangular and lay against the skull. Because of this, they sometimes suffer from ear problems. To prevent this, the area around the ears must be groomed and cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. Brittany Spaniels have single coats and are relatively easy to care for, they will just need a brush through a couple of times a week to prevent matts and tangles. They only need a bath as and when necessary, bathing too regularly will strip the coat of natural oils. However, bathing can help to get rid of a large amount of hair when the dog is shedding.
Originally bred as a sporting dog, Brittany Spaniels are very athletic and energetic. They are very sweet natured and are eager to please. This combined with their intelligence make them easy to train. Because of their athletic nature they need plenty of exercise. They do quite well when given regular walks or a large, open area to play in. They make great family pets, although sometimes can get a little too energetic to safely play with very small children.
The Brittany Spaniel is a generally healthy breed, although they do have a slight risk of hip dysplasia and epilepsy. Due to the positioning of their ears, they also run a risk of getting ear infections. This risk can be lessened by regular grooming.
Training a Brittany Spaniel is not difficult, but it is important to keep your tone in mind. They’re a little more sensitive to harsh feedback than other sporting dogs, so remember to stay gentle with them. Keep in mind that they are very energetic, so be sure to combine regular exercise into your training.