Brittany (dog)

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Adult Brittany with a natural bobtail
Other namesBrittany Spaniel
Brittany Wiegref
Epagneul Breton
French Brittany
OriginBrittany, France
Weight 30–45 lb (14–20 kg)
Coat Medium length, flowing
Color Orange and white, liver and white, black and white (not universally accepted), tricolor, orange roan, liver roan, black roan
Litter size 5 puppies on average[1]
Life span 12 years[1]
Kennel club standards
Société Centrale Canine standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Brittany is a breed of gun dog bred primarily for bird hunting. Although it is often referred to as the Brittany Spaniel, they are not actually spaniels. The American Kennel Club reclassified them in 1984 as just Brittanys, since they are pointing dogs and have less genetically in common with Spaniels, and more in common with Setters, which are pointing dogs. The breed's working characteristics are also more akin to those of a pointer or setter than a spaniel.

Brittanys were developed in Brittany, a province in northwest France, between the 17th and 19th centuries, becoming officially recognized early in the 20th. There are two different types within the breed, French Brittanys and American Brittanys, which differ in conformation and accepted coat colours. French Brittanys are used for upland birds and rabbits, whereas the American Brittanys are used for upland birds hunting exclusively.


The name "Brittany" is taken from the Brittany region in northwestern France where the dog originated. Images of orange and white Brittany-like dogs hunting and retrieving game were first seen on tapestries and paintings from the 17th century. The first written and verifiable record of Brittanys comes from a hunting description written by Reverend Davies in 1850. He described hunting with small "bobtailed" dogs who pointed and were excellent retrievers. It was around the same time that the modern Brittany is rumored to have been bred by mating with English Setters.[2]

The Brittany was first recognized as a breed in 1907 when an orange and white male named Boy was registered in France. As a result, the first standards were outlined in the same year. America recognized the Brittany in 1931 and the breed was approved by the American Kennel Club in 1934. In 1982 the "Spaniel" was officially dropped from the name.[3]


A liver and white Brittany
A black and white French Brittany
An orange and white American Brittany


The Brittany is a small dog with a spaniel-type head, a bob-tail, and cobby appearance.[4]

Most Brittanys are born with long tails, subsequently docked to a length of 3–10 centimetres (1.2–3.9 in), however sometimes they are born with short tails.[4]

The breed's coat color is varied: an orange and white coat or liver and white are most common in the American Brittany; other colors include orange roan and liver roan, all of which are acceptable in the show ring.[4] The American Brittany Standard specifies an acceptable tri-color of liver, orange, and white with very specific color placement.[5] French Brittanys also come in white and black.[4]


Brittanys are medium-sized dogs, with American lines (17.5–20.5 inches (44–52 cm) at the withers according to an AKC standard adopted in 1990[5] tending to be larger and have a blockier head than French (17–20.5 inches (43–52 cm)), and females at the lower end. A properly constructed and healthy Brittany maintains a weight between 30–45 pounds (14–20 kg), depending upon height.[6] Generally, Brittanys are smaller than setters but leggier than spaniels.[3]


Many breeders differentiate between "American" Brittanys and "French"-style dogs. Although generally recognized as subsets of the same breed, there are recognizable differences between the two. The "American Brittany" has been bred to be typically larger than the "French Brittany"[7] and a bigger running dog, while the smaller French Brittany generally works more closely to the guns, but will work according to the local terrain.[citation needed] However, some breeders[who?] consider these "differences" to be unsound generalizations and that American standards should be updated to reflect the breed's standard in its country of origin; i.e. France, where black has become an acceptable coat color since 1956, while it is still considered a fault in America.[citation needed]

Though it resembles a spaniel-like dog used for flushing game, such as Springers and Cockers, Brittanys are more akin to pointers and all-purpose sporting dogs. Known in the United Kingdom as an HPR breed (Hunt, Point and Retrieve), they are expected to point and retrieve all birds and ground game up to, and including, hare. These unique qualities have given the Brittany more Dual Champions than any other AKC Sporting Breed, a landmark reached with the 500th in 2006.[citation needed]


The Brittany was originally bred as a hunting dog and noted for being easy to train and sweet-natured. The breed is generally more sensitive to correction than other hunters, and harsh corrections are often unnecessary.[8]


Brittany puppy

The median lifespan for Brittanys in France is 12.6 years.[1]

A North American study looking at over a million dogs found the Brittany to be predisposed to hip dysplasia with 4.22% of Brittanys having hip dysplasia compared to 3.52% overall.[9] Another North American study looking at over 250,000 elbow records found the Brittany to have the 14th lowest rate of elbow dysplasia out of 60 breeds with 1.7% of Brittanys having elbow dysplasia.[10]

A North American study found the Brittany to have a higher incidence of glaucoma than other dogs with 0.95% of Brittanys having glaucoma compared to 0.89% overall.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Leroy, G. G.; Phocas, F.; Hedan, B.; Verrier, E.; Rognon, X. (2015). "Inbreeding impact on litter size and survival in selected canine breeds". The Veterinary Journal. 203 (1): 74–8. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.11.008. PMID 25475165. S2CID 27631883. mean=11.34 ± 4.28 median =12.58
  2. ^ Riddle, Maxwell (1974). The complete Brittany spaniel. New York: Howell Book House. pp. 28. ISBN 9780876050651.
  3. ^ a b "Brittany". American Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15.
  4. ^ a b c d "Brittany Standard" (PDF). Federation Cynologique Internationale. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  5. ^ a b "Brittany Standard" (PDF). American Kennel Club. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  6. ^ "Brittany". United Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  7. ^ Thoms, Jerry. "The French Brittany". The Gundog Mag. Archived from the original on 16 June 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  8. ^ Kilcommons, Brian; Wilson, Sarah (1999). Paws to Consider. New York, NY: Warner Books. pp. 132–133. ISBN 0-446-52151-5.
  9. ^ Witsberger, Tige H.; Villamil, J. Armando; Schultz, Loren G.; Hahn, Allen W.; Cook, James L. (2008-06-15). "Prevalence of and risk factors for hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament deficiency in dogs". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). 232 (12): 1818–1824. doi:10.2460/javma.232.12.1818. ISSN 0003-1488. PMID 18598150.
  10. ^ Oberbauer, A. M.; Keller, G. G.; Famula, T. R. (2017-02-24). "Long-term genetic selection reduced prevalence of hip and elbow dysplasia in 60 dog breeds". PLOS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS). 12 (2): e0172918. Bibcode:2017PLoSO..1272918O. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172918. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 5325577. PMID 28234985.
  11. ^ Gelatt, Kirk N.; MacKay, Edward O. (2004). "Prevalence of the breed-related glaucomas in pure-bred dogs in North America". Veterinary Ophthalmology. 7 (2): 97–111. doi:10.1111/j.1463-5224.2004.04006.x. ISSN 1463-5216. PMID 14982589.

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