Although Brittanys are often considered to be spaniels, they are more similar to pointers or setters, which led to the dropping of “spaniel” from their name in the 1980’s. They were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1934, and are currently the 26th most popular dog in America.
The Brittany is a happy-go-lucky dog that is intelligent, fun-loving, and upbeat. When at work the Brittany will perform tirelessly in the field thanks to its obedient and eager to please attitude. At home the Brittany is the quintessential family companion that has a sweet and patient nature. Hunters should use caution when training these dogs, as they are sensitive and can become fearful when harsh corrections are used. Vigorous and structured exercise is necessary when owning a Brittany, as an under-stimulated working dog can become hyperactive, bored, and destructive. Recommended activities for this breed include running, hiking, swimming, dock jumping, obedience, and Agility.
Brittanys are a medium-sized dog with a slight build, typically standing 18 – 21 inches tall and weighing 30 – 45 lbs. Their coats are medium in length with their most notable feature being their long, floppy ears. Brittany owners must provide regular ear care to their pets in order to prevent ear infections, especially after swimming. While Brittanys do not shed heavily, regular brushing is recommended in order to keep dirt, debris, and loose hairs from littering the house. A wide variety of colorings are possible on Brittanys, including liver and white, orange and white, and liver roan, among others. There are generally two kinds of Brittanys: the “American” and “French” styles. The two societies have different breed standards, with the American style being larger and more suited to running while the French style is smaller and works closely to guns. In addition, the French recognize all-black coloring as being acceptable for the Brittany while Americans do not.
Brittanys, like all purebred dogs, suffer from a number of hereditary problems. Approximately 15% of all Brittanys display hip dysplasia, which is a painful joint condition affecting the hip joints. Another common problem is canine discoid lupus erythematosus, which can cause skin damage in dogs. This condition initially appears as discoloration around the nose or other mucous membranes and can eventually lead to skin lesions and ulcers. Epilepsy is also a major concern for Brittany owners, with many members of this breed being affected. Indeed, epilepsy is so common in Brittanys that the University of California Davis Veterinary School performed an epilepsy study on the breed in order to further distinguish a genetic link and risk factors. Despite these concerns, Brittanys have a long lifespan, reaching an average age of 12.6 years.