Brittany Breed Highlights

Brittany black and white dog playing on the couch

  • The Brittany has earned more Dual Champion titles from the American Kennel Club than any other breed. A dual champion is a dog that wins titles in the conformation show ring as well as in field trials.

  • After World War II, Brittanys were hard to find in their native country of France, and breeders decided to allow black and white dogs into their breeding programs to expand the gene pool. You might see a black and white French Brittany, but American Brittanys only come in orange or liver with white coats.

  • So, is it a spaniel? Until 1982, the breed’s official name was “Brittany Spaniel” in the United States, and is still called “l’epagneul Breton” in France. The working style of the Brittany more closely resembles that of pointers in the field, rather than the flushing style of spaniels. However, spaniels and pointer-type breeds are classified in the same Sporting dog category by the AKC.

  • Brittanys were often used by poachers in the French countryside during the early 1800s, as they were small and quick partners in crime when hunting for fowl.

Unique Physical Features

Brittany puppy illustration for Trupanion Breed Guide 

  • Short spaniel-like ears

  • Long legs of a pointer

Unique Personality

Brittany puppy illustration for Trupanion Breed Guide 

Brittanys take their enthusiasm to the next level — they are willing and able to tackle whatever activity you have in mind. One of the most energetic dog breeds, Brittanys are smart and like to work closely with their person. Versatile and eager to please, these dogs love a rugged and outdoorsy lifestyle. But they won’t turn down a nice long nap on the couch with you after a successful hunting trip.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - high (tri-athelete)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

Brittanys do well with families, but often their exuberance can overwhelm and knock over smaller children.

With Other Pets

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This breed can do well with other pets in the home, as long as they have been socialized and properly introduced.

Environment

Icon - outline of a house

A Brittany is made to work outdoors and needs space to run. This breed will do best with a very active and outdoorsy family.

Average Lifespan
(Range)

12 to 14 years

Average Size
(Range)

Medium:

  • 30 - 40 pounds
  • 17 - 21 inches tall

Breed Group

Sporting

Similar Breeds

  • Welsh Springer Spaniel

  • French Spaniel

  • Boykin Spaniel

  • German Shorthaired Pointer

History of the Brittany

Brittany brown and white dog swimming in the water

The Brittany breed originated in the French region of Brittany — hence the name. This northwestern region of France is directly below Wales, across the English Channel, and many believe the Brittany breed shares some ancestry with the similar-looking Welsh Springer Spaniel.

These medium-sized spaniels were favorites of poachers and peasants during medieval times, as they proved to be indispensable and versatile working dogs. 17th-century tapestries and artwork depict many orange and white spaniels that resemble the modern-day Brittany. A written description by Reverend Davies mentions these “bob-tailed” pointing and retrieving dogs in 1850, after seeing their excellence on a hunting trip.

Around the same time as Davies’ writing, the French Brittany was being refined with the crossing of English Setters into the breed lines. With dog shows growing in popularity throughout Europe, the Brittany easily crossed over into the show ring while excelling in the field. Hunters found the breed just as useful in modern hunting as they had been throughout medieval times. The first registered Brittany in France was an orange and white male named Boy in 1907.

U.S. History of the Brittany Over Time

Brittanys were imported to the United States as sporting dogs in the early 1900s, and the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Brittany Spaniel breed in 1934. Once American breeders were established, differences between the French lines and American lines became more obvious. American Brittanys tend to be larger and have a blockier head than their French counterparts.

The difference between the two types of Brittanys was further accentuated after World War II. During the war, French breeding lines were depleted. Breeders approved bringing in black and white dogs to the gene pool to keep the lines from developing genetic health issues and eventually going extinct. French-bred Brittanys can be black and white (even tri-colored), while the American standard does not recognize this color.

In 1982, the American Kennel Club approved the name change from Brittany Spaniel to only Brittany. This reflected the dog’s propensity to hunt more like a pointer or setter in the field, rather than flushing birds out as spaniels would. The Brittany has become known as a fantastically intelligent field dog and conformation competitor, with the most Dual Champions of any breed. A Dual Champion is a dog that has earned titles in both the show ring and in field trials — quite a feat! In 2018, the Brittany ranked as the 26th most popular dog breed in the U.S.

Brittany Behavior & Training

If you’ve got endless energy, this breed is the dog for you! Brittanys are fast learners and even faster runners. Bred to work closer to hunters than the larger pointers, Brittanys love to be engaged with their person and are very task-oriented. If you don’t give your Brittany something to do, they will exhibit hyperactive and neurotic behavior. You will tire out long before a Brittany does, so combine lots of physical activity with a good amount of mental enrichment.

The breed is known to be on the more sensitive side, so punishments, whether verbal or physical, aren’t helpful during training. Focus on positive reinforcement methods and making training fun for both you and your Brittany. If you aren’t taking your Brittany out hunting, make sure to sign up for a dog sport like Flyball or Agility.

Plays Well with Others?

  • The Brittany breed is alert and sociable. While often more focused on their owner rather than new people, they are generally happy and friendly dogs. Proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy is essential for their socialization skills.

  • Brittanys are hardy dogs that do well with children. However, their zest for life often means they overwhelm smaller or younger children, simply because they are energetic and constantly zooming around. Extra care should be taken to socializing a Brittany puppy with children and focus on training polite interactions (for both the dog and the children). Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • This breed will enjoy the companionship of other pets in the home, as long as they have been properly socialized as a puppy and introduced in a positive way. As a sporting breed, Brittanys can have high prey drive (the tendency to chase after fast-moving or small animals). This can be managed with consistent training and by providing appropriate outlets for their instinctual behaviors.

TRAINER TIP

Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet so it doesn’t get overwhelming.

Graphic - bouncing red ball image

Exercise Requirements

If you decide a Brittany is the dog for you, be ready to spend lots of time outdoors! A long walk won’t cut it for this active breed. They need an hour of physical activity every day, if not more. Working activities that combine physical and brain work into their exercise routine will go a long way in helping to tire out a Brittany. Going on regular hikes combines physical exercise with the opportunity to work out their brain with exploratory sniffing.

If a Brittany does not have an outlet for all that energy, they can become quite a handful. Often these dogs become hyper, anxious, and act out with bad behaviors like jumping, digging, barking, and other destructive acts.

Speak with your veterinarian about appropriate exercise for a Brittany puppy. Until they are full-grown (bone growth plates typically all close by around 12 – 18 months of age), avoid strenuous or repetitive activities like jogging or running — as this can increase their risk of damage to the growing bone and cartilage, causing pain and future joint issues.

VETERINARIAN TIP

While a tired dog might be a good dog, puppy exercise shouldn’t be forced or “pushed” in any way. Follow your Brittany puppy’s lead in the amount of activity they can do. If they stop and sit down, it’s time for some rest and recovery. In some cases, they might try to “keep up” with an adult dog, so make sure not to let them push too far and over-exercise themselves.

Mental Enrichment Needs

Incorporating lots of mental enrichment activities into your Brittany’s daily routine will help you manage their endless amount of energy. Feed regular meals in food puzzles or snuffle mats and provide lots of interactive toys. Invest in basic training classes, but don’t stop there! Continue training throughout your Brittany’s life to keep their brain sharp and give them an outlet for their energy. This breed is versatile and does well in so many different dog sports, plus these classes also teach humans a lot too. Brittany puppies need mental enrichment activities to prevent unwanted puppy behaviors like chewing or digging and build strong problem-solving skills.

Fun Activities the Brittany Enjoys

Brittany puppy illustration for Trupanion Breed Guide 

Brittanys do well in many different activities:

  • Hunting / Field Trials

  • Conformation

  • Search and Rescue / Tracking

  • Nose work

  • Agility

  • Flyball

  • Dock diving

  • Rally obedience

Brittany Coat Type

Brittanys have a shorter single layer coat, perfect for their hunting work in field brush. With straight or slightly wavy fur over most of the body, they sport some feathering on their legs and ears.

This breed is most often seen in a liver and white, or orange and white color. A gorgeous roan pattern is also seen, with colored and white furs interspersed throughout the coat. French-bred Brittanys can be black and white, but this color is not seen in American-bred Brittanys.

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 2 of 5 piles of fur

2 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Low maintenance
  • Weekly brushing

Since the Brittany doesn’t have a double-coat, they don’t require much more than regular brushing and the occasional bath to keep them in tip-top shape. Brush their coat once or twice a week and bathe as needed. The natural oils in their coat will help to slough off dirt and mud, but make sure to check them over for any errant twigs, burrs, or dangerous foxtails after hunting excursions.

Best Brush for a Brittany: Bristle brush, Grooming mitt

TRAINER TIP

Introduce your Brittany puppy to being wiped down with a towel and basic grooming as early as possible. Creating a positive association and training calm handling behavior will make it easier to do these things as they get older.

Famous Owners of the Brittany

  • Susan Dey (Actress)

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the Brittany Breed

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for Brittanys. Every Brittany is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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dog-loving members say about Trupanion

Trupanion member Kelly

Kelly

Groton, CT

Condition: Sarcoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $18,522.39

"My golden Kelly was young when I found a softball-sized lump on Kelly’s left hind leg. Four weeks straight of radiation, six rounds of chemo and checkups every three months, including x-rays and full blood panel were needed. Because of Trupanion, I didn’t have to address the biggest deciding factor that most people face—can I afford this? I can honestly say Kelly is alive today because of the financial support Trupanion provided."

- Lori

Trupanion member Axl

Axl

Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

The Trupanion policy paid: $2,084.01

"At two, our German shepherd Axl was diagnosed with pneumonia. Trupanion took care of all our financial concerns. At four, his hip issues led to pain medications, rehabilitation and rest, which all resulted in improved pain-free movement. I’m so grateful that we chose a plan that not only covers the cost of his treatment but also any physical therapy or rehabilitation he may need."

- Nanette K.

Trupanion member Bella

Bella

Ellijay, GA

Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

The Trupanion policy paid: $15,283.83

"Bella was treated for Cushing’s disease and a pituitary tumor with radiation therapy. Had we not had insurance for her, the decision for her medical care would have been more difficult, as each treatment was expensive. However, because we have Trupanion, these decisions were easier. Rather, we could focus our attention on her treatment and recovery instead of the financial impact these procedures would have on our family."

- Jason P.

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