Brittany Spaniel


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Contents

Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Introduction
History
Appearance
Temperament
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Health
Caring for a Brittany Spaniel
Grooming
Exercise
Feeding
Average Cost to keep/care for a Brittany Spaniel


Key Breed Facts


Popularity #148 out of 238 Dog Breeds.


The Brittany Spaniel breed is also commonly known by the names Brittany Spaniel, Brittany Wiegref, Epagneul Breton, French Brittany.
Lifespan
12 - 13 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Gundog Group
Height
Males 48 - 51 cm
Females 47 - 50 cm at the withers
Weight
Males 20 - 23 kg
Females 20 - 23 kg
Health Tests Available
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme
Average Price (More Info)
£692 for KC Registered
£398 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics



Introduction

The Brittany Spaniel is also known simply as a Brittany and as their name suggests, they originate from France where they were bred as working dogs. They thrive on being kept busy and do not do well if left to their own devices for long periods of time. For decades, the breed has been a popular working dog in their native France, but are now becoming popular here in the UK thanks to their tremendous ability to Hunt, Point and Retrieve.

The Brittany is quite a lightly built spaniel as compared to others of their type. They boast alert, kind natures and are always eager to please which are just some of the reasons why they make such good working dogs in the field. Thanks to their willing personalities, the Brittany is also a great companion or family pet especially in the right sort of environment and living with people who are familiar with the breed or this type of spaniel and who live active, outdoor lives.


History

As previously mentioned, the Brittany hails from France where they were bred to Hunt, Point and Retrieve, a job these dogs proved themselves to be extremely good at. During the 1800's English Lords would visit France on hunting forays taking their own dogs with them. Rather than bring them back to England, they left their dogs in France because of the quarantine laws. The dogs the Lords typically took over with them on their hunting trips were Setters and Pointers which the French then crossed to local spaniels and the result of these crosses was the Brittany Spaniel.

The new hybrid spaniels were more skilled at scenting, working that much better in the field. English Setters were then crossed with the Brittany in the 1900's with the end goal being to produce a taller dog. By the 1930's breeders began working towards producing a smaller, more cobby-like spaniel and these dogs were to become a firm favourite in France having proved themselves to be highly skilled gundogs in the field.

Today, the Brittany remains one of the most popular working gundogs in their native France and elsewhere in Europe. They are now becoming a popular choice with people who lead active, outdoor lives here in the UK too thanks to their kind, loyal natures and attractive looks.


Appearance

Height at the withers: Males 48 - 51 cm, Females 47 - 50 cm

Average weight: Males 20 - 23 kg, Females 20 - 23 kg

The Brittany Spaniel is a very light, yet cobby looking dog that boasts an alert, lively and intelligent expression about them. They are among the smallest of the gundog breeds and are renowned for their keen sense of smell. Their heads are slightly rounded and have a slightly defined median line and occiput. Stops are moderate and muzzles taper slightly with dogs having well shaped and open nostrils.

Brittany Spaniels have very expressive brown to darker coloured eyes that match the colour of their coat. Eyes are oval and set obliquely. Ears are triangular with slightly rounded tips and they have slightly wavy hair on them. Dogs carry their ears high, but they fall down against their cheeks. The Brittany has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.

Their necks are moderately long, clean and set well into a dog's shoulders which slope moderately. Shoulders are muscular with a slight angulation and the top of their shoulder blades are set quite widely apart. Front legs are well muscled and straight. They have deep chests and briskets that reach right down to their elbows with well-rounded ribcages. Backs are rather short as are a dog's strong loins. Their topline slopes from the withers down to the croup which slopes slightly to where the tail is set. Hindquarters are strong and muscular with dogs boasting powerful thighs.

Their feet are round, compact and tight with a little hair growing between each toe. Back feet are slightly longer than a dog's front feet. The Brittany Spaniel can be naturally tailless or they can have a "bob" tail which is set high and which dogs carry horizontally or a little lower.

When it comes to their coat, the Brittany Spaniel boasts having a dense, yet find coat that lies flat or can be slightly wavy. Front legs are slightly feathered with hind legs being well feathered right to a dog's mid-thigh. Accepted colours for the breed include the following:

  • Orange & white
  • Liver & white
  • Black & white
  • Tri-colour
  • Roan 

Temperament

The Brittany is an energetic and active dog by nature and likes nothing more than to be kept busy, even in a home environment. With this said, they make wonderful family pets and companion dogs for people who lead more active, outdoor lives. They excel in field trials and are a firm favourite with people who like to compete both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

However, a Brittany's training and education has to start as early as possible and puppies have to be well socialised from a young age for them to grow up to be well-rounded, obedient dogs. If these dogs are not well trained early in their lives they have a tendency to run off if they get sight of anything in the distance. It's essential for a Brittany to be taught the "recall" command right from the word go and not to trust them too much off their leads anywhere near wildlife and livestock.

With this said, the Brittany is a good choice for first time owners because of their strong desire to please. Being such intelligent dogs, the Brittany is easy to train, but they are not a good choice for people who lead more sedentary lives because these dogs need to be given masses of exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dogs. In short, owners need to have the time needed to dedicate to their dogs if they want to share a home with a Brittany Spaniel.


Intelligence / Trainability

Brittany Spaniels are highly intelligent and in the right hands, they learn new things extremely quickly. However, this means they are also quick to pick up any bad habits too. Their training has to start early and it has to be fair and consistent to get the right sort of results. If a Brittany is allowed to dominate a situation they will which is something to be avoided at all costs.


Children and Other Pets

Brittany Spaniels are a good choice for people with families because they are very gentle dogs when they are around children. However, like any other breed, it's best for any interaction between children and dogs to be supervised to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous.

They are also known to get on well with other dogs, especially if they have been well socialised as puppies. However, due to their strong hunting instincts, care has to be taken when a Brittany Spaniel is around smaller pets and animals. With this said, if they have grown up with a family cat in the household, they will accept sharing their home with a feline friend, but will chase off any other cats they come across.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


Brittany Spaniel Health

The average life expectancy of a Brittany Spaniel is between 12 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Brittany is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia - DNA test available
  • Epilepsy
  • Luxating patella
  • DLE- Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
  • Ears Problems 

Caring for a Brittany Spaniel

As with any other breed, Brittany Spaniels need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming

A Brittany has a lovely, glossy coat with lots of fine feathering around their ears, on the backs of their legs and on their abdomens. However, they don't have an undercoat which means they are quite low maintenance when it comes to keeping their coats looking great and in good condition. Their coats need to be brushed on a regular basis to prevent any matts and tangles from forming, paying particular attention to a dog's feathering.

It might be necessary to trim any feathering that grows too long around a dog's ears, on their legs and bellies which makes it less likely for tangles to form. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Exercise

Brittany Spaniels are active, high-energy dogs and they need a minimum of 2 hours' exercise every day for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. A short walk in the morning would be alright, but these dogs need a much longer and more interesting walk in the afternoon which should include playing lots of interactive games. As previously mentioned, the Brittany is a highly intelligent character and without the right sort of mental stimulation, a dog can quickly develop some unwanted behavioural issues which can be put down to sheer boredom.

If left to their own devices for even shorter periods of time, the Brittany Spaniel can also suffer from separation anxiety which is why they are good choice for families where one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house whereas they are not a good choice for people who spend most of the time away from home.

With this said, young Brittany puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives.


Feeding

If you get a Brittany puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Brittany Spaniel

If you are looking to buy a Brittany, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £700 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Brittany Spaniel in northern England would be £20.16 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Brittany Spaniel and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1300 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Brittany Spaniel would be between £80 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.


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