The Brittany is a medium-sized gun dog with a cheerful, energetic, and lively temperament. It originated in France where it is called Epagneul Breton and used in hunting, capable of flushing, pointing and retrieving fowls. It is a compactly-built, athletic dog, moderately well-boned and cobby in appearance. The breed’s overall appearance exemplifies a typical gundog breed. It has a slightly rounded head with a moderate stop, brown oval-shaped eyes (shade depending on coat colour) and triangular ears that are slightly rounded at the tip and covered in slightly wavy hair. The feathered ears fall flat against the cheek and may reach up to the stop when drawn forward. It has a moderately sloping shoulder with a deep chest, well-rounded ribcage, short back and a topline that slopes slightly from the shoulders to the croup. The tail of the Brittany is naturally short or none at all. The front legs are also slightly feathered while the back legs are well-feathered up to the mid-thigh. The dense body coat is made of fairly fine flat or slightly wavy hairs and may come in orange and white, liver and white, black and white, tricolour, or roan. The breed standard calls for an ideal height between 48-51 cm for males and 47-50 cm for females. The ideal weight is between 14-20 kg with the males on the heavier side.
The breed originated in a commune called Callac located in the Brittany region of northwest France where it is named after. Orange and white dogs similar to the modern-day Brittany were first depicted on tapestries and paintings as early as the 17th century. The first written records of the Brittany was written by Rev. Davies in the 1850s where he described an athletic hunting dog with bobtail that pointed and was an excellent retriever. This breed also mated with the local “Le Fougere”, an athletic spaniel from the area. It was around the same period that the modern-day Brittany is said to have been developed by crossing with the Gordon Setter and the English Setter. It was first recognized as a breed in 1907 and the first breed standard was written in the same year. The first French Champion Brittany was a liver and white dog named Max de Callac.
The Brittany was primarily bred as a hunting dog and with such breeding comes great stamina, speed, and extreme bravery. As a typical gundog, the Brittany in general, is a social animal without unruly behaviour towards its human companion or towards other dogs as well. However, temperament may vary, depending on the level of training and socialisation that the dog was given during the early stage. Some Brittanys can become aloof with strangers but are not typically aggressive. In fact, even well-socialized dogs have a certain level of variation when it comes to friendliness. A well-socialised Brittany is a perfect companion for both humans and animals in the home. For the most part, the Brittany is fairly inactive indoors but will not hesitate to bark at the doorbell. It can tolerate cold weather but will not do well in hot climates.
It is a natural working dog that is eager to please and easy to train but is quite generally more sensitive to correction than other hunting-pointing-setting breeds. It is a quick-learning dog, very loyal to its master and has a tendency to become attached to a single person in the family. It is sensitive to harsh treatment so it is best to train the Brittany firmly but gently with positive reinforcements including praise or food rewards. It excels in all types of hunting work and can compete in obedience and agility trials.
The flat coat of the Brittany does not have any undercoat so it is fairly easy to maintain. Just regular brushing with a slicker brush or steel comb will bring immaculate result to the breed’s low maintenance coat. Brush the coat with a slicker brush then follow up with combing through the hairs to remove loose dead hairs. Bathe only when the dog gets dirty or when necessary. Check the ears regularly using cotton balls dampened with ear cleaner when necessary. The nails should be cut at the tips using a nail clipper. This breed is a light shedder.
As a typical working dog, the Brittany is generally a healthy and hardy breed. The average lifespan of the Brittany in France is 12.6 years while a Kennel Club survey showed the median lifespan to be 12 years and 11 months. Among the health issues known to affect the breed are epilepsy (seizures), hip dysplasia, luxating patella or loose knees, glaucoma, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), retinal dysplasia, canine discoid lupus erythematosus, and hypothyroidism. Cerebellar ataxia, a type of neurological disease and haemophilia A, a blood-clotting disease have been observed but in rare cases.
As an energetic breed, the Brittany needs at least an hour or more of hearty exercise on a daily basis. Lack of exercise for a working dog, particularly a gundog may result in unruly behaviour, such as excessive barking, chewing or digging. A Brittany that does not get proper exercise can become hypersensitive and over-active. Long brisk walks or jogging on a daily basis are ideal exercises. Running alongside a bike on a lead is also good exercise for the Brittany.
The Brittany is a very sociable animal, is packed with energy and loves to run, jump and play so it is an excellent companion with children. In its natural environment, this breed is often seen working with other dogs in the hunt, which makes it very good with other dogs in the house