Breed breakdown: An in-depth look at the Brittany
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Happy, vigorous, agile, or sweet — people describe the Brittany differently. However, almost everyone calls them energetic. While most Brittanys are nice and easy to train, their energy level does not make them suitable for everyone. Brittanys definitely thrive on an active lifestyle.
Once known as the Brittany spaniel, these dogs actually hunt similarly to pointers and setters. The spaniel was dropped from the name in 1982.
The Brittany gets its name from the area of France in which the breed was developed. Pictures and tapestries with dogs similar in appearance date back to the 17th century. The first written description of the Brittany occurred around 1850, and the first Brittany was shown in 1900. They were fully recognized as a breed in 1907 in France. Recognition by the American Kennel Club occurred in 1934.
With the acceptance in the United States, some differences developed. The American Brittany tends to be slightly larger than its French counterpart, and any black in the coat or on the nose is not allowed. Though some do not consider the differences significant, the American dogs are just called Brittanys, and the others are specified as French Brittanys.
A medium-sized dog, the breed standard emphasizes sturdiness without being heavy, light on its feet but not fine boned. Considered “leggy,” the correct stance is important for their “clean,” efficient movement.
Along with the long legs, the short tail is an important characteristic. Some dogs are born with a bobbed tail, and other dogs have them docked to maximum length of 4 inches.
Brittanys’ colors range from white and orange to white and liver, with or without roaning. A ticking with the white and color is desirable. The legs should have a small amount of feathering, but large amounts are discouraged. Thin feathering and “loose” skin are meant to help decrease debris and injury when out in the fields.
Brittanys are a relatively healthy breed with an average lifespan of around 12 years with some individuals living past 15. While there are not many health concerns, some still exist. With their long legs, hip dysplasia can be an issue. Hip problems can also lead to knee injuries.
Owners should watch out for epilepsy. Brittanys should have their eyes checked regularly to rule out problems that could potentially cause blindness.
Brittanys may be prone to canine discoid lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease affecting certain areas of the body, including the nose. This condition is not curable but is manageable.
Besides researching breeders, you should evaluate your lifestyle when considering a Brittany. If you are an avid hunter, a runner, or hiker or just love to be out being active with your dog, then a Brittany may be the right dog for you.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.