The Brittany Spaniel - sometimes called simply the "Brittany" - is one of the most popular birding dogs, but has also become a very popular family pet. The attractive coloration and easy temperament have brought it into many homes. Still, there are a number of bird hunters who are Brittany Spaniel enthusiasts. The origin of the Brittany Spaniel is up for some debate.
Some people believe the breed is a direct descendant of other spaniels, though others aren't sure this is true. Regardless of the bloodlines, it seems fairly obvious that the breed either originated or was brought to Brittany, France, where it gained popularity with hunters. What is clear is that the first Brittany Spaniel was officially shown in the late 1800s at a dog show in France. The beautiful dog was an immediate sensation, though it would be some four decades before the breed was recognized by dog organizations.
Though many people are adopting Brittany Spaniels as family pets, remember that these dogs were bred for stamina. They need plenty of exercise and that means that they need time outdoors. As a rule, they'll run and play by themselves, but they seem to prefer to play or hunt with their people. Remember that these dogs were bred for hunting.
They love to hunt and are almost ready to accompany their hunter on the next expedition. Some readily make the transition from indoor dogs to hunting and then readily come back inside with their "indoor manners." They like cooler weather and will not let cold temperatures or even rain keep them penned indoors, given the opportunity. If possible, Brittany Spaniels will get their exercise from running and playing off leash.
If you have to keep these dogs on leash, be prepared for a work out of your own! Brittany Spaniels have a medium-length coat. It's easy to maintain with regular brushing, but you'll need to be sure nothing is tangled in it when they return from hunting trips or romps through the woods. The coat has a white base with spots that are either orange, liver or black. Combinations of colors occur occasionally.
It's important to note that some canine clubs do not accept black Brittany Spaniels. Usually, ears and most of the face are the same color as the spots. Noses are always white. A black nose on the Brittany Spaniel is considered a disqualifying feature.
Tails are naturally short, though some breeders dock dogs that are born with long tails, depending on the region. As is true with many breeds that are extremely active and sensitive, the Brittany needs good socialization at an early age. Some of these dogs can become shy to the point of cowardly if they do not have that socialization or if they're treated badly.
Consistency is vital to establishing good behavior. The fact that these dogs can move from outdoors to the family hearth makes them a good choice for the hunter who plans only to keep one or two dogs. Though they may be more closely bonded to the hunter, they will also likely bond with all members of the family.
For more information on Brittany Spaniels and other Popular, and not-so-popular breeds of dogs, visit The Sporting Dog Directory