The Brittany descends from France, although as with most other bird dogs the precise facts surrounding its early development and spread of the breed have been lost to antiquity. The first documentation that can realistically be interpreted as referring to a Brittany dates to 1850, when an English clergyman wrote of hunting with small, bobtailed dogs that had rougher coats than English pointers and worked especially well in thick brush. They pointed instinctively, retrieved gamely and were easy to handle. At some point, the native Brittanys probably had some influx of English setter and pointing-dog blood, which intensified and refined their natural pointing and hunting abilities. Brittanys were all-around working dogs for frugal French peasants, being treasured as beloved family pets and guard dogs in addition to their hunting talents.
The Brittany first became a recognized breed in 1907, when an orange-and-white dog simply called “Boy” was registered in France under the breed name “l’epagneul Breton queue courte naturelle”, which soon was shortened to “l’epagneul Breton”, or the Brittany Spaniel. The first breed standard was outlined that same year, requiring that the tail be short at birth and that black and white dogs be disqualified from breed registration. The natural bobtail requirement later was dropped. The breed came to the United States in 1931 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1934, using a translation of the French breed standard. The American Brittany Club was founded in1942 and promptly came up with a more accurate written standard for the breed that did not prohibit tail docking but did disqualify dogs with black in their coats. The AKC recognized the breed’s official name as simply the Brittany in 1982, to more accurately reflect its hunting style.
The Brittany enjoys immense popularity among hunters. It has a superb nose and an intense willingness to please. This, coupled with its compact stature, gentle nature and innate talent as a gun dog, endears it to hunters and to their familes. Brittanys excel in AKC field trials and hunting tests, and compete equally well in the conformation ring. In its short time in this country, more than 500 Brittanys have attained the title of AKC Dual Champion – being recognized for excellence in both field and show.
The average life span of the Brittany is between 10 and 13 years. Breed health concerns may include ear infections
, hip dysplasia
, familial renal disease and seizures.