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Brittany Dog

Nicole Cosgrove

June 21, 2021

Brittany dog in snow

The Brittany were once called Brittany Spaniels and were bred to be hunting dogs and companions. Bred mostly for bird hunting they still have that absolute focus on birds today wanting to chase them. It is an energetic dog who takes parts in activities such as pointing, retrieving and hunting. While it might have once been named as a spaniel it is more like a setter or pointer.

Here is the Brittany Dog at a Glance
Name Brittany
Other Names Brittany Spaniel, Epagneul Breton, Brittany Wiegref
Nicknames American Brittany
Origin France
Average size Medium
Average weight 30 to 40 pounds
Average height 17 inches to 20 inches
Life span 10 to 13 years
Coat type Dense, fine
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black & white, Orange & white, tri-color, Roan, Liver & white, Piebald
Popularity Quite popular – ranked 26th by the AKC
Intelligence High – it is clever and capable of learning
Tolerance to heat Good – Is able to adapt to somewhat warm climates though not extremes
Tolerance to cold Very good – is able to adapt to colder climates
Shedding Moderate – will shed some
Drooling Low – not known to be very slobbery
Obesity Average – not especially prone to obesity but it can happy if food and exercise are not monitored
Grooming/brushing Moderate – give it a brush two to three times a week
Barking Occasional – does not bark all the time but will sometimes
Exercise needs Very active – it needs a lot of outdoor time
Trainability Moderate – it can be stubborn
Friendliness Excellent – very friendly and social dog
Good first dog Good – it is best with an experienced owner though
Good family pet Excellent – a great companion and friend
Good with children Excellent – it is loving and playful with them
Good with other dogs Excellent – Interacts very well with other dogs
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization – can chase small animals
Good with strangers Very good – happy to meet new people though socialization helps
Good apartment dog Low – best suited to larger living spaces with a yard
Handles alone time well Low – Can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Generally very healthy but issues they can be prone to include ear infections, hip dysplasia and epilepsy
Medical expenses $460 a year including basic medical needs and pet health insurance
Food expenses $145 a year including dry food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $215 a year including training, license, toys and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $820 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 4 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 1 Deaths: 0

The Brittany’s Beginnings

The Brittany comes from the northwest of France in an area called Brittany that was once separate from the rest of France. The region often traded with Wales which was just across the English Channel and it is thought that as a result both the Brittany and the Welsh Springer Spaniel have a common ancestor.

The first recordings of Brittany ancestors are in tapestries and paintings from the sixteen hundreds. The Brittany as we know it though started to appear more around the eighteen hundreds. It is thought they have their beginnings when a French hunter crossed his white and mahogany female with an Englishman’s male lemon and white. Two puppies were born and one was thought to have the hunting ability they desired. These early dogs were very popular with local poachers because they took direction, were fast and were agile. The Brittany was used to hunt, point and retrieve game, in particular birds, when out hunting.

It was around the same time period that dog shows became popular and the Brittany performed excellently in them. In France there were recognized as a breed in 1907. In 1931 it came to America and steadily grew in popularity. They were recognized by the AKC in 1934 and in 1942 the American Brittany Club was formed. It was at this point the standard was changed from the French version to an American version. With the arrival of World War II breeding especially in France came to a halt.

New Lease on Life

When the second world war was over French breeders resumed breeding the Brittany and because the breed was so depleted black spotted dogs were added to the standard to widen the gene pool. However in the US and in Canada black is not a color that is accepted for Brittanys.

For a long time many Brittany breeders wanted to remove the spaniel part from its name since these were pointing dogs. Spaniels were in fact flushing dogs. Finally in 1982 the AKC changed the name from Brittany Spaniel to just Brittany. However in some countries they remain Brittany Spaniels. It is ranked 26th in popularity by the AKC today.

The Dog You See Today

The Brittany is a medium sized dog weighing 30 to 40 pounds and standing 17 to 20 inches tall. It has a coat that is flat or wavy though not curly and is dense and fine with some feathering but not a lot. It has loose skin to better get through thorns ans burrs when it is out hunting. Common colors are black and white, orange and white, liver and white, Piebald, roan and tri-color.

It has a compact and solid body with an average sized head and floppy ears. Most have short tails but rarely some can be born with long ones. In countries where it is still allowed longer tails are docked to between 1.2 to 3.9 inches.

There are two types of Bittanys, the American styled and the French styled. There are differences between the two when it comes to appearance. American Brittanys tend to be larger for example and American Brittanys do not come in the black color.

The Inner Brittany


It is a happy and sweet dog that has a lot of curiosity about the world around it. It is independent though but likes to please its owners. When it comes to birds it can be very single minded so care should be taken with pet birds and when outside. It likes to be with people and is alert and active. It is also very loyal and forms close attachments.

It is intelligent and sensitive. It does not do well in homes where there are lots of loud voices or tensions. It is likely to bark to alert you to intruders. It does not do well when left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety. It can also have problems with submissive urination when it gets nervous or over excited. When it is not properly socialized it can be very timid.

Living with a Brittany

What will training look like?

Training a Brittany is moderate easy. It is intelligent and eager to please but it can also be stubborn and is very sensitive. Therefore it needs to be approached with consistency but also with firm but positive techniques like treats, praise and rewards. It is inclined to listen and obey commands but will not do well with harsh techniques or scoldings.

Brittanys can have a problem with shyness and being overly timid and nervous. Early socialization is very important in helping with this. It will give it more confidence when dealing with different situations, people and locations.

How active is the Brittany?

The Brittany is clever and energetic so it needs plenty of chances at physical as well as mental stimulation on a daily basis. While in terms of size you might think it can just get away with apartment living in fact this dog is best in a larger home with a yard. It is active indoors and it needs a large yard or even some land where it can run around a lot every day. It will require at least an hour of vigorous exercise, some need more.

When it is young, under the age of two, the amount of time spent exercising should be kept to half an hour. This is to protect joints that have not yet properly formed and because their muscle coordination and focus is not yet there. Make sure as a puppy it gets the break it needs from activities and training.

Since Brittanys love open spaces and running free if it cannot do that on land you have take it to a dog park. There it can also play with you and socialize with other dogs. Remember that it has strong hunting instincts still and will chase small animals and can become totally obsessed with bird chasing. It is best with an active owner who enjoys doing things like running, cycling, hiking and so on and can bring the Brittany with them.

Caring for the Brittany

Grooming needs

This is an easy to groom dog and it does not shed a huge amount though you can expect some loose hair. It will need to brushed two or three times a week and not only will that keep it free of tangles, debris and some loose hair it will also help move the healthy oils from its skin around its coat. Those healthy oils need to be protected so make sure you only use a dog shampoo when bathing and that you do not give baths too frequently.

Other grooming needs include brushing its teeth two or three times a week, checking its ears for infection once a week and giving them a wipe clean and clipping its nails when they get too long. Dog nails should be cut carefully as cutting too low down can lead to cutting nerves or blood vessels which will cause bleeding and pain. Have a professional groomer do it for you if you are unsure.

Feeding Time

The Brittany could need 1½ to 2 cups of good quality dry dog food a day split into two meals or more. Each dog may need a different amount though as it does depend on things like metabolism, size, age and level of activity.

How they get on with children and other animals

Brittanys are a good family dog and can be homed with children without too many problems. It is friendly and affectionate to them and loves to play. Watch the toddlers though as its energy levels may be too much for the young ones. Smaller children are also not always good at knowing how to be careful around dogs and not to pull at the tail or ears. Be sure you teach them what is right and wrong.

When growing up with other animals like cats the Brittany learns to get along with them well. It may like to chase small animals when outside and in particular birds. It gets on very well with other dogs especially with socialization.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Overall it is a very healthy dog, in France it has an average life span of twelve and a half years and in America that is almost 13 years. One in five Brittanys die of old age between 14 to 15 years. Issues that they can be prone to include ear infections, Hip dysplasia, epilepsy, canine discoid lupus erythematosus and hypothyroidism.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dog attacks against people over the last 34 years the Brittany has been involved in 4 attacks. 1 resulted in a maiming meaning there was permanent scarring, disfigurement or loss of limb. At least 1 victim was a child and there were no deaths. 4 attacks in 34 years means on average 1 attack every 81/2 years. The Brittany is not an overly aggressive dog and is very unlikely to attack a person.

However keep in mind that given the right situation or circumstances any dog can become aggressive. Dogs needs to be given the training and socialization they need, the exercise and mental stimulation they need, the food and care they need.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The price of a Brittany puppy is going to be on average $800. Some top level breeders will charge even more so that can go into the thousands. If you are interested in giving a Brittany from a rescue shelter a new home this will cost a lot less but the dog will probably be past the puppy stage. You get initial medical procedures included in a price that will be between $50 to $200.

Initial medical procedures if not included will cover things like blood tests, deworming, an examination by a vet, micro chipping, shots and spaying or neutering. These costs could start at about $270. There will be some basic supplies you need to for your dog like a crate, collar and leash and carrier and these costs will start at $185.

There are several annual costs when you have any kind of dog. With the Brittany you will need to feed it. Ideally with a good brand of dry food, and treats too. Dog food and treats have a huge range in quality and costs but a starting figure would be $145.

Training is something you will also need to pay for. How much this costs is going to vary a great deal based on whether you do it yourself or use a professional and whether you just do basic training or take it further. $120 for the starting session is about what you can expect.

You will also need to pay around $20 a year for a dog license and toys for it will be at least $30. Other miscellaneous annual costs will be about $45.

Finally there will be medical costs. If your dog is healthy those will just be basic costs for things like vaccinations, check ups, flea prevention and heartworm prevention. Expect these to start at $235 a year. Medical insurance or emergency savings should start at $225.

Overall the annual costs for keeping a Brittany start at $820.


Looking for a Brittany Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

The Brittany, still called a Brittany Spaniel in some countries is a pointing breed and it still has that instinct today. This means it can become single minded when it comes to its bird chasing! It is energetic and and will need at least an hour a day of brisk exercise. It also needs owners who can offer it mental stimulation. A Brittany that is not well stimulated physically and mentally can become poorly behaved, hyper and destructive.

This is a sensitive dog who loves its people and needs company. If you cannot offer that company all day then consider getting a friend for it while you are out, like another Brittany!

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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