OBEDIENT, REGAL, STRIKING
History & Origin
Brittany puppies were originally bred as gundogs, though now they are the favorite pets of many families. They are even sometimes referred to as Brittany Spaniels, but the word Spaniel was dropped by the American Kennel Club in 1982. Brittanys are energetic and they make excellent pets, as well as hunting dogs who like to work closely with the hunter than other pointing breeds.
If you are in search of a Brittany pup, you may hear two different breeds, American and French. Both breeds are the same, except for the fact the American Brittany is a little taller and faster than the French version.
The name of the breed comes from the Celtic area, which is in the northwestern region of France. You will find Brittanys across the English Channel from Wales. For over two millenniums, there was quite a bit of trade between the two countries, including the trade of dogs and puppies.
If you compare a Brittany with a Welsh Springer spaniel, you will notice quite a few resembling physical characteristics, which goes to show that they probably share ancestors.
The earliest record of Brittany dogs can be found in paintings and tapestries from the 17th century, where a lively and white dog pointing partridge can be seen repetitively.
The modern-style Brittany can be traced back to the mid-1800s in Pontou, which is actually a small town in Brittany. Some dog enthusiasts claim that Brittany was a product of a white and mahogany female who belonged to a French hunter, and a white male which had come to Brittany for shooting with an English sportsman.
The couple produced two Brittany pups, of which one had amazing hunting abilities and became quite popular for it in the area. Their bobtails pointed and retrieved which made the local poachers quite fond of them. Brittany dogs turned out to have excellent speed, agility and willingness to take direction.
As the Brittany dogs started to become popular, so did dog shows in Britain and the rest of Europe. Brittany pups were soon plucked from their small town and taken to the show ring. They became a well-recognized breed in France in 1907. The first Brittany dog to be registered was called Boy who had an orange and white coat.
In 1931, Brittanys were finally brought to the United States and soon enough they got popular. The first Brittany to register in the US was called Edir Du Mensil in 1934. Then, in 1942, the American Brittany Club was created and the French standards were changed to suit the US standards.
In World War II, the population of Brittany dogs significantly declined, much like many other breeds. During that time, France stopped breeding Brittanys and after the war ended, the French breeders decided to include black spotted dogs in the standard.
However, US breeders did not follow the French and even now, black is not accepted for Brittanys in North America.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
Brittany dogs are energetic and happy, almost bordering on hyperactive, which make them the perfect family pet. Of course, your own interests and levels of activity should be in line, otherwise, the pup will not make a good companion if you do not match their energy levels. The Brittany dogs have lots of energy to spare and their eternal happy mood makes them a great fit for the right owner.
Owning a Brittany is not for everyone. Their energy levels are so high that it might be more than you have bargained for. They have strong enthusiasm for whatever they are doing, whether it is chasing birds, playing with kids or simply running around the yard. If you do not share their enthusiasm, then soon enough you will not be able to keep up with them.
The breed is always alert, which is quite predictable as they are pointing dogs. They can be curious and usually like to roam around independently.
That does not mean they do not respond to their owners or do not like to please them. When it comes to birds, they can be single-minded. Their feathered prey completely occupies their attention, but when they are not chasing birds, they enjoy spending time with people, especially when playing a game. The dogs are not only active but also smart. They enjoy mental stimulation on a regular basis and can be trained easily as well.
A number of things can affect their temperament, such as training, socialization and even heredity. Brittanys that have a pleasant temperament tend to be happy and curious and love being approached by people. So, when you go shopping for a Brittany pup, choose one that is reasonably happy and avoid ones that are hyperactively beating up other pups in the litter and those that are shyly sitting in the corner.
Try to meet at least one of the parents of the pup so you can judge their temperament from its parents. If parents are not available, meet with siblings or close relatives so you have a better idea about your pup’s future temperament.
All dogs need early socialization and the Brittany dogs are no exception. They love being exposed to different people, places, sounds and experiences from an early age. You will have a well-rounded dog if you introduce socialization while the pup is still young.
Enrolling your pet in a puppy kindergarten class is also an excellent option, especially if your dog is not able to socialize otherwise. Or else take him to dog-friendly parks or stroll around the neighborhood to boost his social skills.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
The recommended daily food for Brittany dogs is about 1½ to 2 cups a day. Make sure you are feeding your pet the most high-quality food and not more than twice a day, which means about 1 cup for each meal.
Of course, the amount of food your dog eats depends on its size, age, build, metabolism and levels of physical activity. Just like people, dogs are individuals as well and they all have different needs, which make it hard to define a recommended amount of food.
Obviously, if your dog is hyperactive, it will need more food than a dog that does not enjoy physical activity. You must also ensure you are feeding your pet the highest quality of food available because the better the dog food, the healthier they will be.
To keep your pet within a healthy weight, measure their food and only feed them twice a day instead of all the time. If you are not able to tell whether your pup is overweight or not, you can perform a hands-on test. When you look at your puppy, you should see a defined waist.
Then place your hands on its back, with your thumbs on the spine and fingers extending downwards. Without pressing hard, you should be able to feel its ribs, if not get your dog to eat less and exercise more.
COAT AND GROOMING
A full-grown Brittany weighs between 30 and 40 pounds and is 17 to 20 inches tall. When standing tall, they look sporty and attractive. Their size is relatively small and they are not too big to keep in the house or in the car.
The coat of Brittanys is rather thick and dense. They have flat or mildly wavy hair, but never curly or silky. There is mild feathering around their ears and legs, but not so much that they would have trouble making through dense undergrowth. Their skin is also relatively loose, which protects them against thorns and burrs because the loose skin rolls.
The color of their coat is usually orange and white, or liver and white. Often, their coat even has a roan pattern, which is a fine mix of colored and white hair. On rare occasions, you may also come across a Brittany who has a coat of three different colors, mostly a liver and white dog with sparse orange markings around the cheeks, muzzle, eyebrows, inside the ears, under the tail and orange freckles on lower legs.
Grooming the pup is straightforward. To maintain their coat, simply brush it once a week and bathe them as needed. Their fur is quite thick but it does not shed as much. Regularly check their ears for signs or infections, such as tenderness or redness. Also, look for foreign aspects, especially if you have taken your pet out on a bushy terrain.
Their teeth need to be brushed about two to three times a week, or else you risk tartar buildup and bacteria. To prevent gum disease and bad breath, try brushing their teeth daily if you can. Their nails need to be trimmed about once or twice a month, or as needed.
They are too long if you can hear their nails click against the floor. Keep the nails short and neatly trimmed, as it will keep their feet in healthy condition and protect your shins from being scratched. Brittanys are enthusiastic dogs so reduce the damage by trimming their nails regularly.
You should groom your pup when they are still young so they can get accustomed to being cleaned and examined. Dogs can be sensitive about their paws, so hold their paws frequently. Include praise and rewards when you are grooming them so they take it as a positive experience. In addition, it will be much easier whenever you take them to the vet.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Brittany dogs are active and for that reason, you need to give them lots of exercise. A walk around the neighborhood is not enough. You have to play with them as well. If they do not get their required level of exercise, they tend to become even more hyperactive and start doing things you may not enjoy.
While all dogs enjoy having things to do, Brittany pups especially love challenges and having a specific task to accomplish. You cannot just go to work and leave your Brittany alone at home. By the time you come, they will have stored up so much energy that it will be waiting to burst. They need at least an hour of exercise every day, which is not suitable for people living in apartments.
Brittanys do not like harsh treatment one bit and usually, a stern look or a sharp scolding is sufficient. They are smart, though, which means you can train them easily, but only using positive reinforcements, such as praise, play and doggy treats.
Brittany dogs love being active indoors and outdoors, though they prefer the outside, such as a backyard or a park, where they can run and burn off their energy. They do not enjoy living in enclosed spaces, such as apartments or in the city. If you do live in an apartment, you have to set time aside for their exercise.
Since Brittanys are hunting dogs, they do not really feel the cold from the outside, but they should still be kept indoors where they can interact with people. Of course, if your dog is playing outside without supervision, make sure the area is fenced.
If your pup is under two years of age, limit their exercise to half an hour because their joints have yet to form and their muscle coordination is weak. If you see your pup is getting tired or unenthusiastic, take a break from training or play.
Since Brittany dogs love running around in open areas, teach them to come to you when called. Remember to train them with firmness but never be harsh. Their high levels of energy means they can be destructive as well, especially if they are not being challenged mentally and physically. Keep them busy with exercise and training and crate them when they are not under supervision.
Brittany dogs are relatively healthier than other dogs but of course, they are prone to some health conditions. It is not necessary that every Brittany dog may suffer from these diseases, but it is important you know the symptoms.
For starters, when you shop for your pup, make sure you see health clearances for the puppy’s parents and that will only happen at good dog breeders. A health clearance ensures your pup has been tested and cleared for specific conditions, including.
• Hip Dysplasia: Your pup could suffer from hip dysplasia due to many reasons, such as the environment, diet or even genetics. Hip dysplasia is a deformity of the hip joint that may require a surgical procedure. However, if the case is mild, proper diet and exercise could help your pup grow into a healthy dog.
• Epilepsy: This causes your pup to have mild to severe seizure and it is mostly hereditary. It is often triggered by infection of the brain, a disease of the metabolism, tumors, exposure to poisons, or severe head injuries or it can be of unknown cause. The seizures could make the dog perform some unusual behavior, such as staggering, running around wildly or even hiding.
• Hypothyroidism: This causes your pup to have an abnormally low level of thyroid production, which can cause infertility. However, symptoms that are more apparent are obesity, mental dullness, dropping of eyes, low energy levels and irregular heat cycles. During hypothyroidism, your dog may shed a lot of its fur as it becomes coarse and brittle. Their skin will start to darken and toughen. The treatment is with daily medication, which has to be taken for the remainder of the dog’s life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.
Brittanys makes for excellent companions but only if you can keep up with them. They are also handsome dogs and are bound to receive many compliments. Taking care of them is relatively easier as well and their temperament is pleasant. They make the perfect dog for a family who loves to play, loves to go outside and need a dog to share their love.
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