Brittany (Epagneul Breton)
The Brittany Spaniel is a highly effective sporting dog that was named after the area of France in which it was originally bred. But the word «spaniel» in its name is somewhat misleading since its hunting style resembles the one of a Setter or Pointer than of other Spaniel-type dogs. Its moderate size, amicable nature and easy-to-care coat also make it an outstanding companion animal.
The early part of the Brittany Spaniels’ history can be hardly reconstructed, as old breeding practices didn’t imply keeping any systematic records. The first reliable mentioning of this dog dates back to 1850 when an English priest thoroughly described it in its writings. He depicted it as a compact, bobtailed canine that possessed coarser coat than the English pointer and functioned very successfully in barely passable vegetation. It was praised for its excellent retrieving and pointing talents as well as for its pliability and unbelievable gameness. In order to enhance its hunting instincts French hunters frequently crossed the original version of the Brittany Spaniel to the English Setter and Pointer. Thrifty French peasants also liked this dog for its intelligence and trusted it with various tasks including watching for their families and domains.
By the end of the XIX century dog shows came into vogue in France and other European countries. The Brittany Spaniels’ slightly restrained but graceful beauty was soon appreciated at its true value by canine fanciers who began exhibiting its specimen in conformation ring. The breed attained formal recognition in its native land in 1907. American sportsmen got to know this all-purpose working dog only in 1931 and ever since it continuously grew in popularity. It was fully recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) three years later – in 1934.
The Second World War caused great reduction of the population of the Brittany Spaniel in its homeland. Actually the breed was in such a bad shape that French breeders decided to revise its standard and permitted black spotted specimens to breeding. The canine registries in the U.S. disapproved these changes. Presently American and Canadian breeders disqualify dogs with black in marking while in the rest of the world this coloration is perfectly acceptable.
Since the Brittany Spaniel has much more in common with Pointers than with Spaniels, in 1982 the AKC removed the word «spaniel» from its name. Today it still has lots of fanciers among hunting enthusiasts who usually treat this docile and easy-going dog as a full-fledged family member.
Thanks to a highly biddable nature, great hunting drive and unflagging devotion to its human companions the Brittany Spaniel is very successful at combining the roles of hunting and companion animal. Actually it’s very easy to socialise this dog since it stands out for innate willingness to submit. It absolutely longs for the company of its favourite people and may get very stressed if it has to spend most of its day alone. This breed suits extremely well for families with children of all ages since it commonly tolerates their hectic behaviour and rough games. Of course, it will never put up with too much roughhousing so teach your kids the essentials of the canine handling.
The Brittany Spaniel is a very sociable breed that usually welcomes any chance to make a new friend. Nonetheless some of these dogs are prone to demonstrate nervousness and shyness in the company of strangers and therefore require especially thorough socialisation. Because of such kind and trustful character this dog won’t make a good guardian. But this breed is notable for extreme attentiveness to its surroundings so it can be charged to watch the master’s possessions.
In general, the Brittany Spaniel is totally alright with other dogs and very rarely becomes the provoker of conflicts with its counterparts. It will be completely delighted to have an opportunity to share its life with one or several canine companions. Moreover despite its well-developed hunting drive it can get on with cats and other types of pets if it got accustomed to their presence since a very young age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· canine discus lupus erythematous
· ear infections.
The Brittany Spaniel needs very elementary maintenance. The coat of this working dog should be diligently brushed on a regular basis and it doesn’t demand any obligatory trimming. Nonetheless you may want to have your pet periodically and professionally clipped if you plan to participate with it in dog shows.
Regular bathing is essential for this breed since it gets really dirty during a hunting trip. Its large hanging ears may draw grime, debris and other small particles and require weekly cleaning to avert infection or irritation. Besides that make sure to brush the dog’s teeth at least weekly and trim its nails as necessary.
In most cases the training of the Brittany Spaniel is a breeze. This dog will try with all its might in order to earn your praise and a few delicious treats. This natural complaisance coupled with quick and inquisitive mind make it a very bright learner. In fact, there are very few tricks that this dog can’t master with enough repetitions.
Thanks to such talents the Brittany does extremely well in various canine contests from obedience to field trials. But remember that this breed obeys only those commands that are pronounced by kind voice and reinforced by its favourite food. As a rule this good-natured dog may misbehave only if the handler treats it too harshly or disrespectfully.
Very few canine varieties of similar size can match the Brittany Spaniel in toughness and energy level. An apartment dweller should carefully consider the decision about its acquirement since this dog must be provided with at least an hour of daily playtime in a safely enclosed territory in order to remain calm and relaxed indoors. Additionally it thirsts after some meaningful work and may develop lots of behavioural issues without proper mental stimulation.
The Brittany Spaniel can become a fabulous companion for fans of an active life style. Such problems as nervousness, hyper excitability and destructiveness often arise if you fail to offer your pet sufficient physical outlets.