The Brittany spaniel is one of the most popular bird dogs bred, but there are specific characteristics professional breeders look for in the gun dogs to ensure healthy, standard-meeting pups.
The American Kennel Club describes a Brittany
as a medium-sized, leggy dog with agility. It has strong, vigorous, and energetic movement and is not clumsy. Brittanys often have a docked tail.
The AKC also dropped the word "spaniel" from the Brittany's official name in 1982.
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The standard physical attributes of a Brittany include weighing in at 30 to 40 pounds and standing about 1 foot, 5 inches tall at the shoulder. Brittany dogs live approximately 10 to 13 years, according to Dogtime.com
The Dog Breed Info Center describes the ideal Brittany
as being an enthusiastic and untiring animal with an outstanding instinct to retrieve from water. It even describes the dog’s character as “jolly” and say it makes a great companion dog as well as a gun dog.
The dog gets its name from the French province it was first bred in. It is the result of crossing the orange and white setter with a not-clearly-defined French dog, which produced what looks like a close relative to the Welsh springer spaniel.
Brittanys are one of the most popular pointing breeds used for bird hunting.
Many breeders will tell you they also look for personality, trainability, and disposition in the dogs.
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Dog Time uses a five-star rating system to rank dog breeds, and gives Brittanys a three-star rating on ease of training. They said a Brittanys can be emotional creatures that do not take harsh correction well. Having an above-average intelligence, though, means the right trainer can correct the dog in such a way it will learn to take direction just fine.
One trait breeders look for is a strong hunting instinct that can be observed by watching a dog retrieve. Does it dash into the water to get the bird, or does it hesitate? Breeders will prefer an aggressive hunting instinct. This is called “prey drive,” and here, Dogtime rates a Brittany with two stars.
Some breeders look at the pedigree and prefer a dog with close ties to Europe in its lineage. The French Brittanys have a high score trend in formal hunt tests. Mark Dinsmore, a French Brittany breeder in North Dakota, told Gun Dog magazine
he looks for hunting ability and patterns, since that usually shows up in the pups.
He explains that French Brittanys are expected to have natural abilities to hunt, track, and retrieve for every type of gamebird being hunted, but some breeding lines will perform better for prairie grouse or wood grouse, and others will take better to waterfowl.
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