With a mix of spaniel, pointer, and setter breeds among their ancestors, Brittanys are bird dogs to the core. Many countries still refer to the breed as Brittany Spaniels, but the American Kennel Club (AKC) dropped 'spaniel' because of the dog's strong pointer characteristics. This athletic, hard-working sporting dog draws attention with his thick, luxurious coat in a bold pattern of white with orange or reddish brown. Brittanys are fast, energetic, and agile dogs with a compact, rugged frame. They are attentive upland hunting partners and lively playmates back at the homestead. This medium-size breed makes a friendly, loving pet for active families.
Brittanys are also known as Brittany Spaniels.
Brittany mixes are available at shelters, though they are not a highly common rescue mix. Brittany mixes may share traits with multiple other breeds, but will likely resemble Brittanys in some personality and physical characteristics. There is no guarantee that your Brittany mix will retain the breed's hunting talent. Most shelters do not perform DNA testing on their mixed breeds, so breed heritage is usually determined by physical and temperament traits, along with any information shared when the dog is surrendered.
If you are interested in a Brittany mix, locate a shelter that does genetic testing on mixed breeds, or let local shelters know you are interested in AKC-registered Brittany surrenders. Keep in mind, even with proof of Brittany ancestry, each dog's personality can differ from the breed standard based on variables including life experience, training, and socialization.
Common Brittany mixes include Border Collie, Labrador Retriever, Beagle, English Setter, and American Staffordshire Terrier, often called the Pit Bull.
The Brittany has a hearty, medium length coat that is either flat or wavy. The front and rear legs have a touch of feathering, but not a lot. The coat colors are white and orange, white and liver (with the 'liver' a deep rust hue), or tri-colored (a white and liver dog with orange markings on the face and lower legs). The classic coat pattern is piebald, with a base color of rust or orange, with large swaths of white and scattered specks of rust or orange on the face and legs.
Average Height: 17.5-20.5 inches
Average Weight: 30-40 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Brittanys are compact dogs with well-muscled frames and long legs. They are known for their ruggedness and agility, which combine to make them ideal dogs for the challenging terrain, changing weather conditions, and physical requirements of long days spent hunting. Brittanys can be without tails or have tails up to four inches long. They are alert and eager, with the intelligent, soft eyes prized in bird dogs.
The Brittany draws its name from the French province where it was originally bred when spaniels first arrived in the region several centuries ago. Local hunters began crossbreeding the spaniels to create a hearty, versatile breed that could withstand Brittany's cold climate and dense underbrush. In addition to strong hunting skills, desired traits included a smaller stature than their forebears, trainability, and versatility. They have evolved into the smallest and among the most versatile of the gun dogs. The exact breeds used to create Brittanys are unknown, but they assuredly include a mix of spaniels, pointers, and setters.
AKC Breed Category
Brittanys are generally friendly and loving, though they can be overly sensitive to reprimands. You'll draw out the best behavior from your Brittany with positive reinforcement and abundant praise. They are immensely energetic, social dogs who require activity, exercise, and interaction throughout the day.
Are Brittanys Good with Kids? Yes. Brittanys are happy, affectionate dogs who enjoy the company of kids. Because the breed is so exuberant, however, they may accidentally knock over small children during play. Attentive training and supervision can prevent mishaps.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Brittanys Good with Other Pets? Brittanys have a strong prey drive, so they should be kept separated from small animals they don't know. They are generally friendly and accepting of cats they've been raised with, and especially enjoy having other boisterous dogs as playmates. Because they are so high-spirited, however, training and socialization are a must to ensure a peaceful household. It's also best if Brittanys are supervised and not left alone with other dogs who may not always appreciate their endless energy.
Brittanys are not especially protective. They will bark at the approach of strangers, but generally their aggression stops there.
Are Brittanys Good Guard Dogs? Brittanys are excellent watch dogs because they are suspicious of strangers and will bark at their approach. But their guarding begins and ends with sounding the alarm.
Brittanys have very high energy levels. After long days on the hunt, they'll have energy left over for playing when you return home.
- They need very active owners because of their high energy levels.
- Without a job to do, they can become easily bored and destructive, chewing things like their dog bed.
- May bark excessively if training is inadequate or incomplete.
- Prone to boredom and separation anxiety when left alone.
Brittanys adore being home with their families at the end of a busy day, but they must be kept active or they will resort to destructive behaviors. This breed will want to play indoors as well, so a home with space for boisterous hijinks is ideal. Apartments may be too small for this energetic dog, unless the owner is present to take them outside frequently for play, sport, and brisk walks.
With their hearty coats, Brittanys are comfortable outside in cool weather when they are hunting or active. Though rugged, this breed should not be left outside for hours on end in any weather condition. They don't enjoy being left alone and they will follow a scent outside of the yard if they discover an opening.
Brittanys need constant exercise. If you want a furry best friend to relax with while you binge watch your favorite shows, this is not the breed for you.
These hunting dogs have plenty of stamina. They have enough energy for long days spent wingshooting, agility training, or playing catch.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: A healthy Brittany can run with you for several miles, but your run is likely to be interrupted if your dog catches an intriguing scent or sees a bird or squirrel.
- Hiking Miles: Brittanys are at ease in the outdoors and will enjoy long, brisk hikes for five-plus miles. As with running, expect frequent interruptions for bird chasing or scent tracking during your hike.
Generally, this breed requires about 1.5 to 2 cups of good quality dry dog food each day, over the course of two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Brittany's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your dog.
Brittanys are not comfortable being alone. They are susceptible to separation anxiety. With training, they will tolerate short amounts of time alone, but it leaving a Brittany alone for hours at a time is unfair and will likely result in unwanted behaviors.
Health and Grooming
Brush your Brittany's medium-long coat several times per week and give baths as needed. Brittanys used frequently for hunting will likely require baths more often, especially when conditions are wet and muddy. Trim your Brittany's nails once a month, or as needed. Check and wash his ears gently with a veterinarian-approved cleanser to prevent wax and dirt buildup that can lead to infections.
Common Health Issues
Brittanys may be prone to breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Canine hip dysplasia
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Brittany by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Brittanys are intelligent dogs who are eager to please. They are easy to train in the basic commands when there is an abundance of positive reinforcement, praise, and delicious, healthy dog treats. Brittanys are notoriously sensitive to harsh treatment. Training outcomes will be better at any level with a gentle approach.
With their boundless energy, curiosity, and athleticism, Brittanys are strong contenders for any advanced sport. They make excellent disc dogs and shine in agility competitions.
Sporting Dog Training
Brittanys are natural sporting dogs and make excellent hunting partners. Even if your Brittany is not trained as a wingshooting dog, you will likely see this natural instinct in action as he chases birds or follows scents with tenacity.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Brittanys.
No. Brittanys shed and, as a result, release pet dander into your home. Dander is the cause of most pet-related allergies.
Brittanys are often born with short tails, though sometimes they are born with tails longer than the four-inch maximum allowed in the AKC breed standard. In these cases, owners who want to show their Brittany will have the tail docked to four inches.
Brittanys have spaniel heritage, but they tend to hunt more like pointers and setters. Spaniels flush birds out from hiding for the hunter, while pointers and setters point or stand stock still in the direction of the prey to alert the hunter to their location.
Yes. Brittanys were bred to retrieve on land and from the water, and love to splash in the water to bring back a bird or a toy.
Brittanys are known to be hyperactive sometimes. Most often this occurs with owners who aren't able to meet the exercise demands of this high-energy dog. Brittanys don't tend to be hyper when they are kept engaged with 'work' and have ample opportunities for exercise.