The Brittany is a versatile hunting dog, bred to be an ideal companion in the field and in the home. We hope the following information will help you learn more about our breed. If you have further questions, please feel free to email us.

Jump to: [What a Brittany Needs] [Field or Show Breeding]
[Male or Female] [Puppy, Youngster or Adult] [Competition] [In Review]

WHAT A BRITTANY NEEDS
BRITTANYS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE. They can make excellent family dogs and excel in many areas, but they require personal attention every day, training and most do not make good "kennel" or outdoor dogs. This breed is still bred to hunt and many of their behaviors and traits are atrributed to that breeding. Brittany people love those very qualities, but it is essential that you be well informed before deciding on this breed.

ONE OF THE ADVANTAGES of a Brittany is that it is not a high-maintenance dog in terms of coat care and upkeep. Most do well with a medium-sized yard, as well as a good run in a safe schoolyard or park on occasion.

BRITTANYS DO REQUIRE ATTENTION EVERY DAY, though. They are very much people-oriented dogs and often don't do well when they don't get as much attention as any other member of the family.

BRITTANYS USUALLY LIVE 12-14 YEARS, so be prepared to make that kind of commitment to the dog. Impulse decisions and gift-giving are best reserved for stuffed animals, rather than an active Brittany who will require plenty of daily attention for many years.

MAINTENANCE OF THE PET IS EASY because the medium-length coat needs no clipping if your dog is strictly a pet. It will need a good brushing with a slicker brush once or twice a week to get out dead hair (especially at the start of fall and spring), and to make sure the dog is free of parasites such as fleas or ticks. Don't forget nail clippers! Long nails are not only unattractive and ruin a dog's feet, but the longer they get the more danger there is of one being torn off. For the pet, bathe only when the dog is very dirty and a good thorough brushing won't do the job. You can use any basic dog shampoo for this.

LIKE ALL DOGS, Brittanys need food and regular veterinary care, including routine checkups and vaccinations. They are generally very good eaters, and must not be allowed to get fat (average weight is 35-45 lbs.). They need a few good toys, especially if left alone for long periods of time. We prefer a couple of "real" bones (bought in a pet store), an occasional rawhide or cow hoof to clean teeth, and a ball or stuffed toy. We highly recommend crate training for all dogs, especially during puppy housebreaking. Being crate trained means the dog will always have a safe way to travel in the car, or if he needs to be shipped somewhere. And if he ever needs to spend the night at the vet, it will be less traumatic if he has learned that a crate is a safe haven. Brittanys usually use a #300, or Intermediate, size crate (about 23" high).

OBEDIENCE TRAINING IS ALWAYS A PLUS to help make a good pet. Brittanys vary in temperament, and each requires a different method of training. Some are very sensitive ("soft") and require only verbal corrections, while others need to be forced to do the right thing a few times before they will obey. Training and socializing from an early age is very important to develop a happy Britt and owner.

IT IS A MISCONCEPTION that all Brittanys are high-strung and need many miles of exercise everyday. If you meet enough Brittanys from different lines, you'll find that what the breeders tell you is true - Brittanys are not a breed for generalizations. They range from mellow to extremely active, big to small, and soft to hard tempered. But even Brittanys who run continuously outdoors, will most often settle down when inside with their family.

"FIELD" vs "SHOW" BREEDING
BRITTANYS ARE ABOVE ALL "DUAL" QUALITY DOGS. Brittanys have more Dual Champions (dogs which are Champions in field trials and bench show competition) than all Sporting breeds combined. Most Brittanys have a mild to strong hunting instinct. Some dogs need more training than others to develop their instinct, but no matter where you get your Britt from, chances are you should be able to make it into at least an average hunter.

IF YOUR PRIMARY INTEREST IS A HUNTING DOG, it would be best to find a breeder who tries to maintain a "dual quality" line by proving their dogs' abilities in field and show, and taking advantage of other "dual quality" lines to better their own. Look for parents and grandparents with titles in field (FC or AFC), show (CH, or DC if it is a field and show champion), and hunt tests (JH, SH, MH), possibly even obedience and agility titles.

IF YOU WANT TO COMPLETE TOWARDS FIELD OR SHOW TITLES, find a reputable breeder who competes with his or her dogs in those areas. NCBC can recommend breeders who have dogs available, and you may also find some listed on our Members' Web Pages.

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A FAMILY PET, a rescue dog is a wonderful possibility. Although often the background of the dog is unknown since many come from shelters or were found as strays, American Brittany Rescue places more than 500 wonderful, healthy, purebred Brittanys in new homes each year. Dogs are fostered by experienced Brittany owners or breeders for a few days to a few weeks so that they can be fully evaluated before adoption. They are exposed to a variety of situations and people,so the rescue volunteer will have an excellent idea of what type of home the Brittany needs and will do well in. While they do not guarantee that rescue Britts will want or be able to hunt, some have had excellent success, and all are wonderful companions who with love and care, can easily adjust to a new home.

IF YOU DECIDE TO GET A DOG FROM A BREEDER, it is important to meet the dog's parents or other close relatives, or talk to several people who have relatives if it's not possible to meet some. This should give you some idea of the temperament the dog may develop, as temperament does run in the line and is heritable. Look at the dog's pedigree and ask the breeder if there are dogs in the puppy's immediate background (not more than 3 or 4 generations back) from both field and show stock. Remember that the parents and grandparents are the most influential on the puppy's outcome. Be sure the parents, and preferably grandparents as well, are clear of genetic defects such as hip dysplasia and epilepsy. Look for OFA numbers to indicate the dogs are clear of hip dysplasia, CERF numbers to indicate healthy eyes, and ask whether any relatives are known to have had or produced seizures. It is important to choose a breeder who will be open with you on these matters, and who obtains genetic clearances/certifications consistently on ALL of their breeding stock.

MALE vs. FEMALE
PEOPLE OFTEN HAVE A PERSONAL PREFERENCE to the sex of their pet. But once again, Brittanys are not a breed for generalizations. Characteristics such as loyalty, affection, and ease of training are definitely NOT gender specific in this breed. While most people think female dogs are sweeter and calmer and make better companions, quite often in Brittanys it is a neutered male who fits this description best.

CHARACTERISTICS VARY FROM DOG TO DOG, not within sexes. If you are getting a dog strictly for a companion, you should plan on having it spayed or neutered. This will eliminate many behavioral influences, such as possible roaming in the male or false pregnancies in the female and will help prevent many possible health problems in older dogs.

PUPPY, YOUNGSTER or ADULT
WHILE NO ONE CAN DENY THAT PUPPIES ARE CUTE, at the same time who wouldn't mind missing the chewing and housebreaking stages? Also consider that an older dog may make a more tolerating pet for younger children, and for that matter the children won't have to deal with a mauling puppy! Brittanys are very adaptable and an older dog can easily learn the rules of a new house and family.

CONSIDER ADOPTING A RESCUED BRITTANY from American Brittany Rescue, a large nationwide organization dedicated to placing healthy, good-tempered Brittanys in new homes if they are unwanted or uncared for. There are hundreds of Brittanys of all backgrounds, descriptions, and ages available across the country each year.

COMPETITION
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THE MANY ACTIVITIES the Brittany is able to compete in, be sure to discuss this with the breeder or foster home of the dog you plan to get, or talk to other people involved in that aspect. There are many people in our breed who are willing to help newcomers get started. The most common activities Brittanys often compete in are:
  • Field Trials (for the finished field dog or promising youngster)
  • Dog Shows (to find the dog that is structurally closest to the AKC's Standard of perfection)
  • Hunting Tests (for hunting companions of all levels of ability)
  • Obedience Trials (for the obedience trained dog)
  • Tracking Tests (for tracking certified dogs who can follow a scent on the ground)
  • Agility Trials (for dogs trained to go over, under, and through obstacles on a course)
  • Junior Showmanship (for kids 10-18 with any breed dog - show handling judged, not dog)
IF YOU GO TO AN EVENT in your area, many breeders/exhibitors will be able to help you get started with your Brittany in any of these areas. Again, these are "DUAL DOGS" and many show exhibitors also hunt and compete in other activities with their Britts, so ask around. See our Activities page for more information on the above endeavors.

IN REVIEW
BRITTANYS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE. They can make excellent family dogs and excel in many areas, but they require personal attention every day, training and most do not make good "kennel" or outdoor dogs because of their personal devotion to their owner(s). On the other hand, their medium size, wash-and-wear coat, and happy, intelligent temperament make them an ideal family dog. Brittanys also make excellent hunting companions or pets for single people. Most get along very well with other dogs, and many love the challenges of different types of competition.

DO NOT GET ANY DOG ON IMPULSE. If you are very serious about getting a Brittany, you should be willing "shop around" and/or wait for the right one for your family and/or your needs and wants. These are long-lived dogs and you should only get one with the intention of caring it for its entire lifetime. Puppies are cute, but they grow out of that cute stage, and it's up to you as to whether they become a devoted and obedient companion or an unmanageable, unruly nuisance. The more time you put into your dog's socialization and training, the more it will give back to you. Remember that NCBC is here to help and there are many breeders around who are more than willing to help anyone who is a fellow "Britt Fan!"

The foregoing article written by and © Jessica Carlson


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