Ready to welcome a new best friend into your household? The Brittany is more than ready for the job! Also known as the Brittany Spaniel or Brittany Dog, this sporty, sweet, and smart pup is perfect for a family with children or an energetic single person in search of a workout partner.
The Brittany was originally bred as a hunting dog in France’s Brittany province in the 1800s, according to the American Brittany Club. Despite being a little more compact (standing 17–20 inches tall and weighing 30–40 pounds), the French Brittany is still very athletic and has energy to spare. But with their soft coat and sensitive nature, the pups make great cuddlers, too.
Caring for a Brittany
If you are adopting a Brittany, plan on introducing them to all your friends and family. Early socialization in Brittany puppies is a must—and when done correctly, they make peaceful and friendly family dogs.
Just don’t skip playtime. The Brittany was bred to be a hunting dog, so they are athletic dogs with a lot of energy. Plan to spend your days playing fetch, running, hiking, agility training, or romping around in the backyard when this dog is part of your family.
But while they require lots of mental stimulation and physical exercise, Brittany dogs are low-maintenance when it comes to grooming their orange-and-white coat.
Brittany Health Issues
Brittany dogs are generally a very healthy breed without many notable health issues. But like every breed, there are a few health conditions to which the Brittany can be prone.
Hip dysplasia is one of the few health issues some Brittany dogs may develop. This genetic condition affects the stability of the hip joint, occurring when the joint doesn’t fit together properly. This leads to a loose joint that, if left untreated, eventually causes osteoarthritis in dogs.
Because the Brittany is an active breed, watch for signs of weakness in their back legs, or an aversion to playtime and exercise. Talk to your vet if you have concerns.
Another genetic condition that often affects the Brittany is epilepsy, a disorder of the brain that results in seizures, but with an unknown cause. In dogs, an epileptic seizure can look like unusual behavior, such as incessant chewing, sniffing, head shaking, hiding, running erratically, or losing their balance. But it can also look like a standard seizure, where they fall over, convulse, and urinate and/or defecate. If your dog has a seizure that lasts longer than two minutes, see a vet right away.
While upsetting to witness, these episodes are not fatal, and the condition can be treated with lifelong medication and monitoring. Brittany dogs, and other dogs with epilepsy, can still live a full, happy life.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is slow to produce certain hormones. If your Brittany seems lethargic, is gaining weight, has chronic skin and ear infections, and isn’t their usual boisterous self, have your vet check their thyroid levels.
Other symptoms include a dry, coarse coat that may or may not be falling out; droopy eyelids; and heat-seeking behavior. This is another non-fatal condition that can be treated with daily medication and will not affect your Brittany Spaniel’s life span.
Brittany Spaniels are prone to cataracts, which causes the eye lenses to become cloudy and leads to vision loss. If you notice your dog’s eyes have a somewhat milky appearance and they’re bumping into things, it’s time for an eye exam. Cataracts can be removed with surgery.
What To Feed a Brittany
Brittany dogs do best on a high-protein diet approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Go-to brands include Purina®, Royal Canin®, and Hill’s Science Diet.
How To Feed a Brittany
Feed your Brittany twice a day—once in the morning and once at night. Because these sporty, active dogs can work up an appetite, feeding them on a schedule (and not free-feeding) is best so they don’t gain too much weight.
Brittany Spaniel puppies need to eat even more frequently, about three or four times per day.
How Much Should You Feed a Brittany?
The amount of food needed depends on your Brittany’s age, weight, and activity level. Consult your vet if you’re unsure about the best amount to feed your dog.
Nutritional Tips for Brittanys
As long as your Brittany is eating a high-quality dog food, they won’t need supplements unless your veterinarian recommends them.
Behavior and Training Tips for Brittanys
Brittany Personality and Temperament
As a breed, the Brittany is one of the sweetest and most friendly dogs out there, and one way to assure this is to socialize your Brittany early. From an early age, let your Brittany puppy interact with new people, children, and other animals. Not only will this encourage confidence in your Brittany, but it will help them be less timid, as this dog can be quite sensitive.
Their sensitive soul means Brittany dogs don’t do well when left alone for long periods, as they can be prone to separation anxiety.
The Brittany was bred to hunt birds, so they are hardwired with a high prey drive. This means they will chase birds (and possibly other smaller animals) whenever they’re outside. To keep your Brittany safe, keep them within a fenced space or on a leash whenever they’re outdoors.
Smart, gentle, positive reinforcement training is the way to go with a Brittany. Though they’re eager to please the people they love and can pick up cues quickly, don’t make training sessions too long or your pup will get frustrated and bored. Keep training short, frequent, and fun—and always reward your Brittany with treats and praise.
Fun Activities for Brittanys
Brittany Grooming Guide
While lots of attention needs to go into keeping a Brittany active and mentally stimulated, you don’t have to worry that much about grooming their orange-and-white fur.
Brittany dogs are not too prone to skin problems, but always check them for ticks, burrs, or cuts if you take your pup on a hike or hunting trip. Because they like to spend so much time running around outside, your Brittany will need an occasional bath whenever they get dirty or smelly.
Regular brushing (about once a week) with a soft brush is all the typical Brittany needs to stay healthy and well-groomed. Their wavy fur does shed, especially in the spring and fall, so you might need to brush them more often during these seasons to keep up with flying fur.
Brittanys have bright, clear eyes that don’t require a lot of attention as far as grooming goes. But because the breed is prone to some eye conditions, check with your vet if you notice changes, such as cloudiness or discharge.
Brittanys have floppy ears, which means it’s easy for debris and moisture to become trapped in the canals. This makes them susceptible to ear infections. To prevent this, clean your Brittany’s ears after you bathe them (or after they splash around in water) with a dog-friendly ear cleaner.
Considerations for Pet Parents
While not a good dog for couch potatoes, the Brittany can be the perfect, medium-size sporting dog for an active family with children and other pets. They need lots of care when it comes to staying busy and active, but these healthy dogs are relatively low-maintenance in almost every other aspect. If you’re a hunter, runner, or avid hiker, the Brittany is a go-to breed.
Is a Brittany a good family dog?
The Brittany is an excellent family dog! Not only are they sweet and well-behaved with children of all ages, but they are also easy to train and built for lots of playtime.
Do Brittanys shed a lot?
Brittany dogs do shed their coats, but brushing them weekly and giving them regular baths will help cut down on the fur that ends up on your furniture.
What is the difference between an English Springer Spaniel and a Brittany Spaniel?
Though they look similar, Brittanys and English Springer Spaniels are quite different. For one, the Brittany isn’t technically a spaniel; the American Kennel Club officially removed “Spaniel” from their breed name in 1982, though they’re still commonly referred to as Brittany Spaniels.
The Brittany was also bred in France in the 1800s, while the English Springer Spaniel has a longer history dating back at least several centuries that began in England.
What is the average Brittany lifespan?
The average Brittany Spaniel lifespan is 12–14 years.
Featured Image: iStock/freemixer
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