Brittany Spaniel: An Overview of the Agile Sporting Dog

Brittany Spaniel on a path standing in front of a bunch of native grasses

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Brittany dogs are a medium-sized breed known for their friendly demeanor and high energy levels.

A medium-sized dog, originally bred as hunting dogs, they possess a unique combination of agility and endurance, making them as adept at home as they are in the field.

Despite the name “Brittany Spaniel,” the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes them simply as Brittany, highlighting their primary role as a pointing breed, not as a spaniel.

This breed’s history dates back to the Brittany province of France where they were first recognized as a distinct breed.

Over time, Brittanys have become well-regarded not only for their skills in hunting and pointing but also for their role as companion animals.

Their athleticism makes them excellent in dog sports while their sociability renders them great family pets.

Their appearance is distinctive with a beautifully patterned coat, often in vivid orange and white, and their size is perfect for those who find setters too large and spaniels too small.

Key Takeaways

  • Brittanys are energetic and friendly, well-suited for active families or hunting companions.
  • This breed’s agility and aptitude for hunting can be attributed to their history as gundogs.
  • Proper training, regular exercise, and consistent grooming are essential for maintaining a Brittany’s health and happiness.

History of the Brittany Spaniel

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Hence the breed’s name, Brittany Spaniel originates from the Brittany region France, where this breed finds its origins.

Renowned for its agility and keen sense of smell, the Brittany Spaniel’s lineage can be traced back to the 17th century, often depicted in early European tapestries and paintings, showcasing its role as a bird dog.

Initially bred for hunting, your Brittany Spaniel shares a historical connection with the Welsh Springer Spaniel, believed to be one of its early relatives.

This energetic breed was sculpted by the demands of the terrain and the need for a dog capable of hunting on different types of cover.

Here’s a condensed timeline highlighting key moments:

  • Before 1907: The breed’s history is largely undocumented.
  • 1907: Recognition as a distinct breed with the registration of an orange and white male named Boy in France.
  • 1975: The first registration of the Brittany Spaniel with the New Zealand Kennel Club.
  • 1982: Introduction to the United Kingdom, with the first litter registered that year.

The Brittany Spaniel, known as “Brittany” in the United States, is a part and parcel of the spaniel/setter family.

Your understanding of this breed’s history shouldn’t overlook the 2006 review, when standards were aligned with the UK to maintain the breed’s integrity and qualities.

Delve into more details about the development of the Brittany Spaniel to appreciate the rich history that has shaped into the affectionate and skilled companion you know today.

Physical Characteristics of the Brittany Spaniel

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The Brittany Spaniel is a medium-sized breed known for its lively gait and vibrant coat colors.

Your understanding of its physical traits is essential when considering this breed for companionship or work.

Height Male

Male Brittanys typically stand about 20 inches high at the shoulder, which contributes to their agile and alert appearance.

Height Female

Female Brittanys are slightly smaller, with a typical shoulder height of 18 to 20 inches, showcasing the breed’s overall compactness.

Weight Male

You can expect a male Brittany to weigh between 30-40 pounds, reflecting their muscular but lean build.

Weight Female

A female Brittany will often weigh slightly less, usually around 30-40 pounds, consistent with their balanced and athletic physique.

Eye Colors

Brittany Spaniels have expressive eyes that come in shades of dark brown to hazel, complementing their friendly and attentive demeanor.

A brown and white Brittany Spaniel dog standing at attention in the woods. This is a rare adult as it has its tail in tact.

Coat Colors

The striking coat of a Brittany can come in a variety of colors, most commonly orange and white or liver and white. These bold patterns are a distinctive feature of the breed.

Coat Types

The Brittany has a medium-length coat that may be flat or wavy but always naturally rugged to protect from the elements during outdoor activities.


Brittanys possess a well-muscled, compact body that exudes strength and agility.

Their build is designed for stamina, evident in their powerful hindquarters and sturdy legs.

Overview of the Physical Characteristics of the Brittany Spaniel

Your Brittany’s physical attributes are a harmonious blend of functional athleticism and appealing aesthetics.

With their medium build and lively expression, Brittanys are perfectly suited for active lives and stand out in their beauty and form.

Temperament & Training of the Brittany Spaniel

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When you bring a Brittany Spaniel into your life, you’re adopting an energetic and intelligent companion.

Their temperament is one of eagerness to please, making them a joy to train.

These dogs are indeed happy, social creatures, thriving on interaction with their human counterparts.

In terms of training, a Brittany’s intelligence means they pick up on commands rather quickly.

They are generally considered easy to train with reward-based training, but it’s important to note that, early socialization is key to raising a well-rounded dog.

As a high-energy dog, the Brittany Spaniel requires plenty of exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

They are a good choice for active families. As with all breeds, it is best to monitor them around young children.

BehaviorProvide consistent training to channel their natural enthusiasm.
BarkingExpect moderate barking; typically not excessive.
Puppy TrainingConsistent, positive reinforcement works best.
EnergeticPlan for daily, vigorous exercise.
PersonalityPrepare for a cheerful dog who loves to be active with you.

While eager to please, the Brittany can become distracted by their environment due to their hunting heritage, so training in a variety of settings is beneficial.

They excel in activities that complement their active life, such as agility, flyball, or field work.

Remember that while they adapt well to different living situations, Brittanys do best with an owner who leads an active lifestyle and dedicates time to both physical activities and training sessions regularly.

Your commitment to their well-being will be rewarded with an obedient and joyful dog, making the Brittany Spaniel a loyal companion for years to come.

Health Issues of the Brittany Spaniel

When you choose to bring a Brittany Spaniel into your home, being aware of potential health issues can help you provide the best care for your furry friend.

Brittany Spaniels are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they are predisposed to certain health conditions.

Common Health Issues:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a potential orthopedic concern for Brittany Spaniels, a versatile and energetic breed known for its hunting prowess.

This hereditary condition involves an abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to instability and potential joint problems.

Brittany Spaniels may be predisposed to hip dysplasia due to genetic factors and their active lifestyle.

Symptoms may include lameness, difficulty rising, and reluctance to engage in physical activities. While there is no cure for hip dysplasia, management strategies such as weight control, regular exercise, and joint supplements can help improve the dog’s quality of life.

Responsible breeding practices, including screening breeding dogs for hip dysplasia, play a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of this condition in the Brittany Spaniel population.

Regular veterinary check-ups and early detection contribute to effective management and overall well-being for Brittany Spaniels with hip dysplasia.


Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can impair vision, can affect Brittany Spaniels.

While cataracts can develop due to aging, genetic predispositions, or underlying health conditions, they may also have a hereditary component.

Brittany Spaniels with cataracts may exhibit symptoms such as cloudy or opaque eyes, changes in behavior, or reluctance to engage in activities that require good vision.

Regular veterinary eye examinations are crucial for early detection, allowing for timely intervention and management.

Surgical removal of cataracts may be considered in severe cases to restore vision.

Responsible breeding practices, including genetic screening, play a key role in minimizing the prevalence of hereditary cataracts in the Brittany Spaniel population.

Proactive eye care and regular veterinary check-ups contribute to maintaining the overall eye health of these active and affectionate dogs.


Epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, can affect Brittany Spaniels.

While the exact cause of epilepsy is often unknown, it can have genetic and hereditary components. Seizures in Brittany Spaniels may manifest as uncontrolled shaking, altered behavior, or loss of consciousness.

Diagnosis involves veterinary examinations and ruling out other potential causes. While there is no cure for epilepsy, antiepileptic medications can help manage and reduce the frequency of seizures.

Close collaboration with a veterinarian is essential for monitoring and adjusting the treatment plan to ensure the well-being of Brittany Spaniels with epilepsy.

Responsible breeding practices that consider the genetic factors associated with epilepsy play a crucial role in minimizing its occurrence in the breed.

Regular veterinary check-ups are important for monitoring the overall neurological health of Brittany Spaniels.

Brittany Spaniel, Adult standing on Grass


Hypothyroidism, a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, is a potential health concern for Brittany Spaniels.

The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism, and when it malfunctions, it can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.

Brittany Spaniels may be predisposed to hypothyroidism, and while genetic factors can contribute, environmental influences may also play a role.

Regular veterinary check-ups that include thyroid function tests are essential for early detection and effective management of thyroid disorders.

Treatment often involves thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which can help alleviate symptoms and improve the overall well-being of affected Brittany Spaniels.

Responsible breeding practices and awareness of potential genetic predispositions contribute to minimizing the risk of hypothyroidism in the Brittany Spaniel population.

Ear Infections 

Brittany Spaniels, with their floppy ears and active outdoor lifestyle, may be prone to ear infections.

The breed’s ears can trap moisture, creating an environment conducive to bacterial or yeast overgrowth. Regular ear cleaning and inspection are crucial to prevent infections.

Owners should be vigilant for signs of ear discomfort, including scratching, head shaking, or a foul odor.

Gentle cleaning with veterinarian-approved ear solutions and keeping the ears dry can help mitigate the risk of infections.

Prompt veterinary attention is essential if an infection is suspected, as untreated ear issues can lead to pain and potential complications.

Consistent grooming practices, coupled with awareness and proactive care, contribute to maintaining the ear health of Brittany Spaniels.

Preventive Measures and Care:

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine check-ups can go a long way in maintaining your Brittany’s health.

Being attentive to changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance can help you address health issues promptly.

Understanding these health issues enables you to keep an eye out for early signs and symptoms, and seeking veterinary advice can ensure your Brittany has a long and healthy lifespan.

Remember, a proactive approach to your Brittany Spaniel’s health can make all the difference.

Grooming Your Brittany Spaniel

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Proper grooming is essential for your Brittany Spaniel’s health and appearance.

This breed requires regular grooming routines that address their coat, nails, and dental health to prevent excess shedding and dirt accumulation.


Though they will benefit from weekly brushing, Brittany owners should brush their dogs at least twice per week to minimize shedding and keep their coat healthy.

Use a slicker brush or a pin brush to gently remove excess hair and distribute natural skin oils.


Brittany Spaniels don’t need frequent baths, normally every 3-4 months is sufficient unless they get into something particularly messy.

When you bathe your dog, ensure you use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the coat’s natural oils.

We like this massager because it really gets the soap down through all your dog’s thick fur.

Cutting Fur/Hair

Generally, Brittany Spaniels do not require haircuts.

However, some owners perform light trimming around the feet and ears to maintain neatness, particularly if the dog will be shown.

Clipping or Grinding Nails

Maintain your Brittany’s nails by clipping or grinding them regularly.

Long nails can cause discomfort or lead to problems walking.

Aim to clip or grind the nails every few weeks to keep them at a healthy length being careful not to cut into the quick, which can cause bleeding.

If you accidentally cut the quick, dip their nails in Styptic Powder.

Check out our article on How to Grind Your Dog’s Nails or How to Clip Your Dog’s Nails Safely.

Dental Care

Incorporate dental care into your Brittany’s grooming routine to ensure oral health.

Brush their teeth routinely with vet-approved toothpaste and toothbrush to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease.

Cleaning Ears

Brittany Spaniels have floppy ears that can trap moisture and dirt, leading to infections.

Clean your dog’s ears with a gentle, dog-specific ear cleaner to keep them dry and clean.

We like these Pet MD – Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes – Otic Cleanser for Dogs for an easy fix.

Regular checks during brushing sessions can help you catch any issues early on.

Owning a Brittany Spaniel

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Owning a Brittany Spaniel comes with specific considerations, such as initial costs, ongoing maintenance expenses, the process of adoption, and locating reputable breeders.

Understanding these aspects is crucial in ensuring a happy and healthy life for your Brittany Spaniel, who will require daily exercise and proper nutrition.

Cost of Purchase

When you purchase a Brittany Spaniel from a breeder, expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,200.

This cost fluctuates based on the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, and location.

These initial costs are just the beginning, as you’ll also need to budget for the necessary accessories and initial veterinary care, including vaccinations and spaying/neutering.

Maintenance Costs

Your Brittany Spaniel’s maintenance will include regular expenses such as:

  • High-quality dog food: A budget of approximately $30 to $60 monthly.
  • Routine veterinary care: Often around $200 to $300 annually for check-ups and preventative medications.
  • Ensuring regular exercise and mental stimulation is essential to prevent destructive behaviors like chewing.
  • Grooming: While Brittany Spaniels aren’t heavy shedders, routine brushing and the occasional bath are necessary, which can be done at home or by a professional for $40 to $60 per session.

Adopting a Brittany Spaniel

Adoption is a cost-effective and compassionate option.

Many Brittany Spaniels need homes, and adopting from shelters or rescue groups can cost between $50 and $300, which often includes the cost of initial veterinary care.

Additionally, these dogs sometimes come socialized and with basic training, which can ease their integration into your family.

Brittany Spaniel puppy sitting in front of a white background.

Finding Reputable Breeders

Locating a reputable breeder is key to ensuring that your Brittany Spaniel is healthy and well-bred.

A trustworthy breeder can provide extensive information about the breed and demonstrate a clear interest in the dog’s welfare.

They should welcome your questions and allow you to visit and see the conditions in which the puppies are raised.

When looking for a Brittany Spaniel, it’s important to remember that this active breed requires plenty of daily exercise and is well-suited for an active family.

Long walks, hiking, and vigorous exercise are vital, as neglecting their energy can lead to hyperactivity. Paying attention to their diet and ensuring they receive high-quality nutrition will keep them in good health.

Proper care and an enriching environment make the Brittany Spaniel an excellent kid-friendly family dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Here, you will find detailed responses to some of the most common inquiries about Brittany Spaniels that might help you understand this breed’s characteristics and needs more clearly.

What is the typical temperament of a Brittany Spaniel?

Brittany Spaniels are known for their energetic and intelligent disposition.

They are friendly, eager to please, and generally good-natured, making them excellent companions.

How much exercise does a Brittany Spaniel typically require?

As active dogs, Brittany Spaniels need ample exercise—at least an hour per day is recommended. They thrive on activities like running, playing fetch, and vigorous outdoor playtime.

Brittany Spaniel puppy with its rump in the air playing with dog toys

What are the main differences between a Brittany Spaniel and a Springer Spaniel?

Brittany Spaniels are smaller and have a hunting style comparable to pointers or setters, often working more closely with the hunter, while Springer Spaniels are heavier and typically flush birds out of hiding for the hunters.

Additionally, Springers have longer fur and different grooming needs.

Are Brittany Spaniels suitable for families with children?

Yes, Brittany Spaniels are suitable for families with children. They are typically gentle and playful, making them a compatible pet for active households.

What is the expected lifespan of a Brittany Spaniel?

Brittany Spaniels have an expected lifespan of 12-14 years, with proper care, regular exercise, and a healthy diet contributing to a full lifespan.

What are some pros and cons of owning a Brittany Spaniel?

Owning a Brittany Spaniel comes with benefits such as their adaptable size, friendly nature, and high intelligence.

However, they do require significant exercise and mental stimulation, and their shedding may be a consideration for some owners.

Conclusion: Bottom Line on the Brittany Spaniel

Your insight into the Brittany Spaniel reveals a breed with a distinct personalitypolitegentle, and often peaceful with other animals.

Known for their sensitivity and soft temperament, they strike a balance between affection and a strong work ethic.

Early socialization is vital to nurture their confidence and counteract any natural timidity.

As a versatile companion, Brittanys excel in a variety of roles.

They display impressive loyalty to their owners, making them a favored choice for both family life and field trials.

Their high energy level calls for regular exercise, and they especially enjoy running—an ideal trait for active owners.

Playfulness is ingrained in their character, but if left alone for too long, they may experience separation anxiety.

  • Exercise: Vital for managing their energy and maintaining mental health.

  • Training: Required; they are eager to please and respond positively to consistent, gentle methods.

  • Loyalty: A loyal breed that thrives on human companionship.

Your life with a Brittany Spaniel will be filled with activity and joy.

They seek out engagement and thrive when included in daily activities.

Keep in mind their need for companionship; without it, they can become anxious.

A well-exercised Brittany is a content and loving family member that will bring enthusiasm to every endeavor.

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