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A Breed a Week: Brittany

A Breed A Week: BRITTANY

From the Complete Dog Book, a publication of the American Kennel Club, copyright 1985

"Named for the French province in which it originated, the Brittany was, until September 1982, registered by the American Kennel Club as the Brittany Spaniel. Although until then called a spaniel, in its manner of working game the Brittany is setterlike. In appearance it is smaller than the setters but leggier than the spaniels, with a short tail and a characteristic high ear set.

While it is generally conceded that the basic stock for all bird dogs is the same, most of the actual facts concerning the development and spread of the various breeds are lost in antiquity. Early written records are confusing. Dogs are referred to as being of Bretagne or Brittania, which may have referred to the British Isles rather than the French province, for Brittany was called Armorique until the 5th century. Oppian, who lived about 150 A.D. wrote of the uncivilized people of Brittany (or Britain?) and reported that their dogs' scenting ability surpassed all others, a characteristic many present day Brittanys retain.

The first accurate records to pinpoint the actual Brittany type dog are the paintings and tapestries of the 17th century. The frequency with which this type appears suggests it was fairly common. Oudry (1686-1745) shows a liver and white dog pointing partridge and this same type of dog is common in the Flemish paintings of the school of Jan Steen.

The Brittany's steady gain in popularity in the United States has been due to its merits as a shooting dog. Its smaller size and natural proclivity for hunting  close fill the need of the modern American bird hunter. Its superb nose and desire to please are two of its major assets. Its size makes it better adapted to city living than some of the larger bird dogs, and its close range makes it more adaptable to today's hunting areas, crisscrossed with numerous roads and fences.

A happy, well adjusted Brittany is one that gets a  chance to hunt. Few Brittanys have been raised strictly as house pets and never used for hunting. Friendly in disposition and quite retractable, the Brittany may be expected to absorb training more easily than some of the other pointing breeds because of an inborn desire to please its master.

 

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