You’ve probably heard of the Cocker Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel – but are you familiar with the Brittany Spaniel?
If you know your geography, you may have pieced together that the Brittany Spaniel originally hailed from France.
French hunters living in Brittany were responsible for breeding their ancestors back in the 17th century to hunt birds.
The Brittany have earned a reputation for being one of the world’s most versatile bird dogs, hunting ducks, woodcocks, pheasants, partridges — and more.
The breed was brought to America in 1931 but Brittanys weren’t recognised by the American Kennel Club until 1982.
As of 2021, Brittanys are ranked as the 26th most popular dog breed in the USA.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at Brittany pros and cons, learning what it’s like to live with a member of the breed.
So with the introduction over, we’ll examine the advantages and disadvantages of the Brittany breed.
Brittany Spaniel Pros
Love the outdoors
If you’re someone who loves to get outside and exercise, the Brittany Spaniel could be your perfect companion. For dog lovers who want to get out and explore in the evenings or at the weekend, Brittanys will be happy to match your energy. The American Kennel Club describe the Brittany as a “high-energy dogs” that need a lot of exercise. They’ll enjoy walks and hikes in the countryside, they’ll be happy to go for a run with their owner, and as a bird dog, they don’t mind water either.
Brittany owner Kate described on Reddit just how energetic the breed are.
Brittanys can certainly be high-energy. Sometimes it’s like there’s so much energy in their little bodies that it just boils over and can’t be controlled.
Another Brittany owner on Reddit shared that she uses rollerblading to tire out her dog.
I have a seven-month old Brittany and he’s great, but the energy level can be EXTREMELY challenging at times. His outlet is to pull me sled dog style on roller blades behind him for 5-8 miles about 5 times a week. If he goes more than one day without running he becomes hyperactive and destructive. My only previous experience with dogs was with Goldens and Labs, and I can tell you the Brittany’s energy level is on a whole other level. If you are having any doubts about whether or not you’ll be able to provide the outlet these dogs need, I would encourage you to look at a different breed.
Eager to please
The Brittany has many traits and one of these is their eagerness to please. You may already be getting the sense that this breed like to have a sense of purpose. They operate best when they’ve got a task to complete or an outlet to expend their tireless energy. The AKC reference the Brittany’s eagerness in their breed profile on their website. The respected organization gives the Brittany breed a five-star rating in terms of trainability and eagerness to please.
Chase highlighted this “eagerness to please” as one of the Brittany’s pros on a Reddit thread.
Eager to please. Our Britt isn’t super food-motivated, although most are. However, training her was an absolute doddle because she just loves making people happy.
Continuing on the theme, Brittanys are generally considered relatively easy to train because they’re eager to please and highly intelligent. The Brittany is rated as the 19th smartest dog in the world in Stanley Coren’s Intelligence Of Dogs book. So in theory, they should be able to learn a new command in 5 to 15 repetitions and obey a first command 85% of the time or better.
Another Brittany owner on social media warned that their intelligence means that these dogs really do need a lot of exercise to satisfy their drives.
Brittany’s are intelligent. They need to be challenged. If you don’t intend on hunting with yours, take them to the dog park. Invest in that pheasant wing because it’ll satiate their hunting drive when they catch it. Make sure they get plenty of activity daily or else they won’t settle down for the night.
This dog owner suggested that Brittanys will benefit from mental stimulation games.
Brittanys are also highly intelligent and need mental stimulation in addition to physical. Training exercises, puzzles, and other games are a must.
Reddit user Stories-With-Bears shared some of the tricks that he’s taught his Brittany.
They’re very smart. Besides basic obedience, my pup knows how to shake and give high fives, roll over, play dead, speak, dance, sit pretty, and take a bow. I can usually teach him a new trick within a few minutes.
Sociable with other dogs
Brittanys tend to do well with other dogs so that’s a bonus if you’re thinking about getting a member of this breed to add to your pack. The AKC give the Brittany Spaniel a four-out-of-five rating for being good with other dogs. New Brittany owners may want to consider bringing their pup to socalization classes as soon as they’re fully vaccinated. By exposing your dog to different dogs, people and situations, you’ll increase your chances of having a well-balanced Brittany on your hands.
Reddit user Stories-With-Bears revealed that his Brittany loves other dogs more than people.
He LOVES other dogs. Very friendly and social. He absolutely adores playing. He is less affectionate with people though. If I’m watching TV, he would rather snooze on the floor than on the couch with me.
Affectionate with family
While Brittany Spaniels may show some timidness around new people, they’re usually very attached to their fellow family members. They’ll love to give and receive affectionate from their owners. Provided they’ve had sufficient mental and physical stimulation during the day, Brittany Spaniels will be happy to curl up next to their owner on the sofa. While the AKC write on their website that Brittanys aren’t as affectionate as some dog breeds, they’re still attached to their pet parents.
Chase described his Brittany as a “velcro” dog.
They love being around people, cuddling, etc. They are very much “velcro dogs” who love to be near you (or on you if possible).
Redditor RedTheAnimator shared his Brittany’s nightly routine.
They calm down at night, when you’re watching tv they’ll always come and sit next to you. They’ll follow you everywhere you go too, they’re really affectionate and sweet.
Love dog sports
Brittanys are perfect for a sporty person. That’s not to say you have to be a fitness enthusiast to own a Brittany but if you like trying new sports, you’ll enjoy this breed. Brittanys can excel at a wide range of sports, including dog sports such as agility, field trials, other canine events such as agility, and dock diving. The opportunities are endless!
A Reddit user with a French version of the Brittany breed shared her experience taking part in sports with her canine companion.
I have a French Brittany and compete in performance sports with her. She competes in the highest level of scent work and is phenomenal. She also has her CGC and her trick titles. She could easily compete in obedience, rally, agility, barn hunt, NASDA, and tracking if I had the time. She knows the basics for all these sports and she is super easy to train. She is always eager to work but obviously she really excels at any sport where she finds things with her nose.
Brittany Spaniel Cons
Brittany Spaniels have a lot of energy but this can be a negative when it comes to hyperactivity. They can bounce around the home and prove a troublemaker if they don’t have a sufficient outlet for their active brains and active legs. You’ll find that your Brittany Spaniel could end up jumping on you or on furniture, excitedly biting or chewing on things they shouldn’t or being wound up.
A Reddit user called BookIslandGirl shared an extreme example of this hyperactivity.
I have a six month old female Brittany Spaniel and she is very very hyper… do they mature with time? We can’t leave her roaming around the house with us she just always needs something to grab, jump on, bite, etc. She has her own restricted space when no one is at home, which is very rare since there is always someone there to let her run around and waste her energy but it never seems to be enough.
If you’ve decided to get a Brittany Spaniel, you should research separation anxiety before you decide to take the plunge. This is a chronic canine condition that can affect any dog irrespective of breed or mix. It can lead to incessant barking, howling or whining, destructive chewing or digging and in some even more extreme behaviours. Some Brittanys can struggle with separation anxiety seeing as they’re dogs that love to be by your side.
Chase revealed that he had to do some separation anxiety training with his Brittany.
Prone to separation anxiety. We had to do quite a bit of work with ours before we could leave her alone without worrying. She’s fine now, though. This is not a breed you can leave outside alone. They need to be with you and around you.
Another Reddit user emphasised this is not a breed you can just leave outside in the garden.
They are not good for tossing in the backyard and ignoring them. They’ll find their own fun, which can be destroying things, digging holes, or jumping the fence and running off. not to mention the breed tends to be much more sensitive and needs human interaction more than a lot of other dogs. they love their humans.
If you’re looking for a dog that won’t shed a lot, the Brittany Spaniel is not the breed for you. They’re moderate-to-high shedders so you should prepare for a lot of hair! Unlike dog breeds with a thick double coat, Brittany Spaniels tend to shed individual hairs rather than clumps of hair. Brittany Spaniels will require grooming but it shouldn’t prove too difficult or too overwhelming. In fact, a quick brush once or twice a week should suffice.
One Redditor described their Brittany’s shedding isn’t too difficult to handle.
They shed quite a lot, but the hairs are soft and thin and thus easily brushed off or vacuumed. They are incredibly smooth and keep that silky puppy feel their entire lives.
Stories-With-Bears believes Brittanys shed just as much as any other dog.
Mine is silky soft and sheds quite a bit. I sweep my floors at least twice a week, sometimes more, and vacuum probably just as much. (I have dark wood floors so the light hair really stands out.) I was told before adopting one that Brittanys don’t really shed, but mine sheds as much as any other dog I’ve ever had. I would describe it as average.
Require a lot of exercise
For Brittany owners who love to exercise, be outdoors and explore, the Britanny breed could be perfect for you. However, if you’re not prepared to exercise these dogs extensively on a daily basis, they’re probably not a good fit for you and your desired lifestyle. Brittany Spaniels need at least 90 minutes of exercise a day, according to Wag Walking. Whether it’s traditional types of exercise, playing mentally stimulating games in the home or garden, or get your Brittany participating in sports designed for dogs.
Chase explained that Brittanys need to be exercised in all weather conditions!
[They] need exercise every day, and they don’t care if it’s hot, cold, raining, snowing, etc. A 15 minute walk around the block won’t cut it, either; they really need off-leash time. Because they’re smart, they need mental stimulation too. Training, treat toys, etc. are all vital.
As we touched upon at the start of this Brittany Spaniel pros and cons feature, the breed are widely considered one of the world’s most versatile bird dogs. As such, they can easily be lured into pursuit of winged animal. That’s why it’s important to start recall training when your Brittany is a young pup.
Necco emphasised that a Brittany’s ability to come to heel on command is all down to the hours of training.
The recall thing has a lot to do with the amount of time you are able to put into training, exercise and play. We have had a lot of success. Ours is fine off leash in the woods, but not in towns or areas with lots of people.
A Brittany owner offered a good training tool if you’re planning to work on your dog’s recall.
My dog is 8 now, so he’s calmer. I used to play fetch with him a lot (less now as he’s not really interested). He prefers to go on long walks walks in open fields. I go with a very long leash attached to my waist so he can roam around somewhat freely. His recalls aren’t good when there are distractions (other critters, dogs, people) so this is much safer in the city.
Timid around new people or situations
While Brittany Spaniels are sociable with other dogs, they can be somewhat timid around new people or strangers. This Spaniel breed can be very sensitive and combined with their high energy can result in a timidness around people they don’t know or some unexpected behaviour. Of course, Brittany owners who dedicate substantial to socialisation and training will reap the benefits.
This Reddit user provided an insight into her Brittany’s temperament.
She’s very timid but also very hyper. She is submissive but sometimes gets freaked out or upset about something and starts barking at people and is difficult to calm down.