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About the Brittany

The Brittany was named for the French province in which it originated as early as AD 150. While it is generally concluded that the basic stock for all bird dogs is the same, most of the actual facts concerning the development and spread of various breeds is lost to us, and early written records are unclear and confusing. However, it seems likely the dogs of Brittany and Wales had the same progenitors and developed along similar paths, quite possibly interbreeding since the lands are close and conducted much commerce. Good evidence for this supposition lies in the inherent resemblance existing between the Brittany and the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

The first accurate records to pinpoint the actual Brittany-type dog are the paintings and tapestries of the 17th century, in which the Brittany appears fairly frequently, such as those of Oudry and Steen. The dogs pictured in these renderings are similar to the dogs that developed along the Atlantic coast into the Wachtelhund, a modern breed much like the Brittany in appearance and ability. Legend has it that the first tailless ancestor of the modern Brittany was bred about the mid-1800's at Pontou, a small town in Brittany province. In 1850, the first verifiable written record of the Brittany surfaced with the writing of Reverend Davies, who described hunting with small bobtailed dogs not as smooth coated as the Pointer, that worked well in the brush, who pointed, retrieved well, and that were particularly popular with poachers (the profession requiring easily handled dogs).

It was speculated that matings of the native spaniels of Brittany were made around 1900 with English pointing dogs whose owners vacationed in France for sporting purposes, intensifying the Brittany's natural sporting ability. The Brittanys became a recognized breed in 1907, when "Boy," an orange-and-white, was registered as the first Brittany Spaniel in France (they had previously been registered under the heading of miscellaneous French Spaniels). The first standard was outlined in 1907, and the breed was introduced to the US in 1931, receiving approval from the AKC in 1934. To this day, the Brittany is recognized as both a superb shooting dog and show dog, in addition to being a wonderful house dog and companion.

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