The French Brittany is the
smallest and most attractive of the versatile gun dogs. In the true meaning
of the word "versatile" they are companions both in the field and
in the home. In the field, with little direction, they will search, find, point,
and retrieve all manner of game; in the water they will swim for and retrieve
both shot dead and wounded waterfowl; and in the home they are calm and attentive.
This versatile quality of the breed makes them the best of friends no matter
your age, gender, or hunting season. In fact, while these dogs are bred for
field performance they are often appreciated more for their manner in the house,
ease in transport, and temperament.
A Little History: The breed is French in origin and more precisely from the central region of Brittany. It is one of the oldest spaniel type dogs, improved at the beginning of the 20th Century by diverse outcrosses and selections. The first standard for the breed was drawn up Nantes in 1907. This initial standard was presented and adopted at the first General Assembly held in Loudeac on June 7, 1908. This was the first standard of the "Naturally Short-Tailed Brittany Spaniel Club" and little has changed since that day.
The French Brittany (Epagneul Breton) was first brought over to North America in the 1930's and 1940's where they became popular with both hunters and field trialers. The trial and performance breeders selected the tallest and fastest dogs that hunted big enough to be run from horseback for breeding. The breeding for dogs larger and of a different temperament than the original standard produced a bigger, faster, and stronger willed dog than the original effectively eliminating some of the core qualities of the initial breed. Sadly the American clubs also incorrectly interpretated the language of the original breed standard and disallowed any black color in the coat severely narrowing the gene pool.
Since originally imported, there has been a select group of breeders that have kept the breed true to its original standards. This core group has slowly grown, maintaining its genetics through constant introductions from Europe. Today the American and French Brittany is so dissimilar, that at mixed trials it is usually possible to pick out the Epagneul Bretons from the American Brittanys without asking the owners it heritage.
The breed standard for the Epagneul Breton can be found on the UKC website.
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