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Background on the Breed

 Brittanys are known as - Brittanys in the USA, l'Epagneul Breton in its homeland of France & Brittany Spaniel in Canada. Not much is known of where the spaniel from Northern France originated. The Hunters wanted a dog to help them with a keen nose and a good retrieving instinct. So the French sportsman crossed their short no tailed Spaniel with the English Setters that the English Sportsman brought with them . The Setter being bred to the French Spaniel enhanced the nose of the Spaniel and the Staunchness on point. There is clear indication that they preferred the short to No Tail from the French Spaniel and the Orange / White and the Liver / White colours over the long tails and the black. The Short Tail was preferred as it was less likely to get torn up by the heavy cover of the bushes out hunting. So the story goes they would not let any long Tailed pups breed to try to breed out the Long tail Gene,  up until about 1927 when they gave in and would let the Long Tail pups breed but the standard still called for the short tail. The first recorded Brittany being shown was in Paris in 1896. The first Brittanys were brought to North America in 1912. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1934 but did not approve the Standard until March 1935. In the USA the word Spaniel was taken of the end of its name in 1982. This is because the Brittany is a pointing dog & not a flushing dog like the rest of the spaniels.

World War II did alot of damage to the breed in France. They needed to build up the numbers so they started to allow the black back in as an acceptable colouration because of the much depleted gene pool over there. It was felt in North America that our gene pool was sufficiently rich that we didn't need to change our Breed Standard to allow Black. So we stopped importing the French Brittany and we now have the American Brittany. Some people are breeding from the France imports but they are called French Brittanys and the two do not mix breed. The French Brittany can not show in North America because of the Black which is not of the approved standard.

Brittanys, Brittany Spaniel, Downwind Kennels, Downwind

Breed Standard for the Brittany

General Appearance

A compact, closely knit dog of medium size, a leggy dog having the appearance, as well as the agility, of a great ground coverer. Strong, vigorous, energetic and quick of movement. Ruggedness, without clumsiness, is a characteristic of the breed. He can be tailless or has a tail docked to approximately four inches.


Size, Proportion, Substance

Height: 17 1/2 to 20 1/2 inches, measured from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders. Any Brittany measuring under 17 1/2 inches or over 20 1/2 inches shall be disqualified from dog show competition. 

Weight: Should weigh between 30 and 40 pounds.

Proportion: So leggy is he that his height at the shoulders is the same as the length of his body.

Body Length: Approximately the same as the height when measured at the shoulders. Body length is measured from the point of the fore chest to the rear of the rump. A long body should be heavily penalized.

Substance: Not too light in bone, yet never heavy-boned and cumbersome.


Expression: Alert and eager, but with the soft expression of a bird dog.

Eyes:  Well set in head. Well protected from briars by a heavy, expressive eyebrow. A prominent, full or pop eye should be heavily penalized. It is a serious fault in a dog that must face briars. Skull well chiseled under the eyes, so that the lower lid is not pulled back to form a pocket or haw that would catch seeds, dirt and weed dust. Preference should be for the darker colored eyes, though lighter shades of amber should not be penalized. Light and mean-looking eyes should be heavily penalized.

Ears: Set high, above the level of the eyes. Short and triangular, rather than pendulous, reaching about half the length of the muzzle. Should lie flat and close to the head, with the tip rounded very slightly. Ears well covered with dense, but relatively short hair, and with little fringe.

Skull: Medium length, rounded, very slightly wedge-shaped, but evenly made. Width, not quite as wide as the length and never so broad as to appear coarse, or so narrow as to appear racy. Well defined but gently sloping stop. Median line rather indistinct. The occipital only apparent to the touch. Lateral walls well rounded. The
Brittany should never be "apple-headed" and he should never have an indented stop.

Muzzle: Medium length, about two-thirds the length of the skull, measuring the muzzle from the tip to the stop, and the skull from the occipital to the stop. Muzzle should taper gradually in both horizontal and vertical dimensions as it approaches the nostrils. Neither a Roman nose nor a dish-face is desirable. Never broad, heavy or snippy.

Nose: Nostrils well open to permit deep breathing of air and adequate scenting. Tight nostrils should be penalized. Never shiny. Color: fawn, tan, shades of brown or deep pink. A black nose is a disqualification. A two-tone or butterfly nose should be penalized.

Lips:  Tight, the upper lip overlapping the lower jaw just to cover the lower lip. Lips dry, so that feathers will not stick. Drooling to be heavily penalized. Flaws to be penalized.

Bite: A true scissors bite. Overshot or undershot jaw to be heavily penalized.


Neck, Top line, Body

Neck: Medium length. Free from throatiness, though not a serious fault unless accompanied by dewlaps, strong without giving the impression of being over-muscled. Well set into sloping shoulders. Never concave or ewe-necked.

Top line: Slight slope from the highest point of the shoulders to the root of the tail.

Chest: Deep, reaching the level of the elbow. Neither so wide nor so rounded as to disturb the placement of the shoulders and elbows. Ribs well sprung. Adequate heart room provided by depth as well as width. Narrow or slab-sided chests area fault.

Back: Short and straight. Never hollow, saddle, sway or roach backed. Slight drop from the hips to the root of the tail.

Flanks: Rounded. Fairly full. Not extremely tucked up, or flabby and falling. Loins short and strong. Distance from last rib to upper thigh short, about three to four fingers widths. Narrow and weak loins are a fault. In motion, the loin should not sway sideways, giving a zig-zag motion to the back, wasting energy.

Tail: Tailless to approximately four inches, natural or docked. The tail not to be so long as to affect the over-all balance of the dog. Set on high, actually an extension of the spine at about the same level. Any tail substantially more than four inches shall be severely penalized.



Shoulders: Shoulder blades should not protrude too much, not too wide apart, with perhaps two thumbs' width between. Sloping and muscular. Blade and upper arm should form nearly a ninety degree angle. Straight shoulders are a fault. At the shoulders the Brittany is slightly higher than at the rump.

Front Legs:  Viewed from the front, perpendicular, but not set too wide. Elbows and feet turning neither in nor out. Pasterns slightly sloped. Down in pasterns is a serious fault. Leg bones clean, graceful, but not too fine. Extremely heavy bone is as much a fault as spindly legs. One must look for substance and suppleness. Height at elbows should approximately equal distance from elbow to withers.

Feet: Should be strong, proportionately smaller than the spaniels', with close fitting, well arched toes and thick pads. The
Brittany is "not up on his toes." Toes not heavily feathered. Flat feet, splayed feet, paper feet, etc., are to be heavily penalized. An ideal foot is halfway between the hare and the cat foot. Dewclaws may be removed.

Broad strong and muscular, with powerful thighs and well bent stifles, giving the angulations necessary for powerful drive.

Hind Legs: Stifles well bent. The stifle should not be so angulated as to place the hock joint far out

Feet: Same as front feet.

Coat: Dense, flat or wavy, never curly. Texture neither wiry nor silky. Ears should carry little fringe. The front and hind legs should have some feathering, but too little is definitely preferable to too much. Dogs with long or profuse feathering or furnishings shall be so severely penalized as to effectively eliminate them from competition.

Skin: Fine and fairly loose. A loose skin rolls with briars and sticks, thus diminishing punctures or tearing. A skin so loose as to form pouches is undesirable.

Orange and white or liver and white in either clear or roan patterns. Some ticking is desirable. The orange or liver is found in the standard parti-color or piebald patterns. Washed out colors are not desirable. Tri-colors are allowed but not preferred. A tri-color is a liver and white dog with classic orange markings on eyebrows, muzzle and cheeks, inside the ears and under the tail, freckles on the lower legs are orange. Anything exceeding the limits of these marking shall be severely penalized. Black is a disqualification.

Gait: When at a trot the
Brittany's hind foot should step into or beyond the print left by the front foot. Clean movement, coming and going, is very important, but most important is side gait, which is smooth, efficient and ground covering.

Temperament:  A happy, alert dog, neither mean nor shy.


Any Brittany measuring under 17 1/2 inches or over 20 1/2 inches. Black in the coat. A black nose.

The above Standard was approved by the AKC on April 9, 1990 and went into effect May 29, 1990.