Brittany Spaniel Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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The Brittany Spaniel (or just the Brittany or Brittany dog) is a medium-sized gun dog that was bred to hunt birds in France in the 17th century. 

Brittanys are born in litters of 6 puppies and reach their full adult size by 12-16 months old.

A white-and-brown Brittany Spaniel outdoors
The gorgeous Brittany Spaniel

The average Brittany Spaniel is around 17.5 to 20.5 inches (44.45 to 52.07 cm) tall and weighs 30 to 40 lbs (13.6 to 18.1 kg).

Also known as the Brittany Wiegref, Brittany Spaniels have an athletic build, naturally bobbed tails, triangular flopped ears, and patchy bi-colored coats.

They are cheerful, agile, and intelligent. They’re also vocal, energetic, playful, and known to be easy to train. 

Generally, Brittany dogs have an average lifespan of 12 to 13 years.

They also have a bite force of between 200 and 400 PSI and a top running speed of 45 miles per hour. 

Brittanys are an active, athletic breed of dog that should eat a healthy diet with around 22 – 25% protein and get at least 1 hour of exercise a day, as well as lots of mental stimulation.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about owning a Brittany Spaniel. 

What is a Brittany Spaniel Dog?

Brittany Spaniels are not actually Spaniels.

Technically, they’re genetically much closer to Setters, which are pointing dogs, another type of gun dog that hunts a little differently than Spaniels.

Like Setters, Brittany dogs were bred to upland birds rather than flush them, hence their athletic builds, and they’re known to be one of the best and most versatile bird hunting breeds.

What is the Root of the Word Brittany Spaniel?

The Brittany Spaniel is named after the place of its origin; Brittany, a province in Northwest France.

The “Spaniel” part of their name is due to the breed having some Spaniel in its ancestry, although most countries have now officially dropped this part of their name due to them being too genetically different. 

What is the History of Brittany Spaniels?

An eleven-month-old male Brittany Spaniel
Meet Mick, a healthy Brittany Spaniel – Image source

The precise history of the modern Brittany Spaniel is not known, but they are thought to have been created by breeding a mix of Spaniels, Setters, Pointers, and possibly some other breeds to make a powerful bird hunting breed, sometime in the 17th century. 

They were one of the most prized bird hunting dogs of medieval hunters because of their temperament, athleticism, and versatility. 

The first known written record of the Brittany dog comes from a hunting description written by Reverend Davies in the year 1850.

They described Brittanys as small, bobtailed, pointing dogs that were excellent at retrieving.

However, Brittany-like dogs were depicted in tapestries and paintings dating back to the 17th century. 

They were first recognized as a breed in their own right in France in 1907, and as a result, a breed standard was soon outlined.

They were first imported into America in 1928 and later recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1934.

In 1982, the AKC officially dropped “Spaniel” from the breed’s name. 

How Many Brittany Spaniels are there in the World?

Although it’s not known or estimated how many Brittany Spaniels there are worldwide, they are a fairly popular breed in the United States, ranking 28th out of 195 breeds for popularity in the US, according to the latest list published by the AKC. 

What are the Variants of Brittany Spaniel Dogs?

An American Brittany standing
Meet Maple, an American Brittany – Image source

There are French Brittanys and American Brittanys.

The French Brittany Spaniel is the original Brittany dog developed in France, and the American variety was later adapted to work a little differently. 

French Brittanys were used for upland birds and rabbits, whereas American Brittanys were developed exclusively for upland bird hunting. 

A French Brittany
A French Brittany standing on a hill – Image source

French Brittanys are also smaller and tend to hunt closer and quarter tighter, while the American variety is larger and can adapt more readily to a wider range because of their long legs and faster speed. 

What are the Characteristics of Brittany Spaniel Dogs?

Brittany Spaniel is a great dog with a lot of good qualities.

We’ve listed their most notable personality traits below and made a table ranking them on their most important canine characteristics. 

  • Cheerful: One of the most common things about Brittany is how happy and full of life they are.
  • Loving: A real family dog, they are very loyal and affectionate towards their families. They need more companionship than some other breeds; without it, they can suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety. 
  • Friendly: Brittany is known for their polite and friendly temperament towards people and other dogs. 
  • Intelligent: They’re also brilliant, eager to please, and highly trainable. 
  • Active: Brittany Spaniels are energetic, agile dogs that need plenty of exercise daily to avoid under-stimulation and destructive behaviors. 
  • Playful: Like most active and bright breeds, Brittany needs a lot of mental stimulation to prevent boredom and anxiety. 
  • Sensitive: Brittanys are also a very sensitive breed that requires a gentle hand during training and can be shy without adequate socialization.
Brittany Characteristics Rating
Relation with Family 5
Good with Children 5
Friendly with Strangers 3
Friendly with Other Dogs 5
Easy to Train 4
Energy Level 5
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 4

What Does the Brittany Spaniel Look Like?

A Brittany Spaniel standing outdoors
A smiley Brittany Spaniel

The Brittany Spaniel has a slender but strong athletic build with long legs and naturally bobbed tails.

Their heads are slightly brachycephalic in shape with proportionate triangular flopped ears and patchy brown and white coats that vary in shade.

How big is Brittany Spaniel?

The average Brittany Spaniel is around 17.5 to 20.5 inches (44.45 to 52.07 cm).

They need to live in at least medium-sized homes, ideally with a backyard to run around in.

Medium-sized apartments are suitable if you can meet your dog’s exercise needs daily, but smaller apartments are not generally suitable long-term. 

If you’re planning on crate training your Brittany dog, you should opt for a crate that is around 36 inches in size.

Brittany Spaniels
Physical Features
Male Female
Height  17.5 to 20.5 inches
(44.45 to 52.07 cm)
17.5 to 20.5 inches
(44.45 to 52.07 cm) 
Weight 30 to 40 lbs
(13.6 to 18.1 kg) 
30 to 40 lbs
(13.6 to 18.1 kg) 

How long does a Brittany dog grow?

Brittanys tend to reach their full adult size by 12-16 months, although it can take up to two years for their skeleton to develop completely.

They reach adolescence at around 5-6 months, sexual maturity at around nine months, and emotional maturity at 17 months old.

What is the average weight of Brittany Spaniel dogs?

The average Brittany dog weighs 30 to 40 lbs (13.6 to 18.1 kg).

Their exact weight will depend on their age, size, and health, but sex doesn’t seem to affect the size or weight significantly. 

What is the Average Brittany Spaniel Life Expectancy?

The average lifespan of Brittany Spaniels is 12 to 13 years with good care.

This means a healthy diet with proper exercise and regular vet check-ups are recommended.

Common health issues experienced by this breed include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism. 

What Type of Coat Does a Brittany Spaniel Have?

A Brittany Spaniel sitting in a field
River, a Brittany Spaniel, flaunts his coat – Image source

Brittany Spaniel dogs have short-length double coats.

They need brushing with a pin or slicker brush once or twice a week to remove loose fur and debris and bathing every few months using natural dog shampoo to remove dirt.

It’s essential not to over-bathe your Brittany as it can strip its fur of its natural self-cleaning oils. 

What is Brittany’s coat like?

The Brittany Spaniel’s coat is dense with fur that can be flat or wavy, with little feathered areas down the front and hind legs.

Brittanys have a coat designed not to absorb or hold water and trap dirt.

How long is the Brittany Spaniel dog’s coat?

The average Brittany Spaniel’s coat is around an inch long or two on feathery areas.

They may need the occasional trim in feathered to prevent tangling and matting or bad hygiene around the hindquarters. 

What’s the coat density of Britanny Spaniel?

Brittany Spaniels are not heavily coated dogs. Their fur coat is relatively dense with a texture of flat or wavy but never wiry, curly, or silky.

They have slight feathering on their ears and legs.

Are Brittany Spaniel dogs shedders?

Brittany Spaniels shed a moderate amount of fur, and they shed all year round.

So, they’re not considered hypoallergenic or appropriate for people with severe allergies to dog hair.

Heavier shedding occurs during so-called “shedding seasons”; the 2-4 week transitions from spring to summer and fall to winter, but this can be managed with extra grooming. 

Can Brittany Spaniels Live in Hot Weather?

A Brittany Spaniel lying on a bed
Ginger, a Brittany Spaniel, gets some sun – Image source

Brittany Spaniels were trained to hunt in cold weather and, as a result, are very tolerant of the cold but don’t do so well in the heat.

Despite their double coats, they can overheat easily and are susceptible to dehydration and heatstroke when exerted in temperatures over 20°C (70°F).

So, be sure to keep your Brittany hydrated in hot weather. 

What are the Colors of Brittany Spaniel Dogs?

Brittany dogs have patchy, bi-colored coats.

They come in 11 colors according to the American Kennel Club, the most common ones being orange & white and liver & white.

What are the Markings of Brittany Spaniel Dogs?

Brittany Spaniels often have white facial blazes and darker patches on their backs.

Some also have what is known as a “ticked” pattern in their white fur, or small spots of colored hair, and roan; an even mixture of colored and white hairs on the body, with a colored head, legs, and tail. 

What is the Brittany Spaniel Dogs’ Temperament?

A Brittany Spaniel in a flower field
Cheddar, a Brittany Spaniel, loves spending time in flower fields – Image source

Brittany Spaniels are gentle, friendly dogs. They’re great with people and other pets and are especially loving towards their owners and families.

They’re also bright, active, playful, and make great family dogs. 

Brittany Spaniel Temperament Rating
Adaptability 3
Friendliness 5
Mouthiness 4
Playfulness 5
Family-Oriented 5
Stranger Tolerance 3

Are Brittany Spaniels good with other pets?

Brittany Spaniels are usually very friendly towards other dogs, whether other family pets or unfamiliar dogs.

However, socialization should always be a priority during training young dogs, whatever their breed, so that they can understand behavior and learn the rules of social interaction. 

It’s best to start early in your dog’s life with other family dogs and in a safe environment, like home. 

Can Brittany Spaniels get along well with people?

Brittany Spaniel is an amiable breed of dog.

Their sweet nature means they get along very well with people and form close bonds with their human family members.

Is Brittany Spaniel friendly with strangers?

As mentioned above, Brittany Spaniels are friendly towards strangers and warm to new people quite quickly.

In fact, some owners report their Brittanys being too trusting of strangers. 

How do Brittany Spaniels get along with young children?

Brittany Spaniels are great with children, even young kids.

Their even temper makes them a good fit for families with young children, but all parents should teach their kids how to approach and interact with pets with respect.

Are Brittany Spaniels Adaptable Dogs?

A Brittany Spaniel lying on a couch
Birdie, a Brittany Spaniel, spends some time indoors – Image source

Brittany Spaniels are fairly adaptable dogs and can live in medium-sized houses or apartments, so long as they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation.

They’re also pretty good dogs for first-time owners. However, they are sensitive to stress and can become anxious about change. 

Are Brittany Spaniel Dogs Aggressive?

Brittany Spaniels are not known to be aggressive. However, any dog can react aggressively to threats or if they feel the need to protect their home or family.

Dogs that have been mistreated can also act aggressively if they’re not approached sensitively. 

Is Harsh Treatment Good for Brittanys?

Brittany Spaniels are very sensitive dogs that are easily upset by harsh corrections. You should never shout at your Britanny or physically punish them.

Instead, you should train them firmly but gently by using positive reinforcement techniques like praising your puppy or giving treats as a reward every time they do what you have told them to do.

Are Brittany Spaniel Dogs Dangerous?

A Brittany Spaniel hunting
A Brittany Spaniel on a hunt – Image source

As mentioned above, Brittany Spaniels are very gentle, sweet-natured dogs and are generally not dangerous or aggressive.

However, rescued Brittanys that have been mistreated could become dangerous if not approached with care.

When approaching a nervous dog, you should take it slow, make yourself appear smaller, talk in a friendly voice, avoid eye contact, be patient, and let them come to you.

Do Brittany Spaniel Dogs Bite?

Brittany Spaniels can be very nippy puppies, but this is normal puppyhood behavior associated with teething, not aggressive or malicious.

They have a bite force of between 200 and 400 PSI but should not bite as adults unless they feel threatened. 

During teething, you can show your dog that biting others is wrong by yelping like a puppy and turning away from them whenever they bite.

You can also teach them what is and isn’t theirs to chew by redirecting “bad” chewing to toys and praising them when they get it right.

Are Brittany Spaniels Protective Dogs?

Brittany Spaniels aren’t overprotective or territorial towards their homes and loved ones, but they’ll certainly protect their home and family when necessary.

So, if you’re looking for a fierce guard dog, they’re probably not the breed for you! 

Are Brittany Spaniel Dogs Easy to Train?

Brittany Spaniels are known to be very trainable and willing to learn.

They’re also keen to please and very bright, so make sure you bond with your dog first to make them want to engage in training.

Try to keep sessions positive, concise, clear, and consistent to avoid boredom and confusion. The use of a behavioral marker will also help. 

Do Brittanys Need Mental Stimulation?

A Brittany Spaniel dog on a hunt
A Brittany Spaniel having fun while hunting – Image source

Like most bright breeds, Brittany dogs need lots of mental stimulation to prevent boredom.

They’re happiest when they have a job to do, so they often like to accompany their owners when doing household chores and supervising any children in the home.

Owners should invest in some mentally stimulating toys, such as plush puzzles, puzzle feeders, treat-dispensing balls, and snuffle mats for a good mental workout and try to incorporate fun, challenging games into every day.

Brittanys also need social stimulation, so try to involve them in family life wherever possible and stop to talk to friendly dogs on walks. 

Can Brittanys be used as working dogs?

These days, Brittany Spaniels are most often kept as beloved family pets.

They’re not used for service work and are not generally suitable for guard work as they’re too gentle, but they can still be seen putting their hunting talents to work in field trials and other canine competitions.

Watch a short documentary below about hunting with Brittanys. 

Do Brittany Spaniel Dogs Bark a Lot?

Brittany Spaniels are a vocal breed of dog and will always keep you in the know.

It can get excessive without training, so owners should be sure to work on this during the formative months and years.

Many Brittanys are also known to growl and whine a lot, but this shouldn’t be a nuisance. 

How does a Brittany Spaniel bark?

Brittany Spaniels have a fairly loud bark, although nothing is recorded on the exact decibels.

Their voices are usually high-pitched rather than low-pitched, but they are not yappy sounding. 

What is the Energy Level of Brittany Spaniel Dogs?

A Brittany Spaniel looking up
Ziva, a Brittany Spaniel, has lots of energy – Image source

Brittany Spaniels are very high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation every day.

When these needs aren’t met, under-stimulation can lead to anxious and destructive behaviors towards themselves and the home, such as excessive barking, chewing, and digging. 

Are the Brittany Spaniels Active Dogs?

Brittany Spaniels need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day that should involve more energy-consuming activities.

They love long walks, fetching games, running, and hiking, so it’s a good idea to mix it up with the location and incorporate different activities into your walks. 

Do Brittany Spaniels Like to Play?

Yes, Brittany Spaniels love to play. As we mentioned above, it’s a good idea to invest in fun and challenging toys and play games that stimulate their mind.

Dogs love to play games that exercise their instincts and challenge their brain. Below are some of the best games to play with Brittany Spaniels. 

  • Fetch
  • Chase
  • Bubbles
  • Hide and seek
  • Treasure hunt

Is Inadequate Exercise Harmful to Brittany Spaniels?

A Brittany Spaniel in bed
Otis, a Brittany Spaniel, thinks he needs to stay active – Image source

If Brittany Spaniels are underworked, they’re prone to weight gain and obesity.

This can lead to poor heart and joint health, especially in older dogs, and chronic boredom, which can lead to anxiety and unhappiness. 

Does the Brittany Spaniel Drool a Lot?

Brittany Spaniels are not naturally heavy droolers, but, as with any dog, they can drool when they’re around food that smells good.

If your Brittany dog does drool a lot, it could be a sign of stress or illness.

What is the Family Life of Brittany Spaniel Dogs Like?

Brittany Spaniels make terrific family pets – for the right families, but you have to be willing to put in the time, love, and effort to meet their needs every day.

If you can do that, you couldn’t ask for a sweeter, lovelier family dog. 

However, they are not ideally suited to families with cats and smaller pets, as they are known to chase them due to their hunting DNA.

With lots of socialization and positive association training, they can learn to live together.

What Kind of Food Do Brittany Spaniel Dogs Prefer?

A Brittany Spaniel eating a peanut butter chew
Denver, a Brittany Spaniel, likes his peanut butter chew – Image source

Every dog should eat nutritious and balanced food appropriate for their age group.

A healthy adult Brittany should eat food with 22 to 25% protein to power their active lives and 2 cups of food per day, split into two meals. 

Young pups should eat 20g of food per 1kg of their body weight daily, split into 3-4 meals until they’re six months old.

Senior Brittanys should eat fewer calories as their activity levels decrease.

What are the Best Brittany Spaniel Dog Foods?

Following the information above, we’ve compiled a small list of the best commercial dog foods for Brittanys.

These are our top recommendations for junior and adult Brittanys.

Our top picks for Brittany puppies:

Our top picks for Brittany adults:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like Brittany Spaniels?

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on a couch
Meet Ollie, a cute Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Image source

Thanks to their diverse ancestry, Brittany Spaniels have a few look-a-likes.

They reasonably could easily be mistaken for another type of gun dog because of their build and coat.

These are the most common breeds mistaken for Brittanys:

The Verdict: Should You Get a Brittany Spaniel?

If you want an intimidating dog to ward off intruders or an independent breed that minds its own business, the Brittany Spaniel might not be for you.

However, if you want an active, sweet, fun-loving breed that is great for all the family, the Brittany Spaniel could be a great fit, so long as you have the time to give them what they need daily.

Do you have a Brittany dog? If so, please let us know what you love the most about them in the comments below.

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