10 Things You Didn’t Know about the French Brittany Spaniel

The French Brittany Spaniel has a long, storied history and is not to be confused with the American Spaniel. It is known and bred around the world as one of the best hunting dogs for game such as woodcock and pheasant. There are a number of formal organizations dedicated to preserving its heritage and distinguishing it from the American Spaniel. To help you understand the difference, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the French Britany Spaniel.

1. It was intentionally bred to be small.

While the French Spaniel is one of the oldest spaniel breeds, it is also the smallest of the pointing breeds. Despite their size, they are very brave and courageous, a fact that may have resulted in a significant decline in their numbers during World War I.

2. It has at least one advantage over long ranging dogs.

Because of its close-working hunting style, this breed instinctively quarters in the field and is able to find birds that most long-ranging dogs will miss more often than not. Devoted hunters love this quality about the breed.

3. Its more commonly known around the world as the Epagneul Breton.

Purists, especially in European countries, use the French designation for the breed, in part due to the fact that while the American Spaniel has similar characteristics, the American Spaniel was bred in the United States.

4. The first known representative of the breed was named Pincon Royale.

That was back in 1896, and made it first showing at the Paris Exposition. To be clear, it was not the name of a particular dog but of an entire breed. If you are looking for a French Brittany Spaniel with a historic lineage, the Pincon Royale is at the top of the ancestral list.

5. The name Arthur Enaud is an important one in the history of the breed.

Many breeders and promoters of the dog are keen to trace the history of the dog back to an organization that dedicated itself to not only breeding the Epagneul Breton, but nurturing and promoting it in order to keep its ancestral lines pure and intact. In 1907, Arthur Enaud was precisely the person who created an organization specifically devoted to that purpose.

6. World War I took its toll on the numbers of the Epagneul Breton.

The First World War was especially brutal by modern standards, with chemical agents being shot into entrenched troops on both sides. Whether or not the intent of the export of the breed to America was to retain its purity or to create a new breed in the form of the American Spaniel, is not clear. What is clear is that only a few of the original line were available to continue the breed.

7. Before discussing the French Brittany Spaniel, become familiar with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.

Though you may not be fluent in French, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale translated into English is simply the World Canine Organization. It is the largest international federation of kennel clubs which is headquartered in Thuin, Belgium. The reason for this is that there are two sets of standards as to what defines a dog as a true French Brittany Spaniel, with the other standard being the famous American Kennel Club. If you want to be certain your dog is a pure bred, go with the World Canine Organization standard.

8. The first of the breed was brought into the United States during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

That importation led to the breeding of the American version of the French Spaniel, which is taller and faster than its diminutive French cousin. But the American version is more strong-willed, which may pose a problem for owners who don’t have much experience with training stubborn dogs.

9. How you can tell the difference.

Besides being the smaller of the two breeds, the head of the original Epagneul Breton is different in structure than the American Brittany. The Epagneul Breton has a more prominent slope in its forehead and also a shorter muzzle and nose. Think of it as having a more “compact” face and when you see them side by side, the difference should be obvious.

10. It took 60 years to settle the international argument about the uniqueness of the breed.

In 2002, the United Kennel Club officially recognized the French Brittany Spaniel as separate and distinct from the American Spaniel. As can be seen from this list, there was considerable work and research done to trace the breed back it its French origins. It is now internationally recognized as a unique breed.

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