Let’s Talk Breed Education!
BRITTANY HEADS BY DOROTHY MACDONALD
S ome breeds, where the individual standard places par- ticular emphasis on the head, are frequently called “head breeds.” However, because every breed should be instant- ly recognizable by its head alone, every breed could be called a head breed. It is, perhaps, in the various subgroups, which have common features, that differing head characteristics are most important in helping to differentiate between “first cousins” such as the [four] Setters. The Brittany head has a very particular conformation and, like the rest of the Brittany standard, was developed primarily to ensure total functionality as a bird dog. Moderation is the defining feature of the Brittany head. Actually, the only extremes that a Brittany should exhibit are his eagerness, intensity, and athleticism. Struc- turally and phenotypically, he is the very essence of moderation.
Epitomizing this moderation is the desired rounded, medium- length skull that is slightly wedge-shaped and never too broad or too racy, and the medium-length muzzle (two thirds the length of the skull) that tapers gradually, both horizontally and vertically. The stop is well-defined, but never indented, and the occiput is only apparent to the touch. The Brittany ear differs from that of most other bird dogs. It is set high, above the level of the eye, and is short and triangular, lying flat and close to the head. Anytime that function is a factor, the Brittany standard becomes more absolute. Brittany eyes must be well-set in the head and well-protected by a heavy, expressive eyebrow with close-fitting eyelids that prevent seeds or dirt from getting into them. Lighter colored eyes are not to be faulted as long as they are soft and not “bird of prey” eyes.* Remember that Brittany eye color changes and darkens for a long time, often up to four to five years of age. Equally necessary for work as a bird dog, the Brittany’s nose must have well-opened nostrils (for adequate scenting) and lips that are tight and dry, to prevent feathers from sticking during retrieving. All in all, the standard’s description of the ideal Brittany head is quite simple, yet the head is definitely unique and, when seen, is unmistakable. Just a word about color and markings—this is always an issue in parti-color breeds. A perfectly marked head adds greatly by creating the look of a perfect head. But a head’s make and shape has nothing to do with the color. Skulls can look overly wide or overly narrow, based on the amount of white. Muzzles can look overly long if there is an orange or liver stripe running along the side when, in reality, the proportions are correct. It is essential to evaluate a head on its real substance—not the paint job. *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.
All in all, the standard’s description of the ideal Brittany head is quite simple, yet the head is definitely unique and, when seen, is unmistakable.
This column originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of the AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission.
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BRITTANY J U D G I N G S I M P L I F I E D
I am the Judge’s Education Coordinator for the American Brit- tany Club. One of the comments I hear routinely is that the Brittany is a hard breed to judge. When I ask why they think it’s hard, usually they start by listing the differences between Brittanys and the other Sporting breeds: • Scissors Bite—The Brittany is required to have a scissors bite, while most Sporting breeds call for an even or a scissors bite. • Height Standard—The Brittany height standard is 17½ inches to 20½ inches for both males and females. Most of the other Sporting breeds have one height standard for males and one for females. We, generally, explain that you can have a 17½ inch male and a 20½ inch female, and have it be perfectly correct. Anything below 17½ or over 20½ is a DQ. (The only other DQ is black in the nose or coat.) • Movement—The Brittany calls for having an athletic gait that is ground-covering without clumsiness, but we can also have an over- reach. The standard says that the back foot should step into or beyond the print left by the front foot. Most of the other Sporting breeds do not overreach. (Note: Not all Britts will overreach, but note that they should at least step into the print left by the front foot. The “beyond” is the overreach.)
BY DIANA KUBITZ
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BRITTANY: JUDGING SIMPLIFIED
The Brittany still functions in the field and—while an individual may never get the opportunity of a field experience—if he was turned loose in a field, could he function without injury and in an athletic fashion?
Brittany forever a dual dog.” We have more dual champions than all the other Sporting breeds combined. I believe that at last count (in 2013) it was 608, and later (in 2020) it was 686! All through our standard you see the words “moderate” and “medium,” describing various aspects of the breed’s conformation. As I stated above, if you add movement and balance, you have the essence of a Brittany. When judges ask us what percentage the head makes up in our standard, we smile and say that we took that out of our standard because this is NOT a head breed. While we like them to have beautiful heads, it’s more important that they have a prominent brow that protects their eyes in cover, that their nostrils are full and open so they can smell birds, and that they have a good bite so they can pick up the birds for a retrieve. The most important thing is their movement, because if they do not move correctly, they will wear out quickly in heavy brush. When they have that short upper arm, they can actually injure their front legs while moving through the brush. Although coming and going is important, most important is the side movement, because this is where you can see our breed’s beautiful, ground-covering stride. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the other problem that judges sometimes have with our breed: Square is in the eye of the beholder. A dog can look long in body, but when you have a chance to measure from the top of the withers to the ground and then measure from the forechest to the rear of the dog, it should be the same length. Measuring from the top of the withers to the elbow should equal the measurement from the elbow to the ground. The length of a Brittany is in the chest, which allows it to have adequate room for an athlete’s heart and lungs. If you think a dog is long, be sure to look at both sides of the dog because, many times, they have markings that further that illusion of length. A dog that is overly square will crab or sidewind because they can’t get out of their own way. I encourage students of the breed to make the opportunity to try this measuring experiment as it will help you to develop your “eye” for the correct look of a square Brittany. That brings me to the final point I’d like to make... coat. The Brittany’s coat should protect it in all types of cover. Our standard points out, “...too little is preferable to too much.” It says this because if you’ve ever seen a heavily-coated dog after running in the briars for an hour, you just have to wonder how long it’s going to take to get all those pesky little briars out! The Brittany still functions in the field, and—while an individual may never get the opportunity of a field experience—if he was turned loose in a field, could he function without injury and in an athletic fashion? That is a judge’s responsibility to determine when judging this wonderful, energetic, intelligent, and athletic breed with “the soft expression of a bird dog.” I’m so glad that as I look at the Top 20 Brittanys, I can honestly say that judge’s educa- tion has made a difference. Brittanys are now being groomed and judged to our standard, and that’s a huge change from when I started showing dogs 40 years ago. Brittanys winning Breed then were dripping in coat like most of the other Sporting dogs, but today’s competi- tors have realized that they must groom to our standard in order to win. I congratulate all the handlers, breeders, and owners for helping to keep our breed “forever a dual dog!” Thank you, judges, for listening to our presentations and for trying your best to help pro- tect that which we cherish in our breed—the DUAL!
Of the three differences stated above, movement gives judges the most trouble. First, a Brittany should never be judged standing. Judge’s mouths drop open when I say this or they disagree right away. I had a judge recently take up 15 minutes of a hands-on class telling me what he liked about each dog standing. I finally looked at him and said, “OK, now let’s have them move.” When the dogs began to move, his jaw dropped, and he looked at me and said, “I see what you mean. The dogs I liked standing fell apart when they moved.” Now this isn’t always the case, some dogs that look good standing, look good mov- ing too—but that is the point. Many dogs’ toplines change the moment they start to move. Some dogs have a short upper arm that causes them to “flip” their front, and others lose their “balance” when they move; balance being the overall balance of the dog’s conformation. I tell judges about what I call the “3Ms”—Movement, Moderate, and Medi- um. Add balance to these three things and you have a true Brittany type. Everything about the Brittany standard is written so that the dog can perform in the field. The American Brittany Club’s mission state- ment includes the phrase: “To keep the
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BRITTANYS & THE PET PEEVES OF A JEC
by DIANA KUBITZ
I am the Judge’s Education Chair for the American Brittany Club, a position I have held for several years now. My qualifications came from work both in the show ring and the field, having handled dogs to their titles in both. I believe that the Brittany is and always should be a dual dog. As the JEC, I often receive an onslaught of Monday morning notices after a long dog show weekend—the bing of a text, the beep of an email, the ringing of the phone. My biggest pet peeve is everyone thinking I can fix everything for them. I am often heard saying, “I just teach judge’s education, I can’t make them judge the way I’d like.” In the interest of education, I’d like to clear up a few of the finer points on judging this dual dog. BITE This is what our standard says about the bite, “Bite—A true scissors bite. Overshot or undershot jaw to be heav- ily penalized.” It doesn’t say full denti- tion, count teeth or the teeth should be a specific size. AKC has a really nice sheet that tells you how and what to exam in reference to bite. It’s called “Conducting Oral Exams.” This is what the first part says, “The proficient judge alters their examination technique from breed to breed based on the pri- orities as defined by the standard. It should never be identical from breed to breed to breed. To do so requires inter- pretation of the written word as to what the standard is attempting to convey to you as the judge. The manner in which a breed’s approved standard is writ- ten will define what would constitute conducting a breed specific exami- nation. Close inspection of a breed’s approved standard will determine the appropriate oral exam to conduct when judging that breed, which is an essential component of the breed spe- cific exam. Oral exams can be gen- erally divided into four categories which individually or in combination
will constitute the proper oral exam for a breed: 1. Bite—checking the front 2. Teeth—checking the fronts and sides 3. Mouth—involves opening the mouth to count teeth or check pigment. Always used in combina- tion with a “bite” or “teeth” exam depending on the breed 4. Thumb exam—used for smaller, short muzzled breeds that call for an undershot jaw.” More on the bite exam: it is proper when the standard only refers to the alignment of the bite; scissors, level and undershot or overshot, as a preference, fault or DQ. This requires the exhibitor or judge separating the front of the lips to display the meshing of the incisors and canines. Judges that is all you need
to know about judging a Brittany’s bite. Then I don’t get some of those Monday calls. I have to tell you that this is one of the biggest complaints I hear. MOVEMENT “Slow down, don’t go so fast, you aren’t off to the races!” Okay, exhibi- tors, sometimes the judge is right! With that being said, I’ve taught conforma- tion classes for years and one of the things I tell everyone, no matter what the breed, is that you need to move the dog at its best speed. A Brittany is a field dog as well as a show dog and one of the most versatile breeds. In the field, it is required to run all day hunting, 30 minutes or 60 minutes in a field trial and about 20 minutes in a hunt test. The standard says, “When at a trot the Brittany’s hind foot should
“A BRITTANY IS A FIELD DOG AS WELL AS A SHOW DOG AND ONE OF THE MOST VERSATILE BREEDS.”
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step into or beyond the print left by the front foot. Clean movement, com- ing and going, is very important, but most important is side gait, which is smooth, efficient and ground covering.” The Brittany is an athlete and shouldn’t take little bitty steps, it should gait free- ly. While most handlers will try to do as a judge has asked, sometimes it’s just impossible. Those dogs that are well conditioned will move out! Exhibitors: start out walking a couple of steps and then bring the dog into a trot. As you approach the judge, slow down so that you can bring the dog to a natural free standing position and if possible try to show the judge both sides of your dog . COLOR That leads into my next item, the piebald pattern. One spot in the wrong place can throw off the eye. Judges please try to view both sides of the dog. Sometimes the view from the oppo- site side give you a truer picture of the dog. The same applies to a dog that you think may be a little long in the body. It could be the markings and not the dog itself. There is sometimes confusion about the Tri-Color Britt. The standard says, “Tricolors are allowed but not pre- ferred. 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 markings shall be severely penalized.” I emphasize “orange” because we are beginning to see both orange and liver freckles on the lower legs. We are seeing some really nice Tri’s these days. Our standard is specific if there are two equal dogs in all ways and one is Tri and the other is not, the Tri is a sec- ond-place dog. I get lots of arguments from breeders and exhibitors on this. I didn’t write the standard, I just teach
17 ½ inches at the withers. I get lots of teary phone calls about puppy being measured out by newbies. Then it’s my job to explain and refer them to the standard. We only have two disquali- fications: black in the nose or coat or under 17 ½ or over 20 ½ inches in height. JUDGE’S EDUCATION Unless judge’s education is held in conjunction with a judge’s institute, the American Brittany Club does not charge for judge’s education. We realize that judges spend lots of money passing AKC’s qualifications to judge and we are just thankful that they want to judge our wonderful breed. Visit the AKC or ABC website for additional information on coming to a Brittany seminar. We have wonderful programs like the Michigan Sporting Dog Association in June in Michigan and Monroe, Michigan is the site of our Summer Specialty this year where we will be having judge’s education, work- shop and a field demo! We will have mentors at all 4 shows, we have the MSDA Brittany judging on Friday, July 7th and then the concur- rent Western Michigan Brittany Club specialty. The ABC Summer Specialty is on Saturday, July 8th and WMBC has a second specialty on Sunday, July 9th with the Ann Arbor Kennel Club. We also offer judge’s ed every year at our national specialty in Ft. Smith, AR in November. Join us and learn all about our dual dog!
what it says and since I’m also on the standards committee I say this, when you breed two dogs that you know pro- duce Tri together, you have a choice. If you choose to do the mating and keep a Tri, you know that you are fighting an uphill battle. We have some really nice Tri champions out there today, so it can be done. When Tri’s were first allowed in our standard we had a huge problem with mismarked Tri’s. Dorothy MacDon- ald wrote an article for the AKC Gazette and the American Brittany Magazine , talking about the Tri. She said that if the dog is mismarked you write in your book mismarked Tri and excuse it from the ring. Most judges put it in last place hoping to preserve the points. MEASURING UP From the standard, “17 ½ to 20 ½ inches, measured from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders. Any Brittany measuring under 17 ½ inches or over 20 ½ inches shall be disqualified from dog show competition.” Please don’t walk up and measure on your leg! If you changed your shoes, you changed your measurement. We have wickets for measuring. In our JE seminars and workshops we have you measure a dog so we know you can. Your objective is to be measuring a dog in, not out. Questions come up all the time about six-month-old puppies. Some breeds give some leeway there, we don’t. If you are exhibiting a puppy at six months, they must be at least
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A BREED SURVEY: BRITTANYS
ANNE KATONA I live in the land of wild horses—Reno, Nevada. I like to read, snow shoe, hike and play Bunco. I even still enjoy a road trip. I also enjoy having lunch with friends and visiting with our daughter and family, including one 15-year-old granddaughter! I purchased my first show Kerry Blue Terrier in 1973 (she was also my foundation bitch); the Kerry Blue will ALWAYS be my heart dog. I loved show- ing my own dogs (wish the NOHS had been available then!) from 1974 until 1988. I did use a handler at times, but usually I was a breeder/owner/handler. My judging career started in October 1985 with one breed—Kerry Blue Terrier. LINDA MORE
left by the front foot which, in my opinion, makes the foot timing for this breed very important. I hope to have a large enough ring for the breed to have a straightaway; a small circle never works for this breed. LM: I like to see the dogs go around the entire ring, some- times in groups and in breeds where side gait assumes more importance, one at a time. Dogs may move dif- ferently when they are following another, or leading a group, than they do on their own. AY: My procedure in judging movement is the same as in any other dog I judge—down and back and around. My final decision is usually based on around again. They must be balanced and moderate, but side movement is paramount with proper reach and drive. 3. Do you prefer to evaluate proportions while the dog is free stacked or handler with hands on? AK: With the exception of a few breeds, I want to see the breed free stacked at least one time. This tells me how the breeder made him! On the down and back, please do not turn the dog to the side in front of me; bring him straight into me and stop far enough away I can see the position of the front feet when they stop. LM: I look at proportion in both situations to make sure what I see in each instance is what is really there. Some exhibitors don’t stack their dogs well, and some even harm the dog’s appearance in trying to set them up. And of course some exhibitors are very good at stacking and minimizing problem areas. I think it’s important to see how a dog balances itself when allowed to stand freely. I really don’t like to see handlers free showing their dogs by ordering them to “step step step” until the poor dog is all stretched out like a show horse! AY: I think it is always a good idea to have the handler free stack this breed. That being said, you should be able to determine proportion either stacked or just standing there. 4. What are your feelings about grooming the Brittany breed? AK: Tidying up is no problem, but should I see scissor marks on the topcoat, I will say something to the handler— owner or professional! If the topcoat is groomed, it should be with a stripping knife, in my opinion. LM: The Brittany coat should be a basic, functional wash and wear coat with “slipping through the briars” texture. The standard is quite clear about excessive coat. Now and then I see dogs in the show ring that have evidently been cut down for the field; the Brittany remains a dual breed and I believe that should be respected. Hair grows back, while structure doesn’t change.
I live in Cary, North Carolina. As for my life outside of dogs—is there one outside of dogs? I do scent detection work with my dog, and I also read, hike and enjoy friends’ company. I first stepped into the ring at age 12. I’ve been judging since 1991.
I am lucky enough to live summer in the beautiful Chagrin Valley (east side of Cleve- land) on 40 acres on property owned by our daughter and her husband. They now raise our beloved English Setters and Per- cheron draft horses. In the winter we travel to Key Largo to a tiny home by the sea. My hobbies are gardening and painting—in
both places. I have been in dogs for over 50 years, having shown, bred and now judge. I followed my parents who were both involved in the sport as well. 1. What are the first three visuals that represent Brit- tany type to you? AK: Leggy, square and athlete. LM: Square, up on leg, athletic looking dog. AY: Size, leggy and sound. 2. What is your ring procedure for judging side gate and why? AK: Side gait should be smooth, efficient and ground cover- ing, with the hind foot stepping into or beyond the print
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WITH ANNE KATONA, LINDA MORE & ANN YUHASZ
AY: Most handlers understand that the grooming should be minimal and I rarely see a barbered coat. Tidy and clean is all I need. 5. Are there difficulties you see or experience judging/ exhibiting dual dogs? AK: The only exception to a dual dog—he/she should be in excellent condition, good muscle tone (definitely not overweight), good (thick) foot pads (not flat-footed) and have a great attitude and plenty of energy! LM: I mentioned the coat, but I don’t see that as a difficulty. What can happen with active field dogs (and this is not the only breed affected, as I see it Vizslas and GSP as well) is that the development of muscle in the shoulders from strenuous activity can push the elbows out and cause the dog to move wide in front. In the show ring, I consider that but at the same time, have to judge each entry as a whole and relative to the other dogs present. AY: The Brittany (as all Sporting dogs) should exhibit good condition with plenty of hard second thigh. I imagine most Brittany exercise themselves, as they are a fairly active dog. 6. While you cannot judge the performance ability of a dog in the show ring, what qualities can you evaluate that would contribute to a dog’s ability to perform the function for which it is bred? AK: Is this dog in good condition (athletic) with correct side gait, correct size, good attitude and energy? LM: Being athletic with balanced structure and ease of movement would assist the dog in the field. Good condi- tion—muscle tone—should be present. And the dog’s temperament should appear stable; if it spooks because a chair falls on the floor, how will it feel about a gunshot? AY: The Brittany is a dog that has survived the change in our show dogs and is pretty much what they have always looked like—a functional dual purpose hunting dog. There should be absolutely no difference in a dog work- ing in the field or being shown in the ring. Kudos to the Brittany folk for keeping the work ethic in the breed. 7. Do have a color preference? Does that factor in your judging/breeding? AK: No, no and no! LM: I have no color preference. AY: Brittany color is carefully addressed in the standard. There are many things that are not preferred in any standard and one takes those into account when looking at the whole dog 8. Who is mostly responsible for ensuring Brittanys remain true to the standard for which they were bred—judges, breeders, owners, handlers? AK: I would say all four have a hand in the results. However, I do believe the breeder is the major player in responsi- bility. Of the four mentioned, the breeder is the one that makes the decision as to which bitch and which dog to breed. What are they trying to accomplish when decid- ing which to use? Are they remembering that breed type,
size, color and outline must be part of that decision? Many breeds I judge have gone through what I refer to as the “Top Dog Syndrome”—breeding to the top-winning dog regardless of the bitch being used, without asking: will he help this breed and/or this bitch, or not? Judges can only judge what the breeder/owner/handler brings into the ring (but if there is breed type out there and the judge misses it to use flash—shame on them!) A few owner/handlers are so new to the sport they do not understand type, so can we blame them for wanting to show the dog for which they paid good money to some breeder? LM: Breeders first and foremost. Judges can only choose from what appears in the ring, but at that point, it is the judge’s job to try to choose the one(s) that conform best to the standard in that entry. AY: The question about who is responsible for ensuring the Brittany stays the course is, I imagine, all of us—the breeders who look for “Bird Sense”, the handlers and the owners who respect that about the breed and the judges, who never forget what stands in front of them should be suitable to do the job. 9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? AK: One of my favorite judging assignments was judging the American Brittany Club’s National Specialty in 2015. It was a beautiful venue and there was great sportsman- ship—it was a true pleasure! LM: Some years ago I went to the World Show in Amsterdam, and as a board member of DJAA attended a handful of international seminars. In the Brittany seminar, we were informed by an English judge that we Americans do not have the right type of Brittany, since in the breed’s native France, the dogs are quite different. Why is this so? We were also told that our Britts come down from dogs imported before World War II. In Europe the breed was almost wiped out during that war, so it recreated using other breeds and thus now looks different. Now just ask yourself, who do you think has the original Brittany? AY: The Brittany is a delightful little dog with tons of person- ality and great fun to have in your ring. 10. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? AK: I was judging a Toy breed in the Midwest and it was the end of the day of 175 dogs. This was the last breed before judging a couple of groups. I was on the last dog’s down and back, the handler was a petite older lady with big, blonde hair. I said to her, “Please circle around to the end of the line.” She looked up at me with a very strange expression and said, “All the way around?” Why it hit me so funny I have no idea, but I looked at her and smiled and said, “No Madam, for you only just circle half way, what I will do with you there I have no idea but we will figure it out.” She looked at me with a very big smile and answered, “That was a stupid question wasn’t it?” We both laughed and off she went around the ring to the end of the line.
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A survey on the breed: THE BRITTANY
HAL N. ENGEL, DVM
movies, and some travel. I got my first dog at 12 years of age. It was a pet store purchased Cocker Spaniel. This dog had everything wrong with the breed: overshot bite, weak blad- der sphincter, aggressive temperament at feeding time, fine cottony coat that easily matted, etc. Most likely because of this dog, I went into the field of Veterinary Medicine. My first show quality dog was a Brittany that I obtained in 1980. As a family, we immediately started showing in conforma- tion and this was out first champion and foundation bitch. We were in the breed 10 years before I realized there was an event called “field trials” and I was hooked. I trained my first Field Champion to his title in 1991. He was my first Dual Champion. I became a field trial judge for pointing breeds in 1995 and finally became approved for Conformation in 1999.
I live half of the year in Central Oregon (summers) and the other half (winters) in Arizona, in a small west- ern town north of Scottsdale. “Outside of dogs” I was a Professor and taught Vet- erinary Medicine. I retired 13 years ago after a 35-year career. Now I enjoy my free time riding horses, going to
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JF: The DUAL Dog. KK: Functional, good nose and short-backed and willing worker. BGS: Compact, agile and honest.
I currently live in Bixby, OK, which is basically now just a sub- urb of Tulsa, although I spent most of my adult life in Fort Worth, TX, with short stints in Atlanta, GA and Joplin, MO. I work remotely from home as a software engineer for Change Healthcare of Fort Worth, TX, Asheville, NC and Nashville, TN. I am involved in Pharmacy com- puter network products and ser-
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? HNE: The Brittany must be a square dog within the
height standard for the breed. There is no gender difference for the height standard. They also must have correct side gait. For the field, they must be bold, intelligent and be an independent hunter, but also must respond to your commands.
vices used in Retail Pharmacies. I have been involved with dogs since my days hunting in Jr and Sr. High School. I have been breeding, exhibiting and doing agility with Cock- ers and Papillons for the last 20 years. I have been judging since 2009. KEKE KAHN
“this is A nAturAl breed And should be Judged thAt WAy.
JF: My “must have” requirements all go back to my bird hunt- ing experience. A Brittany MUST be rugged, compact, balanced, moderate, agile, tireless, happy, alert, energet- ic, have good feet and sound, efficient movement. KK: This is a natural breed and should be judged that way. Not too much coat so that they do not get caught in the briars. They must be balanced and conform to the written standard. BGS: Balance, athleticism and moderation. not too Much coAt so thAt they do not get cAught in the briArs. THEY MU ST BE BALANCED And conForM to the Written stAndArd.”
I live in Sarasota, Florida. I am a housewife and help with dogs. I have been in the dog world since the 70s and I started judging Sport- ing dogs in the 80s. I have had many, many assignments and tons of this breed during the years— also I’ve judged a lot of Specialties.
DR. BOB G. SMITH
I reside in Metairie, LA, a sub- urb of New Orleans, LA. A retired university professor, I am an Edu- cational Consultant for a compa- ny based in Phoenix, AZ. I have been in dogs for over 20 years and approximately 7 years judging.
1. Describe the breed in three words. HNE: The Brittany is an intelligent, compact, energetic bird dog.
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“type is everything thAt MAKes A brittAny A brittAny: MODERATE SIZE, MOVEMENT AND PROPER COAT.”
3. What do you like best about the Brittany? HNE: Their eagerness to please, no matter what the event. JF: The Brittany is the absolute best dog for upland game bird hunting. Taking the breed as a whole, there is no other breed that comes close. I am sure there are argu- ments from others, many for specific traits, but if I am going Quail or Pheasant hunting, give me a Brittany any day. My hunting companion was a GSP, but day in and day out the Brittanys were the stars of the day. BGS: A lot of dog in a small package! I love watching a Brit- tany work in the field. I love that “what one sees is what one gets”. 4. What defines “type” for you? HNE: I have no preference for “type” as long as the dog meets the standard. I don’t care if the dog is a 20 ½ -inch bitch or a 17 ½ -inch male, liver and white, orange and white, roan or tri-color. A solid color head or a full blan- ket doesn’t affect my judgment. JF: To me, type for a Brittany is a square, compact, orange and white or liver and white dog that is moderate and balanced in all parts AND moves with outstanding side gait—moving, looking, and acting like he or she could hunt birds in the field all day long. BGS: Type is everything that makes a Brittany a Brittany: moderate size, movement and proper coat. 5. Does it impress you that this breed has more dual champions than any other breed? Why do you sup- pose that is? HNE: At last count, there are 635 Dual Champion Brittanys in the history of the breed. This really doesn’t surprise me since the primary stated purpose of the American Brittany Club is to promote “training and showing
Brittanys in the field and in the show ring; to discourage the breed from becoming split into groups of field dogs and bench dogs and to strive to keep it forever a dual dog.” JF: Absolutely, this is what defines the breed to me. BGS: The American Brittany Club fully supports and pro- vides opportunities for breeders/owners/handlers to par- ticipate in both types of competitions, often on a show site or nearby location. The history of most Sporting dogs includes information of their duality. The importance of Dual championships in most breeds preserves the standard of the breed. It is promoted especially in the Brittany by the ABC. 6. If you had to name one thing that you think is most important when judging a Brittany, what would that be? HNE: If you were to evaluate the most important aspect of this breed it would probably be side gait. JF: Sound, efficient movement. BGS: Trying not to belabor the point: Movement and movement. 7. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? HNE: My personal experience in watching the breed recently in the show ring is the absence of reach on the side gait. Too many of the dogs have what I call “flying fronts”. Rather than reaching with the front, these dogs are bringing the front limbs forward rather stiff. JF: I have not seen any particular exaggerations that are memorable when considering the majority. It is my view that the Brittany breeder’s belief in the mantra of “The DUAL Dog” has been a guiding light that has kept
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exaggerations to a minimum. When you must have a dog that can be expected to work in the field all day, “Form Follows Function” and any traits that are contrary to that principle quickly are eliminated. BGS: 1) Again, movement. Most handlers move a Brittany too fast. The Brittany would never run that fast in a field. 2) Feathering is becoming too exaggerated! 8. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? HNE: When I first started in Brittanys, many had too long of coats on their bodies. Feathering on the rear was also a bit much. Grooming for show required blanketing the coats to make it lie flat and trimming a lot of the feathers. I soon started to select for dogs with shorter coats that naturally laid flat on the body and had less feathering on the legs and I am seeing this for the most part in the ring today. I really don’t like some of the grooming on the fronts that is being performed today. JF: I don’t see this. The Brittany today is very much like the Brittanys that we hunted with in my youth. Again I think having a very specific purpose that has been maintained through the years has kept the breed consistent. KK: I feel, through the years, they have become a bigger boned breed but that can be a problem for them due to their size measurements. However, overall, this is a very satisfactory breed to judge and breed. BGS: Since I am still a “newbie” judge compared to many others, I think that Brittanys are shown in better condi- tion now than when I started a few years ago. 9. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? HNE: Because the Brittany is a square dog, at a fast trot, the rear leg reaches to or beyond the front. This requires the dog to place the rear leg to the inside or outside of the corresponding front. The rear on one side will be to the outside and the opposite rear will be on the inside of the corresponding front. They also do not converge so much that the front and rear limbs form a “V” when viewing from the front or rear. JF: Too many judges, especially from those outside of a back- ground in Sporting Dogs get hung-up on details and place too much emphasis on individual breed characteristics that are not necessarily the most important for a hunting dog. Tending to judge on what they see standing instead
of what they see moving. If you find a typey dog, you have found a Brittany. BGS: It’s not just new judges; it’s also breeders, owners, and handlers who equate speed as being correct movement! 10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? HNE: Because the color pattern of most specimens is piebald (some will have blankets, especially liver and whites),
“AgAin i thinK hAving A very SPECIFIC PURPOSE thAt hAs been MAintAined through the yeArs HAS KEPT THE BREED CONSISTENT.”
don’t let the spots confuse your judgment of the top line, tail set or length of body. Try to view in your mind this breed without any color patterns. When judging tri-color Brittanys, these are liver and white specimens with orange markings. Make sure the orange markings are where they are stated in the standard. A mismarked tri-color Brittany should not be rewarded. JF: Never forget the function of the dog—it must have sound, efficient movement. Judge as if you are going to take your winner out bird hunting after you make your selection. As
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with most breeds, my last thought before I make a selec- tion is, ‘Which of these would I want to take home?’ BGS: Most Brittany breeders/owners/handlers understand the utility of the breed. It is shown at dog shows, but it is not primarily a “show” dog! 11. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? HNE: This was at a field trial, rather than at a show. A han- dler was arriving at the field trial ground late at night in the dark, as we usually do. The site was a location out in the middle of the Mohave Desert, but there were many undeveloped crossroads. The terrain was rolling enough that the handler could not see any lights from camp. She was lost. Finally, she called 911 for help. The operator was kind and was trying to locate her by asking if there were any landmarks she could identify. After a pause, the handler related that she was directly under the “Big Dipper”. JF: Quite a number of years ago I was judging Cocker Span- iels in Atlanta at the Atlanta Expo Center with stormy weather and tornados close by. The power was knocked out and everything went dark. The show was eventu- ally cancelled for the day. BUT low and behold, there was Michelle Billings, finishing up her current breed by flashlight. While the situation was a bit scary, that sight of someone judging by flashlight was seriously funny… at least to me. KK: A funny thing happened just this past weekend in my ring. I was measuring a Shetland Sheepdog and while we waited forever to get wicket I did the correct procedure and measured the AKC calibrated wicket but low and behold on leg was ½ inch short in its socket! The Rep was there and said, “No, it must be right” and so I said, “Trust me, it is not”—and it wasn’t. A first for us all, so I adjusted it correctly without the socket and the dog measured in! BGS: I was stewarding for one of the grande dames of our sport during group judging. While arranging the ribbons for her placements, I looked up and noticed that her panty hose had begun to sag. By the time she had made her cut, her hose top had begun to show itself out from under the hem of her skirt. I quickly asked a female judge sitting at ringside if she would approach the judge and explain what was happening. The judge tugged at the drooping hose, finished her placements, retired to the ladies room, made appropriate adjustments, and returned to the ring to finish her other assignments. Funny!
“As With Most breeds, My lAst thought
beFore i MAKe A selection is, ‘WHICH OF THESE
WOULD I WANT TO TAKE HOME?’”
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BRITTANY JUDGING SIMPLIFIED
by DIANA KUBITZ
I am the judge’s education coordina- tor for the American Brittany Club. One of the comments I hear rou- tinely is that the Brittany is a hard breed to judge. When I ask why they think it’s hard, usually they start by listing the di ff erence between Brittanys and the other sporting breeds. • Scissors bite— Th e Brittany is required to have a scissors bite, while most sporting breeds call for an even or scissors bite. • Height Standard— Th e Brittany height standard is 17 ½ inches to 20 ½ inches for both males and females. Most of the other sporting breeds have one height standard for males and one for females. We generally explain that you can have a 17 ½ inch male and a 20 ½ inch female and have it be perfectly correct. Anything below 17 ½ or over 20 ½ is a DQ. ( Th e only other DQ is black in the nose or coat.) • Movement— Th e Brittany calls for hav- ing an athletic gait that is ground cover- ing without clumsiness, but we can also have an overreach. Th e standard says that the back foot should step into or beyond the print left by the front foot. Most of the other sporting breeds do not overreach. (Note: Not all Britts will over reach, but note that they should at least step into the print left by the front foot. Th e “beyond” is the overreach.) Of the three di ff erences stated above, movement give judges the most trouble. First, a Brittany should never be judged standing. Judge’s mouths drop open when I say this or they disagree right away. I had
a judge recently take up 15 minutes of a hands-on class telling me what he liked about each dog standing. I finally looked at him and said, “OK, now let’s have them move”. When the dogs began to move, his jaw dropped and he looked at me and said, “I see what you mean. Th e dogs I liked standing fell apart when they moved.” Now this isn’t always the case, some dogs that look good standing, look good mov- ing too—but that is the point. Many dogs’ toplines change the moment they start to move, some dogs have a short upper arm that causes them to “flip” their front and
others lose their “balance” when they move. Balance being the overall balance of the dog’s conformation. I tell judges about what I call the “3Ms”—Movement, Moderate and Medi- um. Add balance to those three things and you have a true Brittany type. Everything about the Brittany standard is written so that the dog can perform in the field. Th e American Brittany Club’s mission state- ment includes the phrase: “To keep the Brittany forever a dual dog.” We have more dual champions than all the other sporting breeds combined—at last count in 2013
184 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2015
should protect it in all types of cover. Our standard points out that “too little is preferable to too much.” It says that because if you’ve ever seen a heavily coated dog after running in the briars for an hour, you just have to wonder how long it’s going to take you to get all those pesky little briars out. Th e Brittany still functions in the field and while an indi- vidual may never get the opportunity of a field experience, if he was turned loose in a field, could he function without inju- ry and in an athletic fashion? Th at is a judge’s responsibility to determine when judging this wonderful, energetic, intel- ligent and athletic breed, with “the soft expression of a bird dog.” I’m so glad that as I look at the top 20 Brittanys in 2015 that I can honestly say judge’s education has made a di ff erence. Brittanys are now being groomed and judged to our standard and that’s a huge change from when I started showing dogs 40 years ago. Brittanys winning breed were dripping in coat like most of the other sporting dogs, but today’s competi- tors have realized that they must groom to our standard in order to win. I congratu- late all the handlers, breeders and owners for helping keep our breed “forever a dual dog!” Th ank you judges for listening to our presentations and trying our best to help protect that which we cherish in our breed—the DUAL!
I believe it was 608 and now in 2015 it is 627! We are still going strong in the dual direction! All through our standard you see the words moderate and medium, describing various aspects of the breed’s conforma- tion. As I stated above if you add move- ment and balance, you have the essence of a Brittany. When judges ask us what percentage the head makes up in our standard, we smile and say we took that out of our standard because this is NOT a head breed. While we like them to have beau- tiful heads, it’s more important that they have a prominent brow that protects their eyes in cover, that their nostril are full and open so they can smell birds and that they have a good bite so they can pick up the birds for a retrieve. Th e most impor- tant thing is their movement, because if they do not move correctly, they will wear out quickly in heavy brush. When they have that short upper arm, they can actually injure their front legs moving through the brush. While coming and going is important, most important is the side movement, because that is where
you can see our breeds beautiful ground covering stride. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the other problem that judges sometimes have with our breed. Square is in the eye of the beholder. A dog can look long in body, but when you have a chance to measure from the top of the withers to the ground and then measure from the forechest to the rear of the dog, it should be the same length. Measuring from the top of the withers to the elbow should equal the measurement from the elbow to the ground. Th e length of a Brittany is in the chest which allows it to have adequate room for an athlete’s heart and lungs. If you think a dog is long, be sure to look at both sides of the dog, because many times they have markings that further that illu- sion of length. A dog that is overly square will crab or side wind, because they can’t get out of their own way. I encourage stu- dents of the breed to make the opportunity to try this measuring experiment as it will help you develop your “eye” for the correct look for a square Brittany. Th at brings me to the final point I’d like to make... coat. Th e Brittany’s coat
“THE BRITTANY STILL FUNCTIONS IN THE FIELD
AND WHILE AN INDIVIDUAL MAY NEVER GET THE OPPORTUNITY OF A FIELD EXPERIENCE, IF HE WAS TURNED LOOSE IN A FIELD, COULD HE FUNCTION WITHOUT INJURY AND IN AN ATHLETIC FASHION?”
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BRITTANY HEADS by DOROTHY MACDONALD
Epitomizing this moderation is the desired rounded, medium length skull that is slightly wedge shaped and never too broad or too racy and the medium-length muzzle (two thirds the length of the skull) that tapers gradually, both horizontally and vertically. Th e stop is well defined, but never indented and the occiput is only apparent to the touch. Th e Brittany ear di ff ers from that of most other bird dogs. It is set high, above the level of the eye and is short and triangular, lying flat and close to the head. Anytime that function is a factor, the Brittany standard becomes more abso- lute; Brittany eyes must be well set in the head and well protected by a heavy, expressive eyebrow with close-fitting eye- lids that prevent seeds or dirt from get- ting into them. Lighter colored eyes are not to be faulted as long as they are soft and not “bird of prey” eyes*. Remem- ber that Brittany eye color changes and darkens for a long time, often up to 4 to 5 years of age.
Equally necessary for work as a bird dog, the Brittany’s nose must have well- opened nostrils (for adequate scenting) and lips that are tight and dry, to prevent feathers from sticking during retrieving. All in all, the standard’s description of the ideal Brittany head is quite simple, yet the head is definitely unique and, when seen is unmistakable. Just a word about color and mark- ings—this is always an issue in parti-col- or breeds. A perfectly marked head adds greatly by creating the look of a perfect head. But a head’s make and shape has nothing to do with the color. Skulls can look overly wide or overly narrow, based on the amount of white. Muzzles can look overly long if there is an orange or liver stripe running along the side when in reality the proportions are correct. It is essential to evaluate a head on its real substance—not the paint job. *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.
Th is column originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of the AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. S ome breeds, where the indi- vidual standard places particu- lar emphasis on the head, are frequently called “head breeds.” However, because every breed should be instantly recognizable by its head alone, every breed could be called a head breed. It is perhaps in the various subgroups, which have common features, that di ff ering head characteristics are most important in help- ing to di ff erentiate between “first cousins” such as the three setters. Th e Brittany head has a very particu- lar conformation and, like the rest of the Brittany standard, was developed primar- ily to ensure total functionality as a bird dog. Moderation is the defining feature of the Brittany head. Actually, the only extremes that a Brittany should exhibit are his eagerness, intensity and athleticism. Structurally and phenotypically, he is the very essence of moderation.
“ALL IN ALL, THE STANDARD’S DESCRIPTION OF THE IDEAL BRITTANY HEAD IS QUITE SIMPLE,
YET THE HEAD IS DEFINITELY UNIQUE AND, WHEN SEEN IS UNMISTAKABLE.”
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