Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official 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 - 17½ to 20½ inches, measured from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders. Any Brittany measuring under 17½ inches or over 20½ 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 forechest 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. Head: 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 popeye should be 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 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 occiput 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 occiput 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. Flews to be penalized. Bite - A true scissors bite. Overshot or undershot jaw to be heavily penalized. Neck, Topline, 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. Topline - Slight slope from the
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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 are a 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 finger 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 overall 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. Forequarters: 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. Hindquarters: Broad strong and muscular, with powerful thighs and well bent stifles, giving the angulation necessary for powerful drive. Hind Legs - Stifles well bent. The stifle should not be so angulated as to place the hock joint far out behind the dog. A Brittany should not be condemned for straight stifle until the judge has checked the dog in motion from the side. The stifle joint should not turn out making a cowhock. Thighs well feathered but not profusely, halfway to the hock. Hocks, that is, the back pasterns, should be moderately short, pointing neither in nor out, perpendicular when viewed from the side. They should be firm when shaken by the judge. 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.
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Color: 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 markings 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. Disqualifications : Any Brittany measuring under 17½ inches or over 20½ inches. A black nose. Black in the coat.
Approved April 10, 1990 Effective May 31, 1990
Development of the Brittany Breed Standard
BY JESSICA CARLSON
“It is imperative… to study the present standard in the light of the past. And… understand the reasons behind each point in the standard so that a great and unspoiled breed may continue to improve, as it has in the past.” —Maxwell Riddle
I n 1936, Louis Thebaud and Louis de la Fleche founded the first organization of Brittany owners in the United States. It was called the Brittany Spaniel Club of North America, and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as the parent club of the breed; however, it became inactive very shortly thereafter due to the First World War. Its contributions to the breed were the establishment of a bench standard (an almost direct translation of the French), and the acquiring of acceptance for the breed and its standard by the American Kennel Club. The American Brittany Club was organized in May of 1942 when a small group of fanciers got together to form a group “to promote cooperation and friendship among the breeders and owners of Brittany Spaniels and to encourage higher standards in breeding, training and showing of Brittany Spaniels 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.’” This has been the mission statement of the American Brittany Club since its founding. The word “spaniel” was purposely left out of the club’s name, as it was agreed that the Brittany should not be designated a Spaniel by its name when, in fact, it was a pointing (not flushing) breed. Although the Brittany Spaniel Club of North America had been the AKC recognized parent club, their membership was scat- tered and out of contact during WWII when club secretary, Alan Stuyvesant, was a prisoner of war. After communication between the two clubs was finally established in 1944, they agreed to merge into the American Brittany Club, and AKC recognition followed that same year.
The newly recognized American Brittany Club asked for AKC to change the breed name from Brittany Spaniel to Brittany, but AKC denied this request at the time. It was not until 1982 that this request was finally granted by the AKC. This historical background is an important context for some of the questions about our standard that still arise today. One of the American Brittany Club’s first tasks was to re-write and clarify the standard from the unsatisfactory French translation. As AKC kept the breed in the “Spaniel” category, the 1946 standard had to be for a Brittany Spaniel which was not actually a Spaniel, and therefore, dis- tinctions were drawn between it and the flushing breeds. Our stan- dard has had only relatively minor changes since the 1946 version, and echoes of those distinctions remain in our modern standard. One of the common causes for confusion among those new to our breed standard is the general description of the breed as “a leggy dog,” followed closely by this statement under Proportion: “So leggy is he that his height at the shoulders is the same as the length of his body.” The 1946 standard described “a leggy spaniel,” and meant to point out the difference in the Brittany as a square-mea- suring dog in comparison to Spaniel breeds which are generally longer than they are tall. A similar, barely-updated statement can be found under Feet, which in 1946 were described as “proportion- ately smaller than other spaniels.” After AKC agreed to drop Spaniel from our breed’s name, this line was changed to “…proportionately smaller than the spaniels’...” The authors of the 1946 standard were thoroughly famil- iar with what they considered the “tragic split” of other Sport- ing breeds into field and show types. In accordance with the mission of the American Brittany Club, the authors felt a
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DEVELOPMENT OF THE BRITTANY BREED STANDARD
responsibility to write the Brittany stan- dard so that no such split would be pos- sible. They believed the Brittany could compete on equal terms with other Sport- ing breeds at dog shows if judges could be properly trained to appreciate a hard, lean, field-conditioned Brittany without heavy leg feathering or a fine, silky, and long coat. The American Brittany Club and several of its member clubs also adopted a policy of holding bench shows along with field trials so that field dogs could come out of the field and compete, as they were, for bench championships. The American Brittany Club National Specialty Show and National field trials have quite intentionally been held together in the same place, one following the oth- er, since the first AKC recognized events in 1943. It’s therefore no accident that many Brittanys have earned wins in both National Specialty Shows and National Field Trials, dating back as far as 1944. Most remarkably, NFC/DC Pacolet Chey- enne Sam is the only dog to have topped both events, winning Best of Breed in the 1970 National Specialty Show, followed by the National Field Championship title in 1971. To date, ten Dual Champion Brittanys (having the DC title at the time or later) have won Best of Breed at the National Specialty Show, and so many Duals have won and placed in the National All Age and Gun Dog Championships that we don’t even count them. Brittanys still claim more Dual Champions than all other Sporting breeds combined, having recently surpassed a total of 700 Dual Champions! While much of the credit is due to the breeders, owners, trainers, and handlers who make all of those claims possible, some must surely also be due to the American Brittany Club found- ers and authors of our standard who were determined that our breed be “forever a dual dog.” “They believed the Brittany could compete on equal terms with other Sporting breeds at dog shows if judges could be properly trained to appreciate a hard, lean, field- conditioned Brittany...”
NAGDC/DC/AFC/GCH Triumphants Too Hot To Handle, Multiple Sporting Group & Best in Specialty Winner, 2008 ABC National Amateur Gun Dog Champion
DC Every Sailors Dream, 300th Brittany Dual Champion, Finished in 1988
DC/AFC/GCH Havapal’s Rev Me Up Repeat VCD1 BN RE TDX SH OA OAJ OAP OJP NF NFP CGC TKA—One Tracking score away from being the breed’s first Triple Champion.
ABC National Specialty Best of Breed Winner, NFC/DC Pacolet Cheyenne Sam with Field Trainer, Delmar Smith, in 1971
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jessica Carlson started in dog shows at the age of 12, and got her first Brittany in 1988. She is an active member of the American Brittany Club and her regional Brittany Club, serving in many capacities including on the American Brittany Club Judges Education Committee, of which she became Chair in 2022. Jessica has owned two American Brittany Club National Specialty Best of Breed Winners, bred and/or owned seven Dual Champion Brittanys, and handled 39 Brittanys, to date, to the show title of their Dual Championship. Along with her husband, professional Brittany field trial handler Ed Tillson, Jessica competes on the midwestern Brittany field trial circuit most of the year. She is licensed to judge Junior Showmanship and Pointing Breed Field Trials.
DC Country Roads Rough Rider, 2007 ABC National Gun Dog Championship Runner-Up, 2010 ABC National Specialty Best of Breed
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BRITTANY JUDGING SIMPLIFIED
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
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION | 241
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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By Diana Kubitz BRITTANY JUDGING SIMPLIFIED
I am the judge’s education coor- dinator for the American Brit- tany Club. One of the com- ments 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 list- ing the di ff erence between Brittanys and the other sporting breeds. Scissors Bite Th e Brittany is required to have a scis- sors 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 cor- rect. 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 having an ath- letic gait that is ground covering without clumsiness, but we also have an over- reach. 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. Of the three di ff erences stated above, movement give judges the most trou- ble. First, a Brittany should never be
“THE BRITTANY CALLS FOR HAVING AN ATHLETIC GAIT that is ground covering without clumsiness, but we
also have an overreach.”
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“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.”
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 stand- ing. I fi nally 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 stand- ing fell apart when they moved.” Now this isn’t always the case, some dogs that look good standing, look good moving 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 “ fl ip” their front and others lose their “balance” when they move. Balance being the overall balance of the dog’s conformation. I tell judge’s about what I call the “3M’s”—Movement, Moderate and Medium. 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 fi eld. Th e American Brittany Club’s mis- sion statement 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 I believe it was 608. All through our standard you hear 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. AKC reps sometimes get on judges because they think a speci fi c dog may have a better head than the one the judge put up. One judge recently called to tell me of his experience and he said, “I told her the breed does not run on its head, and the dog I put up had much better movement than the one you liked.” He couldn’t see my smile over the phone, but I was beaming! As a JEC I love to hear that judge’s like this one
actually listen to our presentations, but it concerns me that most AKC reps haven’t even attended our classes. 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.
“All through our standard you hear 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.”
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“THE BRITTANY’S COAT SHOULD PROTECT IT IN ALL TYPES OF COVER. Our standard points out that ‘too little is preferable to too much’.”
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 opportu- nity 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 fi nal point I’d like to make, coat. Th e Brittany’s coat should protect it in all types of cover. Our standard points out that “too little is pref-
erable 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 bri- ars out. Th e Brittany still functions in the fi eld and while an individual may never get the opportunity of a fi eld experience, if he was turned loose in a fi eld, could he function without injury and in an athletic fashion? Th at is a judge’s responsibility to determine when judging this wonderful, energetic, intelligent, and athletic breed, with “the soft expression of a bird dog.”
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BIO I was born to a hunter and sportsman. I had my father all to myself for 7 years until my brother was born. I stumbled through corn rows following our Beagle and Springer,
I continued to show, but a new dog came into my life. I got Renegade’s Kan- sas Kid from the same handler that ran Way Kan Feelin Free at my first nation- als. Lyle Johnson made sure I got pick of the litter, because he knew I had the bug and wanted a dual champion. I finished Kid’s show title two weeks after Lyle fin- ished his field title and suddenly I had a DUAL CHAMPION! A new trainer Bob Burchett brought new opportunities for me to hone my skills as a handler. In the fall of 1992 I attended a field trial at Rend Lake in Illinois and qualified Kid for the national amateur championship. I had a dream before I left for the nationals that Kid won. I chalked it up to one of those weird experiences people have and gave it no more thought, until I blew the whistle at the 1992 National Amateur Championship in Booneville, Arkansas. My bracemate got picked up early for an infraction and Kid and I pretty much had the undivided attention of every person there. Kid ran a spectacular race, but we hadn’t had a bird yet. We’d been down 56 minutes, which meant we had 4 minutes to find a bird. I was deep in prayer asking God to let this little dog find a bird, because he had done every- thing I had ever asked of him and he deserved it. I looked up and saw him
slam on point. I couldn’t believe my eyes, God had answered my prayers. I flushed a covey of about 40 birds and kissed my dog right on the lips! The judges told me I had 4 minutes left and I’d better not lose that dog. It seemed like an eter- nity until they were about to announce the winners two days later. First they announced the “ABC Woman Handler of 1992”—Diana Kubitz! (An honor I’ve won twice.) Then they announced the winners, 4th place, 3rd place, 2nd place, 1st place Renegade’s Kansas Kid! I was the first woman in 25 years and the 4th in the history of our breed to win the national amateur championship. To say that Kid changed my life would be a tremendous understatement. He changed our breeding program, our goals and our expectations. After his death he was voted into the American Brittany Club Hall of Fame, NACH DC AFC Renegade’s Kansas Kid. When Jodi Engel knew that she would soon need a replacement as ABC’s JEC, she asked President Ron Zook to give me the job. She said because I’d finished numerous show champions, showed several field champions to their dual and also won field trials and field titles, she thought I had a unique insight that could help judge’s education and the breed. I hope I always live up to Jodi’s expectations.
shared bologna sandwiches and hot chocolate with my Dad and my dogs and loved every minute of it! When I was 15 my father bought his first little, roan Brittany, Ginger. From the first moment I met Ginger, Brittanys were in my heart. My father taught me about bird dogs, but Ginger taught me about Brittanys. I married a hunter and sportsman, Gary Kubitz and we celebrated our 45th anniversary in June 2013. My love of all things Brittany may have started at my father’s side, but Gary and I took it a little further. We have been breed- ing, hunting, field trialing and showing Brittanys for 40 years. I went to my first Battle Creek Ken- nel Club meeting on Tuesday, my first conformation class on Wednesday, my first Western Michigan Brittany Club meeting on Thursday and my first puppy match in South Bend on Saturday with a new puppy bitch. What a week! (I ended up holding many offices in both clubs over the years and I’m still currently the secretary, show chair and field trial secretary of WMBC.) I was yearbook chairman of the American Brittany club for 13 years, 2nd VP for 8, hospital- ity chairman for 20 years and currently serving as JEC, Membership Committee Chairman, Standard’s Committee mem- ber, & 2013 National Show Committee member. I was asked to be the secretary for the national specialty in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1979 and my husband and I made the 22 hour drive to the national specialty and national field trial. We climbed on the dog wagon and watched Way Kan Feelin Free finish her field championship by winning the national championship! I was hooked. I’ve been attending our nationals since 1979 and haven’t missed a year.
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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.”
182 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2017
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
184 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2017
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.”
182 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2015
LIVING WITH THE BRITTANY By Ken Windom President, American Brittany Club A mong the more popular commercials shown on television these days are for services that attempt to match couples with similar personalities,
interests and core beliefs. People want to be other people with whom they are most compatible. Th e same can be said for matching people with particular breeds of dogs. Many people have determined their favorite breed while others are still looking to fi nd the one that is just right for them. Toward that end, I would like to discuss some of the general characteristics of the Brittany in terms of personality and behav- ior. I have owned a total of 9 Brittanys dur- ing the past 21 years, not counting puppies that went to other homes, and have learned quite a bit from them during that time. I would like to share some of what I have learned with you. For starters, Brittanys are very smart. Like all domestic dogs, they are descen- dants of the wolf, an apex predator. Th is requires being able to work together as a team, to adjust tactics as situations change, and to learn from experience. In other words, a wolf has to be able to out-think its prey; it has to be intelligent and cunning if it hopes to survive. Brittanys certainly inherited these traits. Brittanys are quite intelligent and are capable of being taught many things. However, they are also capable of learning on their own and can outsmart other dogs, and their owners, at times. My fi rst Brittany invented his own game. He would bring his favorite toy, a piece of faux sheepskin bedding, and drop it next to me, then stand over it motionless, waiting for me to try to grab it away before he could. I did not teach him this; he came up with it all on his own. Another example is something two of my dogs have done, and other Brittany owners have described
Brittany pointing game.
The Brittany is a great companion hunting dog.
Relaxing in the pool after a run.
to me as having been observed in their dogs. If another, typically larger, Brittany has something they want, or is occupying a spot they wish to occupy (such as curled up next to me on the couch), the smaller dog will run to the door and start bark- ing loudly, as though something is on the other side. When the larger dog comes to investigate the disturbance, the smaller dog then gets the dropped toy or occupies the vacated space, thus accomplishing their goal through cunning instead of force. Th e Brittany is said to have been devel- oped as a companion hunting dog of French peasants living in the province of the same name. Th is is important in understand- ing the breed. Whereas many breeds of
hunting dog were developed in the kennels of the landed aristocracy, owners of Brit- tanys were not of the class that owned land and thus were considered poachers if they took game from their landlord’s property. Characteristics that made the Brittany ideal for this type of hunting included its smaller size, meaning it took less food to maintain and could be gathered up and spirited away more easily if the need arose to make a hasty retreat should the land- lord or warden come around, and its great loyalty to its master, meaning it could live with the owner rather than requiring expensive (and obvious) kennels. One should not let the smaller size and loving personality of the Brittany
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and remains today, as a dog meant for the hunting of upland game. Th e lack of class distinctions in the United States means that all people can enjoy hunting openly and legally, not just landed aris- tocracy. It is no longer necessary to have a “stealth” hunting dog. Farming practic- es have changed, with the result that the areas holding game are di ff erent now than when the breed was fi rst introduced to our shores. Th is has led to dogs being bred that can reach out and cover more territory in search of game. However, despite these changes, the heart and soul of the breed remains that of a true companion, a breed that loves to be around people. I have per- sonally seen many instances of well-known fi eld trial dogs, known for their ability to run far and wide when hunting or in com- petition, become lap dogs when with their owners. It is this loyalty and a ff ection that draws those of us who love our Brittanys to this particular breed.
The Brittany at home.
Ken Windom has been around dogs most of his life. He recalls his mother telling of when he would crawl all over the family’s hound dog before he was old enough
A Brittany needs its energy channeled in non-destructive ways.
Brittany jump with dumbbell.
fool them into thinking that this breed is one that does not require a lot of physical activity. Brittanys are full of energy! Th ey do require exercise or this energy can be channeled in ways that can be destructive. Developed as hunting companions, they are true athletes. Many Brittanys still hunt upland game, and are used in a wide range of environments, from the grouse woods of New England and other northern states, to quail in the piney woods of the South, pheasants in corn fi elds of the Midwest, prairie chickens and sharp-tail grouse of the Plains and upper Midwest, and chu- kar in the high desert mesa country of the West. Most Brittanys are natural retrievers and I have heard of a few owners who take their dogs waterfowl hunting during the warmer part of the season. Many owners want to engage in activi- ties with their Brittanys throughout the year, not just during hunting season, so participate in events such as fi eld trials and hunt tests. Such activities help consume
some of the energy the Brittany is known and gives the dog and owner the opportu- nity to test themselves against other dogs or against a recognized standard of per- formance. Th is energy can be channeled in other directions as well, however, and many Brittany owners have taken up com- petitive activities such as agility and rally. Th ese are also excellent ways for the dog and the owner to develop a strong bond between themselves, as well as providing exercise for both. Th e modern Brittany in America pos- sesses many of the characteristics of its ancestors that originated in France, but there are also di ff erences as selective breed- ing has enhanced traits more suited to a di ff erent environment. It is said that form follows function, and the changing nature of the landscape in which the American Brittany exists today has resulted in re fi ne- ments in the breed that make it more suitable for these di ff erent conditions. Th e Brittany was developed originally,
to walk. Ken grew up hunting in Georgia and has always been drawn to hunting dogs of one kind or another. He got his first Brittany in 1992, think- ing he was just getting a companion hunt- ing dog. Ken enjoyed doing things with him so much that he began participat- ing in other events as well, and with help from a number of other people, eventually earned a Dual Championship on this par- ticular dog. Since then, he has bred a few litters and managed to produce another Dual Championship from one of those, earning all his show points from the Bred by Exhibitor class. Ken enjoys showing and field trialing his dogs as well as hunt- ing. He is a member of the Iowa Brittany Club and has served as the President of the American Brittany Club since 2012.
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