Showsight Presents The Brittany

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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