Posts Tagged ‘French Brittany’

American Brittany or French Brittany?

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Rick Affuso’s American Brittany, “Cody."

Rick Affuso’s American Brittany, “Cody.”

Since my previous blog post about the difference between the German wirehaired pointer and the wirehaired pointing griffon, I’ve had conversations about several other breeds that get confused. In particular, the difference between the American Brittany and the French Brittany.

Nothing beats a good dog encyclopedia or reference book, so I went first to my number one, premier source, Craig Koshyk’s Pointing Dogs: The Continentals. He notes that any breed popular in both Europe and North America runs the risk of becoming distinct from each other as their popularity and use cause breeders to follow different paths in their breeding programs. When the Brittany (Epagneul Breton), originally developed in France, generated a strong following here in the 1960s and ‘70s field trial circuit, many American kennels began breeding for big running “all age” Brittanies.*

Koshyk goes on to explain, “These and other factors caused what many feel is a split between American Brittanies and ‘French  Brittanies.’ Everyone recognizes that the two types have a shared ancestry and are the same breed genetically, but some believe that after nearly 80 years of moving in slightly different directions, the two types are irrevocably split.”

So without digging into the historical details, what does this split generally mean to a bird hunter interested in one of these beautiful dogs as a partner for pursuing pheasant, grouse, woodcock or quail?

The name. Rick Affuso, whose two American Brittanys qualified to run the NAVHDA Invitational this year, says, “I have had the American Britts since the late ‘60s. They were originally called the Brittany Spaniel, but in the early ‘80s, the ‘spaniel’ was removed and were referred to as the ‘American Brittany.’”

Appearance. Susanna Love, who breeds Brittanys with her husband, pro trainer Ronnie Smith, explains: “My understanding is that the French Brittanys have the black color gene. You will often see black roan French Brittanys. Even if it is an orange coated French Brittany, you can tell because the nose will have black pigmentation. The American Brittanys only allow liver or orange color, and the nose is always a brownish tone. French Brittanys also tend to be smaller with a more compact body style.”

Hunting style. While any breed can display a variety of hunting styles depending on the particular dog, the consensus on the American vs. French Brittany seems to be that the French Brittany tends to hunt closer and quarter tighter while the American Brittany adapts more readily to a wider range with its longer legs and faster speed.

Temperament. Both the American and French Brittany are considered high energy, sweet-natured dogs. Well-bred Brittanys of both types have notably strong pointing instincts and excellent noses. They’re known for their enthusiasm and, like most great hunting dogs, their ability to con you into allowing them on the couch after a long day in the field.

*The plural of “Brittany” appears equally as “Brittanys” and “Brittanies,” and I couldn’t find an official ruling. Both spellings appear here according to the information sources used.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Dog of the Day: “Annie”

Monday, December 9th, 2013


Craig Heusinkveld, his son Evan and his eight-year-old French Brittany, “Annie,” notched these roosters hunting in North Dakota.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Bob”

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013


Jim Miller says his French Brittany, “Bob,” is now a seasoned pheasant hunting dog.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dogs of the Day: “Eko” and “Eddie”

Monday, April 15th, 2013


Jake Cabak’s French Brittanys, “Eko” (left) and “Eddie,” make up a four-year-old sister-brother bird hunting combination. A Minnesota Pheasants Forever member, Cabak says they are “the best dogs in the world.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dogs of the Day: “Sammie,” “Tess” and “Katie”

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


Gene Gile’s bird dogs enjoyed their South Dakota experience on this pheasant hunt near Kimball: from left, “Sammie,” “Tess” and “Katie.” Gile’s German shorthaired pointers are 10 and 11-years-old, respectively, and his French Brittany has four years under her collar.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Gabby,” French Brittany

Monday, March 4th, 2013


“Gabby,” Jaime Plank’s French Brittany, performed well on this recent preserve outing in Pennsylvania. Jaime and her husband also have another French Brittany named “Bear.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Lap Dogs for Longtails? Small Dogs Will Work for Big, Bad Roosters

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

“It’s not the size of dog in the fight…” the old saying begins, but the concept doesn’t carry much weight with a certain segment of wingshots, to whom bigger dogs are automatically more capable pheasant hunters. “Are you sure that dog will be big enough to carry a rooster?” If I had a dog biscuit for each time someone’s asked me that about my first bird dog, a not-even 25-pound English cocker spaniel, “Sprig” would be set with treats for life.

Surely some other “small” (a relative term if there ever was one) dog owners feel my pain, like the owner of “Gretchen,” the 21-pound female French Brittany who stopped by the Pheasants Forever booth at the recent Game Fair event. “That dog will carry a pheasant?” a fellow attendee asked the master of the two-year-old pointing dog. I bet they get that a lot…

Tell this rooster the Boykin is small! “Trigger” belongs to PF supporter Bruce Warnimont of Germantown, Wis., and is an extremely avid pheasant hunter.

For all its gaudiness, a big ringneck rooster checks in at all of three pounds, with more than 20 inches of its length contained in its tail. In other words, small working breeds will have no problem showing who the field boss is. The following breeds all check in at 35 pounds or less, perfectly sized and suited for the field, home, truck, lap…and in my case, bed.

American Water Spaniel – The “Townhouse Chessie” is something of a one-man dog, which could work out great if you’re a one-dog man.

Beagle – Not normally thought of as a bird dog, but search “beagle pheasant hunting” online and you’ll find enough evidence to the contrary.

Boykin Spaniel – Notoriously good for working in hot weather, which means no problem when the heat of your gun barrel has it raining southern quail or big ol’ roosters.

Cocker Spaniel – The bluegill of bird dogs, the smallest of the American Kennel Club’s sporting breeds is regarded by some as pound for pound the toughest gun dog.

English Cocker Spaniel – Have deservingly acquired the nickname “Pocket Rocket”: “Pocket” for their size, “Rocket” for their drive.

French Brittany – If you ever want to insult a French Brittany owner, just call their dog a “Brittany.” If you ever want a close-working pointing dog, consider the Epagneul Breton.

Jack Russell Terrier – Longtime Pheasants Forever magazine contributor, photographer Mitch Kezar, hunts a Jack Russell on pheasants, with much success. It’s always a good idea to trust the guy behind the lens.

Read more in the “My First Bird Dog” series here.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.