French Brittany (Epagneul Breton) History
According to legend in France, and eventually several other European countries more than a century ago, the French Brittany was originally developed by working class hunters who wanted a dog that could be used to poach small game on the estates of upper class aristocracy.
These poachers wanted a small and very close-working dog that could slip in and out of the aristocrats’ estates where gamebirds could be efficiently found, pointed, then netted. The birds would be caught and bagged and the hunters and their Brittanys would head for home.
A small but powerful and efficient hunting dog with natural pointing instinct and a high degree of cooperation was what came from these early breeding objectives. As time went on, European breeders further developed these traits into the dogs we know today as the French Brittany.
These original French Brittanys have been carefully developed for three main qualities.
First and foremost, the true French Brittany must be an exceptional hunter with a high degree of prey drive, natural pointing ability, instinctive retrieving skill, and an inborn tendency to quarter in the field close to the shotgunners, All these traits have been created by hundreds of breeders with thousands of dogs from which to choose in breeding programs that have been in continual existence for decades.
Second, and not any less significant, the French Brittanys in France and other European countries are bred for temperament with lots of emphasis on calm dispositions, good cooperation, and a real willingness to please. Headstrong and overly aggressive dogs are not tolerated no matter what positive qualities they may otherwise have.
French Brittanys are born to be laid-back in the yard and in the home but can quickly switch over to dynamos when hunting gamebirds. . .’angels in the house, demons in the field’ is a common phrase applied to French Brittanys in France–and in this country.
A third major objective among French Brittany breeders in France is conformation. The goal is to produce dogs that have a ‘cobby’ structure. This means a ‘square’ physical profile in which the dog is as long from the front of its chest to the tip of its butt as it is high from it feet to the top of its back.”
This ‘cobby’ quality creates dogs with a short but powerful gait or stride developed for hunting in heavy cover up close to the gunner. A truly cobby Brittany is one in which form and function come together to produce a dog well suited for the on-foot hunter who wants to walk up pheasants, ruffed grouse, woodcock and quail.