To see the origin of a Brittany, one merely needs look to its home country and the French wall hangings and tapestries of the 17th century. The early likenesses of the breed show them in great hunting poses and sitting at the feet of their masters. Bred from the Braque du Bourbonnais, the breed has an inherently pleasing temperament, keen nose, and ability to move well over land and water. They became such an asset to the hunt that they soon became status symbols for wealthy French royals and other aristocrats. Even those who did not hunt kept a Brittany or two for the sake of keeping stature in well to do circles.
The Brittany was officially referred to as a spaniel for nearly 50 years. However, unlike the Brittany, most spaniels do not point to their quarry. Because of this the spaniel reference in their earlier name was dropped in the early 1980's. For over 300 years the Brittany stayed on the European continent, used to flush lowland game birds and fetch downed waterfowl. The first registered Brit finally emerged in France in the early 1900's. It was not until the 1920's that the breed made its way to America. Its popularity quickly took hold and it was inducted into the American Kennel Club in only 5 years.
For the Brittany enthusiast, there are subtle differences between French and American bred specimens. Though very much the same breed, the different locales in which they reside has allowed subtle but distinctive traits to emerge. As some have come to find, the stature of the American bred Brittany is slightly taller and leaner than its French cousin. The American Brittany also has the inclination to move at a much quicker pace out in the field. Though smaller, the French Brittany does quite well flushing game but also shows excellent aptitude when working in close proximity with guns. Both American and French specimens remain the number one choice for game hunters of land and waterfowl.
Of the nearly 140 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Brittany consistently ranks in the top 30. Their natural instinct to please their owner has made them just as valuable in the show ring as they are out in the field. Since they also compete in agility contests, it would be more than fair to consider them canine tri-athletes. The fact that they are able to successfully take part in all these activities makes them one of the most versatile dog breeds available. On top of this, they are known to be excellent family dogs as well. No matter what walk of life they come from, the breed has one of the largest ranges of admirers in the dog world.