ORIGINS OF THE EPAGNEUL BRETON
The story goes, that back in the
early 19th century the British sporting gentleman would spend some time in Northern France
shooting woodcock. With him he brought his gun dogs, which were principally English
Setters. When it was time to return home, rather than take the dogs back to England, they
would kennel them with the local gamekeepers to be used when they returned the following
As things will happen, some of these managed to escape their confines and there followed illicit affairs with the French spaniels, les fougueux, which means "the high spirited one." The French spaniel was a small black and white dog with a short tail, a dog totally devoted to his master and was used to hunt for the pot.
The local gamekeepers quickly realized the potential of the offspring from these affairs, the resultant progeny being small bob-tailed spaniels whose sole purpose in life was hunting. Through careful breeding, the brittany spaniel was born and in 1907 the first club was formed in France.
In America, the brittany has undergone a separate evolution in respect to both appearance and manner of working because in America it was decided to breed only specific colors (orange/white and liver/white), and to produce dogs that could compete in U.S. style field trials. Thus the two types over the last 70+ years have evolved into different dogs...different styles of covering ground and different in looks. In 1982, the American Brittany club successfully petitioned to have the 'spaniel' dropped from the breed name.. In America they became known as simply the "brittany".
In the late 70's some brittanys (called brittany spaniels at that time) were again imported from Europe for the purpose of returning to dogs with the characteristics of the original brittany which suited it for the foot hunter and for the home. The French brittany is the original brittany, a close working gun-range dog, with a fantastic nose and uncanny bird sense, who is quick and fiercely intelligent and is a combination of sweet disposition and reckless courage. Technically they should be known as the "epagneul breton", as they are known in Europe. However, in America they are commonly referred to as French brittanys and their cousins as "American" brittanys in an effort to distinguish between the two types of dogs, because they are distinctly different from each other.
Although there was some limited breeding between the two types when the French dogs were first imported (around the late 70's), they found they could not consistently produce puppies with epagneul breton qualities and conformation. Therefore, that practice was very quickly stopped (and/or not practiced at all) by French brittany breeders who were intent upon preserving the genetic characteristics they were seeking. It was ascertained that the best path to take would be to maintain separate types and to keep the breedings separate on our own volition. Most american brittany breeders agree with keeping the breedings separate as well because they do not wish to re-introduce the black gene into their lines. Technically, breeding between French and American brittanys was not considered cross-breeding by the AKC because, according to them, there was only one classification for the breed in America - the brittany.
Therefore in 1997 this association was formed to serve as the parent breed club for the Epagneul Breton and as the registration body for the Epagneul Bretons in the U.S. in an effort to regulate breeding practices to establish and maintain a separate registry for epagneul bretons. The charter members of the group were concerned about the total dog - the natural hunting ability in the field, the ability to be a companion in the home and breed conformation as set forth in the European standard. Therefore we set about establishing the confirmation process, T.A.N. events (natural hunting ability tests), establishing conformation shows for the Epagneul Breton and establishing field trial rules derived from the rules utilized in France which are foot trials held for working gun dogs.
In 2002 our petition to separate the breeds was granted by the United Kennel Club and a separate registry was established for the epagneul breton. At the same time, this Association was designated as the National Breed Club for the Epagneul Bretons in this country. The registry that was built by this Association since 1997 was given to the United Kennel Club and all dogs registered prior to this transfer were entered into the U.K.C. registry as the foundation stock of the Epagneul Breton in the USA.
This club does subscribe to the methods utilized by the breed's country of origin. We worked in conjunction with the UKC to establish the methods utilized in this country as closely as is geographically possible in the U.S.A. The official breed standard adopted and utilized by the UKC was written based upon the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) international standard for the Epagneul Breton. The T.A.N. (natural ability test) event utilizes the T.A.N. rules provided to us from France and the field trial rules (foot hunting trials) are also based upon the trial rules utilized in the breed's country of origin.
The French Brittany Gun Dog Association of America, Inc