Great balls of fire! Life with a Brittany is never dull. This breed is smart, active, agile and relatively easy to train. For an active home with room for an active companion, you can’t do much better than the Brittany, a moderately sized dog with relatively few health or temperament problems. This dog can hunt, if that’s what you’re into, but for most people, the appeal is that the Brittany is athletic, bright and people-oriented. He's a family companion who loves people.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

If you want a dog that will do anything you want to do, as long as it's active, this is a great dog for you. His wash-and-wear coat can be kept in shape with a weekly brushing to keep shedding under control, and he's typically friendly with other dogs, cats and children.

But make no mistake: This is not a couch-potato puppy: The Brittany is a canine overachiever and needs daily, heart-thumping exercise to keep his high spirits from bounding off. Don't get a Brittany if you're not going to make him a part of your family, or if you're not going to give him mentally and physically challenging activities.

That work doesn't need to be hunting, although the Brittany does remain very popular among people who value a good bird dog. The Brittany does well in all kinds of canine sports, including agility, flyball and obedience and will be an active participant in any human-centered activity as well, from running and hiking to playing fetch with the kids.

When we say you need to keep your Brittany busy, we're not just thinking of the dog but of you. Left to his own devices and without sufficient exercise, the Brittany can become destructive and noisy instead of the happy family dog he was meant to be.

Health Issues Common to Brittanys

The Brittany is a very healthy breed, but like all dogs, can suffer from health problems, some of them genetic.

Around one in four Brittanys suffers from hip dysplasia, a crippling malformation of the hip socket that requires costly surgery to repair and can result in painful arthritis later in life. According to a report published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association in 2002, Brittanys are 1.7 times more likely to be at risk for hip dysplasia compared to all other breeds.

Elbow dysplasia is a similar condition affecting the dog's elbows. Your puppy's breeder must have written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that his parents' hips and elbows were clear of the disease. University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) hip clearance is also acceptable.

Ideally, the breeder will also have OFA clearances on the parents' thyroids, heart health certification by a board certified cardiologist, and eye clearance within the previous year from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). While most Brittanys have good temperaments, a breeder who has American Temperament Test Society (TT) certification on her dogs is to be preferred over one who does not.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$4,000
Elbow Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Brittany Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Start your search for a breeder at the website of the American Brittany Club. Choose one who is a member in good standing and has agreed to abide by its Code of Ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and outlines genetic and temperament testing required by the club. A good breeder will also be active in some form of canine activity such as hunting, field trials, showing or obedience.

Don't hesitate to seek out a rescue dog of this breed. Some Brittanys end up in need of new homes not because there's anything wrong with them, but because their owners didn't really have an active enough lifestyle to make it work. If this is the right breed for you, a good rescue group should be able to help you find an adult dog that will be a perfect fit for your needs.

Puppy or adult, take your Brittany to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Brittanys

Pet insurance for Brittanys costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Brittanys are somewhat more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Brittanys are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Brittany is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.