What Is the Difference Between a Brittany & a German Shorthaired Pointer?

The Brittany loves time outside, especially when he's on the hunt.
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Fish around in your pocket for a quarter, because your choice between a Brittany and a German shorthaired pointer may come down to a coin toss. Of course you don't want to leave such an important decision to chance, but when you're looking at the differences between the two dogs, you'll find they have a lot in common. The main difference between the two breeds is how they look.


The Brittany and the German shorthaired have at least one thing in common when it comes to history: Much of their respective histories is unclear. The Brittany, until 1982 called the Brittany spaniel, is named for the French province he originally called home, but most of the historical record about this breed is lost. His resemblance to the Welsh springer spaniel prompts speculation of a genetic connection; the American Kennel Club notes the Brittany may have mated with English pointers around 1900, improving the Brittany's hunting skills. The Brittany came to the United States in 1931 and was approved by the AKC in 1934. The German shorthaired pointer's history is similarly muddy. The AKC notes his progenitor was likely the German bird dog, who was crossed with a variety of German trail dogs and scent hounds. This fellow was bred with English pointers to refine his looks, resulting in an effective hunter with a good temperament. The breed was admitted to the AKC in 1930.

Looking at Differences

It's pretty easy to tell the difference between a Brittany and a German shorthaired pointer with a glance. The Brittany is a smaller dog, standing between 17.5 and 20.5 inches at the shoulder and carrying between 30 and 40 pounds. His coat may be flat or a bit wavy, with a bit of feathering around the legs. Colors include white, liver, orange and black. Male and female Brittanies tend to be the same size, but the German shorthaired male is larger than his female counterpart, standing between 23 and 25 inches tall compared with her 21 to 23 inches. He usually weighs between 55 and 70 pounds, while she runs about 10 pounds lighter. As his name implies, he has a short, flat coat, available in black, white and liver colors. The Brittany is a leggy fellow, giving him a square proportion, compared with the German shorthaired's longer build.

Hunters' Personalities

Hunting is in their genes, so the Brittany and the German shorthaired pointer have many shared personality traits. Both dogs are energetic and have high exercise needs. Fortunately, they're also intelligent and responsive to training, though the Brittany may be a little more challenging to train due to his independent nature. The German shorthaired's size and energy level may make him a bit too enthusiastic with small children when it comes to play, and his innate hunting drive may drive him to chase the family cat. Both are loyal dogs who love to be with their families and make good housemates, provided they receive adequate mental and physical exercise.

Health and Care

The major care requirement for the Brittany and the German shorthaired pointer is exercise -- at least an hour of it each day. The Brittany's coat needs brushed once or twice a week, contrasted with the shorthaired's short coat, which needs to be brushed only occasionally, to remove dead hair. The Brittany's major health concern is chronic hip dysplasia, with epilepsy and lip fold pyoderma -- a disorder in the skin folds -- being minor health concerns. The German shorthaired pointer is vulnerable to lymphedema, or fluid retention, with chronic hip dysplasia and gastric torsion among his minor concerns. With regular veterinary care and a balanced diet, a healthy Brittany has a life expectancy of 12 to 13 years, compared with the shorthaired's 12 to 14 years.