Although originally bred as hunting dogs, the English springer spaniel and the Brittany, formerly known as the Brittany spaniel, make wonderful companion canines. Although you wouldn't mistake one for the other physically, there are a lot of similarities between the two. If you want a hunting dog, most Brittanies can fill the bill. The English springer spaniel falls into distinct show and field lines, so you would need to acquire a field-bred dog.
When full-grown, Brittanies range from 17.5 to 20.5 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 30 and 40 pounds. A leggy breed, the Brittany's shoulder height is equivalent to his body length. The thick coat can be wavy or flat, with feathering on the legs. Brittany coat colors are either liver and white or orange and white, with tricolored dogs permitted but not encouraged in the breed standard. Tricolor in a Brittany is a liver and white dog with orange markings on the muzzle, cheeks, above the eyes and under the tail. Ticking, flecks of color within the white part of the coat, is common. Brittanies have very short tails, not exceeding 4 inches whether natural or docked.
Fun and active -- those two words best describe the Brittany temperament. Smart, friendly and full of energy, a Brittany makes a fine family dog, as kids are usually just as full of energy as he is. If he doesn't have an outlet for all that energy -- lots of walks, playing and canine sports -- it could get channeled into destructive behavior. He's quite athletic, excelling at many doggie activities. If you like to hunt, the Brittany is a first-rate bird dog.
English Springer Spaniel Appearance
At maturity, a well-proportioned English springer spaniel stands between 19 and 20 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 40 and 50 pounds. Males are larger than females. The outer coat of this double-coated breed is wavy or flat, while the undercoat is much softer and more dense. Springer sport moderate feathering on the ears, legs, chest and abdomen. According to American Kennel Club standards, the tail is docked. Springers might be liver or black with white markings, or mainly white with liver or black markings. Tricolor springs have tan markings above the eyes, inside the ears or on the cheeks. Liver or blue roaning, with white hairs throughout the solid patches, is permissible. Springers often have ticking on the legs and face.
English Springer Spaniel Traits
Springers are also smart and eager to please. Both field and show lines make good house dogs, with the caveat that while either type needs lots of exercise and stimulation, the field dog needs more. Show line springers are heavier than their field counterparts, have longer hair, a squarish muzzle and long ears.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.