Choosing a new puppy is an exciting adventure but choosing the wrong dog is a mistake that will haunt you for many years. Brittany Spaniels have outperformed almost every other gundog breed regarding their adaptability in the field, but how well do they fit in with families?
Brittany Spaniels are good family dogs for active, gentle families. They are easy dogs to train who do equally well with novice or experienced owners. Correctly brought up, Brittany Spaniels are polite and well-behaved with small children and other pets.
Most gundog breeds like the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Springer Spaniel are known for their gentle good humor and happy-go-lucky ways, making them ideal for most families. Does the less popular Brittany Spaniel live up to his famous hunting buddies’ reputation, or is he best left to the professionals?
What Is A Good Family Dog?
Every family is comprised of individual members with unique personalities who interact to create a distinctive family culture, ethos, and dynamic.
Any dog who becomes a part of the family should be a good match for the individual members of the family and fit seamlessly into the family dynamic. Thus, not every dog fits into every family, and the perfect family dog is not the same for each family.
Although every family will define their ideal family dog differently, one rule remains constant:
A family dog should never be aggressive to any member of the family, human or pet!
Are Brittany Spaniels Aggressive?
Brittany Spaniels are highly regarded for their sweet, gentle temperaments. While both Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels have been known to exhibit unwarranted aggression in poorly bred dogs, the Brittany Spaniel rarely shows any overt aggression to their family, strangers, or other dogs.
The Scientific Proof Of The Brittany Spaniels’ Gentle Nature
A 2008 study investigated the relative aggression displayed by different dog breeds; one of the breeds studied was the Brittany Spaniel. Aggression was classified as any snapping, attempted bites, or actual bites. Aggression was measured in four areas according to the focus of aggression:
- Aggression directed towards the dog’s family or owners
- Aggression directed towards strangers
- Dog-on-dog aggression
- Dog rivalry between household dogs
Brittany Spaniels consistently scored as one of the least aggressive breeds.
Brittany Spaniels were well below average with owner-directed aggression and showed similar scores to notoriously gentle dog breeds, e.g., Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.
With the “stranger-directed” aggression, they were on par with Bernese Mountain Dogs, with only four other dogs breeds showing less aggression towards unfamiliar people.
Dog-on-dog aggression was slightly higher for unknown dogs but still well below average; however, the Brittany Spaniels showed the lowest aggression score for dog rivalry.
Do Brittany Spaniels Have Rage Attacks?
Rage syndrome, also known as idiopathic rage, is a scary prospect for any dog owner to face. This condition is thought to be a type of hereditary seizure disorder that causes otherwise mild-mannered placid dogs to exhibit extreme aggression.
The aggression is violent, excessive and uncontrolled, and may be directed at humans, dogs, or even inanimate objects, with the affected dogs showing atypical aggression patterns. The syndrome has been widely studied in Cocker Spaniels, although a small number of English Springer Spaniels have also been diagnosed with rage syndrome.
While rage syndrome is more predominant amongst spaniel breeds than other dog breeds, no Brittany Spaniel has been diagnosed with the disorder.
Do Brittany Spaniels Fit In With Active Families?
One of the most frequent (and desperate) questions posed by harried owners of Brittany Spaniels is, “When does a Brittany Spaniel calm down?”
That question in itself gives an important clue as to Brittany Spaniels’ energy levels; Brittany Spaniels put the HIGH into high energy! These dogs are bred to work tirelessly in the field day after day and thus have more energy and stamina than most owners know what to do with.
The indefatigable Brittany Spaniel will need multiple walks every day as well as a larger yard to play in. The task-orientated nature of Brittany Spaniels must be addressed, as these spaniels thrive on any activity which engages them on a physical and mental level.
Most Brittany Spaniels will demonstrate a more mature life outlook after 2 years of age; however, they will only truly start to slow down from 6-7 years old. Thus, families who want a couch-potato dog should look at another breed as the Brittany Spaniel won’t be a good fit.
Are Brittany Spaniels Easy To Train?
The Brittany Spaniel is one of the easiest dogs to train; they live to please their owners and will do anything for positive attention. Brittany Spaniels are sensitive dogs who wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Harsh or overly strict training methods are unproductive when working with Brittany Spaniels. In fact, rough handling will result in Brittany Spaniels becoming chronically anxious; anxiety can cause your gentle Brittany Spaniel to start urinating in fear.
Homes characterized by interpersonal tension and poorly controlled tempers will become frustrated with the timid ways of Brittany Spaniels.
However, a calm, confident approach with lots of positive reinforcement will help your Brittany Spaniel become a well-adjusted confident dog. Even first-time dog owners will find the intelligent Brittany Spaniel to be amenable and pleasant to train.
Are Brittany Spaniels Good For Busy Families?
Life is rarely quiet, and most families juggle numerous demands on their time. The Brittany Spaniel fits in well with busy families that are:
- Outdoors a lot
- Can include their Brittany Spaniel in the majority of their activities
Brittany Spaniels do not handle “alone” time well; many Brittany Spaniels struggle with separation anxiety and may roam, bark excessively or become destructive when left to their own devices for long periods.
Families that can include their Brittany Spaniels in their activities will find they have a partner who is always up for any adventure!
Brittany Spaniels epitomizes the golden rule of good family dogs:
A family dog must never be aggressive to their people or other pets.
These dogs are one of the least aggressive dog breeds amongst all AKC recognized breeds. Known for their gentle temperaments, they are long-suffering dogs that will only show aggression under extreme duress.
Notorious for their high energy, Brittany Spaniels do best with active, energetic families who have plenty of time to spend playing and exercising their Brittany.
Brittany Spaniels do not do well with overly harsh or strict handling and need plenty of positive reinforcement to thrive and develop their confidence.