French Spaniel Breeds
Originating from Brittany in North West France, the Brittany spaniel was developed from at least three different types of French gundogs including spaniel and setter breeds. It is the only spaniel breed that is born without a tail which is a distinct advantage for the dog that is required to hunt the dense cover associated with that part of France in pursuit of the woodcock, a favourite of the Breton sportsmen. Superb in cover, the Brittany spaniel does not, however, favour water.
The colouring of the Brittany is mainly lemon with white or orange and white. The colouring is an indication of the breed’s origins with those colours still apparent today on setting breeds. Indeed the colour and the shape of the Brittany are not unlike that of the Welsh springer spaniel and the two have been confused. The Brittany has shorter ears than the Welsh spaniel and longer legs.
Like all spaniel breeds it finds, flushes and retrieve game. Its ability to point or set on game is another clue to its ancestry. The first breed standards was established in 1907, but in 1942 the Brittany Spaniel Club of North America joined with the American Kennel Club and out of this came a revised set of breed standards. Used widely in its native France, the Brittany spaniel is also a popular dog in the USA.
Picardy Blue Spaniel
The origins of this breed lie in the countryside of Northern France although its modern day popularity lies in Canada where it is used as a hunt, point and retrieve dog.
The breed is a descendant of the old and quite large family of French spaniels, which, over the years, separated into many different types where hunting style, size and colouring dictated the final outcome of the breeding. Around the mouth of the River Somme was, at the turn of the 20th century, a wildfowlers’ paradise and many English sportsmen crossed the channel to shoot there. Because of the quarantine regulations, many English shooters boarded their setters with locals in the Picardy area that is at the mouth of the Somme. Hence the infusion of English setter blood with the local spaniel bloodlines and the development of the Blue Picardy spaniel.
The Picardy has the characteristic greyish-black freckled coat with its skin a blue shade rather than the brown pigmentation found in other gundog breeds. The dog is excellent in water, possesses a good nose and has a strong desire to retrieve game.
The French Spaniel
The French spaniel gained fame in the Middle Ages as a setting dog for the netsmen, rather like the English springer spaniel. The French variety had the style of creeping along and freezing on the scent of game. It is argued in some quarters that this was the origin of the modern setter breeds of gundogs.
By the 17th century the French spaniel had established itself at the primary hunting dog in the country but, as tastes changed, it was the influx of English bred dogs that deposed it as the country’s favourite working dog.
This is a breed of spaniel that has an undocked tail, is strongly built and possesses a medium-length coat. Classified as a hunt, point and retrieve gundog, it is at ease retrieving from land and water. Owners of the breed testify to its ease of training and its absolute loyalty.