If you are thinking of buying a Brittany to shoot over, there can be no more versatile breed. The Brittany has excellent game scenting ability, coupled with tenacity, courage, and the inherent wish to please, which all adds up to the most useful of workers. It is so easy to condemn a whole breed because one person has witnessed one dog “not swimming”, “not picking up”, “not facing cover”, These are the usual comments made in competition with other H.P.R. breeds, but the obvious answer is that Brittanys are winning awards, and that in order to do so they must perform
all parts of the tests to the satisfaction of the judges. The Brit does exactly the same job as the G.S.P., G.W.P., Viszla, Munsterlander, Weimaraner, Spinone etc – except we think FASTER!
The toughest job for the Brittany owner is CONTROL – these little bullets often do their own thing, and the importance of basic obedience cannot be over-emphasised. Competition standard is not required for working, but the dog must learn at an early age what is required of it, and if you wish to enter Working Tests, Field Trials, Pointing Tests etc control is definitely required. No one can say that their breed/dog is 100% perfect 100% of the time, but if the basic schooling has been done, the end product is a joy to watch and an all-time drug! Your PERFECT Brittany will quarter the ground, freeze on point when game is scented (either fur or feather), flush on command, be steady to flush, AND to shot, and again on command will retrieve tenderly to hand from land or water.
There are plenty of local gundog training classes and numerous books to read, many specifically for H.P.R.s, but the basic training should start as soon as your puppy arrives.
Basically, the Working Test is an attempt to establish what a dog can do in the field without actually shooting any game. It is run on a competitive basis, is broken down into the usual
age or ability groups, Puppy, Novice and Open, and awards are made to third or fourth place. A points system is used, and the day’s activities are divided into sections. Hunting – where the dog is assessed on hunting patterns, enthusiasm, keeness, ground cover, and also response to whistle commands from his handler. Pointing and holding of game – the dog is also assessed on its ability to deal with running birds, for missing known game, for strength of point. Retrieving – seen retrieves are assessed for accuracy in marking and finding, and speedy delivery; usually using dummies and starting pistols, or dummy launchers. In addition, there will be hidden retrieves, and retrieves over water, with presentation of the game to the handler also being taken into consideration. Obviously the standard increases through the grades. Quite often a lunchtime scurry will be held, perhaps to raise charity funds, where you can show off your Brit’s retrieving capabilities!
Please also view our ‘Working & Trials’ Section from the Main Menu