What Is The Best Dog Food for a Brittany?
The Ultimate Brittany Food Buyer’s Guide
The Brittany (formerly known as the Brittany Spaniel before the word “spaniel” was dropped by the AKC in 1982) is a pointing breed that originated in France. Similar orange and white dogs used for hunting have been known in northwestern France since at least the 17th century. There were rumors of crossbreeding with English Setters in the mid-1800s and there are certain similarities between the breeds in temperament and hunting styles. Although Brittanys have a certain physical resemblance to spaniels, they are a pointing and retrieving breed and do not hunt as spaniels. Brittanys were first recognized as a breed in France in 1907. They were recognized by the AKC in 1934. Most Brittanys are born with a naturally short tail.
The Brittany is an athletic, energetic, medium-sized dog. They are gentle, sweet, affectionate, and very soft-natured. They do not do well with harsh training methods. They can be shy unless they are well-socialized starting when they are puppies. The Brittany makes an excellent family pet. Brittanys have more American dual champions than any other breed. (A dual champion is a dog that has earned both show and field championships.) The breed has largely avoided the split between show and field bloodlines that has occurred in many sporting breeds. Today the Brittany is the 27th most popular dog breed in the United States.
Quick Look : Top 5 Best Dog Foods for Brittanys
Brittanys are usually orange and white but they can also be liver and white. Some ticking in the coat is desirable. The coat is dense, flat or wavy. The breed has some fringe or feathering but it should not have too much. A long coat is not desired in this breed. They remain a working breed and too much coat could be a problem in the field. Dogs measure from 17 ½ to 20 ½ inches tall, from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders. Males are generally taller than females. Brittanys should weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. Brittanys are a leggy dog – the height at the shoulders should be about the same as the length of the body.
You can expect your Brittany to be energetic and always moving, especially as a puppy and young dog. Whether you engage in field work with your Brittany or not, these dogs use up quite a few calories. As they become older you will probably have to start watching their calories, but this is true of most breeds. In addition to hunting, Brittanys make wonderful therapy dogs and they’re great at agility, obedience, rally, and other dog sports, so there are lots of ways for you to do things with this active breed.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Brittany weighing 40 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 1109 kcal. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. For example, if you hunt with your Brittany (40-lb dog doing light field work), you might need to feed him somewhere around 1233 kcal. Growing puppies consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Brittany puppy (4-12 months) weighing 20 pounds needs an estimated 733 kcal per day. You always need to adjust your dog’s food intake based on his activity level and other factors.
Brittanys are a medium-sized dog so they can eat most dog foods unless they have a particular health issue. You do not need to look for a small breed or large breed formula, for example.
Likewise, Brittany puppies can eat most puppy foods. Most breeders recommend feeding a good puppy food until your puppy reaches about 90 percent of his adult size – which can be rather early for this breed. They can attain most of their physical size by the time they are 9-10 months of age and then continue to fill out. Some breeders, however, recommend a puppy food for the first few months and then suggest switching to an adult food by the time the puppy is about six months of age. You should talk to your breeder about the food they recommend for their puppies since they usually have experience with how their puppies grow and develop.
For more information about Brittanys we recommend reading this booklet on the American Brittany Club site. It’s one of the best, most comprehensive breed booklets we have found about any breed.
Feeding Your Brittany
Brittanys usually have a good appetite though they can skip a meal if they are nervous or upset. As with all dogs, purebred and mixed, it’s possible for some dogs to have food allergies or food sensitivities. Common food allergens for dogs include: beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. Symptoms of food allergies include itching and scratching which leads to redness, hair loss, damaged skin, and skin infections. Dogs can also have food sensitivities which result in diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence, and a generally upset stomach. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, it’s best if you work with your veterinarian to address it.
Most Brittanys are very active, at least until they become middle-aged. They will usually remain lean during these years, especially if they get plenty of exercise. Puppies and young dogs are vigorous and need plenty of daily exericse. Mature dogs are still active but they can begin to put on extra pounds. You should keep a careful eye on how much you feed your adult Brittany. It’s not usually a good idea to free feed Brittanys since they can overeat. Spayed/neutered Brittanys are especially prone to gaining extra weight if you do not monitor their food intake and make sure they exercise.
Brittanys are not known for having a bad problem with hip dysplasia but it can occur in some dogs. As with other breeds that have some issues with hip dysplasia, it’s important to make sure you do not let your Brittany become overweight. Canine obesity leads to many health problems and it worsens any tendency toward dysplasia and arthritis. Keep puppies and adult dogs lean. While puppies may play enthusiastically, you should not allow them to injure themselves while playing or put too much stress on their joints and growth plates while they are growing. On the other hand, you should make sure that adult dogs get regular exercise so they maintain good muscle tone. This includes older dogs as they reach their senior years. This is also a good way to make sure dogs maintain a healthy weight.
As with any dog, you should feed your Brittany a good quality dog food. Food that is high in animal protein is a good choice.
Adult Brittanys usually do well eating two meals per day. You can feed Brittany puppies 3-4 meals when they are very young, then move to three meals per day as they get older. By the time they are about a year old they should be eating two meals per day.
Brittany Health Problems
The Brittany is an exceptionally healthy breed. The breed is ranked 72nd for canine hip dysplasia by the OFA with 14.6 dogs having abnormal ratings since the 1970s (with more than 19,000 Brittanys x-rayed).
In addition to testing for hip dysplasia, the American Brittany Club recommends that dogs have their eyes examined by a board ACVO ophthalmalogist every year from ages 2-8, with the results registered.
Breeders are also encouraged to choose one of the following tests as an elective evaluation for their dogs:
- Congenital Cardiac Exam – OR
- OFA Elbow Dysplasia evaluation – OR
- OFA Patellar Luxation Evaluation – OR
- OFA Thyroid Evaluation from an approved laboratory
- Advanced Cardiac Exam
None of these issues is currently a particular problem in the breed but the club is trying to be proactive.
With their long ears, Brittanys can also be prone to ear infections. Long ears can block off air flow to the ear canals, allowing any moisture in the ears to encourage the growth of bacteria. Clean your dog’s ears regularly. If your dog goes swimming, make sure you dry his ears afterward. It also helps to trim any hair inside the ear to allow better air flow.
Brittanys have a long lifespan of 12-15 years.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your Brittany you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Brittany may still be able to eat an alternative grain such as barley or oats. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs that is low glycemic such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your Brittany has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with alternative meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Brittany
Brittanys should be able to eat most good quality dog foods. If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity you will need to try to avoid foods with ingredients that are triggers for your dog.
We suggest a variety of foods here for Brittanys. Most of the foods we have selected do not contain corn, wheat, or soy, unless noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s dietary needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to suit him. If you are hunting with your Brittany or doing other very taxing work, you may need to bump up the calories you are feeding to meet his energy needs. If you are happy with your dog’s food, you can see if the brand has a formula with more calories. Just remember to reduce calories when your dog’s heavy workload is over or you could end up with a very pudgy Brittany!
Best Dog Foods for Brittany Adults
Nulo has only recently become a nationally-known brand and we’re happy to include it here. Their foods have 80-84 percent animal-based protein, meaning they have one of, if not the highest, amount of animal-based protein of any dog food. Nulo is also one of the few companies using probiotics that seem to actually survive the manufacturing process. (Check their site to read more.) Their foods are also low carb and low-glycemic. They don’t use corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, tapioca, glutens or genetically modified organisms. And there are no poultry or meat by-products in the foods and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Peas, and Sweet Potato. It has 30 percent crude protein, 16 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 424 kcal/cup. This food is AAFCO-approved for maintenance. We think the ingredients look good and many Brittanys should do well on Nulo Freestyle foods, especially if they are very active. You can also check out their Medal Series of foods – also grain free.
Victor dog food has something of a cult following. It’s made by Mid America Pet Food – a company that co-packs for some other well-known brands. Mid America is a family-owned and operated company located in east Texas. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the ingredients used in their foods come from a 200-mile radius of their facility. They currently have seventeen formulas available. They have foods that are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Yukon River Salmon formula has 32 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, and 34 percent crude carbs. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from fish. We think that active Brittanys would do well on this food. Or you could check out one of Victor’s other foods. People who feed Victor are devoted to this brand. Considering the ingredients, their foods are very reasonably priced.
In talking to Brittany breeders, we found that many of them liked ProPlan foods. These foods are often popular with people who breed and show dogs, as well as people who hunt with their dogs – especially ProPlan Performance 30/20 Sport . This is an all life stage formula with 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat so it’s often a good choice for active dogs, dogs under stress (such as dogs traveling to shows or competing), and hunting dogs. It can also be a good choice for puppies and expectant mother dogs. It has 475 kcal/cup so dogs can gain weight if they are not getting enough exercise when eating this food. ProPlan Performance 30/20 also comes in a salmon and rice formula for dogs with sensitive skin and digestion. Some people don’t like these foods because they contain corn, animal digest, and poultry by-product meal. However, we know many breeders in lots of breeds who have been feeding ProPlan for decades with very good results. If you have a puppy or dog that has been raised on this food, you shouldn’t assume that it’s a low quality food. ProPlan also has some grain free formulas available now. Their ProPlan Naturals product line has no corn, wheat or soy; no added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives; and no poultry by-product meal. Most of the foods we recommend are more holistic or made by small companies but we do feel comfortable recommending ProPlan for Brittanys based on the experiences of many breeders and owners over many years.
We found this food when we were looking at bestsellers on Chewy.com. It looks like people have identified a really nice food from Merrick. The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 422 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, wheat, or soy. No gluten. No poultry by-products, no artificial preservatives. No ingredients from China. It has 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat, with 3.5 percent crude fiber. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin added, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Merrick uses local growers from Texas, where the food is made. We think this food has good quality protein and other ingredients for Brittanys that need good nutrition for an active lifestyle. Not everyone will like a protein percentage this high but if you do, give this food a try.
We also really like Fromm Family Foods, especially their Gold and Four-Star product lines. Their Adult Gold formula has duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. It has 24 percent crude protein (for those who like a lower protein percentage) and 16 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 408 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for growth and maintenance. The food includes salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat; probiotics, and prebiotics. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. The food includes brown rice and pearled barley in the first five ingredients. It does contain oatmeal and potatoes so if you are trying to keep the carbs very low you may not like this food. However, we think the ingredients are good quality and many Brittanys will do well on this food, especially dogs that are not engaged in rigorous activities.
Best Dog Foods for Brittany Puppies
| Fromm Puppy Gold Formula
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|Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula
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Brittany puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They usually have the most experience with raising Brittany puppies and can guide you, especially when it comes to avoiding hip dysplasia.
Puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1.2. It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth. If you are feeding your puppy a food that is properly formulated, you should not add any extra calcium, such as milk, cottage cheese, or other calcium supplements. Doing so can lead to serious health problems such as OCD (osteochondritis dessecans) – painful bone spurs that may require surgery – and other orthopedic problems.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Brittany puppies. Note that an All Life Stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
Similar to Fromm’s Gold Adult formula, this puppy formula contains no corn, wheat, or soy. The first three ingredients are duck, chicken meal, and chicken. The food has moderate protein and fat to encourage puppies to grow slowly. The food has 417 kcal/cup. The technical analysis for the food shows the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio for puppies. Fromm Puppy Gold formula also has added DHA-rich salmon oil for good brain and eye development in puppies. The USDA-inspected ingredients for the food are delivered fresh each morning. Since Brittany puppies can have occasionally have problems with hip dysplasia later in life, we think that Fromm Puppy Gold formula is a good choice.
This is one of our favorite foods for all puppies. Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula is a limited ingredient food with nine ingredients plus vitamins and minerals and probiotics. It’s grain free with probiotics to help digestion; antioxidants for a healthy immune system; and omega 3 and 6 to support healthy skin and a beautiful coat. The first five ingredients are Chicken, menhaden fish meal, lentils, peas, and potatoes. The recipe is supposed to be especially good for puppies with sensitive digestion. The food has 30 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat, 4 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. This food checks in at 520 kcal/cup, so it’s high in calories but active, growing Brittany puppies can usually burn them off. Just remember that you don’t need to feed a lot of food with these very nutrient-dense foods. If your Brittany puppy does well on this puppy food, Canidae has some good adult foods – both grain free and foods with grains.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Brittany
It’s not unusual for many Brittanys to live into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your dog as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, some very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Brittany. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Brittany’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older. (We know Orijen is expensive but this food really stands out for senior dogs.)
Another senior food we like a lot is Bright Mind 7+ from Purina. Whether you normally like Purina foods or not, we have heard nothing but positive comments about this food, especially for elderly dogs that might be slowing down and starting to withdraw. The food addresses some of the cognitive issues that older dogs can have. The food has medium chain triglycerides which have been suggested as a way to help Alzheimer’s patients.
Best Dog Foods for Brittanys with Skin Problems/Allergies
If your Brittany needs to avoid common proteins in dog foods due to food allergies, here is a food we like.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Brittany has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes. (Please note that you cannot buy dog food products containing kangaroo meat in California.)
Best Dog Foods for Brittanys with Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious. If your dog is having gastrointestinal problems, it’s a good idea to see your veterinarian, especially if the problem continues even after you change dog foods. Dogs can have problems such as irritable bowel disease, colitis, pancreatitis, and other issues that need a diagnosis so they can be treated. However, in many cases a dog simply has an intolerance to a certain food ingredient or a few ingredients. In these cases, you may resolve the problem by avoiding those ingredients.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
We recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients are: Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Salmon Meal, Canola Oil, and Potato Fiber. It has 21 percent crude protein, 10 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 380 kcal/cup and it’s an all life stage formula. If your dog can’t eat some of the ingredients in this food, Natural Balance has lots of other LID recipes that you might check.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Brittanys
If your Brittany becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise. Older Brittanys are often happy to nap on the sofa all day so you may have to take him out for walks and runs.
If your Brittany needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Brittany that needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week. If your Brittany acts like he’s starving between meals, try giving him some low-cal, healthy snacks like pieces of carrots or apples. You can also add some low-sodium green beans to his food. This is an old trick. The green beans help your dog feel fuller without adding many calories to his diet.
Brittanys make wonderful family pets. They are affectionate, intelligent, easy to train, and eager to please. They are gentle, sweet dogs. They are also a remarkably healthy breed. A Brittany is capable of hunting one day and appearing in the show ring the next day – and winning! They are popular visitors at nursing homes and schools. They are really an all-around great dog. We encourage you to get to know these handsome, active dogs.