This week we sit down with Allyson Godfroid of RiverMist Brittany Spaniels.
Name: Allyson Godfroid
Where you live: Brant, Ontario
Kennel name: RiverMist
Email Address: email@example.com
1) How did you become involved in breeding and exhibiting Brittany Spaniels?
Prior to purchasing my first Brittany, I had owned greyhounds and was quite heavily involved in lure coursing and amateur racing. My first greyhound, “Dighty” had 7 titles behind her name and was one of the top lure coursing and racing greyhounds in North America.
Having been very focused on the field, when looking for my first show dog, I knew I wanted a dog that could also excel in the field. The Brittany is the quintessential dual dog, and was the perfect fit.
In 2009, I was very fortunate to acquire BIS BISS Can GCHEx Am GCHB Ataboy’s Dazzle Me Daphne FDJ JH CGN ROM, “Daphne”. She was my first Brittany and my foundation bitch. Daphne began showing when she was 6 months old, she finished both CKC and AKC championships quickly and I was hooked! Daphne is the only Brittany bitch to ever win a Best in Show in Canada, and was the first Brittany to earn a Grand Champion Excellent title.
It was through Daphne that I met Amy Booth and with her mentorship, I bred my first litter in 2012. Just 6 months later, we entered the American Brittany Club National Specialty Show and I experienced the thrill of watching our puppy MBIS MBISS Can GCHEx Am GCHS RiverMist Broxden Make Mynah Double MH FDX CGN, “Daniel” and Amy awarded Best of Winners and Best Puppy. Daphne also won a very competitive Brood Bitch class. This day I learned how exciting breeding purebred dogs could be.
Amy and I have since co-bred many champions and top winning AKC and CKC Brittanys including Best in Show winners, Group winners, Futurity winners and Specialty show winners as well as Junior, Senior, Master hunters and field trial placers.
2) Is the Brittany Spaniel your only breed?
I have owned other breeds but currently the Brittany is my focus.
3) How many years have you been breeding?
I have been breeding for 8 years.
4) Describe the Brittany Spaniel in 3 words?
Athletic, Intelligent and Energetic.
5) What to you is the ultimate hallmark of the breed?
The Brittany is a “dual quality” breed. There isn’t the division between show and field types that you see in other breeds. The top show Brittanys can and do hunt. The parent clubs make it their mission to advocate for the importance of maintaining the dual aspects of the breed. There are more Dual Champion Brittanys in the USA than all other sporting breeds combined.
6) What are the “must have” traits you must have in your breed?
The most important trait is Athleticism. A slightly heavier dog can look better in the show ring, but that isn’t what the Brittany is about. They should be fit, agile and well-muscled.
Correct Movement and Athleticism go hand in hand. The Brittany must demonstrate clean and correct movement as per the breed standard. A well-conditioned Brittany with correct structure will exemplify reach and drive. The Brittanys gait is “smooth, efficient and ground covering”. “When at a trot a Brittanys rear foot should step into or beyond the print left by the front foot” as per the AKC and CKC standards. The Brittany is one of the few breeds that is described in the standard as having an overreach.
Brittanys should be leggy. They are as tall as they are long. They should give the appearance of being square but not be so short backed as to interfere with correct movement.
7) Is exaggeration a problem in the Brittany Spaniel?
I am happy to say that exaggeration is not a problem in the Brittany. They remain a healthy and active breed that is not prone to injuries and can run all day in the field. Moderation is an aspect of the breed and the standard that protects it from exaggeration.
8) Has the quality around the world improved or declined?
I will speak to the American Brittany only. The breed standard and breed type are so significantly different in Europe and many other countries in the world (where dog shows are judged by FCI standards) that they are effectively a different breed. American Brittanys or Brittany Spaniels as they are known in Canada are found predominantly in Canada, the USA, and Australia (This can sometimes make it challenging to find International judges who have a good handle on the CKC standard).
I would say that overall health has improved due to health testing by responsible breeders. The depth of quality in bitches especially has improved since I first started in Brittanys. We are seeing bitches with more bone, substance, better movement and toplines and improved headpieces.
9) The current population of our Sport is aging, we have so many successful breeders who are slowly winding down, are you worried about the future of your breed?
There are many younger, successful breeders of Brittanys in the USA and Brittanys continue to be a very popular breed there. Fewer Brittany breeders exist in Canada but this has been the case for as long as I have been breeding. I believe the quality of Brittanys in Canada is improving due to breeders being willing to breed to quality dogs outside of their own kennels and purchasing dogs from other breeders to improve their line.
10) If you could give a new judge to your breed one piece of advice what would it be?
Movement is paramount. The Brittany is a hunting dog that should be able to run and hunt all day. Clean movement down and back is important but most important is side gait. You are looking for a “ground coverer” with “quickness of movement” and you should be checking that “at a trot the rear foot steps into or beyond the print left by the front foot” as per the CKC and AKC standards.
11) What current health testing is required for Brittany Spaniels?
OFA hips are required and eyes, and elbows and/or patellas are recommended by most responsible breeders.
12) What dog of the past in your breed would you have liked to have owned?
I would have loved to have owned CH Willowick Talltean, “Tally”. Tally was the beautiful moving, typey bitch that won the Sporting group at Westminster in 2010.
13) Besides conformation what else does the Brittany excel at?
Brittanys are a happy, biddable, versatile breed and excel at hunting, field trials, obedience, rally, agility, dock diving, scent detection, barn hunt, lure coursing, fly ball, and most other canine sports. They make excellent therapy dogs due to their trainability and loving temperaments. They are also used by law enforcement officers for drug and ballistics detection.
14) What type of home do you require for your puppies sold as family companions?
Brittanys are an energetic breed and do best with an active family. They need daily exercise and human companionship where they are part of the family. I do give preference to competition and hunting homes and I require that all owners have a fenced yard and commit to taking puppy socialization classes.