In the third installment, we dive deep into the why of a potential recognized breed split between the Epagneul Breton and the American Brittany. If you've been following along, Part 1 whisked us through the history of the EB in the US, while Part 2 unraveled the intricate relationship between the key players. Now, let's explore the driving force behind this compelling topic.
As unveiled in Part 2, the American Brittany Club (ABC) and the Epagneul Breton share a positive, intertwined and collaborative history. Yet some voices are eager to see the breeds take their own spotlight, advocating for separate recognition under the esteemed American Kennel Club (AKC).
In this exploration, we navigate the nuances, seeking to understand the motivations behind the desire for recognition as separate breeds - a choice the CEB-US adamantly opposes. The CEB-US's position firmly promotes keeping the status quo with the breeds under the same banner of the American Brittany Club. Our goal of this series is to present a complete picture and not just our stance, so while we do not support a split at the ABC we recognize other opinions exist.
WHO IS THE FCI?
Allow us to introduce a key player on the global canine stage – the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Based in Europe, the FCI stands as the world's largest breed registry, and it plays a crucial role in shaping the landscape of purebred dogs internationally. The FCI is in harmony with the Club de l’Epagneul Breton (CEB), serving as the parent breed club in France. Through a network of preferred partner registries worldwide, the FCI facilitates the seamless exchange of data, particularly pedigrees, across a global network of canine clubs.
A distinctive guideline upheld by the FCI is its mandate to only recognize one partner registry per country. In the United States, this recognition extends exclusively to the American Kennel Club (AKC). From the FCI's perspective, a dog not registered with the AKC might as well be a cow. This unique dynamic plays a key role in this discussion because the FCI does recognize the UKC.
COMPETING IN EUROPE
One reason circulating in favor of an American Kennel Club (AKC) breed split is rooted in the limitations faced by non-AKC dogs, particularly when venturing across the Atlantic. The narrative centers around the significant hindrance faced by non-AKC Epagneul Bretons when participating in events governed by the FCI in Europe. The FCI exclusively recognizes AKC dogs, and since the AKC designates the Epagneul Breton as a Brittany, complications arise. Notably, the FCI lacks a distinct "Brittany" breed, recognizing only the Epagneul Breton. Consequently, when your Epagneul Breton ventures to Europe, it is only considered a “Brittany” and not recognized by the FCI.
While these distinctions may seem rooted in semantics and historical designations, they hold paramount importance in European traditions. The crux of the matter lies in the fact that the FCI's recognition criteria align with the AKC, leaving non-AKC Epagneul Bretons in a challenging position when seeking recognition and participation in European events. Advocates for an AKC breed split argue that official recognition of the Epagneul Breton by the AKC alleviate these challenges, opening doors for international competition in Europe and harmonizing breed classifications on a global scale.
AB vs EB SHOWDOWN
Another catalyst fueling discussions around a potential breed split stems from disparities in the breed standards set by the American Brittany Club (ABC). As the American Brittany gains popularity in the show circuit, advocates for a breed split contend that the Epagneul Breton should no longer fall under the Brittany category due to diverging breed standard requirements.
Key differences in breed standards include the acceptance of black noses and black coats for Epagneul Bretons, traits that are disqualifying traits form the American Brittanys. With the EB already facing disqualification in the American Brittany's show ring, proponents of a breed split argue that it would streamline classifications and contribute to a clearer identity for each breed.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
You might be wondering, "Why should I care about this whole breed split conversation?" Fair question. While there are various arguments floating around, the most common themes boil down to some semblance of the two main points outlined above.
To the contrary, the CEB-US is in favor of upholding the status quo with the UKC being the vehicle in the U.S. to promote the Epagneul Breton while continuing to collaborate with the ABC for additional field trial venues and exposure. The CEB-US believes the Epagneul Breton and American Brittany can continue to thrive under the same AKC banner while a potential breed split would hinder the efforts of all parties trying to uphold the unique bird dog tradition.
The CEB-US takes pride in celebrating the Epagneul Breton across various venues, including hunt tests, trials, utility tests, agility, and more. Acknowledging the breed's versatility, we understand the geographical constraints that may make participation in different venues (UKC, AKC, NAVHDA, NSTRA, etc.) more practical. Recognizing that the Epagneul Breton represents a small fraction of the Brittanys in the U.S., our aim is to provide our dogs with as many opportunities as possible. This is best achieved by championing participation and fostering continued collaboration with the American Brittany Club.
Now, you might think, "Well, I'm not planning on jet-setting my furry friend to Europe, and dog shows aren't my thing." Fair enough, but here's the twist – the breed split discussion holds significance for all Epagneul Breton owners. In Part 4, we'll outline the steps involved in a potential split and shed light on why the Club de l’Epagneul Breton of the United States (CEB-US) supports the status quo.
Stay tuned for insights that might just resonate with every proud Epagneul Breton owner out there.
We realize this is a condensed version of a much larger and very important topic. While we aim to educate our members and Epagneul Breton enthusiasts of the basic fundamentals of the variables affecting the breed, a digital newsletter is limited as a medium for delivering detailed information. For more information or to join the conversation, please reach out to the CEB-US.