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Hot Topic - Breed Split - Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 of the Club de l’Epagneul Breton of the United States (CEB-US) newsletter series, delving into the captivating discussion of a potential breed split officially recognized by the American Brittany Club (ABC). If you're just joining us or need a quick refresher on the terms and players involved, fear not! You can catch up on the entire series by clicking the links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. We've laid the groundwork, explored the nuances, and now, in Part 4, we outline the steps involved in a potential split and shed light on why the CEB-US supports the status quo. It's the final stretch of this insightful journey, and we're excited to have you with us.


Navigating the path towards a potential breed split involves a series of intricate steps within the American Kennel Club (AKC). To initiate this process, the board of the American Brittany Club (ABC) would first cast a vote to present the motion to their membership. If achieved, the membership will need at least a two-thirds majority vote to initiate the breed separation. In the event of a successful vote, the ABC would proceed to discontinue the acceptance of the Epagneul Breton as a Brittany, effectively excluding the EB from AKC recognition. Subsequently, the assumption is that a new group would approach the AKC, seeking official recognition for the Epagneul Breton as a distinct breed. Alternatively, the ABC may seek to have the FCI officially recognize the American Brittany as a distinct breed, but this is essentially the same thing just packaged slight different.

Notably, the issue of a potential breed split was introduced during the 2022 ABC national meeting but was decline for official consideration. However, reflecting the ongoing nature of the discussion, the matter is slated to be revisited on the 2023 agenda for the ABC national meeting.

Prior to the 2022 meeting, the CEB-US released an official statement supporting the status quo. While recognizing the independence of the breeds, the CEB-US emphasizes the historical cooperation and mutual benefits derived from the ABC's inclusive stance toward the Epagneul Breton. Click here to see the CEB-US Official Statement sent to the American Brittany Club.


The decision for the CEB-US to align with the United Kennel Club (UKC) rather than overseeing a potential American Kennel Club (AKC) breed split is a nuanced one. The choice to partner with the UKC was based on a collaborative effort to design a trialing and confirmation system that closely mirrors the rich French tradition of evaluating the Epagneul Breton. In contrast, the AKC, being a larger entity, may not have the same incentive to tailor their systems for the specific needs of a single breed, potentially altering the testing and evaluation processes for the Epagneul Breton.

If the AKC were to split the breeds, there would be an inevitable lag time between change creating a void in that EBs would not be recognized and thus not allowed to participate in AKC or NAVHDA events. A split would also create unnecessary distractions and disruptions leading to concerns about the breed losing its way or facing misdirections. Since the EB is a relatively small breed (no pun intended), our dogs are best served by keeping the status quo partnership with the American Brittany Club to share resources and provide a unified voice.


The question often posed to the CEB-US revolves around the club's mission statement, explicitly stating its commitment to advancing the separation of the Epagneul Breton and American Brittany as two distinct breeds. One might logically infer that this stance aligns with advocating for a breed split, but the intricacy lies in the strategy employed by the CEB-US.

Rather than pursuing a breed split directly under the AKC, the CEB-US utilizes the UKC registry as the vehicle to propel the separation of the breeds. This strategic choice is rooted in practical considerations. Despite the CEB-US overseeing the breed for twenty-six years, the club acknowledges the relatively limited reach and influence it possesses in comparison to the substantial impact that could stem from the AKC recognizing the Epagneul Breton as an independent breed.

In essence, the CEB-US's mission to advance the separation of the breeds is strategically achieved through collaboration with the UKC, leveraging a platform that aligns more closely with our goals while recognizing the practical constraints associated with pursuing the same objective within the larger and more complex AKC landscape. This way our dog's maintain their own identity while being able to compete under the Brittany banner.

Besides the limited resources and reach available to the CEB-US to protect and promote a small-exposure breed, there are numerous case studies of breeds permanently changing under the AKC. Examples include:

  • German shepherds were originally a medium-size dog with a straight back and sturdy legs, but now they are considered a large breed with a slanted back highly susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia and a host of other predisposed health issues.

  • Bull Terries were once muscular, agile and considered easy to train, but now have a completely different body shape leading to musculoskeletal issues and known for compulsive behavior issues.

  • Boxers were bred to be strong athletes with great endurance, but now are short-faced with an upturned muzzle that has lead to breathing complications and difficulty regulating body heat.

The argument that breed changes can be attributed to judges' biases or market influences gains complexity when considering the AKC’s role as the overseer. Despite the potential influence of biases or market trends, the AKC has not taken proactive measures to safeguard breed standards. Furthermore, the AKC's extensive reach to a broad audience opens the door for increased breeding activity, with the risk of attracting less meticulous "backyard breeders" seeking financial gains from a new AKC-recognized breed. This shift could potentially undermine the decades of dedicated breeding practices adhering to the Epagneul Breton's authentic French bird dog tradition.

The rarity of a breed in 2023 closely resembling its counterparts from over a century ago underscores the Epagneul Breton's unique position. Unlike many breeds, the EB maintains consistent characteristics, form, and function. This is attributed to the stringent standards upheld by breeders, focusing on confirmation, field and hunting performance.

Under the AKC, there's a reasonable concern that the breed could deviate from its roots as a proficient bird dog to potentially becoming an urbanized house dog. In the upcoming fifth and final installment, we will delve into the CEB-US stance on this matter and explore actionable steps for the average Epagneul Breton owner to make a meaningful difference in the breed's trajectory.


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.

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