Why Do Brittany Spaniels Shake? 3 Causes and Solutions

Brittany spaniels, originally bred to work as bird dogs, are a lively, active, people-oriented breed that dates back to the Brittany region of France in the 1600s. They’re full of energy and make excellent companion animals. However, many Brittany owners notice that their dogs are sometimes prone to trembling, so why do Brittany spaniels shake?

Brittany spaniels shake because they are high-energy, sensitive-natured dogs who are eager to please and often timid in new situations. This combination is stressful and can lead to shaking. Frequent shaking can be a result of medical problems, however. If your dog frequently trembles, see your vet.

There are several reasons why your Brittany spaniel might shake. Most of them aren’t cause for concern and can be addressed with some simple interventions. Read on for more about how to determine the cause of your dog’s shaking, what you can do to help them feel more relaxed and confident, and when it’s time to call the vet.

1. Excess Energy Can Lead to Shaking

The phrase “quivering with excitement” might well have been coined to describe a Brittany spaniel ready to leap into action. Bred to flush birds for hunters, Brittanys are alert, eager dogs who need a great deal of exercise, and they thrive in rough-and-tumble outdoor environments where there is constant and varied action.

Just like human toddlers, Brittany spaniels need lots of time for play, and if they don’t have a way to focus their curiosity, they can turn destructive. Your furniture and other possessions could be at risk if you don’t make sure your Brittany has something to occupy their mind. Like their bird-hunting ancestors before them, your Brittany is poised to take off running during every waking moment.

This interactive toy on Amazon is a great way to keep your Brittany occupied. Keeps them mentally stimulated and they get rewarded with treats,

Exercise Should Help

If your Brittany spaniel is shaking, they might simply need to work off some excess energy. Try taking your dog for a walk or jog, or find an open space for a long session of fetch. Looking for something more rigorous and intellectually challenging? Brittany spaniels are champions at running obstacle courses. Maybe you and your pup would enjoy doing a canine agility trial together?

Whatever you choose, your Brittany will be right there beside you, eager to please and leaping with joy at the chance to do something active with their favorite human. Check out my Recommended Toys page for some ideas to keep your Brittany active and help burn off some of that energy.

2. New People and New Situations Can Be Intimidating

Brittany spaniels are typically friendly dogs. Most of them enjoy lots of interaction and are always happy to meet new people. However, some dogs may have a more retiring temperament. Your Brittany spaniel might be extremely loving and gregarious with people they know well, but they may be slow to warm up to strangers. 

Similarly, some dogs may be fearless in new surroundings, while others might be overwhelmed by new situations, especially if they are chaotic or noisy. Shaking is a common reaction to stress in dogs, whether they’re reacting to a vet visit, a thunderstorm, or another unusual experience.

It’s a personality trait, not a flaw. Just like humans, some dogs are more extroverted than others. 

Practice Trying New Things

Take your cues from your dog. Especially if you’re working with a puppy, it’s important to introduce them to unfamiliar people and new situations carefully and consistently in order to socialize them and help them develop resilience when exposed to new things. I started bringing my dogs to the dog park around 6 months old and they get along with every dog they meet.

Even if your Brittany is grown, however, slow, steady practice can help develop your dog into a more social animal. Go at your pup’s pace. Don’t push them into situations where they clearly aren’t comfortable. Such an attempt could backfire and result in your dog becoming even more frightened of new things.

Most dogs can become more social and more comfortable with new experiences over time. Some, however, may remain timid. As long as your dog doesn’t react aggressively to unfamiliar situations, it’s not necessarily something to worry about.

3. Medical Issues

Though Brittany spaniels are generally healthy, vigorous dogs, they’re not immune to medical issues. There are numerous physical problems that can cause trembling or shaking, some more serious than others. Especially if your dog has not been prone to tremors in the past and suddenly begins shaking, it’s important to rule out any underlying medical cause. 


As noted above, shaking or trembling can be a stress response. It can also be a sign of pain. Not all dogs will show obvious signs when they are hurt or in discomfort. You know your dog best. If they are acting abnormally, especially if there are other signs like lack of appetite or disinterest in normal activities, check with your vet. 


Canine distemper, a viral disease against which most dogs are regularly vaccinated, may cause muscle tremors. If your pup is up-to-date on vaccinations, you probably don’t need to worry, but it’s good to know the signs, just in case.

Additionally, both low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and low blood calcium (hypocalcemia) can cause shaking or seizures, which can be mild enough to look like trembling. Both of these conditions can be identified and treated by your veterinarian.

Finally, Addison’s disease, which is a problem with the adrenal glands, can cause shaking, though it usually appears along with vomiting and general lethargy. Although Addison’s disease is not curable, it is treatable with medication.

Neurological Issues

Epilepsy and other seizure disorders can cause shaking. There is also a neurological disorder called generalized tremor syndrome. It’s most commonly found in dogs with white fur, like Maltese terriers, but has been identified in other breeds and fur colors. It’s caused by inflammation of the central nervous system and is controlled with steroid medications.

Final Thoughts

Brittany spaniels are active, intelligent dogs who love nothing more than spending time in the great outdoors with their people. Whether it’s from excitement or nervousness, if your dog occasionally trembles, there’s no reason to be concerned and several ways to address it. If trembling is a new phenomenon for your dog, it’s best to call your vet and get your pup checked out.


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