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Dog daze: Experts in their fields

PUBLISHED: 11:11 16 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:50 20 February 2013

Dog daze: Experts in their fields

Dog daze: Experts in their fields

Many dogs are capable of so much more than simply being the family pet. This month our expert has a look at the breeds suitable for training as gun dogs

Many dogs are capable of so much more than simply being the family pet. This month our expert has a look at the breeds suitable for training as gun dogs

As summer slowly disappears and autumn takes its place, the shooting season begins. With this in mind I thought we would look at a few of the different gundog breeds and touch a little bit on what the different breeds are used for in the shooting field.
It is also worth remembering that many of the breeds are capable of doing more than just being trained for this sport.
Many are trained for agility, scent work, search and rescue, Pets as Therapy, obedience and police work, the list goes on.
Indeed some of the gundogs are used during the shooting season and then during the summer months are competing all over the country in field trials or even take part in agility competitions etc.
As I write, I am reminded that there are exceptions to every rule and I have just heard of a Border Terrier, a Doberman and a Collie cross that have been going on shoots for several years, beating and picking up !
Starting with the Hunt, point and retrieve (HPR) breeds as this group are my personal favourite, there is the German Shorthaired pointer, German long haired pointer and the German wire haired pointer. The Vizsla, including the wire haired, the Weimaraner including the long haired version and the Brittany. There is also the Italian Spinone and the Large Munsterlander.
More recently and growing in popularity are the Bracco Italiano and the Slovakian rough haired pointer which all form part of the HPR breed of gundogs.
This group are fun, biddable and are full of energy and like it or not are increasing in popularity as an all round sporting dog for the shooting enthusiast.
They are able to hunt game, point it and flush it on command and then once shot, retrieve the game back to its master.
This group of gundogs are mainly used for rough shooting but are more than capable of taking part on the driven shoot as well. Some HPR breeds are also trained for falconry.
The HPR breeds have increased in popularity over the years as a family companion, where owners are taking part in other disciplines as mentioned earlier. They are generally an energetic breed and not for the faint hearted.
Spaniels are another lovely breed and there are various types. The English Springer spaniel, the Clumber spaniel, the Sussex, the Field Spaniel and several others with the Working Cocker spaniel being the most popular (so I have been told when researching for this article).
The Working Cocker spaniel is such a biddable breed, highly intelligent and tends to have an amazing drive as well as a real desire to please their owner.
Cocker spaniels are used for flushing game and are especially good at flushing out woodcock, which is where their name comes from.
They are also used for picking up and are used on both driven shoots and rough shooting.
Again, a breed which is very popular as a family pet and being seen more and more on the agility circuit due to their speed and stamina.
The breed has been used in detecting cancer in people by smelling a sample of the patients urine and is also used for drug detection and other passive searches within the police force. Amazing.
Finally, the Labrador Retriever, which is the most popular of the gundog breeds due to its usually wonderful temperament and laid back attitude.
The Labrador is used for retrieving game from the peg of the gun and is used by gamekeepers to flush game on a drive, known as beating or brushing depending which county you are in.
The Labrador is a very popular breed with families and many are trained as guide dogs for the blind.
It is worth bearing in mind that the gundog breeds are a group that like to work and have a job to do. So whether it is simply being trained to empty the washing machine or carrying post to the post box, bringing their master/mistress their slippers, learning tricks or training for a more serious discipline, may I suggest you think long and hard before taking on this type of dog.

Contact Sophia Taylor at


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