Choosing your gun dog

Posted June 4, 2015

If you are new to the shooting scene and do not yet know or understand the different styles of work that a gun dog has to perform, then you may find the decision a little trickier and would probably benefit from seeking a little more advice from someone with experience. However, if you are familiar with shooting or have an interest in a particular style then I would suggest that you make a more informed decision based on the type of work you are wanting the dog for.

For example, we wouldn’t consider a toy poodle for goose shooting although they may make beautiful pets, you may look slightly odd turning up on the marsh with a dog that is smaller than the birds you will be shooting – even if you do disguise her as a Brazilian Duck Dog!

So what type of shooting are looking for a companion to participate in? Deer Stalking? Grouse Shooting? Maybe even Wildfowling? This should be the first question you ask yourself before investing your hard earned cash in a hound.

A common choice amongst the deer stalking fraternity would be a Hunt, Point, Retrieve breed such as the Weimaraner or German Shorthaired Pointer. These HPR breeds make excellent trackers and are very versatile.

The Wildfowlers amongst us will no doubt choose a retriever for their incredible ability to swim and great nose, not that it is uncommon to see other breeds such as a spaniel out on the marsh.

But by far the most talked about has to be which is the best dog for rough shooting. You may have heard the common Springer vs Lab argument that tends to occur on most shoot days. Both breeds make great companions as pets, but on a shoot day which is best?

Most Labrador owners are passionate Lab fans and most Spaniel owners are passionate Spaniel fans. If you asked a Labrador owner what they thought of Spaniels they would probably describe them as mad demons that cannot concentrate on retrieves further than a stones throw, but on the other hand most Spaniel owners would argue that spaniels will cover a vaster area of ground in a quicker amount of time than the Labrador. You may have heard the saying ‘a Labrador is born half trained and a Spaniel dies half trained’ but is there a right or a wrong between these two breeds?

I would say a lot of it comes down to personal preference and even the character of the intended owner. Whatever dog you choose, do your research. Irrespective of the breed some dogs have a really good nose, some have true personality, others are simply excellent at finding those blind retrieves… and my Labrador has it all!

Thanks for reading,
Holly