Well it's over again done and dusted for yet another year. I must say the shooting season seems to come and go quicker each year, a sign of old age creeping on I presume! In the Gundog Kennel it is now time for the older dogs to relax and have a well earned rest and to turn my attention to puppies and the youngsters now growing up. The forth coming Spring time is an ideal time of year for people to think about buying a new pup to replace old faithful.
My phone rang the other day. The gentleman on the other end had seen me out on the local shoots and was enquiring about buying a cocker pup. Now, I have a standard set of questions that I ask people when they call going through a mental check list, ticking or crossing the relevant answers in my mind. It transpired the gentleman's old Labrador (retriever breed) was retiring that year and he and the family were thinking of replacing her in the shooting field with a cocker (hunting breed). Small, compact and good with children, etc, etc His shooting was mainly driven so he would be standing patiently at the peg while birds flew over I chuckled inwardly it was the patiently bit a cocker would find challenging! At the moment the Cocker Spaniel is the latest fashion accessory on the shooting field and becoming very popular. I go picking-up with my cockers but my Labradors do the Lions share of the work. As this family were local, I invited them around to have a chat when I could introduce them to the Dickensian street urchins of the gundog world. By the time their pockets had been picked of any spare tissues and the family had been well and truly thoroughly cockered, they could then make their decision with some knowledge of the breed.
If you are thinking of buying a new pup and possibly changing breeds with your next gundog, there are several different aspects to consider for your requirements. Most gundogs these days double up as family pets as well.
THE SPANIELS mainly English Springers and Cockers although Clumbers are to be seen about now. These are the hunting machines on the shooting field obviously bred for generations to quest, lively, inquisitive into everything with plenty of drive. They want to be on the move all the time. Yes, they do retrieve but the hunting desire dominates. In training they must be steadied (taught to stop to flush) on live quarry to curb the strong chase instinct that most well bred Spaniels have. Most are excellent in an active well managed family environment.
THE RETRIEVERS Labrador, Golden, Flatcoat are mainly seen on shoots with the Labrador dominating. The polite fetch and carriers of the gundog group. Most of us know the attributes of this noble breed. I must say that when I take my Labradors out I mentally relax
a gear or two in my mind. I know several people who use their retrievers as hunting dogs in the beating line quite successfully. In training for the average shooting requirement they are not quite so demanding as the spaniels. It is prudent to buy pups from the retrieving breeds whose parents have been scanned for any hereditary defects. Hips scores and current eye certificates should be available for you to see.
HPR (Hunt, Point, Retrieve) German Short/Longhaired Pointer. Italian Spinnone, Vizla. These breeds