The sap is rising again spring is not too far away and the girls in the kennel are coming on heat. It is that time of year that folk are thinking of breeding from their gundog and a choice of mate is always a dilemma. One often over hears conversations with people commenting on how good a gundog he/she is! Now of course we all think that our dogs are the tops and that is how it should be but what really constitutes a good dog. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if you asked several different people you would most probably get several different answers but for me a good gundog must have these attributes.
A good nose a gundogs job is to locate game dead or alive whether hunting or retrieving it. A dog with a good nose will produce game on ground where others have failed and will be able to follow a scent line on a runner until it succeeds.
Marking ability the ability to see game falling at a distance and go directly to the area for a quick clean return to its handler. I like my spaniels to mark well at 100 meters where as a my Labradors must mark at 150 meters plus. Good marking saves time and disturbs less ground.
Gun sense the ability to deduce where a retrieve is most likely to have fallen from the angle and direction of the shot fired. One of my cockers Contrail Crackerjack was renowned for her gun sense which has been an utter joy to experience a talent she has passed down to her off spring.
To work the wind when either hunting or retrieving to instinctively use the wind direction to aid the finding of game.
Physical agility my Labradors must be able to jump a stock fence cleanly with a retrieve in their mouths. This saves time (and my back) when working in the field and just adds to the efficiency of picking up.
Of course all these attributes are wasted unless the dog is BIDDABLE a desire and willingness to please its handler.
You will often hear people deride competition dogs [mainly from those who have never attended a Field Trial] but most dogs who have gained high awards in trials will possess some if not all of these attributes mentioned.
So when facing that dilemma of finding a prospective partner for your intended, remember to be a little tactful when asking Tom, Dick or Harriet to quantify their definition of - He/she's a great dog like! I'm sure the answers will be quite enlightening.