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Choosing the Best Gundog Breed for You

Looking for the best gundog breed? We are here to help you know the differences between the various breeds of gundogs, and which will be best suited to you. First of all, it depends on the work you want your gundog to do, and getting the right breed can make all the difference when out in the field.

A wet spaniel standing on the side of a riverbank after swimming.

The Best Dogs for Picking-Up

The two popular choices for picking-up gundogs are the Labrador and the spaniel. A Labrador is capable of producing methodical and controlled work, with a perfect balance of speed and drive with gears and brake. A connection can often be easier to form with a Labrador and his handler too, compared to a spaniel which has a single-minded attitude. Labradors are becoming popular choices to have as an all-around gundog too, especially for novices. They are highly trainable, less frantic, and are also great family dogs. Spaniels have long been considered a talented gundog and are often what comes to mind when thinking of gundogs, as their great ability speaks for them. When properly trained, it does the job better than you could hope for, and they work hard. There are lots of choices when it comes to spaniels as well, from English, Welsh, Springer and Cocker to name a few, so you can really find one to suit you. Primarily hunting dogs, they are extremely lively and do need a good deal of supervision, but they also make great pets.

A black labrador puppy laying the grass with a toy.

Rough Shooting Gundogs

It can take hours and hours of training to produce a dog which can hunt within the shot range, is steady to flush game and it also a competent retriever. The most obvious breed for rough shooting is spaniels, either the springer or cocker. A Springer is better with the wet and cold, but the smaller cocker is great among grass hunting grounds. The hunt, point, retrieve (HPR) breeds such as the Hungarian Vizsla, German shorthaired or wirehaired pointers and the Italian Spinone can make excellent rough-shooting dogs, as they are very versatile. These breeds ideally need large areas to cover as their hunting pattern is wider than spaniels, yet do well in open woodland.

A brown German Shorthaired Pointer lying down in grass.

Hunt, Point, Retrieve Gundogs

There are a few good HPR gundogs to consider, such as those mentioned above. The most versatile of gundog breeds, they can be used for falconry, deer-stalking, picking-up and rough shooting, but you will rarely see an HPR on the beating line. The breeds we see in the UK all originate from continental Europe. Popular dogs are the Hungarian Vizsla, which is a natural hunter and takes to training very well. They are great pointers but can make excellent retrievers, both on land and in water. Their cousin, the Wirehaired Vizsla, has a heavier coat and substantial frame, better suited for working in cold weather. The German longhaired pointer is becoming more and more popular in the UK, and though looks different to the German shorthaired pointer (GSP), works in similar ways. They are very versatile and very popular, easy to train and less sensitive than other breeds. The GSP is a big and athletic dog, and is a mix of pointers and tracking hounds. They are also excellent as pets as well as working dogs. The Italian Spinone is a large, rough-coated dog which is loyal and friendly with a wiry coat. An ancient breed, it makes a great all-around gundog and is very active. The Brittany is another popular HPR gundog and takes its name from the north-western region of France. The square shape of the dog and short tail make it great for working out in the field, and they are relatively easy to train.

A brown and white Brittany standing in a field.

Remember to do more research when looking for the right gun dog for yourself, and ask for help from other gundog owners. At Fur Feather & Fin, we have a great range of dog training items and gundog accessories for you when you get your gundog. To find out more about SpanielsLabrador Retrievers and other gundog breeds, visit our blog today! 

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