A good gundog is so important, but what makes a good one?

Choosing a good gundog is not made easy due to the fact there are so many different types and styles of bird hunting. Some of you may prefer to hunt for water fowl such as ducks and geese. Others like to hunt for Upland or Lowland birds so you need to look at select breeds.

Gundogs or bird dogs assist hunters by identifying the location of the prey or by retrieving the downed prey and are extremely adept for hunting because of their acute sense of smell and sound.

Due to the differing styles of hunting and not to mention breeds of gun you may wish to draw up a check list to narrow down your choice. Here are some guidelines…

Where will I be hunting and in what climate, many dogs can handle the cold.

What Hunting style of hunting do I plan on! i.e. long range or short range. Hunt close- Again- breeder and lineage. Hunt with the line of gun you want. It's no guarantee, but if their parents are good gundogs you should be onto a winner.


Temperament of breed, although there is good and bad in most breeds some are calmer than others which may lead you to look into this deeper.

Intelligence- Some dogs are naturals, some aren't. I think this holds true in all breeds. Finding the right lines helps with this as it does with temperament too.

Size -- How big a dog can you handle in your yard or house.

Exercise -- How much extra time for exercise can you spend? Some breeds need lots of exercise time.

Family -- Will there be young kids around or interaction with non-family members. Some breeds are very protective.

First Time trainer or will you send out for training -- Some Pro trainers do not have the time to work with breeds they are not familiar with.

Trainability -- some breeds are much more forgiving others are hands on and others take a different approach with more time

What are you going to use the dog for? Geese, then a big dog is called for, cold water needs a breed such as the Irish water spaniel who can handle this, and high heat limits the long haired gundog. Then we come onto male or female gundogs, some hunters prefer female dogs as they believe males can be submissive and females can be aggressive, however you just need to wait and see how the dog develops.

Training your gundog.

Many hunters with gundogs follow the methods of Bill Tarrant who has been described by Hunting Retriever magazine as "one of the premier dog writers in America." He has won numerous awards and was twice named dog writer of the year by the Dog Writer's Association of America.

Bill Tarrant's book about Delmar's method teaches putting a rope on them in the first few weeks to get them used to a check cord. Chaining your pup up the moment you get home and then going away. You offer water every two hours until he sees you as his saviour and also the Whoa post with a pinch collar.

If you have a gun-shy pup, stop shooting the gun around the pup before you do any irreversible damage and get it to a Pro Trainer. What separates most of us from the pro trainers is their ability to read the dog and determine how to deal with a problem.

This comes from training hundreds of dogs and something that only experience can provide. I would suggest having a good pro look at the Dog and help you get it sorted out. Some dogs won't point until they mature a little and need to bump wild birds for a while to figure it out. If the dog is gun shy, it is almost always the trainers fault for not introducing the gun properly.

Get her bird crazy first then worry about the gun. Most dogs will not have an issue when introduced in the right manner...

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