Team Sport Trainers
The 3 Types of Upland Sporting
Steve Ries, Top Gun Kennels and Native
Dog Food (www.nativedogfood.com)
Extension Of You
There are many sporting breeds for upland bird hunting and
everyone has a personal preference. In my experience, many
types and breeds of dogs can be effective hunters. Most sporting
breeds produce well-rounded companions
with the genetics to excel while hunting in the field or on
the lake. A good bird dog,
regardless of breed, will give you a longer reach and the ability
to find, point or flush and
retrieve more birds than you could on your own. The shooting
part, though, is up to you.
There are three general categories sporting dogs used for upland
bird hunting: Flushing, Pointing and Retrieving. Each type
has its own strengths and characteristics, in addition to
among the breeds within each type.
The following is a very general overview of what you can expect
from a hunting companion of each type.
Keep in mind that these are general statements and you may
see significant differences
not just among different breeds, but also between dogs of the
As a breeder and trainer of pointing dogs for many years, I’m
a little biased. Pointing dogs fit my hunting style best, but
I have enjoyed hunting with Flushers and Retrievers as well.
- Hunting Strengths – Pointing
breeds are often somewhat smaller and leaner than retrievers,
and capable of covering
a lot of ground due to tremendous athleticism. Some breeds
have less speed but still exhibit great endurance. They
will generally hunt within gun range, and upon finding a
will lock on point and give you time to approach for
a comfortable shot. Most pointing breeds will naturally retrieve
Breeds – Brittany, English Setter, German Shorthaired
Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer and Pointer (English).
Retrievers include the most popular registered breed (Labrador
Retriever) according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). This
is generally considered to be a result of the intelligence
and social nature of the breed.
- Hunting Strengths – Retrieving
breeds are known for their versatility and their ability
to withstand extreme cold, be it snow, ice or water.
They generally have a more rugged build but maintain good speed
They will quarter in front of the hunter to flush upland
and should stay
within comfortable gun range. As you can tell from the
name, they are enthusiastic retrievers
of upland birds and they love the water.
- Common Breeds – Chesapeake
Bay Retriever, Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever.
Flushers also include some breeds that are very popular as
house companions due to their size, appearance and disposition.
For the most part, Spaniels populate the flushing category.
- Hunting Strengths – Flushing
breeds are generally smaller in stature than many
pointing and retrieving counterparts.
They will quarter in front of the hunter to flush birds
and should also stay within comfortable
gun range. Like Retrievers, they are very comfortable
in water and have coats that
are well suited to extreme cold. Flushers will naturally
retrieve to hand and are well known
for their stamina.
- Common Breeds – Boykin
Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel and English Springer
Many Good Choices
The thing to remember is that the best bird dog is the one
that fits your hunting style. Research breeds and find
one with the traits and qualities you desire. Training and
with an instinctive hunting companion
can provide many years of outdoor enjoyment. If you don’t
have the time or experience to train him, we encourage you
to work with a professional to bring
out the natural gifts of whatever breed you choose.
For more information on specific
sporting breeds, visit the Bird Dog Bonanza at www.quailforever.org.
In Loving Memory of Ben Ries