Which Breed Of Dog Is Best For Bird Hunting?
Look through any book or magazine focused on wingshooting and you'll see images of bird hunters and bird dogs. For hundreds of years now, hunters and their dogs have headed into the field together.
Today, it's the classic way to chase grouse, woodcock, quail, or pheasant. But why? What's so special about bird dogs? And which breed may be best for you?
Do you need a dog?
While wingshooting and bird dogs go together like ketchup and hot dogs, you can hunt some species—like ruffed grouse and woodcock—-without a canine. But the experience probably isn't as productive. That's because good bird dogs offer hunters several key benefits.
What is a "bird dog"?
Humans and dogs have lived together for thousands of years. In that time, we've bred them for all kinds of characteristics. While you can take any dog into the field, ones bred to hunt birds have certain traits and abilities. According to these traits and abilities, bird dogs can be categorized into three groups:
Buying a bird dog
As you start your search for a bird dog, it's important to match the dog's abilities to who you are as a bird hunter. To help you do this, here are some questions to ask yourself and things to consider:
Consider several breeds
Once you've done the above and decided on the type of bird dog you want (pointer, flusher, or retriever), the next thing to do is consider a few breeds in that category. For example: If you want a flusher, take a look at Springer spaniels and Cocker spaniels. If you're leaning towards a pointing dog, check out English setters, English pointers and Brittany spaniels.
With a little searching online, you can track down breeders who raise these dogs. Contact them for more information. If a breeder is close by, go see their dogs for yourself. You can also go online to see if there are any field trials or hunt tests nearby featuring the type of dogs you're interested in.
The more you know and the more you see, the more you'll udnerstand about what sets different breeds apart and makes them special. When it comes time to make your final decision, you'll end up with the best bird dog for you.
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