For a casual weekend bird hunter, a few questions. - Page 2
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Thread: For a casual weekend bird hunter, a few questions.

  1. #11
    Senior Member Hunt'EmUp's Avatar
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    Sep 2010


    Was in your boat about ~12.5 years ago. Nothing can be compared to getting a dog out of health tested parents that already do the work you want. Nothing can compare to hunting with a dog that was truly bred for it. Natural talent and intelligence will cover a lot of mistakes you will inevitably make. As for energy levels; different breeders breed for different levels of energy. But if you find a knowledgeable breeder they will be all about making sure you get the correct dog with the correct energy level for you. No breeder wants to have a pup-owner miss-match; and those that might breed for higher energy; are really particular about who they place pups with; they know what they are putting out there and want owners able to handle it. I would say the ultra higher energy level breeding are rather rare. On here there are a lot of people who could point in the direction of a good working Labrador litter; even a good Started dogs which will already have training and be all but ready to hunt. Working Golden litters, are harder to find; and it's very rare to come across a started golden. There are some on here that could help; it's not the majority. You'll need to find someone who knows that breed in and out. The minority breeds seem to have more character-quirks in different lines, and you need someone knowledgeable in the breed to help you navigate that.
    Last edited by Hunt'EmUp; 02-18-2020 at 01:11 PM.
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  3. #12
    Senior Member HPL's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Coastal Bend of Texas


    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah Fitzsimmons View Post
    I am just trying to determine what "I need" in regard to a dog for hunting in terms of what information might be printed on a pedigree. To me "an ordinary" Lab (or Golden) is one most people at least in America are likely to acquire as a pet without any intention to take the dog hunting.

    The Labrador, originally conceived with fowl in mind, is the single most popular breed in America today but less than 10% of Americans actually go hunting for any kind of game, feathered or otherwise. I've owned four over my lifetime, all from BYB. They were never taken hunting by me as their owners. One bitch died at age 2 in 2001 from canine lung cancer. Another bitch died at age 3 in 2000 from getting hit by a car. My 7-year old male and 3-year old bitch were rehomed in 2004 due to personal financial issues and I have not owned dogs since. My seven-year-old male was a good swimmer and a good Frisbee catcher but was prone to collapsing while catching Frisbees in hot muggy weather. I now now why he would like to lie his body down in a muddy puddle in the Frisbee field. I learned that he should have been taken to the local river for a swim on a hot day and Frisbee catching, or any land activity with exertion, should be reserved for cool weather with crisp air. Labs, I now know, are prone to hot-weather injuries. I would throw the Frisbee as soon as he would return it to my hand not giving him rest in between throws in muggy weather and this was dangerous for him. He was a hard charger and could get easily into trouble with doing much running in the hot weather. I also know know these dogs need plenty of drinking water when active in the field especially in warm weather.

    Is a BYB dog 100% no good to attempt to train as a hunting dog?
    Is a dog professionally bred for the show absolutely 100% no good to attempt to train as a hunting dog?

    I don't even know how one grades or rates a dog as to how well or how poorly the dog performs while actually hunting.

    I want a dog that promptly returns my downed feathered quarry to my hand undamaged and nothing else.

    I also want a dog that is not likely to have health issues.

    To me a 'great hunting dog' does everything you ask of it as a hunter and does it to YOUR satisfaction.

    Your NEEDS might not always be the same as MY NEEDS.

    Howdy Johah,

    I don't have anywhere near the experience that many here have, but I have, over the last 40years (I can't believe it's been that long) raised and trained three labs with the same goals you are stating. Just lost my third one to lymphoma about a month ago, he would have been 10 in about 2 weeks). My first one was "just a lab". I didn't know anything about all the health checks etc., but for my purposes he was, in many ways, the best of the three. Turns out that his hips weren't great, although they still carried him around when he was 15. He had pretty bad skin allergies, which caused lots of chewing and scratching and ear problems, but the allergies were controllable to a degree with cortisone shots. He was a great companion, easy to train, and, as far as I can remember, we only lost 3 dove in 13 years of hunting (and one of those was carried off by hawk before he could get to it ). Would I buy another dog that way, no. Too much of a crap shoot health wise, especially with the popularity of the breed now. Second dog had all the health certs I knew about at the time (hips and elbows). He had very good hips, and was a driven retriever, would rather retrieve than eat. We lost him just before his 11th birthday to mega esophagus. The one we just lost was from field trial stock, excellent hips, no health problems (until the cancer), lean and athletic, full of desire and stamina, very focused on retrieving (see the look on him in my avatar), but, to be honest, he was more dog than I needed, very high strung, difficult to train. Not a really good match. We loved him, and he was a joy to watch when he was retrieving, but miserable to sit in the field with if it was a slow day. Like you, I am now looking for a pup. I WANT to do my own training. I want an easy going, natural retriever. I DON'T need a dog that will swim half a mile to fetch a wounded duck or run 300yds to get a wounded goose. As I said, King was great fun to watch when he was retrieving, but just more dog than I needed. I'm going to be looking for a dog from hunt test stock, preferably with a strong British blood line influence. As I said, I can only share my experience, but I don't play the games, I mostly hunt dove (I only hunt ducks if the other hunter will take them home and eat them). Now that I've had one, I know that I don't need some fully blown, turbo charged, fire breathing hoss of a dog. I need a nice, journeyman retriever who will make my hunts more enjoyable and will be popular with the folks around whom I hunt.

    Paul Young directed me to this site: Really good article on how to pick a pup.

    I was also directed to Robert Milner's website where you can download his book Absolutely Positively Gundog Training for free just for signing up on his site. Some very interesting insights there.

    Hope this helps add to the confusion.

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  4. #13
    Senior Member RJG's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Stuart, Florida


    Quote Originally Posted by fishduck View Post
    Let me give you a different spin on your question. Why bother with the crap shoot of a puppy. You may spend the next 2 years of your life finding out that the puppy you purchased does not fit your needs. Could be a breeding issue, training issue or any number of personality conflicts. Instead look for an older started dog. The cost will be more initially but you will spend much more getting a dog to that level. You can watch the dog work and see how it interacts with you before you purchase.
    I agree with Mark! I have purchased several "started dogs" because I wanted to see them work and didn't want to go through the puppy routine at the time. They were/are wonderful retrievers and family members. They are more expensive initially but can basically hit the ground hunting while you continue to train them. They all bonded with us as if we had had them from day 1.

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  6. #14


    I have field bred dogs and they do fine in the house and have more than enough energy in the field.
    Don't know about a show dogs health certifications but it is hard to imagine that a show dog would be more healthy than a field dog and from the show dogs that I have meat I would have to say the field dogs have a better disposition. I would not try an "ordinary" Golden Retriever though I have only trained one from a show dog line and I will never do that again. The time or expense of the traning makes it impractical as well as the results will not be as good as a dog from a good field line.
    I have a litter of pups available now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah Fitzsimmons View Post
    For a casual weekend bird hunter, can an "ordinary" Labrador or Golden retriever get it done with the right training?

    There's pros and cons I keep hearing.

    -field bred dogs are too active for house or yard pets
    -show bred dogs have better health certifications

    I mainly want a dog for companionship and for long life and good canine health. Hunting talent is secondary in importance to me as long as he can pick up the doves, the ducks and the pheasant without damaging the quarry and promptly return the fowl to my hand.

    How does one become an amateur trainer to work their own puppy from litter to a finished gun dog? Is there a good book or video kit I can purchase for the DIY retriever trainer?
    Do I absolutely have to buy a dog with field trials titles on its pedigree? I'm not looking for a Rolls-Royce grade dog but just a good "Ford pickup truck" dog that gets it done with some good work on my own part. Will a Master Hunter or Field Champion dog really be a lousy companion pet for a typical 3-br home in the suburbs?

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