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firebladejr

Working (gundog) help me narrow down my breed search

21 posts in this topic

I'll try and keep this short...

I'm an experienced dog owner, having owned everything from Chihuahuas to Staffordshire BT's and APBTs, and British Bulldogs. 

I've got 2 boys under 5 (both are well behaved though, and are good with animals), and a wife that is not overly a 'dog person'. We also have a small yard.

I hunt during the hunting season, and was thinking it would be nice to have a hunting companion that could keep me company for some of the long days spent trekking, that may also bring me more success (I'm basically taking my gun for a 10km bush walk on most occasions :laugh: ). I've looked at the pointer breeds and the HPR dogs (Vizsla, Wei, GWP, GSP, etc) but their energy levels seem a little too high for a small yard, especially if the exercise will be given by me before or after work... so my wife will be left to fend with a large boisterous dog when I'm not home (I can picture the flurry of text messages now). The dog will basically be my shadow, so whenever I head to the shops, work on the cars, the yard, etc I'll be bringing it with me. I've kept away from the terrier breeds as after owning a few staffies and APBTs, I'm well aware of the terrier traits, and I think they might be a bit much for a small yard surrounded by other dogs, etc.

 

Basically I'm looking for something that can switch off a little when at home, but will still work when taken out. It can't be overly big, so medium-small is best, plus small yard + big poos is not a good combination. Given my wife is not a dog person, I've been looking for something that sheds less, as that will help me give the dog frequent access to the house. I've narrowed it down to these 3, but let me know if there's something you think is better suited or whether I've got my pros/cons list wrong;

 

Whippet

Pros

  • Can switch off at home, and work all day if required. Ideal energy level.
  • Good size. Tall but still medium/small bodied. (Would seek a bitch to keep the height down a little)
  • Great with kids
  • Good temperament
  • Healthy breed
  • Short hair

Cons

  • Wife doesn't like the look of them at all
  • Short hair, but still shed a fair bit from what I've read. Although may be less than others.
  • Being a sight hound, I'm concerned about recall when off lead
  • Thin skinned (physically... not emotionally :laugh:) so prone to tears and cuts
  • More of a hunting dog than a gundog. Will seek out it's own prey and chase down itself. Not sure it will assist me in tracking game.

 

English Cocker Spaniel

Pros

  • They're pretty. Wife loves the look of them.
  • The English (vs the American) is more of a working breed, so may retain more ability to scent/flush game
  • Shorter than the Whippet so may be easier to manage and not as "in the face" with little kids
  • May work better in the field with me (training dependent), as they're more likely to assist with tracking/flushing rather than chasing/catching game
  • Nice family dog for the 98% of it's life when it's not out hunting with me
  • Whilst I believe that they are high energy.. every Cocker I've met (4 friends had them growing up) seemed to be incredibly relaxed family dogs

 

Cons

  • Not sure how trainable they are. My mum used to own an American Cocker and it was a nightmare. 
  • Long coat is pretty, but will require work. Have heard mixed feedback on shedding, some saying despite it being long it appears to shed less
  • Have heard mixed feedback on their tolerance for kids. Whilst the kids are well behaved around dogs (have been raised with a tiny chihuahua and a large British Bulldog), I'm not sure no the Cocker's tolerance for kids
  • Might be hard finding one that hasn't had all of the inherent working ability bred out of them
  • Health wise, they seem to suffer from a range of issues such as glaucoma, cataracts, cancer, etc

 

Beagle

Pros

  • They're pretty. Everyone loves a Beagle.
  • Exceptional tracking ability and great for nose work. Will help me a lot when out in the field.
  • Good size
  • Short hair (although I've heard they shed a lot)
  • Will be easier to find one that retains it's working ability
  • Health wise they're a pretty hardy breed

 

Cons

  • I've heard recall is terrible. With some hunters losing theirs in the bush as they would not return once on scent. Then having to visit the same location over a few days until finally relocating the dog. This would be my worst nightmare
  • Per above - recall seems to be an issue once they are on a scent
  • Temperament wise I believe they are great with kids, but may be destructive at home and less able to switch off than the other two breeds
  • BARKING.. I wrote that in caps as I'm well aware of the Beagle's barking volume. I have 3 pugs living behind me and 2 Cavs next door... I'm not sure I'd want a Beagle to join into that barking match, especially with the kids rooms backing onto the backyard
  • Shedding is apparently very high

 

Interestingly, I also looked at the Lagotto, but some really mixed feedback on their temperament stability has turned me off them a little given I've got 2 kids at home.

 

Edit: What about Dachshunds? They're a very versatile hunting breed. Should they be added to the list? What's their energy level like at home?

 

Edited by firebladejr
new research

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Rebanne   

I know little about "hunting" dogs but from your list I'd go the Cocker every time. They can be kept in a short hair cut. But a quick brush through every night should keep them tangle free. The health problems you mention are not confined to the Cocker only. Dogs and kids, well both need training to live together happily. Your wife likes this one! poo pick up will be your job :laugh: poo's don't have to be mine fields. I'd be joining a hunting group and asking for recommendations. There are working Cockers out there but I don't know where to find them either. Good luck.

 

Can you help @The Spotted Devil

Edited by Rebanne

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Scratch   

I would take a good hard look at the Border Terrier. A good breeder will choose you the right puppy. Many BT are able to moderate their behaviour to suit the time & place/space. They are a hardy rugged yet amiable & biddable little dog with a pretty low maintenance coat &  really can be almost anything you want them to be. 

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How about either Springer?  Close to whippet size but more robust and a gun dog. I've been a Labrador person, on my first Springer.  She's remarkably quick, absurdly interested in animals, brave, and despite feathers, doesn't shed much or require much grooming. DSC_0133_crop_57_resize_17.thumb.jpg.dc9c7075bdebdff620d1f88acb61170a.jpg

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Tassie   

Good thinking, @sandgrubber .  I've known some lovely Welsh Springers .. clever dogs, great tracking dogs, and the ones I know are beautiful house pets.  Coat seems to need general maintenance, but I would think tends not to stick into carpet etc like the stiffer shorter hairs of some other breeds.

 

Edited to add …. and @The Spotted Devil can give great information about working line ESS.

Edited by Tassie

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4 hours ago, Scratch said:

I would take a good hard look at the Border Terrier. A good breeder will choose you the right puppy. Many BT are able to moderate their behaviour to suit the time & place/space. They are a hardy rugged yet amiable & biddable little dog with a pretty low maintenance coat &  really can be almost anything you want them to be. 

They were included in my research list.. along with the Airedale, Patterdale, and Jagdterrier... The border is an awesome dog, there's just two things about it that turn me off.. 1/ it's a terrier (although it does sound like a milder version), and 2/ doesn't bother me but I know the wife won't like it.. she'll claim it looks like a cross and won't understand the purchase price haha

 

4 hours ago, sandgrubber said:

How about either Springer?  Close to whippet size but more robust and a gun dog. I've been a Labrador person, on my first Springer.  She's remarkably quick, absurdly interested in animals, brave, and despite feathers, doesn't shed much or require much grooming. DSC_0133_crop_57_resize_17.thumb.jpg.dc9c7075bdebdff620d1f88acb61170a.jpg

I love Spriners! (and Field Spaniels, as well as Brittanys).. They're getting slightly on the large side and from what I've heard, have a more difficult time switching off. I've had a couple of people mention "Springer rage" which I don't pay much attention to (after owning APBTs and Staffys), but nonetheless it has come up a few times.

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Scratch   

Another spaniel to consider would be the Field Spaniel. All the ones I’ve met have been calmer and more sensible than most of the Cocker Ive known. The fieldy has a more moderate coat as well. 
 

funny you should mention dachshund. I was thinking about this post earlier and the standard wire dachshund popped into my head! I adore dachshund my preference being the mini wire and mini long. Some of them are mouthy barky dogs but definitely worth considering. They are kinda like stretchy terriers really. 
 

Edited to add... I read your post again and still think a Border Terrier fits like a glove! 

Edited by Scratch

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Honestly if you like vizslas,one from the right breeder could be doable. My Viz is the laziest cruisest soul to grace this earth, if he has his people he is cool to explore or just hang at home. We joke the breeder broke the mould with him, she calls him 'speshul' and he's 10 now lol. He lives to sleep. He is my second and will probably be my last  because he is so awesome. 

 

Otherwise I think you'd definitely be on the mark with a spaniel of some sort.

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Dogsfevr   

Looking at your list of choices I think you need to decide more on what the family can live with .

You have listed 3 breeds so different to live with plus so added breeds that again have no common breed traits you want to live with .

 

So if the dog you purchase turns out to be a hunting lemon but has drive than you still want to live with what’s your plan .

What do you as a family want to live with for the next 12 yrs .

When the kids start sport or extra activities what degree or working do you want compared to family pet ,the right family pet adapts the wrong working dog breed from working lines still needs to do activities to keep its brain stable 

In your research keep in mind the terrain you may have gained your info from .

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JRG   

When I look at your responses to the various breeds, I have to confess that you do not really want a Gundog at all particularly not one of the working types.I agree with dogsfevr, get a dog that the family want, and take it with you on your hunting trips.  As long as it bashes the cover a bit and stays with you , it will be a good companion

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I have long observed that in 'what breed' discussion, everyone tends to recommend their favorites and dismiss others.  I'd ignore anti gun dog stuff.  My mother's dog, when I was an infant, was an English Springer.  She was a great family dog (though inclined to chewing and to retrieving the neighbor's chooks, unharmed).  My labs have all had good on/off switches.  My 12 mo Springer (hunting lines) spends a lot of time relaxed.  It doesn't take much to arouse her to barking excitement, though her arousal level has decreased.  She's extremely affectionate and playful and loves children.  I'm an oldie who lives with a few dogs, but I think she would have been an excellent family pet. 

Edited by sandgrubber

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9 hours ago, Deeds said:

What about a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

If you can find one that is healthy and not inbred 

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I'm another who'd suggest a field spaniel. As an owner of one of 2 years. I researched all spaniel types, I had specific desires in a dog. 

 

My girl loves to shadow me or other family members, she comes to work with me and can switch off quite well - however this has been a process and has come with maturity. If I had more time (I work full time and have 2 kids, 4 and 1) I would be doing dog sports with her. Her family members have been successful in flyball, agility, lure coursing, endurance trials, pack dog trials, possibly nose works as well? Cant confirm. But I know my girl would Ace it - she's a wannabe customs dog with that nose. 

 

She's 17kgs, a great size. She often gets mistaken for an Irish Setter by my customers until they see her whole body - she's a shorty. She loves a good romp in the yard, we just live on a 700m2 block, the yard is obviously a lot smaller than that and she's quite happy there. She loves playing fetch and chasing the ball. 

She DOES shed, I have a dalmatian as well, so i'm used to it, but it's longer brown hair. It's either shedding or regularly getting the dog clipped with non shedding coats, so I'm content to live with it - she sleeps inside. We do take her to the groomer every few months as she's a show dog and I like to keep her head trimmed neatly. 

 

Honestly, she is such a fun dog. I chose fields because the cockers I had come across were not the right temperament. The springers were too much dog for me. Different type of spaniels, but Cavvies were not enough dog. 

I wanted a fun breed, trainable and with a little coat. I wanted relatively healthy and aesthetically they are a stunning breed. The first 18 months were definitely challenging at times with her energy levels, but at the same time, I was 9 weeks pregnant from the moment she came home (I had waited 18 months for her! I wasn't going to delay her homecoming!). She has truly settled into the most lovely dog now, and seeing her family members on FB, it is nice to see how they are all growing and their different temperaments. 

 

They aren't talked about a lot, but I truly believe that they are a breed that needs to be more well known, they are lovely. 

 

 

 

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I would like to suggest a field spaniel as well. 

 

I have a show English and he is far more active and energetic than I think even his breeder expected (amusing as his grandfather was active hunting showline). This is good for me as I bought him after failing to get a welsh springer in time so he brings me close to that combination of springer energy in a large end of medium dog with flashy looks. He will absolutely drive me nuts without regular exercise. But he’s a good dog that suits me. 

 

But he wouldn’t meet your criteria for Home life.

 

 
A working cocker wouldnt quite suit your home goals either while the pet/show line cockers... I’m sure there are some that can work but it seems like it would require a lot of effort to bring those instincts to the front. Could be all the ones around me just seem a bit...calmer... due to their physical roundness. 

 

The field spaniel reads as a better fit for what you want to balance in terms of home, size, trainability and casual hunting. 

 

Plus, they are gorgeous! What a lovely shade and shape of head!

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I am wondering what you want to hunt? And do you want a companion or a dog that will work? So many people want a working dog because they want an intelligent dog. You’ll get that. In spades. But you’ll need to channel that drive and intensity into good not evil :laugh: 

 

If you want an intense, persistent, joyful hunting dog then a working Cocker or Springer could suit. I have two ESS snuggled up with the cats and me right now so don’t doubt they have an off switch. But they are not a dog you can leave outside all day - they are bred to WORK and are extremely persistent. So they can get obsessed with lights and shadows if left to their own devices. My girls are very full on but are an absolute delight to live with. I work long hours but train/exercise everyone when I get home. They spend their days on the lounge or the bed. They have two speeds. Flat out running or flat out sleeping. 
 

Otherwise you can look at show lines or breeds where there is no split between work and show. Don’t ever doubt there is a difference between them though. I know folk will say their show dogs retrieve but a good working dog will not give up. Ever. Mine have delivered to hand with teeth literally chattering and then gone back in the water for more. 

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In choosing a smaller gun dog, I suspect the individual dog may be at least as important as the breed. I'd suggest chatting with breeders with emphasis on temperament.  Better to ask what temperament is found in their lines and what they aim for. Also probe about how they match pups to homes before telling them what you are looking for.  Like most people, breeders tend to tell you what they think you want to hear:laugh:

Edited by sandgrubber

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corvus   

I have a podengo, which is a hound rather than a gundog, but I suspect more of a flushing dog than a hunting dog. Mine comes on trail runs with me. She is pretty good off leash. Phenomenal sense of direction. I don't really worry much anymore that she is going to get lost. More that she will end up on the road while adventuring. She doesn't range far, though. She is small (5kg), extremely personable, and a pleasant house companion. Full of personality and Opinions, very cuddly and charming. She invents games and they are funny and engaging. They are known as a very cheerful breed, and her tail wags probably about 80% of the time she's awake. She doesn't need to get out every day, but she will run 15km with me. She bounces around in the bush and looks for animals. She doesn't have a lot of persistence with it unless it's rabbits. She is fascinated with echidnas and keeps finding them for us. Blessedly, she just stands there and barks at them. She has a great nose and she's surprisingly trainable. 

 

Otherwise, Field Spaniels as people have suggested. I would look at Murray River Retrievers. My brother has one who is quite lovely. The gene pool is very small, though. Some breeders are health testing. 

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poochmad   

We have 3 Field Spaniels. They are a ‘soft breed’. By that I mean, they don’t respond well to being yelled at (not saying you will, but it should be mentioned as there are breeds that are ‘tougher’), they need to be socialised at a very young age, otherwise they will be scared of everyone and everything and no amount of training will help, when young they are a ball of energy and need lots of training. They can knock you over if not careful. They may be shorter than an Irish Setter but they weigh up to 25kg. I have 2 who are bird dogs and one who would have been an excellent rabbit dog.

 

When mature, they are pretty lazy until you take them out. They are easy to train, very loyal, some have separation anxiety, can do fine in a small yard as long as exercised. Some love water, have great noses (used for truffles) and they shed. We have constant tumbleweeds. They sleep inside.

 

The coat needs quite a bit of work.

 

They are considered a rare breed so you may need to go on a list.

 

There’s quite a few groups you can join to use the breed to the best of their ability, including coursing, truffle hunting and retrieving.

 

They are a fabulous breed.

 

Just don’t go on looks alone, or you will be sucked into the void...

 

 

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Dogsfevr   
On 10/29/2019 at 4:14 AM, sandgrubber said:

If you can find one that is healthy and not inbred 

Very easy too .Infact watched many VERY HEALTHY  Novas this weekend.
No different than your own chosen breeds when it comes to health issues & dodgy breeders

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