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Early days

Choosing the right breed of gundog

Author: Fieldfare

When considering which gundog breed is best for you, follow your head and your heart.

As long ago as 1891, F. R. Bevan, in the 4th Edition of his Observations on Breaking Retrievers, wrote: “I have constantly remarked that men who shoot without dogs tire of sport early in life, whilst all who are fond of animals and of training them retain a long-lasting pleasure in it.” He had a point. More than that, though, ethical considerations – always a priority – are now more pressing than ever. The recovery of wounded game is the first obligation of any sportsman and a trained...

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Finding the perfect pup

Author: Ben Randall

Advice on choosing the right gundog puppy for you.

First of all, it must be stressed that taking on a gundog puppy or a part- or fully-trained dog should never be taken lightly. A dog will need a lot of attention, training, commitment, veterinary treatment and daily care for, with luck, 10–15 years. Deciding on breed and pedigree Choosing a breed of dog should be a careful consideration and thought through thoroughly. Firstly, it is important to establish what your expectations of the dog will be and the role you see it playing in your...

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The rise of the Aga dog

Field Editor Ben Randall considers the increasing demand for gundogs which double as family pets.

I don’t want a super one like yours. As long as it is good with the wife and kids, comes back when called, is steady to game and livestock, great with other dogs, sleeps in front of the fire of an evening, and will pick-up with me during the season and sit quietly on my peg off the lead when needed...” This is now a typical request from an increasing number of my clients – they have high standards! Gundogs have grown in popularity over the last decade, and there are now more people who...

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The new recruit

Author: Will Pocklington

A bundle of energy, inquisitiveness and hope. Lock away your slippers and stock up on kitchen roll, the young pup has arrived.

Three weeks in and nothing below knee-level is safe. Tea towels, shoes, firewood, ornaments, even the 13-year-old terrier – who only just tolerates her – are kept out of reach. A glimmer of hope: she is beginning to recognise her own name. She is a puppy proper; exploring, investigating, experiencing things for the first time and chewing everything in her path. Everything is new and exciting – sounds, sights, smells, and the members of her pack. It was an easy decision, but not one...

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Breeding Masterclass

We ask four expert handlers and trainers – Richard MacNicol, Jayne Coley, Dom Goutorbe and Field Editor Ben Randall – for their advice on breeding gundogs.

Things to consider: Health and suitability DOM: The health of your bitch will determine if you should breed from her. I think breeders have a moral obligation to conduct health tests – they are very accessible now. Testing requirements vary between breeds. Research them online, through breed clubs or the Kennel Club. If a bitch hasn’t had a litter before, should she be having a first litter over the age of six? The Kennel Club will not register puppies out of a bitch that is over 8...

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Puppyhood

Talking to three professionals, we answer your questions about puppyhood.

Q: What is the ideal age to collect a new puppy? Jayne Coley: Dog breeders, by law, must ensure that all puppies are micro-chipped and recorded with a government-compliant microchip database, such as Petlog, by the time they are eight-weeks-old and before they go to the new owner. Breeders tend to get this done when the puppies are seven to eight weeks old when they are also ready to go to their new homes. A good breeder will have ensured the puppies have had the best start in life,...

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Gundog Breed Evolution

Author: Ben Randall

How gundog training and breeding has changed in the last 30 years.

I am 44 years old and I got my first spaniel 32 years ago, back in 1987. There have been a lot of developments in training in the intervening years, and many of them have been extremely beneficial. When I was a young lad with a new spaniel, I read training books and observed the way other people handled their dogs on shoots. There were no DVDs then and this was the only way to learn. But back then they were pretty much all hard-going dogs. The breed lines three decades ago were quite tight,...

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Q&A: Kennels and First-Timers

We answer your questions about kennelling your new pups.

Photographer  /  MARK BEEDIE Q: I am new to gundog ownership and have just bought a six-month-old spaniel. I want to go beating with my new dog next winter but I need some help. Where should I start? Jeremy Organ: I recommend you look up where your nearest gundog clubs are via the Kennel Club website where you will find all the clubs’ names and contact details of the secretaries. Contact them and ask if they hold training classes. I think it is a valuable introduction and an...

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Is There a Perfect Beater’s Dog?

Author: Fraser Kay

Scottish gamekeeper Fraser Kay explains what makes a good beating dog.

A question that is quite often asked on social media gundog groups is “I’m looking to get my first dog for beating, what breed would you recommend?” Well, I suppose it all comes down to what type of shoots you’ll be beating on; whether it be pheasant shoots with thick cover, where say a spaniel might be useful, or on grouse moors or large upland partridge shoots where an HPR or a labrador might suffice.   The dog of a lifetime I got my first dog at 16 when I was a trainee...

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Pick-Ups for Picking-Up

We review the best pick-ups on the market today.

If you have gundogs and do a bit of shooting, there are a lot of hardy, workmanlike vehicles that will do the job for transporting them about and all the other kit you need on a day. It used to be that pick-up trucks were basic, raw and uncomfortable, but many of the latest generation are as smart as the SUVs some of the other Guns might be in, but more rugged and reliable. We pick some of the best.       Mercedes-Benz X-Class Relatively new to the pick-up category is...

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The Pick of the Litter

If you have decided on the breed of dog you want and are buying a puppy rather than a ready-trained dog then BASC’s Glynn Evans has some essential advice for the next steps.

If you have decided to go for a puppy there are some good ground rules to follow; do your homework, check out the adverts on the internet and shooting press to establish the going rate for the dog you are after. If a particular dog has caught your eye on a shoot day, speaking to the owner about where it came from can be a good starting point. Often puppies from a good bitch can be very much in demand and, rather like getting a child into a good school, you have to put your name down early....

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Keepers' Dogs

Author: Liam Bell

As Liam Bell explains, a gamekeeper’s dog needs to be an all-rounder, but its value is not judged purely on performance in the field.

Photographer / MARK BEEDIE We gamekeepers have dogs to work them, but we also have them as companions. In that respect I suppose we are no different from any other type of gundog owner, but I would be happy to be corrected on that. Where I’m sure we do differ from other dog owners, is in the variety of the things we ask our dogs to do. Very few keepers have the luxury of being able to keep a dog on ice, to be able to put one to one side for retrieving on shoot days or to be able to keep...

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