Hunting tips

Retriever breeds


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The five most well-known retriever breeds in Denmark are Labradors, Golden, Curly-coated, Flat-coated and Chasapeake, all of which are gathered under the Danish Retriever Club. Common to the breeds is their unique ability and flair for retrieving, hence their surname.


Yellow Labrador Retriever

Labradors

Golden retriever

Golden

Flatcoated Retriever

Flat-coated


Cheasapeake bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay

curly-coated retriever

Curly-coated


Retrievers are very popular breeds in Denmark, where Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are particularly common. Their popularity is due to a combination of their interactivity with humans and other dogs, and of course because of their strong hunting properties, where they are reliable and faithful hunting friends, who are usually easy to train.

Below is a brief presentation of the breeds. For more information about the individual breeds, their history and specific characteristics, please visit the joint website, www.dansk-retriever-klub.dk

This website is very informative and there are links to the individual breed-specific clubs' websites, but also to general information about trials and shows. There are also countless good pictures of the dogs in different situations, as well as information and times of the many events held both locally and nationally. There is also good advice and guidance on acquiring a gun dog, input on training, puppy lists and much more. If you have one of the retriever breeds in mind for your next dog, it's a good idea to talk to breeders of the individual breeds. It might be worth taking a look at the dogs and talking about needs, training and characteristics.

The Danish Retriever Club organises many activities that help ensure that the dogs can be trained and thereby go on to become well-functioning gun dogs. You may have different ambitions for the dog, but it is possible to train the breed for both field trials and shows. Training for field trials increases obedience, and will test the dog's temperament and game-catching skills. Equally, participating in field trials is exciting for those who like to compete.


Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever is commonly referred to as a Labrador or Lab. It is one of the most popular breeds in Denmark and is thus also a well-known and prominent breed on many hunts around the country.


Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever


The Labrador is considered to be the most widespread breed of dog in the world, and in countries such as the US, Canada and the UK, there are a large number of Labradors. Some have probably heard of the term Formula 1 Labrador or the old-fashioned type. You could say that there are two variants of the breed, where Formula One or Field Trial (FT) is a slightly smaller and lighter type than the heavier built labradors, which some call the old-fashioned type.

Formula 1 Labradors are dogs that come from breeding lines bred with English and Irish field trials in mind, and these dogs came to Denmark in the 1970s. According to the Danish Retriever Club's website, ”… there is no marking on the pedigree indicating whether the dog is of one type or another, and if you want a Labrador puppy, you can ask the breeder which type of Labrador it is.

History

The breed that we now know as the Labrador was originally the dog typically owned by fishermen in Newfoundland, but was later bred on the Labrador peninsula in Canada. Here it was a Newfoundland breed dog who was the ancestor and he was crossed with local dogs with a retriever-like character. The aim was to get a slightly lighter type of dog than the Newfoundland, which still had solid working dog characteristics. This ended up with a fairly consistent breed that could work both on land and in water. From using the dogs to retrieve the fishermen's cork floats in the fishing nets, so that the fishermen could land the nets, it was discovered that the breed also had a unique ability to retrieve water-based birds.

When the breed came to the UK, targeted breeding took off, and dogs that were both physically and mentally strong were quickly bred. Knowledge of this incredible gun dog quickly spread from England. It soon became a favourite among bird hunters, where the dog's trainability, endurance and ability to work continuously both on land and in water - despite low water temperatures - made it very popular. It is worth noting that in the UK there was much competition among estate owners as to who had the best Labrador Retriever for bringing shot birds and other hunting prey safely and quickly back to the hunter.

Name and standard

The dogs were originally called the "St. John's Water Dog", or "St. John's Dog". This name comes from the capital of the island of Newfoundland, which was St. John. The term "Lesser Newfoundland Dog" was also used, but the name Labrador was only given to dogs after being brought to England during the 1800s. It is believed to be the Earl of Malmenbury who came up with the name Labrador. The Earl bought his first dog from a fishing boat that landed its catch in Poole harbour. It is said that he spoke about the breed as follows: "We always call our dogs Labradors...", and the name stuck. The Labrador is best described as a medium-sized dog, where the ideal size, according to their standard is 56-57 cm for males and 54-56 cm for bitches. Labradors are available in three different colour variants: black, yellow and chocolate.

The Labrador as a gun dog

The Labrador is the most popular gun dog in Denmark and is used by both ”ordinary hunters” and in professional hunting associations where it is an indispensable helper. The biddable temperament and the changed hunting style in Denmark have both had a major impact on the progress and popularity of the breed. Equally, the requirement to have a dog with you on the hunt has certainly prompted many to buy a Labrador, as it meets most people's needs. A Labrador is a reliable retriever, it can be used as an offensive/driving dog, and is also both family-friendly and easy to train.

A gun dog today also needs to be a good family dog, which requires a good-natured and harmonious temperament - and a Labrador is all of these. This makes the Labrador perfect for the tasks most hunters want a dog to do.


Labrador Retriever


However, it is quite clear that when it comes to retrieving, the Labrador is unique. It has a compact build and the thick short fur and good wool base makes it great for water work. Where other dogs are specialists in e.g. field work, there's nothing quite like watching a well-trained Labrador carry out a difficult retrieving task, displaying its good marking ability, allowing itself to be directed before finally carrying out the retrieval.

On the hunt, the Labrador must be able to sit completely calmly - regardless of the type of hunt it is on. It must be quiet and concentrate on marking the shot game. When sent to retrieve, it must be able to quickly and precisely bring the shot game to the handler. A focused Labrador that works and is not disturbed by other live game or shoots is a pleasure to see in action.

The Schweisshund Register (Bloodhounds) also includes many Labradors. They are suitable for Bloodhound tracking, where their excellent nose and calm temperament make them easy to train and great trackers.

Labradors can also be seen to solve other tasks that are not hunt-related. A Labrador can be trained to carry out the tasks assigned to him, both as a blind guide dog, a drug sniffer dog and a service dog.


Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever, or Golden, is also one of the most popular breeds in Denmark. It is a breed characterised by its friendly and calm nature that combines the abilities of a retriever with those of a family dog. A great hunting dog that is mainly used for the work required post-shoot, such as retrieving small game. The Golden Retriever has an inherent aptitude for retrieving, and as it is also steady, cooperative and calm, it makes both an excellent hunting and family dog.


golden retriever
golden retriever


History

The Golden Retriever is a relatively new breed of dog in Denmark, with the first Golden breeds arriving in 1958. The breed originates from Scotland, were the dogs were bred in the Highlands at the end of the 19th century. Here Lord Tweedmouth wanted to breed a hunting dog from the retriever breed, to suit the terrain and climate in the Highlands. Literature describes how a yellow puppy in an otherwise black litter of curly-coated retrievers was paired with a Tweet Water Spaniel in 1868. This resulted in a litter of more yellow puppies and these are the cornerstones of the Golden Retrievers we know today.

Just over 60 years ago, the first Golden came to Denmark. They were imported from England. The breed quickly achieved great popularity, as can be seen from the fact that 13 dogs were given pedigree status in 1960, and 15 years later, this number reached 3300.

According to the instructions on the club's website, if you're interested in buying a puppy, you should be aware that some Golden Retriever owners choose to focus mostly on show lines, while others choose to focus more on hunting lines. Puppy buyers with a particular interest in these characteristics should therefore familiarise themselves with the official field trial and/or show prizes of the parent animals before choosing breeders.

It is therefore possible to find a puppy from a breeder with exactly the breeding goals you want and whose breeding work you trust.

The Golden Retriever as a gun dog

The Golden Retriever is very versatile - also when it comes to hunting skills. Like the other retrievers, the Golden Retriever's strength lies in retrieving. The breed has been bred for retrieving, and a well-trained Golden Retriever will solve all retrieving tasks beautifully. The Golden Retriever is therefore often used in hunts where multiple birds are shot, and also by hunters who want a solid hunting buddy for migratory bird hunting.

The Golden Retriever retrieves beautifully on land and in water, where its love of retrieving really comes into play. The Golden Retriever is a sturdy type of dog that also has a dense coat and base wool coat, which means they work well in water. It is also a breed that is easy to work with and wants to cooperate with its handler. Golden Retrievers are generally faithful and devoted companions who are a pleasure to work with.


golden retriever


In the pre-shoot work, a Golden Retriever can easily be used for free search, where it should work in close contact and close proximity to the hunter. Golden Retrievers also retrieve wild game such as hares and foxes, and can be used for tracking, including Bloodhound work.

As with all other breeds, a Golden Retriever must naturally be trained for hunting, and if you want to find help with training or events in club sports, there are many great events listed on the club's website, along with advice and guidance.

Temperament and size

The Golden Retriever is a happy, friendly and confident breed. It is very social and works particularly well in families with children, where it is faithful and very loyal. Golden Retrievers interact well with other dogs and generally possess good qualities as both family and gun dogs.

The breed is always among the top of the Danish Kennel Club's published lists of popular dog breeds.

As well as being great gun dogs, Golden Retrievers will perform tasks within the disability area and as guide dogs for the blind. Colour-wise, Golden Retrievers come in all shades of gold or cream. In terms of size, males are between 56-61 cm, while bitched are 51-56 cm.


The Flat-coated Retriever

Like the other retrievers, the attractive, long-haired Flat-coated Retrievers are easy to work with and have a flair and aptitude for retrieving The pretty Flat-coated Retriever is also a devoted breed that is active and has a lively temperament.


flat-coated retriever
flat-coated retriever


History

Historically, you have to go back to around 1830 to find the first retriever breeds, and in around 1850, the Flat-coated Retriever began to emerge. Hunters began breeding retrievers that were skilled retrievers, and as the population was not so large, different hunting dogs became available.

For the Flat-coated Retriever, it was water dogs, Setters and individual herding dogs that were the foundation. Even then they sought to improve the dogs through targeted breeding. The breeders saw the so-called St. John Dogs and at believed that these new dogs could refine the breed. The dogs were originally brought to England by North American fishermen, and made excellent retrievers with their medium-sized, robust frame and long head. As the dogs also had a heavy coat, they were extremely good for water work.

Much work went into producing the Flat-coated Retriever we know today, and in 1870 the breed was given its name. Until then, they were known as Eavy-coated retrievers, but a straight coat was desired for this breed, hence the name Flat-coated Retriever.


flat-coated retriever


Different breeders in England worked on breeding skilled dogs, but World War II impacted the relatively small population of Flat-coated Retrievers. Fortunately, the remaining quality dogs were used sensibly and the breed was re-established. This type of dog with strong hunting traits and a good temperament is the basis of the type we know today.

Current breeders, also in Denmark, want to breed dogs that have both good hunting skills and a lovely appearance – "dual-purpose” dogs. Breeders also want to maintain the breed's good temperament with a happy and lively dog that works closely with its handler. This strategy has contributed to the fact that the Flat-coated Retriever is now evenly distributed throughout Denmark. This also means it is easy to get help and guidance with buying puppies, training and activities. A good idea is to visit the breed-specific club's website at www.flatcoat.dk

When it comes to training a Flat-coated Retriever, it is worth getting help from the club's experienced staff, as this type of retriever requires slightly different training.

The Flat-coated Retriever as a gun dog

The Flat-coated Retriever is a great gun dog, whose core skills come into play post-shoot. This is a very industrious breed that needs contact and activation.

The Flat-coated Retriever can be a little later to mature than other breeds, but once you have trained it, you have an eager, effective and enduring retriever who works well in all types of terrain. The Flat-coated Retriever loves water and also shows persistence and endurance when working in water. This breed also has a dense coat and water-repellent fur that protects the dog from the cold, a clear advantage when retrieving at the end of the hunting season.

This is not ”just” a dog to use post-shoot. The Flat-coated Retriever is a versatile gun dog that can easily be used to search in short ranges pre-shoot. The breed works in close contact with its handler and can easily be trained to search/work in shooting teams.

Temperament and size

The Flat-coated Retriever is a lively and good-natured dog who loves to work with its handler. It is a friendly family dog with an ideal size for males of 58-61 cm, and 56-59 cm for bitches. The colour is usually black, but they can also be liver coloured.


Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever comes from America and is named after the largest bay on the east coast of the United States, Chesapeake Bay. Known for its love of water, the breed loves to retrieve, is a sturdy build and possesses great versatility.


chesapeake bay retriever
chesapeake bay retriever


Origin and history of the breed in Denmark

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are breeds bred by professional duck and goose hunters who needed dogs that were willing to retrieve, were persistent and, not least, strong when it came to post-shoot work. A breed of dog that could also work in difficult terrain and that was almost tireless when put on tough retrieving tasks in Chesapeake Bay. These hunters relied on being able to shoot as many birds as possible to then get them to market, and so found these dogs perfectly suited for their purpose.

According to literature on the breed, the Chesapeake dates back to 1807, when an English boat sank off the coast of Chesapeake Bay. The crew and 2 Newfoundland puppies were rescued ashore. The owner of the boat was very interested in the Newfoundland and bought a male and a bitch from the best line. However, the captain later sold the two puppies, both of whom earned a good reputation as retrieving water dogs and were used for hunting water-based birds and geese. As far as is known, the two dogs were never crossed with each other, but they were crossed with local "coonhounds” and the result was a relatively homogeneous type, which was extremely sturdy with strong retrieving skills and a love of water. They went by the name of Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dogs.

The Chesapeake was reinvented in the 19th century, and was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1878. The exact breeding standard currently in force can be found on the club's website.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has been in Denmark for almost 100 years, where the first two dogs were imported from the America. However, it took a number of years for the breed to make its "breakthrough” in the country. So it was not until the mid-1960s that these dogs were imported from the Netherlands and the US. It is also during this period that the first Danish-born puppy litters were registered in the Danish Kennel Club.

These highly committed breeders founded the line of Chesapeake Retrievers that we see active in Denmark today. Even though it was a slightly difficult start for the breed in Denmark, it is now an established gun dog that is part of the Danish Retriever Club.

The club organises a wide range of activities all year round, offering advice and guidance in on gun dog training and shows. The website offers great learning opportunities and dog socialisation events, especially useful for new dog owners.

The Chesapeake as a gun dog

The Chesapeake loves to work and possesses great persistence and raw power. This places demands on the training, and as a new dog owner, it may be a good idea to take advantage of the club's offer of advice and guidance in order to get the skilled gun dog you want.

One of the strengths of this breed is its great enthusiasm for water. The Chesapeake is truly built for water. It stands out from the other breeds because its hind legs, which are extra long to make it an efficient swimmer. It also has webbed skin between its toes. The breed has a long, strong tail to help the dog navigate the waves. A Chesapeake does not give up and shows great perseverance.


chesapeake bay retriever


A Chesapeake combines effective hunting with an appearance that is typical of the breed. A ”dual-purpose dog”. The breed has been bred to retrieve and with a core skill in water work. In short, it has been bred to work all day at an effective pace.

The Chesapeake can of course also be trained to search in short ranges under the gun and/or operate in hunts, so it's not ”just" a post-shoot dog. It is quick and usually close to its handler. It is also an excellent tracking dog, and many of these dogs have been included in the Schweisshund Register, and several Chesapeakes have done well in Bloodhound tracking trials in Denmark.

A Chesapeake is a lovely family dog, but requires an active life. It needs to be kept active and both muscles and mind need to be kept stimulated.

Appearance and size

Most Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are brown. The term "the Chessie rainbow” covers the breed's many colours that allow any colour of brown, sedge and deadgrass, which is why the breed standard list a whole eight colour variants. The hallmark of the breed is its coat, where you see a short and dense coat with a strong undercoat that protects against cold. The coat is curly and the right coat is never curly on the legs. On the head, the fur is short and straight, the "Deadgrass" colour is similar to wispy grass, and the "Sedge" colour resembles reeds. Another distinctive trait is the eye colour, which is yellow to amber. The Chesapeake has a powerful and athletic appearance. Males weigh approx. 35-40 kg and bitches approx. 25-32 kg.

In terms of height, the ideal size for males is 58-66 cm, and 53-61 cm for bitches.


The Curly-coated Retriever

The Curly-coated Retriever is a unique retriever that is heavily built, sturdy during the hunt and with an easily recognisable coat that ensures that the breed can work continuously in water. It is also the oldest of the retriever breeds.

The Curly-coated, or ”Curly”, has a great personality, is good at working independently, and has a strong ability to mark wounded birds. Generally, a Curly-coated Retriever is close to its handler, and with the right training makes a loyal and excellent gun dog.


curly-coated retriever
curly-coated retriever


History

Historically, the Curly-coated Retriever is the oldest of the retriever breeds, and probably one of the oldest hunting breeds of all. As early as 1860, it was officially approved as a breed. If you look at literature and paintings from the 1700s, you will already be able to see English gentlemen with a Curly-coated Retriever by their side when they were hunting. And back in 1860, the breed appeared at an exhibition in England. In 1864 it was given its own category, reserved purely for Curly-coated Retrievers.

The Curly-coated Retriever has always been used for hunting birds, and is an excellent retriever. On the other hand, it has been difficult to define which breeds the dog comes from.

The reason for its great popularity going back in time is down to the breed's strength and persistence. Back then, hunters and shooters liked to hunt in water, and the Curly-coated Retriever excelled in its ability to keep on going even in the toughest retrieving tasks.

During both the first and second world wars, the breed experienced a decline, but in both cases there were dedicated breeders around who managed to restore the numbers through targeted breeding. Following World War II, this development continued. Today, the breed is the least prevalent among the five breeds in the Danish Retriever Club.

Appearance and temper

The Curly-coated Retriever is an active breed that loves spending time with people. It requires exercise, mental stimulation and is generally very easy to work with. This retriever is easy to train and an excellent swimmer. It also makes a great and caring family dog that is easy to socialise with other dogs.

Its distinctive feature its the coat, which is made up of dense curls, in either black or liver. The body is covered with small, tight curls from neck to tail, which lie close to the skin without a wool base. The rest of the dog is smooth-haired. The coat protects the dog during the hunt - when working in shrubs and water. The special coat contains a fat that insulates the dog when working with water and allows the dog to dry quickly.

The colours are either black or liver, and the ideal size for males is 68-69 cm and 63- 64 cm for bitches.

The Curly-coated Retriever as a gun dog

It is a breed that is primarily bred to work in the aftermath of the shoot. They are excellent retrievers with a very good marking ability. They are also great trackers and therefore make good search dogs when it comes to searching for wild game.

Equally, they can be trained to work in a short range and thus be used as offensive dogs. As mentioned above, this is a sturdy breed that also works in shrubs, thickets and forests. The breed's good nose and great persistence make it a reliable hunting companion that can often handle even the most challenging retrieves. Its build is slightly different to the other retrievers, and due to its size the Curly-coated Retriever may appear slightly slower than the other breeds.

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