Hunting tips

Which gun dog should I choose


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"No dog, no hunt" has been a well-known slogan in hunting circles for many years.

But there are many things you need to consider before buying a gun dog.

Bringing a dog into the family is a big decision, and it's essential that all parties understand what it means "to have a gun dog".

That's why you and your family need to think carefully about it first, and narrow down your search to some specific choices before opening your home to a new gun dog.

Preparation is key in dog training

Having a gun dog is amazing! You will have unforgettable experiences, both at home and in the field, and your dog will certainly liven up your hunt.

A well-trained gun dog is a joy - regardless of the breed.

And having a gun dog MUST be a joy, both out and about and at home.

Puppies resting

That's why you need to spend many hours with your dog before it can start working. Remember that there will be many days in the year when the dog won't be hunting.

That's why preparation is key when it comes to gun dogs. A puppy requires a lot of time, and there are many things it needs to get used to.

Partly being separated from its mother and siblings, but also having to learn a lot of new things before it can go hunting.

Attachment is particularly important when it's a puppy.

That's why it's important to think about how it will fit into you and your family's life. Think carefully about this before choosing one of those cute 8-week old puppies making eyes at you. That's a temptation hard to resist.

Having a gun dog is a commitment

A gun dog takes up time. That's why it's important to really understand the commitment involved in having a gun dog.

Apart from the daily care, feeding, walks and attachment, you need to start working with your dog right from the beginning - it also needs training.

That's why a dog needs plenty of contact - the more time you spend with your new dog, the closer a relationship you will have.

It's therefore a good idea to take a few days off when getting your puppy.

Puppies sleeping

Which breed should I get?

There will always be numerous questions around getting a new puppy. One of the more frequent ones is "which breed should I get?" The first thing to do is decide what your needs are. Think about how the dog will be part of the family, and also what your hunting needs are. There are special kennel clubs for all breeds, all with good, informative websites. Of course each club believes their breed to be the best. Read about the breeds, maybe watch some video clips or, best of all, visit someone who has the breed or breeds you're thinking of getting.


It's worth asking yourself what needs and expectations you have of the dog and, not least, which needs the individual breeds have when they become adults - some dogs need more motivation and exercise than others. Can you and your family meet these needs?

A rule of thumb could therefore be that the breed you choose should meet your hunting options and the type of hunting you want to use the dog for!

Big or small dog

Whatever breed you choose, be aware that a dog needs training. Hunting with a well-trained dog is a pleasure, but a poorly trained dog can 'ruin' your hunting day. You'll soon notice a drop in your hunt invitations.


It's not the case that small dogs come with small challenges, and big dogs come with big challenges. A small dog doesn't have less behavioural problems than a large dog. And you should be aware that a small dog has just as much need for contact and training. The benefit of a smaller dog might be that it's slightly easier to manage, and the cost of food is obviously also less.

Male or bitch?

There are many old wives' tales about dogs, both around breeds and gender. There are pros and cons to both genders, which is why it's once again about looking at your needs. In all breeds, the male dogs tends to be bigger and more muscular than the bitch, but the main difference is obviously that the bitch will be in season twice a year. This could mean leaving the dog at home for some hunts, or if you enjoy dog trials, you need to be aware that you will not be able to attend while the dog is in season. Otherwise male dogs and bitches can achieve the same results in hunts and trials.

Visit the breeder

Wherever you choose to buy your gun dog, it's always worth visiting the breeder before picking your pup. It's good to see one or preferably both, parents, as temperament is an important prerequisite to having a good gun dog. As a buyer, perhaps you've already seen the parent dogs out hunting, and thereby know their characteristics. But just because the parent dogs are talented, it doesn't mean they will automatically produce a well-functioning gun dog. Good characteristics in the parent dogs are however a good basis for getting a good gun dog, and if you as the handler know how to utilise the dog's potential, you’re already on the right track - but the dog handler's role is very important!!

No rulebook

Once you have decided to get a gun dog, it's normal to have great expectations. But when working with animals, there’s no rulebook when it comes to choosing the right puppy.

If you understand the breed's strengths and needs, visit the breeder and prepare thoroughly, you'll have the best conditions for success.

It's always worth asking advice from experienced handlers, and if you get to know an experienced handler well, they can help you find a good hunting and family dog.

Several kennel clubs have launched mentoring schemes for new members, so you're not completely on your own.

The next post is about choosing your puppy. When you're looking at a litter of small, cute, lively pups, which one should you pick and what should you be looking for?

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