I have joked around for the last few years that the “Pointing Lab” was a mythical creature, like a dragon or a unicorn. People swear they exist but nobody has ever really seen one in real life. Now I’ve seen a lot of nice labs, and I have even seen a few that actually pause before they flush the birds up. But, I have never seen an actual bonafide pointing lab up close and in action. For me there was only one way to find out if they really existed. I got online and went to GunDogBreeders.com and I bought an 8 week old male yellow pointing lab. I figured my pointing dog trainer should be able to handle it.
Well, the first thing that happened is that my kids insulted me by saying this is their favorite puppy we have ever had (I raise brittany dogs as a hobby). This yellow lab pup named “Ace” promptly won the kids over by fetching sticks and balls and anything they could throw and he could carry. He had good manners and put up with the abuse and annoying things that kids tend to do with young puppies. Ace has been a joy to have around and he is at my feet constantly following me around the yard. He hardly ever barks and he’s even tidy about where he uses the bathroom.
This month we brought him home a fat goose to sniff and play with to see if he liked the smell of feathers. He liked it a lot and even tried to haul off with the big old goose that was twice as big as him. There is a reason that labs are the most popular hunting dog in the USA bar none. I think I am beginning to find out why. Next week he will go spend a few weeks with a pro trainer and we will see if there is any pointing dog inside. If nothing else, I can always learn to hunt waterfowl.
Like automobiles and trucks people seem to almost naturally drift to one make or another. Some are drawn by looks, some by fit and finish while others want power and reliability. Even though I drive a Ford, I am a self proclaimed Chevy/GMC man. But, this is not a post about cars and trucks. This is an exploration of a few of the pointing breeds that I have had personal experience with. Often this is the first choice folks are faced with when entering the wonderful world of bird dogs.
German Shorthaired Pointers seem to be the state bird dog in my home state of Utah. Open the classified ads in the local paper and you will find several litters of pups to choose from anytime of year. In Utah, shorthairs are everywhere and for good reason – they are nice dogs. The GSP was my first bird dog and is a fine example of the versatile hunting dog. They point hard, have good noses and are a very durable dog for hunting quail and chukar in this desert climate. They can be very energetic and are one of the larger pointing breeds. I no longer have a shorthair in my kennel.
The American Brittany was the next dog to become a part of my hunting life. I grew up with a brittany and was anxious to have one again especially since I have a family of my own now. I think the brittany really excels in a family environment and is a great fit for small children. Some don’t care for the thicker coat of fur, but I don’t mind the extra grooming and brushing burs out. Several times when hunting quail my brittany went into thick brambles that my shorthair wouldn’t even try. The thick coat and smaller size can have their advantages. The result, we shot more birds that day. I think their noses are every bit as good and their temperment a cut above.
English Pointers are one of the original bird dogs when the kings had kennels full of fine hunting dogs. I think they are one of the most beautiful bird dogs and I consider them the Aston Martin of bird dogs. I had to try one and see how they were as pets and companions. The female we had was an easy keeper, no barking and really gentle with my kids. Found her to be an excellent bird dog and an intelligent hunting partner. For nice style and brag dog instincts you just can’t beat the english pointer. I sold her to a friend so I could try another breed.
That brings me to the English Setter. In the photo above is the sire “FC/AFC Riley’s Runnin Hideaway MH” to our english setter female Jess. We bought Jess from Ben Garcia at Hideaway Kennels. She has been a surprise at every turn. A few trainers had told me they found setters to be late bloomers and slow learners. Not Jess. She is sharp as a tack and is blowing me away with her big running nature. She points with style and has the people skills of a brittany. So far I am really liking my english setter. But, I remain a brittany guy.
There are several other pointing breeds that are worth a second look. I have a hunting partner that swears by his German Wirehaired Pointers, the ugly dogs. There is another buddy of mine that has a trained yellow lab that hunts upland game like none other. I’ve seen Vizslas, Weimers, Griffons, Frenchies and Braques of all kinds. There is a pointing dog for every personality and hunting style out there. What breed is your breed?
Had a fun training day with our young male brittany “Turbo”. He had plenty of prey drive but I was having a hard time getting him to point the birds. We had plenty of wide open space so I got a strong flying pigeon and carded it. The idea was the bird could flush and fly but not more than 70-100 yards. I planted the bird and then walked Turbo into the scent cone. As I expected he went right in to try to grab the bird.
This was a wary pigeon and a strong flyer and he wanted nothing to do with Turbo and flushed fast and far. Well, Turbo gave chase but did not see where the bird landed due to the heavy cover and brush. After a few minutes he scented the bird and went right in again to grab it. The bird flushed and flew. Turbo gave chase. This happened 5 times in succession. At this point I was having a hard time keeping up. The above picture is how I found him. He finally got the idea that he had to point the bird. The light came on.
Bird dogs can benefit from proper socialization when they are puppies. Kids are great for helping socialize and raise bird dog pups that are bold and well adjusted.
Had a good day training with a friend of mine who is working with a 6 month old german shorthair puppy. We planted several hens in some cover at the pheasant farm and just let the dogs work game. I was working with my Lizzy dog, a 7 month old female american brittany from Blueridge Brittany Kennels in Texas. Lizzy did a great job with the challenging cover (thick cat tails) in a marshy area. She dove right into the cover in true britt fashion and found a few birds. When the situations were just right we shot a couple of birds over her. We were careful of the distance between her and the gun fire. And we made sure she was intent on the bird before firing. She marked both birds very nicely and with a little encouragement retrieved them both to hand. The two dogs ended up busting a couple of rooster pheasants as well in some heavy cover.
Back in September I made some great friends at the Dave Walker training seminar. Two of them are Ruth and Mike Zangara of Overton, NV. They have a small brittany kennel down there called Medicine Rockz Kennel. Their nice little female Chloe was due to have puppies right after Annie and they whelped a beautiful litter of brittany puppies on October 19th. You can see the puppy pictures here and their pedigrees. Should be some very nice puppies for hunting homes and Mike and Ruth are great to work with. If you are in the Las Vegas area looking for a good hunting dog puppy, give them a call.
We are so proud of Lizzy and how she is doing in the early stages of her bird dog training. She is a joy to be around and is great with my kids and other dogs. She likes to retrieve things and play fetch, and man is she one bird crazy dog. I have some bird pens in my barn where I keep chukar and quail and she will stand there for hours watching the birds. I usually have to physically remove her from the bird barn. It is worse when we go to the pheasant farm because the flight pens are quite lengthy and she goes round and round it pointing birds.
We have introduced her to clipped wing pigeons and some quail and she has the bird-drive in her. Can’t wait for a few more months when we can get a little more serious and start introducing the gun. She follows me around the yard when I do chores and loves to ride in the truck.
Abby had a litter of 6 healthy solid liver german shorthair puppies yesterday. She had 4 males and 2 females. Anyone looking for a good shorthair pup give Cheryl a call at Idaho Hunting Dogs. There are 2 males available from this litter.
This is Tony from Blueridge Brittany kennels in Texas. He was purchased this week and will be going to training camp in Nebraska with David Downing to get ready for some fall hunting. David will be competing with Tony in a few trials to get some puppy points if all goes well. We are looking forward to watching Tony’s progress in his bird dog training. You can see Tony’s (Blueridge’s Race-N-Win) complete pedigree here.
I was hoping for a puppy out of this same breeding, but the repeat breeding didn’t take. After talking with David he mentioned that this male brittany was available from last years litter. After thinking it over I decided to go ahead and get this good looking male brittany from the futurity nominated litter between Rob and Kelly.