When thinking of breeding from a current gundog that has been a faithful servant to you in the shooting field or looking online and asking fellow guns for recommendations for a new puppy, the job of selecting the future generations of the breed needs careful thought and consideration.
Whether a stud dog from the litter your stud bitch has produced or something from a different bloodline you must consider the health and temperament you want. Therefore, steps to guide your choice may well follow some of those listed.
Some of the things you need to look out for to produce a successful litter are:
- Summary of health for sire and dam (hereditary history of previous generations)
- Ensuring dogs have x-rays, for their hip scores checked and eyes tested at around a year of age.
- DNA tests for retrievers and spaniels as this will show if the dogs are a carrier of PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), SD2 (Skeletal Dysplasia), EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse), CNM (Centronuclear Myopathy) and other general muscle weaknesses
- A good temperament. Bold but not too over the top, not a nervous dog but a sensitive one would be easier to train. Active and athletic with a good nose, quiet and loves retrieving.
Just putting two dogs of the same breed together to mate would not suffice. Breeding is about strengthening and improving the breedline. It is important to recognise the positives and negatives of the two dogs you wish to breed together. It is always good to breed a dog with natural ability who can use its nose and is somewhat a natural gamefinder. The perfect gun dogs need to be intelligent, work as part of a team and willing to please. Dogs that can work all day as well as be athletic enough to jump walls and swim and then be ready to go again the next day after a good night’s rest are advantageous.
Bear in mind that the owner of the sire may charge £1000 or more especially if the dog you have in mind is a Field Trial Champion. Or, the owner may choose to have the pick of the litter rather than a stud fee in cash.
Over the year’s dogs have been bred to create different gun dog breeds each with particular strengths. You’ll tend to see lots of Labrador retrievers and Springer Spaniels out in the fields with both breeds having various sub breeds such as golden retrievers or flatcoat retrievers along with cocker spaniels and clumber spaniels to name a few.
The important question of training should also be considered as if you opt for a dog with high energy and drive you will need to be able to adjust your training to cater for a successful outcome as time and patience will likely be required.
On the other hand, you may well opt for a calm steadier bitch that won’t tolerate the pressures of daily training sessions thus a slower pace and tempo may be required while her confidence grows over time.
In either case you will want to ensure your basic training is covered diligently as having a dog that is under control at all times in the shooting field whether sat at the peg or walking to heel between drives is both safe and rewarding.
As the dog learns to work at greater distances from you hunting on the wind for a tucked in bird or being handled across water to a retrieve across an obstacle being under control and on the whistle for each command will be crucial.
All training of which will need to be considered when deciding on the temperament you are looking to breed from or select.
Gundogs need both physical and mental exercise which should include being social with other dogs and play with the boss, a variety of exploring in different terrains to keep their interest and grooming should also be part of their routine. Gundogs have much more specialist requirements for basic training thus good quality equipment such as slip leads/Whistles/dummies, and more are needed for the best results. For the best collars and leads tap here.
Gundog owner checklist, you’ll be the perfect owner if you:
- Love exercise and the outdoors
- Make plenty of time every day to exercise and train your dog
- Enjoy being out in all weathers
- Like your dog to affectionate and demonstrative
- Don’t mind mess being brought into the house
- Live in a rural location with a big garden and plenty of space for activities
Pictured are working gundogs from the Pebbleridge Gundogs. Pictures provided courtesy of Mark Twiggs, owner of Pebbleridge Gundogs.