Everything you need to know about your gundog. This collection of information and advice covers field trial and working tests, gundog training and exercise, breeds and gundog health plus help with breeding and buying or selling your gundog.

gundog ready for the beating line

Get your gundog ready for the beating line

People often ask: “How old should my dog be before taking it into the beating line?” The truth is there is no straight answer — so much depends on the dog and the trainer’s ability. But the question every trainer should be asking themselves is: “Is my dog ready to go beating?” Of all the participants on a shoot,…

golden retriever

Why aren’t golden retrievers more popular in the field?

One of the mysteries of the gundog world is why golden retrievers are a comparative rarity in the shooting field, especially compared with the ubiquitous Labrador. Fashion undoubtedly has a great deal to do with this, because a good golden, trained to the highest standard, is every bit a match for even the best of Labradors. Though annual registrations…

Chocolate Labrador

Do chocolate Labradors deserve a bad reputation?

Chocolate is probably as synonymous with Christmas as the tree and the presents, but if you spot a chocolate Labrador on your shoot during the festive season it is likely to be the subject of some derision rather than celebration. But do these dogs really deserve their bad reputation in the shooting field? There is no clear-cut…

gundog photographs

Favourite gundog photographs

IF YOU ENJOY photography, few subjects are as satisfying to take pictures of than dogs, while working gundogs are perhaps the most pleasing, and challenging, of all. Whenever I attend a gundog event I always take my camera. Here I have chosen a small selection of my favourite photographs, but if I had to pick my favourites again next…

dogs in beating line

Gone off the whistle

A: It is more likely that working on live game has aroused his nose to such an extent that his ears are switching off when he is distracted by hot scent. A different whistle is not the answer but some urgent remedial training is essential to recapture full control. A dog does not respond to a whistle…

springer spaniel dream gundog

The dream gundog team

I’ll tell you what I want to see behind me when I am standing in a line of guns outside a likely looking covert. I want to see a bunch of pickers-up with sundry teams of likely looking dogs. I want them a good gunshot distance and where I can see them. I don’t want to…

Gundogs

Dogs in the beating line need to be the best of all

If you were to look at the hierarchy of gundogs in the shooting field, you would more than likely consider dogs that work in the beating line at the bottom of list. But, in fact, they probably need to be the best trained of all the gun dogs in the field and they certainly work the hardest. All…

Working sprocker spaniel

A day in the life of a working sprocker

Every Monday starts full of excitement and anticipation. I watch as the curtains are opened, praying for good weather. Sometimes we’re blessed, sometimes we’re not. Today fog fills the valley and as we travel out of the village the mist slowly disappears. Slowly the sun’s rays break through and by…

Weimaraner

Scottish Government turns tail on working dog tail docking

Those of us with British passports may think that we live in a united kingdom, but that’s certainly not the case, as a look at the law will soon confirm. In Northern Ireland, it is legal to shoot a jack snipe or a scaup, but not a moorhen. It is the other way round in mainland Britain.…

Gundog ears

Gundog ears badly designed

All our gundog breeds have floppy ears though, of course, some are a great deal floppier than others. Labrador ears may turn downwards, but they are functional and only covered in short hair, which might explain why ears are one of the areas of least concern with the breed (don’t mention hips or elbows). It is the…

Gundogs out in the field

My gundog embarrasses me in front of other Guns

A: You probably allowed him to hunt quite freely on his first big day as he was so well behaved, but hunting game is far more exciting than walking at heel. He got to enjoy meeting other beaters, who probably greeted him in a friendly way. Dogs quickly learn to do things when they gain pleasure from…

choosing a puppy

How to choose a puppy – a dog has his say

The human’s view So how do you finally choose a puppy from a universally adorable litter? Time was when the accepted wisdom was to look for the adventurous character. Lean into the whelping box and snap the fingers. The pup that was first up and over and investigating was the one for you. Eager,…

dog tail injury

Scotland drops its ban on tail docking

Holyrood has announced plans to change tail docking legislation to allow the tails of spaniel and hunt, point, retrieve (HPR) puppies to be shortened wherever a vet believes they are likely to be used as a working dog and risk serious tail injury in later life. Tail docking was banned in Scotland in 2007 as part of…

cocker spaniel puppy with mother

Why you should never buy a puppy on the internet

A recent press release from the Kennel Club (KC) on the perils of buying dogs on the internet was picked up by most of the newspapers. In case you didn’t see it, I will give a quick précis. According to the KC, almost half the puppies bought online without being seen first fell sick, typically with…

gundog training with whistle

Gundog sloppy on the stop whistle

Graham says: I am assuming that at some point your dog was sharp on the stop whistle and I suspect that during the summer you have relaxed your regime and he has got away with ignoring your commands. Make no mistake: dogs get bored of hearing the stop whistle without any “reward” in the shape of…

Frog dog posture

Frog dog posture – readers report back

I recently wrote about dogs that stretch out with their hind legs behind them – in the “frog dog” pose. Dave Seaborn from Abenhall Gundogs was one of several people who suggested dogs do this to chill out. Stretching out on a hard surface such as concrete after exercise “allows them to cool off as quickly as…

Labradors in pickup

Fruit-loving Labradors

Neil says: Clever boy indeed to be skinning his bananas himself! Patience with food such as this is unusual in Labradors. Yes they will eat anything. A Labrador patient of mine recently made a valiant attempt to eat the entire contents of the coal bunker. It took three days of enemas to get it all out. You could say a “miner” issue…

cocker spaniels

The cocker spaniel

The spaniel is one of the oldest “type” of hunting dog and today the cocker and springer spaniel are among the most popular gundog breeds seen in the shooting field. Spaniels were especially bred to flush game out of dense brush. By the late 1600s spaniels had become specialised into water and land breeds. The extinct English water spaniel was…

Labrador and handler

Do dogs get dementia?

A recent newspaper report suggested that a third of dogs develop some sort of cognitive decline from the age of eight, and two-thirds do so from the age of 15. Having known a good number of old dogs, this didn’t make surprising reading. Indications of dementia in dogs include the dog getting stuck behind furniture and needing…