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.

German wirehaired pointer

Bitch or dog – what makes the best gundog?

SEX, WHETHER WE like to admit it or not, dominates our lives in many ways, not least when we come to choose our future shooting companion. For more than 30 years I’ve only owned bitches, which you might think indicates a strong preference for females, but really it’s just that, as…

spaniel in brambles

Are dogs really colour-blind?

ONE OF THE extraordinary things about dogs is that they may be able to mark a falling bird 200 yards away, but they will run straight past a dead bird lying in the open without seeing it. It’s a reminder that a dog’s eyesight is very different from our own.…

Irish water spaniel

The Irish water spaniel

Some years ago an Irish water spaniel (IWS) enthusiast described the breed to me as the joker in the gundog pack. He had a point. The IWS is not only a rarity, but also an oddity. Despite its name, it’s not really a spaniel. This is why the Kennel Club…

Bill Meldrum

Bill Meldrum: The Queen’s former headkeeper talks gundogs

Bill Meldrum may have lived down south for more than 50 years but he is a Scottish gamekeeper through and through. In 1958 he won his first open stake and back then 70 per cent of the dogs running in any stake in Scotland were keepers’ dogs. A few landowners…

dog training hand signals

The dog training hand signals you need to know

Depending on the kind of dog work you intend to do, you may know that it needs to be trained to take hand signals and to be able to be sent back, left or right. If you plan just to go beating with your dog, then you may never need…

gundog retrieving

How to shoot over your dog

Over the past couple of months we have looked at taking your gundog into the beating line or being part of a picking-up team, but the ultimate for any gundog handler has to be shooting over your dog. It isn’t easy and not for the faint-hearted, but these guidelines should help.…

beaters dogs

Why beaters’ dogs have it best

Half a century of observing the British shooting field has led me to the conclusion that on a typical driven shoot, the people who have the most fun are the beaters. The pickers-up enjoy themselves, too, but their job comes with a great deal of responsibility. The Guns all pretend they are…

George Butler

Meet George Butler the springer specialist

To describe George Butler as the best-known picker-up in Sussex is something of an understatement. George is not only famous throughout the county for his team of English springers — invariably working at least half a dozen at a time — but also for the annual shoot evening that he started on behalf  of what was the Game Conservancy and…

Gundog anxiety

Beating a gundog’s first time anxiety

Working your dog in the beating line of a driven shoot can be the most satisfying thing in the world but it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. There is a train of thought that if you only ever plan to use your dog for beating, there is no need to teach it to retrieve. In fact,…

hounds at crufts

Is your gundog ready for Crufts 2016?

The gamekeepers’ classes at Crufts 2016 are open to gamekeepers, owners of working gundogs, gundog teams and young handlers. Once again the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) -the UK’s largest shooting organisation –  will host these particular classes which will be held on Gundog Day, Friday 11 March 2016,…

gundog trainer

Gundog etiquette – picking up birds

Many novice handlers aspire to be part of a picking-up team, but few are fully aware of the responsibility that comes with working your dog in what is a vital part of a gameshoot. The aim of a good picker-up is not to come back to the gamecart laden with dead birds,…

English setter

Passing over pedigrees?

EARLIER THIS MONTH The Telegraph asked readers to vote online for their favourite breed of dog, which they did in impressive numbers. More than 30,000 votes were cast during the four days the poll was open. Its results make fascinating reading, for in the number one slot wasn’t a breed at…

English springer spaniels

Time for the super-spaniel?

I don’t know how many English springer spaniels there are in the UK, but my guess would be between 160,000 and 200,000. This is based on 12,000 puppies being registered with the Kennel Club annually, plus the fact that there are many pure-bred but unregistered springers. Assume an average lifespan of…

Clumber spaniels

Gundog breeds in focus: The Clumber spaniel

Look at the wonderful Victorian paintings of Clumber spaniels and you will see a dog that has only a passing resemblance to the Clumbers that dominate the show benches today. This sporting spaniel was developed by the Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire as an active, agile dog,…

Mark and Jamie Bettinson

Mark and Jamie Bettinson: A profile

A glance at the diary entries on the desk at Bridgecroft Kennels in Hengoed, south Wales, reads like a who’s who of field trialling. Bridgecroft is one of the nerve centres of the UK trialling scene. Mark Bettinson was born three miles from the kennels and Jamie, his son, just…

Springador

Why have crossbred gundogs become so popular on shoots?

Are we guilty of overlooking crossbred gundogs? Felicity Winters thought so, and was inspired to write to the editor of Shooting Times, urging us to take more notice of the growing number of crossbreeds working on shoots. Felicity has a point: there are certainly far more springadors (springer x Labrador)…

FTCh Wickstreet Harvester

A springer spaniel is not a difficult gundog to train

Although I’m a fan of most gundog breeds, with labradors, cockers and springers all currently residing at ‘Clarke Towers’, it has always been the springer spaniel that for me has held the greatest appeal of all. My personal opinion is that no other breed of gundog comes close to the…

gundog puppy training

Training a puppy to the gun

All dogs should learn the social graces that make them acceptable in human company, but a gundog’s upbringing needs special attention. You should bear in mind that your ultimate goal is for your dog to be a companion and teammate while also being under control and understanding that you call…