gundog breeds

What are the differences between the varying gundog breeds? Which would make the best gundog for you? Should you choose a spaniel, a Labrador or a German pointer?

It all depends on the work you want the animal to do. Other dogs, like Sealyhams and terriers, specialise in pest control.

That said, there are some breeds not known as traditional gundogs, such as Border Collies and Alsatians, that can be trained as useful dogs for beating, whilst other breeds (such as beagles) are best avoided for that particular discipline.

Choosing a gundog, training it and enjoying your time out with your four-legged companion in the field, is one of the joys of shooting. Having the right dog by your side will make for memorable days. So we’ve written in depth about all the different breeds and their various talents.

Below you’ll find extensive articles covering  the different breeds to help you decide.

Labradors | Spaniel | Vizsla | Weimaraner | German pointer | HPR breeds | Terriers

Working dogs

All-round gundogs – do they exist?

Most of my friends have more than one dog, they may have a spaniel or two for beating, a retriever for shooting at a peg or picking-up and a few of them even have a “terrorist” (terrier) to keep the rodent population in check. But, just imagine that you could…

Secrets of the Hungarian wirehaired vizsla success

The Hungarian wirehaired vizsla (HWV) is a relatively new breed, created a century ago in Hungary by crossing smooth-haired vizslas with other pointer breeds — among them the German wirehaired pointer and the pudelpointer — to produce the dog we know today. Tough, all-purpose hunting dog The breed’s development was…

Clumber spaniels

A day’s shooting with Clumber spaniels for the first time

I love shooting over dogs, so when my friend Nathan Hawkins posted an open invitation to shoot over a breed I had never heard of — the Clumber spaniel — I jumped at the chance. Charming Clumber spaniels This is a breed that has been apparently superseded by springers and…

large Munsterlander

Why is the large Munsterlander not seen more often?

My questioner was pointing to a large, longhaired black-and-white dog with an impressive white flag of a tail. The answer was no, it’s a large Munsterlander (LM). The large Munsterlander does resemble a large black-and-white springer, for this is the most spaniel-like of all the German breeds of gundog that…

hunt, point and retrieve gundog?

Which is the best hunt, point and retrieve gundog?

Though it is not a claim I have ever heard him make, Rory Major has almost certainly trained and competed with more breeds of gundog than anyone else in the business. He has trialled everything from retrievers and spaniels to setters and most breeds of hunt, point and retrieve gundogs (HPR). His successes include making-up the…

cocker spaniel

Cocker spaniel versus springer spaniel: What owners need to know

Our two most popular breeds of spaniel Choosing between a cocker spaniel and a springer spaniel has never been more difficult. According to the Kennel Club’s (KC) figures, cockers are the most popular of the two, with 21,845 registered last year, compared with just 9,837 English springers. However, the KC…

Sealyham terrier

Ratting with a Sealyham Terrier

The phone rang, “Hello Nick, it’s Harry Parsons, what you doing next Tuesday?” A quick check of the diary and it looked all clear. “Fancy coming out for a day’s ratting?” As much as I hate rats, especially their scaly tails, I do enjoy a day’s ratting with the Working…

Spaniel or Labrador

Should I choose a spaniel or a Labrador?

I go rabbit and pigeon shooting, and now intend to get a gundog. I am not sure which breed to go for. A friend says Labradors are born half-trained and spaniels die half-trained! I ideally want a dog to flush game and to retrieve it. Any advice, please?

Clumber spaniels

Remembering an extraordinary Clumber spaniel

Losing a dog always hurts. When I wrote about the death of my springer, Fleur, last year at the age of 15, it clearly struck a chord with readers, as several wrote to me. One of them was Alan Taylor, whom I’d met 10 years ago. Alan is one of…

German shorthaired pointer

The German shorthaired pointer

The very first time I saw a German shorthaired pointer (GSP) working was about 25 years ago. I had been invited to photograph an HPR (hunt, point, retrieve) spring pointing test on the Waddesdon Manor Estate in Buckinghamshire, and the first dog to run was a white and liver-ticked dog called Swifthouse Basil. I was truly impressed by…

lurcher with rabbit

The lurcher – a designer cross-breed dog

A gamekeeper once said to me that a lurcher was “any calibre of gun you require”. The lean, light “silent assassin” is a most versatile field dog and probably the oldest known designer cross-breed. There are variations to suit each type of land and each intended task, but all of…

sprockers spaniel

Sprockers – the aftermath of ‘Sprockergate’

Though the storm 
of “sprockergate” may have passed, it has left behind a lot of stirred and muddy water that will take a long time to clear. For those who missed the sprockergate story, it was the accusation that sprockers — cockers crossed deliberately with springers — were being run…

Plummer terriers

A useful day out with some Plummer terriers

By their very name, terriers are dogs of the earth. In the past, before certain legislation was implemented, this varied and extremely valiant family of dogs did exactly that, going to ground in pursuit of their prey. Everything from badgers to otters was pursued by the smooth, the rough, the white, the coloured, the…

Hungarian wire-haired vizsla

The rising popularity of the Hungarian wirehaired vizsla

Every season I enjoy a day or two brushing — that’s Norfolk for beating — on a shoot where the gamekeeper, Tracie Rickman, is a Hungarian wire-haired vizsla (HWV) enthusiast. Her dogs are brilliant advertisements for their breed, as they are good-looking, steady and responsive workers. They do, however, create some consternation among new Guns who have never seen them…

Clumber spaniel

Clumber spaniel wins AV field trial

A Clumber spaniel won an any variety field trial last month — the first time this breed has done so in living history and only the second time since field trials began. The victory by three-year-old Midori Diamond Huddlestone (Rigg), in an any variety spaniel novice stake held by the Tyne Tees and Tweed Field Trial Association, against 15…

Working cocker spaniel

The working cocker rules, OK?

Time was when everyone had a black Labrador and was happy. Then there were chocolate Labradors for a bit; that was just a phase really. There seem to be a lot of fox red Labradors out and about at the moment, which is a relatively recent development but I dare say it will pass in due course, as…

Korthals griffon

20 things to know about the Korthals Griffon

The Korthals Griffon is known as the Griffon Korthals on the Continent Or the Griffon d’arrêt in France and Quebec It was founded by the Dutch breeder Eduart Karels Korthals in around 1873 He dedicated 20 years to developing and perfecting his “Griffon” It is fully recognised by the Kennel…