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? Would a springer be the best shooting companion for your needs?

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 and training your gundog

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 different dogs 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

black Labrador puppy

What makes the perfect Labrador?

If you wanted to start an argument at a game fair, 
you couldn’t go far wrong with initiating a discussion about what the perfect Labrador should look like. Even the most casual countryside observer will be aware that there 
is huge variety in the breed. As it is the most…

sprocker spaniel

Just why is the “sprocker spaniel” becoming so popular?

A friend was torn between gundog choices.  Should he go for an English springer, or an equally speedy but rather smaller cocker? In the end he compromised. He bought a sprocker spaniel, combining, he anticipated, the best of both breeds. Sprockers becoming increasingly sought-after In recent years, sprockers — intended crosses…

springer spaniels

Which breed of spaniel should I buy?

Don't overlook the minor breeds, like Clumber, Welsh springer or Brittany spaniels, although their natural hunting, retrieving and training ability probably won't be as strong as a Cocker or Springer

Welsh springer spaniel

Will the Welsh springer spaniel survive?

A chance encounter with a Welsh springer spaniel (WSS) on a shoot earlier this month reminded me what a handsome breed this is and what a shame it is that we do not see more out working. Welsh springer spaniel – a curious breed It is the most numerous of…

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…