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Buying a gundog puppy

How to find a well-bred gundog puppy

If you’re looking to buy a well-bred gundog puppy and you approach breeders of field trial champions, they’ll often tell you that the puppies have been sold before they’re even born. But you needn’t worry; it’s not necessary to buy a puppy bred from a champion to a champion.

If you find a puppy from good, sound working stock you should end up with a gun dog that will train and behave well.

When it comes to locating the puppy, a great place to start is Shooting UK Marketplace. There are new gundogs for sale listed regularly with photographs and detailed descriptions to give you a feel for the kinds of puppies available.

There are also plenty of gundogs for sale adverts in the back of Shooting Times, Sporting Gun, The Shooting Gazette and The Field that you can flick through. Another great place to enquire is your local gundog club.

What do abbreviations in gundog adverts mean?

FTCh and FTW represent dogs that have competed in field trials on live game under Kennel Club rules. FTCh means Field Trial Champion and FTW means Field Trial Winner.
GWT stands for gundog working tests. These dogs may have only handled dummies and never live game
D/DC means docked and dew clawed

What is important when buying a gundog?

  • Check the puppy has been bred from health-tested parents because this will reduce the risk of the gundog developing joint or eye problems
  • See the mother to check she looks healthy and get a feel for her temprement
  • If you can, speak to someone who has seen the dam work because a good sire won’t necessarily make up for the shortcomings of a bitch
  • Looking at other pups sired by the male will also give you an idea of how suitable the gundog may be

You can find a more detailed checklist on the Shooting Gazette website

How to choose a gundog puppy from the litter

There is no guarantee that a pup that seems like the pick of the litter will mature into the best gundog. However, there are things to look out for that will help stack the odds in your favour. You should see how the jaw rests and check for all the obvious signs of health in a puppy. If it’s been docked, you need to see the certificate to check this has been done legally.

But, most importantly, you need to go with the dog you like the most. Don’t choose the shy pup or the boisterous one, but observe how the puppies interact with each other and find the one whose nature you like. You’ll be working hard to train the puppy and the gundog will be with you for its whole life; you need to find a dog you are fond of.  

Some say two thirds of a gundog’s ability comes from its training with just a third being driven by its breeding, which means you must carefully consider how you plan to train your gundog puppy when you take it home.

See Shooting UK’s gundog training advice.

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