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Christmas presents for working dogs

Don't our working companions deserve something too?

Christmas presents for working dogs

A dog is for life not just for Christmas is a saying that will be familiar to most of us. But I’ve never met a working gundog that was a Christmas present. For most of us the acquisition of a working gundog puppy is carefully planned rather than a surprise present under the Christmas tree.

Labrador puppies

No puppies for Christmas

Though we may not give puppies at Christmas, most of us are likely to give our dog or dogs some sort of gift. A quick look the internet revealed a wide choice of gifts that might make you laugh, but are hardly likely to thrill your canine companion. I don’t think my spaniels would be too pleased with a luxury lined aviator-style black faux-leather and pearl plush dog coat, as sold by the RSPCA, but a quality dog coat is a sound idea.


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Barbour offers a waterproof, windproof and thornproof coat that is a practical proposition for a proper gundog — from about £30. I don’t recommend working a dog in such 
a coat but it’s just the job for putting on to keep it warm and dry when it’s not in action.

Coats for working gundogs have become big business in recent years. I’m all in favour of it because I’m convinced that the better we look after our dogs, the longer they are able to work. Wet dogs suffer from rheumatism in old age; cosset them 
as much as you can and they will stay fit much longer.

Avoiding hypothermia in dogs

Coats like Equafleece are good for warming up cold, damp dogs

It’s now standard practice for trialling dogs to be rugged-up before and after a run, and it’s much more common for gundogs to be treated in similar manner during and after a day’s shooting. So if your dog doesn’t have a coat, it’s a practical present that’s worth considering.

Continuing on a dress theme, 
a new collar is always useful. Mine never used to wear collars, but they do now most of the time. I’ve tried nylon ones that are both hardwearing and practical, but nothing beats a top-quality, bridle leather collar.

Collars make perfect Christmas presents for working dogs

Last year I bought a rolled leather collar for my sprocker, Emma, from Bellman and Flint, a small firm that specialises in fine-quality leatherwork for sporting dogs. It looks as good as when I bought it, a reminder that premium products not only look great but they last, too. Prices start at £14.

Another acquisition last year was an Orvis folding dog crate. Made from a heavy-duty Oxford weave on a sturdy metal frame, it is light and easily portable. Unlike my previous dog crate, it doesn’t rattle. I’ve found it invaluable both in my car and when travelling, as you can leave your dog safely in a friend’s kitchen or a hotel room and know that it won’t get up to mischief.


It has the added advantage that it collapses for easy storage, but it isn’t recommended for puppies or dogs that chew. The medium crate is roomy enough for a couple of cockers, weighs 19lb and costs £119.

Orvis, the sponsor of Dog of the Week offers one of the widest ranges of dog products of any manufacturer. If you are stuck for an idea, a browse through the Orvis website is bound to give you some good ideas. It has a terrific range 
of dog beds, for all shapes and sizes. I’ve never owned an Orvis bed, but visitors with dogs have brought their 
Orvis beds with them when they 
have come to stay and I have always been impressed.

Built to last

Orvis beds are not 
cheap, especially compared with the bargain beds available in your local pet store, but they are practical and built to last. Orvis recruited 
a fine selection 
of gundogs, 
from springers 
to Labradors, setters to pointers, to model the beds for its website.

When it comes 
to gundog dummies, Sporting Saint offers 
as large a range as any gundog supplier. An interesting option is the cock pheasant pelt dummy at £14.99: it’s a cured pheasant skin on a half-pound dummy and the most realistic one you can buy.

The only disadvantage is that it’s almost too good to use, and you certainly wouldn’t want to throw it.

Rabbit skin

Rather more durable is a dummy covered in rabbit skin, with prices starting at £11.99 for the half-pounder, rising to £19.98 for the 3lb version. Both my dogs and I have always liked the bird-shaped dummies from the Working Gundog Company — prices start at £9.99 for the woodcock or £17.99 for the pheasant.

Not forgetting the gundog handler

Presents for the dog are one 
thing, but how about the handler? 
I’ve always used an Acme 210.5 
dog whistle, so would be thrilled 
to receive a sterling silver version. 
At £184.99 it is something of a luxury, so it would be best to think of it as a practical piece of jewellery that can 
be used every day.

For the gundog handler who 
has everything, it has to be the ultimate present.