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 | Lurchers

cocker spaniel

Should there be random DNA tests for cocker spaniels?

You may recall sprockergate, the scandal that shook the cocker trialling world a couple of years ago. What brought the story into the tabloids was the accusation that HM The Queen owned a dog, competing in cocker trials, that was allegedly a sprocker (English springer and cocker cross). A sprocker…

cocker spaniel waiting

All about the cocker spaniel

Look around the shooting field today and you’d be correct in thinking that the cocker spaniel and the springer spaniel are two of the most popular gundog breeds. But the spaniel’s heritage stretches back centuries. It is one of the oldest “type of hunting dog” and was originally bred to…

working cocker spaniel

Would a working cocker spaniel be right for you?

Once upon a time everybody had a black Labrador. Then chocolate Labradors arrived on the scene. Now fox red Labs are de rigeur it would seem. Mind you, the dog that you’re likely to see in the field just about everywhere now is a working cocker spaniel. Not so long…

English springer spaniel

Why you should consider taking on an English springer spaniel

Throughout the 20th century  English springer spaniels were the most popular shooting dog in Britain. Whether it remains so today is debatable. In recent years I’ve been on a number of shoots where there wasn’t a springer to be seen, something that would have been unthinkable 20 or 30 years ago.…

flatcoated retriever

What’s happened to the flatcoat retriever?

Every once in a while, often at a country house owned by people who don’t much like throwing things away, one comes across old copies of Shooting Times. It is always reassuring to note the extent to which our sport is still the same but, of course, things do change…

pointers dog breed

The history of the pointer

When someone tells me they own a pointer I always have to ask what sort. Usually it turns out to be a German shorthaired pointer, as this is the most numerous pointing breed in the shooting field today, but strictly speaking a pointer is a pointer. Pointers are grouped with…

Arthritis in dogs

Are chocolate Labradors poor retrievers?

I was asked recently about my opinion on a dog’s eye colour. The inquirer felt if a Labrador had light-coloured eyes, it was more prone to be skittish and wild. It was something I had never even considered. I have always preferred a Labrador with darker pigment around their eyes…

differences between cocker and springer spaniels

13 reasons why cocker spaniels and springer spaniels are different

Both springer and cocker spaniels are capable of doing a useful day’s work out in the field. Both are biddable. However, they do have different characteristics. Differences between cocker and springer spaniels Springers have a size advantage over cocker spaniels Cocker spaniels have a better engine and more staying power…

Irish water spaniel

The Irish water spaniel

The joker in the spaniel pack. No, not my words, but those of an Irish water spaniel owner and enthusiast, talking about the foibles and idiosyncrasies of his favourite breed. The Irish water spaniel, he assured me, could lay claim to being the only HPR native to these islands. He…

Arthritis in dogs

Do chocolate Labradors deserve a bad reputation?

Does a chocolate Labrador have a shorter life? A recent headline in the Daily Telegraph  proclaimed chocolate Labradors die younger and have more health problems than yellow and black ones 
as demand narrows the gene pool. The article stated breeders require two chocolate Labradors to produce chocolate puppies. This isn’t…

golden retriever

Why aren’t golden retrievers more popular in the field?

One of the mysteries of the gundog world is why golden retrievers are a comparative rarity in the shooting field, especially compared with the ubiquitous Labrador. Fashion probably has a great deal to do with this, because a well-trained golden is every bit a match for even the best of Labradors. Golden retrievers – relaxed, easy to…

silver Labrador

Would a silver Labrador be right for you?

What exactly is the right colour? The Kennel Club’s breed standard states that “any shade of gold or cream” is acceptable for golden retrievers, while the American KC requires “rich, lustrous gold of various shades”. Colour is a contentious issue in many breeds. However, when it comes to controversial coat…

Labrador in water

Do Labradors really originate from Newfoundland?

Q: I read that Labradors originated from dogs used by fishermen in North America and were used for helping to retrieve nets from the sea and estuaries in their country of origin. Interestingly my own dog, since it was a small puppy, has always retrieved dummies from water by grabbing…