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…

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…

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…

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…