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…

Hungarian wirehaired vizsla

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 Charming Clumber spaniels This is a breed that has been apparently superseded by springers and…

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…

Clumber spaniel

Clumber spaniel wins AV field trial

A Clumber spaniel won an any variety field trial last month — the first time this breed has done so in living history and only the second time since field trials began. The victory by three-year-old Midori Diamond Huddlestone (Rigg), in an any variety spaniel novice stake held by the Tyne Tees and Tweed Field Trial Association, against 15…

Cockerpoo gundogs

A cockerpoo as gundog?

I must admit that I’ve never seriously considered the potential of the cockerpoo (cocker spaniel-poodle cross) as a gundog, but a recent encounter on a Sussex shoot did give me food for thought. Four cockerpoos were in the beating line, and from what I saw they were doing an excellent job, hunting with enthusiasm and no fear of cover.…

Handler with Bracco Italiano

A day with bracco Italiano and spinone Italiano gun dogs

The day had been arranged by the Bracco Italiano Club, which had invited its friends in the Spinone Club of Great Britain to come along, Mike Fellows, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) regional chairman for Sussex having provided the ground on the shoot he keepers near Robertsbridge. Mike has worked voluntarily for the NGO for…

Terrier types

Terrier Types

  Hardwired earth dogs Patterdale/Fell Lakeland   Dual-purpose Bedlington Jack Russell Border Ratters Yorkshire Norfolk and Norwich Manchester English Toy Scottish West Highland White Cairn Skye Popular in Europe Fox (rough and smooth) Jagterrier   Vermin dogs Kerry Blue Soft-coated Wheaten Irish Welsh Sealyham Airedale Lucas Sporting Lucas  

Jumping terrier

Are terriers born anarchists?

Terriers bring a smile to our faces, whether the smug condescension of the handler of well-trained gundogs or the rictus of embarrassment that comes from having thought your dog’s behaviour could not get any worse before you discover that it just has. Quite a few owners of well-trained gun dogs have a terrier tucked away somewhere, usually dismissed laughingly as…

springer spaniel dream gundog

The dream gundog team

I’ll tell you what I want to see behind me when I am standing in a line of guns outside a likely looking covert. I want to see a bunch of pickers-up with sundry teams of likely looking dogs. I want them a good gunshot distance and where I can see them. I don’t want to…