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  

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…

Terrier

A closer look at the terrier

There is no doubt that the terrier breeds are the “hard men” of the canine world, ready to take on their quarry above and below ground. Most terrier breeds were developed in Great Britain and Ireland, and before legislation changed, they could be worked for quarry such as rats, rabbits, foxes, mink while traditionally they were also used to…

Black and yellow Labrador retrievers

Why is the Labrador retriever such a favourite with shooters?

A versatile breed, this hunting companion is the eyes and ears of its owner, can be used to detect drugs, explosives, open doors and even post letters. It can guard, jump, swim, and is the epitome of man’s best friend. No article on the breed would be complete without mentioning the Buccleuch Labrador. The Buccleuch Labrador In the 1830s, the 5th Duke…

Labrador

The allure of the Labrador

Last year, more than 32,000 Labrador puppies were registered with the Kennel Club; in the US that figure was over 150,000. This is certainly a dog with global appeal — but why? The first Labradors arrived from their native Newfoundland more than 200 years ago. The breed’s strong swimming and marking ability when retrieving…

HPR breeds

Hunt, point and retrieve – truly versatile dogs

Many years ago, when I started out photographing gundogs, I used to attend quite a few spring pointing tests and it was at these events where I not only saw my first HPR working in the field, but I also developed some lifelong friendships with a number of handlers that…

Bobbery pack

Will cross-breeds ever rule in the field?

While I appreciate the wealth of pure-bred working gundog breeds, I would not hesitate to use a cross-breed working dog if it gave me an extra edge for a particular job. It takes months to train a gundog properly and minutes to ruin one, so it often pays to create a…

Clumber spaniel retrieving pheasant

Clumber spaniels – a genuine gundog breed

During 2015 there were 217 Clumber spaniel puppies registered in Britain. Compare this with 10,500 springer spaniels and 22,500 cocker spaniels registered and you will realise that this is not a common breed. Historic theory The breed’s history is uncertain before the middle of the 19th century. One theory is…

pointing dog

Spotlight on continental HPR breeds

One of the founding fathers of modern electric blues music was a man known as Muddy Waters. A fellow black musician, bemoaning what he perceived to be the hijacking of their music — mainly by the American middle class — once voiced his concern. Muddy, far simply agreeing, responded: “Black, white;…

Gundog breed Labrador

Which gundog breed would suit all of my needs best?

A: First, find a gundog club by visiting The Kennel Club. This will have details of location, area of operation and what the club in question has to offer. Not all gundog clubs run training classes but most will be able to put you in touch with a good gundog trainer. Your…

curly-coated retriever

Pedigree dogs in peril

Previously I looked at the winners and losers in the annual registrations of pedigree dogs. The winners included the Bracco Italiano and the cocker spaniel, plus the Hungarian vizsla and its wirehaired cousin, while the losers included several of our traditional favourites, ranging from the Labrador to the English springer spaniel. There…

Korthals griffon

Popular gundog breeds – what’s on the rise?

Has the pedigree dog had its day? While it might be much too early to predict its eventual extinction, figures from the Kennel Club (KC) show compelling evidence of its decline. In 2006, a total of 103,773 gundogs were registered with the Club in the UK. Numbers held steady for the next…

flat coat retriever

Why is the flatcoated retriever so rarely seen in the field now?

Last month I dined at Holkham’s Victoria hotel in North Norfolk. Holkham has long been one of the premier sporting estates in England, covering 25,000 acres of saltings, marsh and farmland; its gamekeepers still wear their traditional bowler hats. On the back of the Victoria’s menu was a picture of a…

English setter

Passing over pedigrees?

EARLIER THIS MONTH The Telegraph asked readers to vote online for their favourite breed of dog, which they did in impressive numbers. More than 30,000 votes were cast during the four days the poll was open. Its results make fascinating reading, for in the number one slot wasn’t a breed at…