black Labrador puppy

Worming working dogs – here’s what you need to know

Responsible gundog owners know that worming working dogs regularly is part of the routine. But what about puppies? I recently received this query from a gundog puppy owner. (Read our tips here on choosing a gundog puppy from a litter.) Q: I have heard of young puppies dying after they…

old Labrador

Spaying an older dog. Should you?

Q: What is your advice on spaying an older dog? I am unsure of what to do. I have an eight-year-old bitch I was a bit concerned about because she started being a bit slow with her food. This was unlike her so I took her to the vet, who…

rules for working dogs

Setting rules for working dogs starts from day one

Dogs, like humans, need rules and boundaries, so they know what to expect, what is acceptable and what is not. In the early months, this is vital. For example, if your puppy is not allowed on the sofa, then it is important to not allow it on the sofa. This…

diet for working dogs

What’s the healthiest diet for working dogs?

I’m often asked by owners of gundog breeds what they should be feeding their dogs. They want to know all about the healthiest diet for working dogs. Here are some of the questions I’m asked and here’s what I say. Are all brown kibble diets bad? You simply cannot lump…

black labrador

Do dogs have to wear collars?

Gundogs are controlled with slip leads but it’s rare that you’ll see one with any sort of collar. So do all dogs have to wear collars? Is it required by law? Out in the field you’ll see teams of working dogs under immaculate control and not a collar in sight.…

terrier breeds

Terrier breeds: are they born anarchists?

Most, if not all of the terrier breeds 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…

cocker spaniel

Spaniel ears – what a new owner needs to know

Q: I’ve acquired a spaniel, a breed I believe that is prone to ear infection. Should I clean his ears regularly or how else can I best prevent problems with his ears? A: The opening to a dog’s ear is unlike ours and the anatomy of the ear canal tends…

sprocker or cocker

Sprocker or cocker spaniel? How can you tell them apart?

Should you get a sprocker or cocker spaniel? I admit to being a fan of sprockers as I like their hybrid vigour. They are not a designer cross-breed like a Labradoodle but simply spaniel x spaniel, and it should not be forgotten that both breeds share the same ancestry. However, since a cocker crossed…

golden retrievers show dogs

Can a show-bred dog really be a working dog too?

There’s one piece of advice for the would-be gundog owner in every book I have: if you want a puppy to bring on as a gundog, make sure you buy one from working stock. Show dogs to workers? It’s really such an obvious piece of advice that it hardly bears…

German Shorthaired Pointer

A shoot day is no place for an overexcited dog

Q: I own a rather excitable dog, an exuberant German shorthaired pointer (GSP) that I take beating on several driven shoots. He works well once the drives start and always gets compliments. However, my problems occur at the start of the day and in between drives. He has rather a…

training a gundog to hold a line

How to train your gundog to hold a line

At a recent gundog training session, all of my dogs were running well, handling and stopping, hunting hard and generally being very pleasing. However, the ground was a little different to what they’re used to. The ground I was on was much more unforgiving. It had small gullies, ditches and…

Blue Merle Border Collie

Are blue merle dogs prone to health problems?

Q: Is it true that blue merle dogs have health problems? I was told this after acquiring a blue merle collie from a dog rescue centre but as far as I can tell, so far, he seems to be perfectly sound and healthy. A: A blue merle is a black…