The continuous, steady heat of an AGA is a dog’s delight

Until recently I knew little about the extraordinary cast-iron cooker known as an AGA, but for the past three months I’ve lived in houses with AGA kitchens, so I’m now something of an expert.

The AGA was invented in Sweden but since 1957 has been produced exclusively in the UK. AGAs are now ubiquitous in rural kitchens. Most owners claim to love them, but that’s not surprising as they cost so much — prices start at around £8,000 — that few will admit that buying the oven was an expensive mistake.

Labrador puppies in front of AGA

Establishing Labrador AGA habits early

The AGA should really be a subject for a cookery column, not one devoted to gundogs. I agree, but that would be overlooking the fact that many thousands of dogs in general, and Labradors in particular, spend much of their lives stretched out in front of one.

I am even convinced that Labs have developed a special relationship with the AGA, and that an animal behaviourist could write a fascinating PhD thesis on the subject.

spaniel on chair by AGA

Be in no doubt that this is the dog’s chair

Gundogs love an AGA in particular

The attraction of an AGA to a dog is simple: it radiates not only warmth but real heat, and dogs do like to be toasted. What’s more, it’s a continuous, steady heat that doesn’t fluctuate, so the dog 
can position itself close enough to the oven to stay really warm without getting seriously overheated.

Border terrier by AGA

Keeping an eye on the situation, in comfort

Cooking on an AGA is an acquired skill that I have been working on, with limited success. It is great for getting a nice crispy skin on a roasted mallard, but how do your bake a cake? The main challenge for me has been getting close enough to the AGA in the first place, as invariably there’s a dog or two sprawled out in front of it. The real problem I have with an AGA is that as a conservationist I can’t come to terms with the huge amount of energy it consumes.

terrier in front of AGA

Cooking comes second to the comfort of this terrier

An AGA runs continuously, gulping diesel or consuming kilowatts of electricity. It’s like leaving your car with the engine running all the time. That, of course, is not of concern to a Labrador. All dogs love an AGA.