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…

Wire haired Jack Russell terrier

Can I use a Jack Russell terrier for rough shooting?

A: I grew up with cross-bred terriers which, being longer on the leg than the Jack Russell terrier, were more like hunt terriers. They were trained to work as gundogs by my father as well as working with the ferrets for rabbits. They would go to ground and bring out rabbits, always dead but still good enough…

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…

Liam Bell keeper

An interview with Liam Bell, chairman of the NGO

What did you do before becoming a keeper? I went to school! I never really wanted to do anything else. I remember my father, who was a chemical engineer, saying I’d make a good gamekeeper when I was 10 or 11 years old. I found out what one did and was hooked. It sounded like a…

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  

Frog dog posture

Frog dog posture – readers report back

I recently wrote about dogs that stretch out with their hind legs behind them – in the “frog dog” pose. Dave Seaborn from Abenhall Gundogs was one of several people who suggested dogs do this to chill out. Stretching out on a hard surface such as concrete after exercise “allows them to cool off as quickly as…


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…

Queen Elizabeth in the field

A Royal picker-up

Gundogs have been a part of the Queen’s life from infancy. Her grandfather, George V, inherited his own father’s taste for gameshooting, as well as a more hands- on approach to the care and training of working dogs than Edward VII had ever shown. In the year before Elizabeth’s birth,…

microchips for working dogs

Microchips for working dogs

Question: I have heard that working dogs are exempt from compulsory microchipping. Does that mean that I needn’t have had my Labrador, which I work on a number of local shoots, microchipped recently? Veterinary surgeon Tony Buckwell advised: What you have heard is not quite correct. The exemption, under the Microchipping of Dogs…

dogs in beating line

Rescue gundogs prove their sporting worth

Most fieldsports enthusiasts heed the advice of acquiring animals from proven working stock, whether they be gundogs, terriers or even ferrets. This is because knowledge of an animal’s ancestry provides an invaluable insight into its sporting potential and behavioural traits. However, I know of certain circumstances that resulted in this time-…

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…

Furious backlash to Countryfile feature on gamekeepers

Furious backlash to Countryfile feature on gamekeepers

Presenter Matt Baker spent time with students training as gamekeepers. As part of the study, students were taught to shoot deer and butcher the quarry afterwards. The point of the feature was to address some of the misconceptions the public holds about gamekeepers and the voiceover made clear that deer…

Reporting live from the CLA Game Fair

Reporting live from the CLA Game Fair

8am – Press briefing – much needed coffee, a welcome by Henry Robinson the CLA President. 10am – a conversation between Henry Robinson the CLA President and Rory Stewart MP, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the Game Fair Theatre. 11am – off to the Pugs and Drummers…

Picking-up with a Sealyham terrier

Picking-up with a Sealyham terrier

I get a real buzz out of watching any kind of “working” dog do what it was bred for, whether that is a hard-going spaniel tearing apart a bramble bush to extract a wily old cock pheasant, a Labrador taking the line of a 100-yard runner or a lurcher working…

pick up wounded bird

Why it’s wrong to pick-up unshot birds

Sometimes it's all too easy for dogs to retrieve early-season birds that are exhausted rather than shot; but it's bad practice, writes David Tomlinson

dog fight spaniels

How to stop a dog fight

Three Shooting Times gundog experts consider the best way to stop a dog fight – and how to prevent it in the first place

Sealyhams – leaders of the rat pack

Nick Ridley sees what a pack of Sealyhams can do when he joins them in action on a chicken farm, hunting down that most persistent of foes – the common brown rat