Sporting dogs

I never put too much emphasis on a dog’s breed. That’s one reason why I love mutts. I try not to judge a dog by his breed or mix of breeds but on his individuality. At the same time, so much about a dog is influenced by his breeding, intentional or not.

I have never seen a dog with as much retrieving instinct as my mutt Ace. He will retrieve anything – cardboard boxes, candy bar wrappers, hair ties, small trees, my phone, my keys.

Ace will not stop retrieving unless I firmly tell him “leave it” or “down.” I know he would retrieve until he died from exhaustion. That’s the main reason why I’ve been working with him to use his tennis ball obsession in a positive way.

It’s my mutt’s retrieving instinct that has had me thinking about pheasant hunting this fall. I typically do not eat meat, but I would love to allow my retriever to do what he was bred to do – retrieve birds. Training a hunting dog is another challenge for me, another excuse to work with my dog. I love the outdoors, and apparently we live in a great pheasant-hunting region. I would take him duck hunting, but he doesn’t have a thick coat like a Lab has.

sporting dogsSo lately I’ve been researching different ways to train a hunting dog. This is something totally new to me. Although my dad has trained duck hunting dogs, I was never involved. I have never even gone hunting.

It’s amazing how different sporting dogs are used for hunting in so many different ways. Each breed was truly designed for a specific skill – Labradors for retrieving ducks from icy water, springers for flushing pheasants, German shorthairs to point, coonhounds (although not necessarily sporting dogs) for tracking raccoons.

I see hints of all of these traits in my mutt. He may be a mutt, but he is a combination of sporting dogs all rolled into one – he points, he flushes, he tracks and he retrieves. If only he could do so in a controlled manner so he and I could actually work together in the field! We have a lot of work ahead.

springer spanielSporting breeds

Some popular sporting breeds are Labradors, golden retrievers, springer spaniels, vizslas, pointers, Weimaraners, Gordon setters, Irish setters, Cocker spaniels, Brittanys and German shorthaired pointers. But there are many other retrievers, setters, pointers and spaniels also included in the group.

While I dislike dog shows and AKC events (and the AKC in general), it is interesting how each unique breed of dog came about. It’s funny how seriously people will take their “purebred” dogs. At one point, they were all mutts.

I don’t know what it’s like to live without a sporting dog. I have lived with a black Lab, a water spaniel, three golden retrievers, a springer spaniel and now my lab mix. Sporting breeds are the best dogs for my lifestyle because of their high energy, endurance and speed.

Sporting dogs are attentive, easy to train and eager to learn. They love the outdoors and the water and can generally handle a variety of weather conditions. They make great agility dogs and do well in obedience training. I love that my mutt always loves to tag along anywhere whether it’s canoeing, hiking, swimming, biking or playing in the snow.

My mutt loves to learn, loves to work and loves to play.

He may be a mutt, but he is a sporting champ!

What’s your favorite sporting breed?

22 thoughts on “Sporting dogs”

  1. I have a soft spot in my heart for Labs. We had a part black Lab while my kids were growing up and he was the best dog in the world for a family. He loved and protected me and the children, and was lovable and would play all day. Boy could he chew too!
    My son rescued a Lab and we think Pointer mix (since he points at things) and he has a long thin tail. He is also a wonderful dog and companion to my son and the rest of the family.

    Of course I love my little frogger and rat hunter too! Stewie, Jack Russell Terrier

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    Actually just last weekend I said to my boyfriend that I wanted a Jack Russell terrier as my next dog. They are nice and small but they make good running buddies. I also like how smart they are.

  3. My old doggie used to LOVE to retrieve anything just like Ace. She was a mutt of some sort with like border collie and/or Australian shepherd.

    My favorite sporting dog is now Gussie, my bloodhound. Seriously, he’s a sporting dog – he is so skilled at napping and snoring that he probably believes it is a sport that needs to be perfected.

    I know, silly attempt a humor.

  4. Lindsay Stordahl

    I wonder if Gus could beat Ace in a drooling competition. I’m thinking yes. Ace often has strings of drool and then he shakes and the drool wraps around his nose. It also gets all over our walls and I have to wipe them down. But I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

  5. English Setters are the best in my opinion. I got to know the breed through work, the boss had one that was the office mascot. When it came time for a new companion, our former dog was of the ‘working’ class, I had to have an English. Luckily we found a great candidate in Fresca through one of the many rescues here. She is happy go lucky, calm, quiet inside; energetic and loads of fun outside. It still surprises me how few people even recognize the breed. I guess that is good for ‘breed standards’ since it hasn’t become popular. Although there are at least 4 in the neighborhood.

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    Fresca is a very pretty girl! English setters are rare around here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Fargo. A neighbor of mine had one growing up in a Minneapolis suburb though.

  7. Well, I don’t have any personal experience in living with a sporting breed, since I prefer the herding breeds myself, but I’d love to hear more about how your pheasant hunting training goes with Ace. 🙂

  8. He looks great, very healthy. I have notice that lots of people with sporting dogs don’t give them the amount of activity they need and indulge their insatiable appetite. But, you can really tell when they are being well taken care of … they get that wonderful lean look and have that gloss to their coat.

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks Bob, I appreciate that. I notice a lot of fat labs out there too. I try to keep mine lean and fit. He doesn’t get a lot of treats or table scraps.

  10. I tend to favor working dogs. I have had a GSD, GSD/St Bernard mix, and now Biggie the kuvasz. Boo the American Eskimo was an anomaly, I guess. I don’t think I could handle the energy of a sporting breed, given your description. Not to mention, I dont think it would be fair to have one in the city…

    We have friends who take their Brittanies hunting. 🙂

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    I love working dogs as well. I don’t know if a German shepherd would be the best for me or not, but I’ve always wanted one.

  12. Like you, I don’t like dog shows or AKC, while I have a purebred Jack Russell Terrier, I grew up with labs (black), so I definitely love labs, though I am active, a jack russell seems to fit better with my lifestyle. Just yesterday, we walked for 4 hours non-stop, while I know some labs can as well, I also know they get tired much faster than a jack russell. Mine was still not tired, wanted to play fetch once home. I will say that despite being a terrier, my jack points and thus as a result my boyfriend’s family being pheasant hunters, they have a german short-haired, I thought he can pheasant hunt too. This spring we will try and find out. Like Ace, he loves to retrieve whether squeaky balls or long sticks, as well as swims (he must be part lab, I joke). I also wanted to add that I am partial to breed, my jack may be a purebred which I could care less about, but he also was a rescue (breeder died suddenly). I believe dogs are smart, some would definitely love to have a job such as hunting.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That is awesome you are going to try to take your Jack Russell pheasant hunting! I am anxious to hear how that goes!

  13. ACE is our dog, Crosby, twin!!! I swear they could have come from the same litter! They look so much alike!!!! And we get the biggest kick out of him. Everything described in the above post could have been written by me.
    Love it

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