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.
So 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.
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?