Picking A Puppy
Here are some guidelines for finding the best young gun dog
A prospective buyer should be sure that the entire litter of puppies he's choosing from has been well socialized.
Do Your Homework
most rewarding way to pick a gun dog puppy begins way before the pup is
born," says Dr. Jim Rieser, a veterinarian and owner of the Shooting
Starr kennel in Franksville, Wisconsin.
"Locating a promising puppy means first
finding the best breed for your hunting purposes, then researching the
backgrounds of breeders who produce the kind of gun dog for which you
are looking," Rieser advises.
"Though this process may sound simple enough, you might
spend many days or weeks or months reading magazine
articles and books on the subject and lots of time studying
breed-specific Web sites. Do all this before making
phone calls to breeders. A prospective puppy buyer who
has done his homework and knows about the breed he is
interested in will get a more positive reaction from
a breeder with pups for sale," Rieser emphasizes.
"Most breeds of gun dogs are
represented by national clubs or organizations that have Web sites
featuring a detailed description of the breed and its general history
and background. Many sites also have a list of club members with
addresses and phone numbers so that anyone interested in this breed of
gun dog can call club members for information or maybe even see their
dogs in person. Some sites will also have a list of breeders with
announcements of existing or expected litters. Going to these
information sources is obviously a good idea," Rieser says.
Don't make an impulsive decision and take the first cute pup you see.
Picking A Pup With Credentials
"I always advise anyone searching for a pup to look at litters from
parents with quantifiable hunt test or field trial scores," says Clyde
Vetter, a full-time professional hunting dog trainer from Wisconsin.
"As a gun dog trainer, I am often asked by clients for help in
selecting a puppy. My advice is to look for litters from parents that
have been judged in the field according to some formal system or
standard, which will give the puppy buyer some measurable and concrete
"Though field trial scores may not
always directly relate to an adult dog's potential as a game bird
hunter, results of AKC Hunt Tests or scores from North American
Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) testing procedures are more
conclusive and meaningful for most gun dog breeds," Vetter states. "The
same goes for statistics from the Hunting Retriever Club or the
National Shoot To Retrieve Association."
Look At The Pup's Parents
"One of the best ways to judge a puppy's future as a gun dog is to see
its parents," says Curt Shreve, a Large Munsterlander breeder from
Prior Lake, Minnesota. "When I add a new pup to our line or help
someone choose a puppy, I always like to actually see the young dog's
parents�for all the obvious reasons."
If you can't see the pup's parents in
person, Shreve suggests asking the breeder to send a video of them in a
real or simulated hunting situation. "With my breed, I like to see the
adult dogs point a live bird such as a pigeon, track a running wild or
pen-raised pheasant and fetch any species of game bird on land and out
of water," Shreve says.
"With all the inexpensive cameras on
the market, most gun dog breeders can own one or at least borrow one to
make a short video of their adult dogs in action. One good video
sometimes is worth 10,000 words in deciding if the puppies in a litter
have come from good hunting parents."