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I know its kind of off the subject, but it kind of has to do with hunting and figured someone around this joint has to know somethin about it.:D first, if any dog to retrieve birds what would you get. consider kid friendly and not over the top expensive. second, what kind of things can i do to train it, what to use, and what age can i start. Thanks and again i know its sort of off the subject of the forum so if you think its needed you can lock it.
 

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I am partial to a Brittany for upland birds and a Lab for waterfowl. For training, you need to do a lot of reading or find a local trainer. Too much info and personalized needs for posting here, I think. I use a pro school and it's worked well.
 

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English Springer Spaniel, Easy to train will flush and retrieve. Love the water in fact it is hard to keep them out of it. Usually kid friendly but like all dogs you might find an aggressive one. I have owned 2 and both were birdy before training. I did train the first one and she did very well on quail and ducks. I would recommend the field springer, a little smaller and better hunting lines.
 

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Just about any of the bird dog breeds will doI the job, buy from a reputable breeder not a petshop or unknown hobby breeder. A reputable breeder will warrent the dogs health and disposition and can supply references. A few dollars saved on purchase price can equate to many thousands of dollars over the life of the dog in health,and training cost. I myself am partial to German Shorthair Pointers-the do everything breed thats very high energy and a great family dog, I have 6 myself.
 

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Thats going to depend on a number of things. Some of that decision is going to be based on what they are going to be working in. Tall cover like broom sage, tall weeds, planted fields etc, you will want a taller dog. Then you have to consider the climate, long haired dogs suffer big time in the deep south and you have to keep plenty of water and rest them regulary. However, long haired dogs do much better in going into cat claw briers and thick brush.

Next, is it going to be an indoor house pet as well as a working dog. The smaller breeds like the spaniels make a much better indoor pets.

I like the black labs and golden retrievers. Golden retriver are great dogs, great pets but miserable house pets because some can be very large and they never quit sheding. Gold fur balls like in every corner of the house.

You do have to be carefull with all the retriever breeds. Most are popular pets as well because of their very dosil nature and so many are from breeders than have almost none of the working dog genes left in them. Just understand, a good working dog has the blood and desire to hunt, they can be a little difficult around the house because they are wanting to go.

As long as you stick with a good retriver breed, and a puppy from a kennel that raises working dogs with good pedigree's and field trial champions in their blood, most any of them are good. DO NOT go to your local pet store to get a retriver you want to use as a working dog.

There is one part of you're equation that does not compute though. Good dog does not = cheap dog.

As for training, if you have never trained retrivers, you are in for one hellava battle. They can be very hard headed, and difficult to train. While worked properly, and have the blood in them, they will pick up the basics rater quickly, but it can take up to three years for them to fully mature into outsanding working dogs, and they will push your patience that whole time. The bad part about a novice trying to train is, it doesn't take but one mistake to ruin a dog, or make it extremely hard to overcome that mistake.
 

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First off, I dont know what you consider "over the top expensive" but just about any breed you go with that is of true field lines is probably going to set you back more than you may expect (think closer to $1000 than $500) if you go through a kennel that specializes in hunting dogs. You mentioned child friendly but how old are your children? I only mention this because hunting/retrieving breeds are wired all day, everyday. So while they are very gentle natured and wouldnt try to hurt a child some of the larger breeds can/will knock over a toddler while playing. If you have young children I'd go with a springer or brittany. I personally love setters (both english and irish). As the previous poster stated if you are an inexperienced handler you are in for a very steep learning curve. One mis-step can really foul up the training for a long time. Good luck with whatever you choose.
 

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I am of the opinion that you do not need a 'purebred' to hunt birds. Any dog that will listen, has the tool it needs to hunt at the tip of it's face.

I have 2 yellow labs;
A male, eight years old, and a female, at three.

The male has no outward hunting abilities, coming from 'show dog' genes....won't even retrieve a ball if thrown.... but is not afraid of a shotgun's report. Put him in the field however, and his instincts show him what to do. He is a flusher, not a pointer, so you have to be attuned to his behavior as to when he's 'birdy'. He never ventures more than say 40 yards in from of us. When a shot is taken, he watches the bird, and is on it in no time, and retrieves it, brings it to me everytime.

My female, from deep hunting lines, cannot be walked without her 'hunting' every squirrel or song bird she sees or smells. She will stop, lock up and on occaisions points the birds or bunnies. She will blind retrieve, even with no formal dog training.....it's all nose for her. I hunted her from pup of 8 months till last summer, till we left her home alone during a lightning storm.
Since then, she is gunshy to all loud bangs and noises. I've tried everything, just as I did with her from her being a pup, but something snapped in her, and she just cowers now at the first shot. A shame really.

Neither dog ever had FORMAL training....just long walks in the woods off leash, letting them just be dogs, and letting them flush whatever they could.
Neither dog ever strayed farther than say 50 yards, and would always come to a whistle or call.
The training they received when young was play with scented bumpers, such as pheasant and bunnie. Just playing fetch and 'find the hidden bumper' in the yard.
To break them of loud noises or gunshots, I took then while pups to a local skeet range. The first day, we'd stay at the car, just watching and playing with the bumper. The next day would be the spectator benches, sitting and watching with an occasional treat. the last step would be leashed and right behind the firing line, with constant praise and treat...
This went on every weekend for 3 months, and neither was ever gunshy....well at least till the thunderstorm.

So I hunt behind the eight year old, and while he's not a ball of fire, for me it's more about being in the woods with him.
And I take the two year old in the woods before the season, and just let her play and hunt and stalk. It time for her, not me, except for the sense that I spend time in the woods with the dogs, letting them be dogs, and do what they instinctively know. Hunting over a dog for me is more of watching the dog hunt, than me hunting.

there are purists who have 'better' dogs than I, who have formal training, and are more true hunters than my two dogs will ever be....but it's about the time with the dogs, and the hunt, whan the type of dog you hunt.

Good luck with your choice for a dog, let us know how you do.
 

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I am partial to a Brittany for upland birds................ For training, you need to do a lot of reading or find a local trainer. Too much info and personalized needs for posting here, I think. I use a pro school and it's worked well.
I concur. Hard to beat a good Britt for a field & family dog.
 

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If you want an excellent bird dog, check out the Smith Setters. In 1990 I bought a puppy (Bonnie) from a Smith's, grand champion female and was sired by Tekoa Mountain Sunrise. That little puppy came into this world a natural born bird dog. My only two regrets were in her later years I was not in an area I could hunt her and she was miserable because she lived to hunt. Bonnie died the year I figured I had better breed her before she got too old. Now, I would be scared to see what a puppy with this kind of blood line would cost today, but I paid $500 for that puppy then. Tekoa Mountain Sunrise is now in the Hall of Fame Champions. Bonnie was an excellent house house pet as well as a great bird dog.
 

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It depends what you prefer

I am partial to English Springer Spaniels and have owned two. My current dog is Molly, age 3 1/2 and she is smart enough to do taxes. Great companion, loves people and cannot wait to go afield. All the best...
Gil
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the help. I'm gonna have to do little research before making a final purchase. I'm in Montana so I have to go with a long hair breed. They aren't gonna be in the house a lot, some in the winter probably. The kids are 5, 6, and 10 but not to worried about getting knocked over, they are pretty tough. I know a good dog isn't cheap, just didn't want recommendations for a 5000 dollar=D thanks again for the help.
 

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Lots of good choices mentioned. I have settled on Brittanys for the combo of hunting and family pet. My Britt did well with the weather of NW Colorado and retrieved everything except sage grouse(if you have ever smelled/eaten sage grouse you would not retrieve it either).
Hope you find a great companion.

Phil
 

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I raised Britt's for years when I was bird hunting a lot, very energetic dogs, good family pets, easy to train. I now have a yellow lab and have hunted birds behind some great labs in the past.
IMHO, 1) get a female 2) a lab will give the most versatility for different kinds of hunting if you want to mix birds and waterfowl.
Now to the crux of the thing, there are three things that will make a great household pet and hunting dog, training, training, and most important, TRAINING. It's fun and the resulting dog will be happier and you will be as well.
We walk our lab in a neighborhood full of untrained yappers, no leash, she heels and ignores the ones around her. She lays on her designated rug when we eat. She is super attentive to us and only wants to please. She is a joy, and a character to boot.
Good luck with your choice.
 

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Not all breeds want to retrieve: pointers want to point, flushers flush,.retrievers....retrieve. You can train different breed dogs to do what you want, but the breeds are named after their bred for strengths. Training starts early, and takes alot of daily time and patience.Simple obedience training...the foundation for any training you start almost immediatly ( its name, to come, lead training, etc). After the initial purchase, remember a kennel, vet bills, training collars, etc. will add up to very considerable amount of money which is often overlooked. I spent 650.00 for my Llewellyn (think English Setter) pup five years ago, from pedigreed proven hunting stock parents. The price is about double now, and we paid that much again over the next year for doggie after expenses.
 

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Not a long haired dog per se but not short haired either. They have a dual layer coat, short kind of wooly hair against the skin and longer hair on top. They are very, very resilient to the cold and are a well built strong bodied breed. I have a year old female. She is quite smart, quick learner, and has a very sweet personality. I've been hunting with retrievers for about 15 years now and would not hesitate to get another Chessie even though I had always used labs up to this point. In fact, I still have a yellow lab male that is just getting too old to hunt anymore but he has been a great dog too. Many will tell you Chessies are hard headed and not very affectionate or personable. I have found this to be false. She did take a little more patience on my part at times as compared to my yellow lab but she has been a quick study and likes people. She loves my wife and I to death and is quite affectionate with us. We don't have kids but there is not doubt in my mind if we did she would be inseparable with a child.

As far as training goes.....before you even get a dog buy "Water Dog" buy Richard Wolters and read it cover to cover, twice.
 

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Chessies are a great dog!
A dear friend of mine used to have one. After Tom was taken by the cancer, his wife reloacted with that Chessie. she was smart, a great watch dog and a great loving family pet.
 

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The English Setter is as good as bird dogs get and they are great with children and adults. They are one of the most affectionate breeds and train easily.
The most important thing to do is obedience train them and their instinct will do the rest.
Good luck,

Kudu40
 

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Labs, if you can stand a high-energy dog that likes to eat. Any by 'eat' I mean destroy with their teeth, nearly anything you can imagine. They calm down after maybe 8 or 10 years :D

Miss my big lab.... he was a great hunting dog. Also worked as a pretty good disposal system for all of the deer and pigs bones that ended up surplus after butchering.....

Almost made it to 15 years. Teeth were still strong at the end!

Slick-coated dogs don't pick up burrs too bad, either. Woe unto anyone running a curly or long haired dog in the state of TX.......
 

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My Uncle raises and trains English Setters over in Glendive. I don't think he has any puppies right now, but if you're truly interested I can provide some contact info.

I can tell you these dogs are genuine bird hunting dogs. It is a whole different level hunting behind a great bird dog. We hunted the field he trains in without the dogs once, and didn't flush a single bird in 2 miles of walking. We waited an hour and took the dogs out and had our limits in about 20 minutes.

You've obviously gotten a lot of different opinions and there are many more out there. Do as much research as you can, you'll need to work with a dog for 1-2 years before it really hunts and getting a dog in the winter is good for getting it to listen to your commands rather than in the spring or summer when its gonna be a lot more interested in discovering stuff outside.
 

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dogs

Love reading about dogs. I have an English Setter...wonderful dog. She hunts with me in the PA uplands. If the birds are there, she finds them.
Great indoors, docile, affectionate, obedient.
While I did the basic obedience, the upland training was handed off to a pro.
The Brittany is another breed that I like a lot and have hunted with.
Pete
 
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