Gun & Field Trial Dogs

A Breed Profile

The Beagle, one of the most popular field dogs in the USA (and, in fact, number four in AKC registrations in 2004) is a small, thoroughly appealing, member of the Hound Group. His shorthaired coat is a valuable attribute to his status. It requires little extra care or grooming, other than a three-or-four-times-weekly brushing and comes in a combination of tan, black and white. His long flap-ears lie against his head. And like most other hounds, the beagle’s eyes are softly dark and beseeching.The beagle’s small stature is divided into two size groupings, one, 13 to 15 inches at shoulder, the other, under 13 inches at shoulder. The average beagle tips the scales at between 18 and 28 pounds.

Displaying a continually wagging tail, the breed is normally sociable and easily trained, seldom belligerent. Yet, his deep baying bark makes his owner aware of trespassers and provides a formidable warning deterrent. Intelligent, affable and docile, a beagle always makes a fine buddy to all family members. Used for many years as one of the best rabbit hunting field dogs known to Man, the breed still enjoys a top reputation in that sport, and, if given a chance, will demonstrate his native abilities to his owner.


THE VIZSLAA Breed Profile

A magnificent immigrant added to the American melting pot of canine citizens in recent years, the Vizsla, official pointing dog of Hungary, has made serious inroads into the U.S hunting scene since arriving here in 1950. His cinnamon-colored, shorthaired coat adorns a sleek body imbued with terrific talents, including a keen nose combined with the intelligence to learn from experience how to use it, strong hunting desire and natural retrieving instincts. Of the dogs that hunt, it’s little wonder his rapid climb in popularity.

 A field, the Vizsla takes the role of a traditional pointing breed, assigned to seeking and locating upland game birds by scent, staunchly pointing them out in statute-like stance. At the flush, only when commanded, he brings the quarry gently back to hand. With some 10 centuries of practice underpinning his performance, the Vizsla lays claim to being the oldest of the world’s sporting breeds.Originating among the Magyars, who invaded and colonized the Hungarian plains, the breed later was adopted by the aristocracy and flourished selectively until the Soviet invasion of Hungary, which nearly made the breed extinct . The few survivors made up the current stock. A scale-tipping 55 pound average, standing about 22-24 inches at withers, the Vizsla’s tail is generally docked (cut) to 5-6-length.Learning lessons fairly quickly, the breed can be somewhat thin-skinned and should be handled with gentle firmness for best results. Affectionately natured, he displays strong family loyalty.

The English Pointer; Heart And Soul, A Birddog

Perhaps as no other gundog breed, the English pointer personifies the very name “birddog!” The fiery fervor of his quest for winged quarry easily matches the intensity of his staunch, high-tailed pointing stance, alerting the hunter to impending action. In full field-working trim, the pointer embodies an ideal combination of strength, agility and endurance, all geared toward a no-nonsense approach to bird-finding. Add to that his scenting prowess, equaled perhaps only by a few of the hound breeds, plus an innate hunting sense that readily grows with experience and you have what many describe as a “bird-finding machine.” Fortunately, the qualities that serve him and his owner so well a field also carry over to the home, making the pointer an affable member of the family. And although a large, high energy, dog, weighing an average 60-70 pounds, given sufficient regular exercise, he can generally maintain a relaxed demeanor indoors. Affectionate and good-natured, the English pointer ordinarily gets along well with other dogs and pets as well as with children. Since his shorthaired coat is easily groomed once or twice weekly, his care is minimized for his owner, requiring only nail-trimming about every third week and routine ear inspection when groomed. No upland bird hunter could go wrong in choosing an English pointer.

Ancestry Authentication
Value Added No Minus For Multiplication

Your canine hunting partner is totally valueless! It’s true. That is if you ever plan parenthood for Fido, and he (or she) is not registered in one of the official stud books appropriate for his breed.Without registration, any offspring from a mating (even with a champion) leaves the pups in purebred limbo. Why? Registration provides a permanent record of and for your dog. It establishes his official name and identifying number, and authenticates his purebred pedigree. It increases his value by ensuring recording of placements he wins in field trials. All this makes selling his puppies easier and more profitable. Normally, spaniels and retrievers are registered with the American Kennel Club 5580 Centerview Dr., Raleigh, NC 27606. Field type pointing dogs go into the American Field Publishing Company’s Field Dog Stud Book, 542 South Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60605.

Registration forms should be provided by the breeder of your pup.

Even if your gun dog doesn’t exactly waddle, after the long post-hunting season layoff from “working for a living,” his extra avoirdupois is hard to ignore. As a “kennel or couch potato,” his picking up weight is guaranteed. But, you can’t know how much he’s gained without weighing him. “So, I’ll weigh him,” you say. “What’s so tough about that?” Think again. Have you ever tried getting your quadruped friend to put all four on your bathroom scale and stand perfectly still for you to read the results? Certainly not. But there’s a relatively easy solution. First, check your own weight on that same bathroom scale. Then, cradling your dog in your arms, get back on the scale and check the reading. Subtracting your own weight from the combined total will tell you exactly how much your dog weighs. Of course, unless you know what he weighed in top field condition last season you still won’t know how much he’s gained. But, now, by weighing him periodically you can keep tabs on how much he’s losing through the diet and exercise program you should be starting him on.


A retriever that literally “snails” back to his owner with a downed bird, either on land or from water, can be highly exasperating. All retrieves should be swift and confident. Typically, the hesitant, almost casual, return stems from early handling errors, reinforced by repetition. Doubtless unaware of it, the overly eager owner, attempting to speed a retrieve by going part way toward his returning dog, actually helps accentuate the dawdling return. One solution to lessen the problem and accelerate the retrieve is simply to turn and quickly stride a short distance away from the dog. Such a move usually encourages the dog to hurry so he can follow you. As he follows, just continue walking until he comes close, then turn to face him and receive the retrieve.

Overly rough handling, also, may be at fault. If your dog halts briefly to adjust his hold on the bird, or he inadvertently drops it, and you get on him too harshly, he may not be too eager to return a bird quickly. Solution: Take things a lot easier and try keeping a more casual approach on your dog’s outings, whether training or on actual hunting trips

Avoiding Gun shyness

If you imprudently introduce your young puppy to the sound of the gun and then continue to compound your mistake, you’re well on the way to producing a man-made “gun-shy.” Some trainers advocate a gradual, sustained introduction to the sound of gunfire. This method involves shooting a cap pistol some distance from the dog at feeding time, then a few weeks later, progressing to a 22 caliber blank pistol and eventually a 410 shotgun for the dog’s first few field trips. But, perhaps the best and most natural method occurs in the hunting field, where the gun’s report can properly—and, initially, subconsciously—be associated with the stimulating sight and scent of game. Under these conditions, any dog’s acceptance of gunfire should come quite naturally. Wait for just the right moment, when the pup is a fair distance from you, and engrossed in chasing a bird (pigeons are great for this) before discharging the gun into the air. If he does notice the noise, simply ignore him and continue your outing without further shooting. Repeat the procedure a few days later, putting a bit more distance between pup and gun. Should he still show more than momentary, mild concern, limit subsequent field trips to one shot per outing till his apprehension disappears completely.

Gun Dog Control A field

Establishing control early has been standard field dogs training advice almost forever. Yet, many gun dogs are under control only when it suits their fancy (usually with their owners close at hand and enticing distractions at a minimum). Subject those same dogs to the sudden, strong temptations common in the blind or a field, and control can disappear as quickly as popcorn at the movies. Thus, the only valid measure of control occurs when and where it really counts: in the field. But the retriever, spaniel or pointer truly under control need not be an automaton, continually hacked, whistled and directed like a mechanical puppet. Rather, the best controlled dog invariably responds most kindly to minimal handling, making himself and his owner look good in the process. True control builds best on large doses of consistency, patience, perseverance and trust, all established starting with puppy’s day one.

The Brittany: Hunter/House Pet

Oft thought of as a compromise pointing dog, because of his compact body and medium size, the Brittany is far more than just a fine substitute choice for owners who can’t accommodate the larger pointers or setters. He is a top-notch field dogs candidate for consideration in his own right, embodying character, personality and talent worthy of any of the sporting dog breeds. 

His genesis was the small Town of Pontou, in the French province of Brittany, from whence comes the breed’s name. Imported into the United States in modest numbers in 1930, The Britt’s rise to popularity took almost two decades to peak. Yet, his hunting abilities-retrieving and pointing-inexorably found high favor among upland bird hunters, who valued his keen scenting powers and moderate range in dense cover work.

 The spaniel portion of his name was dropped by the American Kennel Club in 1982, although Canada still retains the full original designation. Sporting a mostly white longhaired coat with either liver or orange markings, the Britt weighs in at an average 35 lbs and stands 17-1/2 to 20-1/2 inches at the withers. Alert, intelligent and affectionate perfectly describes the breed qualities.

Despite his passion for hunting, he settles downs easily in the house, where he becomes a companionable pet to adult and child alike. Though some members of the breed can be somewhat soft-skinned, most accept field dogs training in good spirit.


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