Hunting breeds - some questions

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Hunting breeds - some questions

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Old 11-05-2013, 09:50 AM
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Hunting breeds - some questions

So I'm doing some research on hunting breeds that might fit into our lifestyle in the future and wonder if anyone has any input or experience to share.

The breeds I'm primarily considering are the small munsterlander, brittany and pudelpointer.

I'd like something under 50 lbs, low maintenance coat (light shedding is fine and I prefer not to deal with extremely tiny hairs), easy in the house, and a breed that's not notoriously prone to ignoring recall. I know that's partly training but still.

I like dogs that enjoy swimming, are generally okay with other dogs and small house pets that don't run from them (dog-savvy cats for example), and easy to socialize around kids. Off-switches are a good thing.

The dog would not primarily be a hunting dog but by the time we get it, it very likely would be doing some hunting (we're new to the country).

I'm really attracted to the pudelpointer but it's a bit larger than ideal I think. I love brittanys on paper but I think they might not have an off-switch or recall. The small munsterlander seems very versatile as a hunter and also as a companion.

I like some of the breeders in my area - there are a few extremely reputable breeders of pudelpointers and small munsterlanders, and people speak highly of these guys, and their programs seem excellent. Their dogs are bred to work and to be companions, and are bred for health.

If anyone has experience to share, or things I should consider about hunting dogs that I haven't thought of, I'm all ears.
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Old 11-05-2013, 02:38 PM
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The only breed out of that list with which I have personal experience is the Brittany.

I think the most easy going of your choices is the Munsterlander. From what I have heard, they are fairly similar to setters in temperament and less bouncy than Britts, softer/more sensitive than pointers. They are bred for "versatility" meaning fur and feather, though, so be prepared for prey drive for anything that moves. Brittanys are awesome and very likely in my future. I call them bouncy (literally but also think high energy, on the GO). Britts are bred for upland birds, but are going to be prey drivey towards other small animals as well. I can't give much input on Pudelpointers--I've read about them but have never met one or known an owner of one.

I think the main thing that I wanted to point out was that if you get field or dual bred, you're going to have to work on an off switch and even then... good luck. Upland dogs are bred to go out on their own and seek game, which means whether it's on a walk or on a hike or in their backyard--they are hunting. If you like to hike, great--your dog will love the "hunting" opp; just don't expect them to stay on a hiking trail if they are field bred.

Of course, a dog out hunting *has* to be able to be recalled, but you will always be "fighting" so to speak their instinct to keep going. Recalls for upland dogs take a lot of training, and constantly needs to be reinforced. Be prepared for a lot of premack type work.

My advice would be to inquire about how far the parents range naturally. It's going to vary from line to line and dog to dog, but use that as a gauge for how far to expect your dog to wander off leash regardless of where you are.

Honestly, unless you are really wanting to do upland hunting instead of just considering it to satisfy your dog, I would suggest something like a Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever for you. Similar size/coat/looks (although different color of course) to a SM or Britt. In general, retrieving breeds are more biddable when off leash because they aren't bred to go seek live game; they're bred to hang out with their person until they are signaled to go get dead game. Much easier to satisfy that retrieving drive (fetch), easier to keep close (again not bred to range), and usually more reliable (with less work) at recalls. Retrievers tend to have a more natural affinity to water, too, since a lot of their game is duck/geese/etc.
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Old 11-05-2013, 02:49 PM
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I've considered the duck toller, it's just the massive shedding that's put me off of the breed but maybe I'll rethink that.

I have no need for my dog to stay ON a trail, it's really just an issue of how far she would go, and whether she'd respect recall. I don't want to be fighting a total uphill battle with recall which is my concern with say a hound.

Layla runs off trail and she's often out of my sight but not for terribly long, and if I call her she usually returns pretty quickly. It's a wonderful characteristic.

I love your suggestion to ask how far the dogs naturally range. In fact I've read that French Brittanys tend to stay close compared to the really fast American dogs but it's not at all easy to find a French Brittany from what I can tell. The American Brittanys are gorgeous but I feel like I'd likely be setting myself up for a mismatch.

Thanks so much for the reply and suggestions. I'll take another look at retrievers.

I'm also open to other types of working dogs if you have any input. Ideally not an extremely heavy shedder. A medium coat that needs the odd bath and daily quick brush is great. I do have a local coolie breeder but not convinced she's all that. Seems many of the herding breeds enjoy water. I love that Layla will swim when I go in, and she'll chase a stick into the water, but she's not in love with every mud puddle.
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Old 11-05-2013, 03:02 PM
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You're welcome. Similar to a Brittany but less "Americanized" would be a Boykin Spaniel. Pretty much the more American field bred you go, the quicker and farther ranging, one of the results of field trial trends (converse is true for European lines). You can find close ranging American & field bred, just look for "foot hunting" sort of descriptions and if they do trials, NSTRA, AKC hunt tests, or NAVHDA for versatiles. AKC and American Field trials tend to be where the speedier/rangier dogs come from.

And of course, the more show bred you go, the less focus there's been on hunting traits, so you might find an ideal companion there.

Are you specifically looking for a puppy? You could consider hunting "washouts" ie sales/rehomes by owners/kennels who didn't make the cut for the field.

BTW, I have a great contact in Brittanys--she shows, trains, trials/tests, and hunts. If you'd like to talk to her more about them, feel free to PM me.
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Old 11-05-2013, 04:01 PM
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I've looked into Boykins but not extensively and the breed is nowhere in Ontario that I know of.

My research into pudelpointers and small munsterlanders says that their range is smaller (dependant on terrain of course) and that they typically "check in" a fair bit which is great. Would you say that can be true of Brittanys too?

Based on your mention of Brittanys I just emailed another breeder near me who seems to show her dogs as much as hunt (or more) and I think she may be more willing to sell to a non-hunter than the other nearby breeder.

Brittanys are truly gorgeous dogs, I really admire their looks. But I remember a friend of mine as a kid whose family had one (that was horribly untrained and completely not exercised) and the dog was just totally bonkers. I'd never considered them since, until recently.

To clarify my timeline - this is research for the future - like after Layla (who's four) most likely.
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Old 11-05-2013, 05:40 PM
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I know someone here who breeds, hunts, and trials Small Munsterlanders. Let me say, if you get them from hunting stock, they NEED something to do. The ones I have seen have almost as careful of a breeding program as Drahts do. Again, I can't speak for all, but the ones I've seen I've called the Border Collies of the Gundogs. People and master oriented as far as gundogs go, but very drivey and they have that NEED for something to do. As crock suggested, maybe a trial washout or former hunter in need of a home may be better depending on your needs (Are you or a family member/friend planning on letting the dog hunt?)

I think I could offer a bit more suggestion if the 50 lb weight limit was a bit higher. I have met some Viszlas with LOVELY temperaments and definite off switches, and as they become more popular (around here they have, at least), it is more possible to find a more "pet quality" dog. Some of the females will be around 55-60 lbs. Shedding is comparable to any similar coated dog. No blowing of coat or undercoat, but average constant little hairs.

Personally Brittanys are hit or miss with me. I don't care for their hunting style, or any flusher for that matter, but temperament wise, I have never met a mean one or one with many inherent psychological issues, save for a few that could have used more excercise.

Water breeds or retrievers are generally easier to handle than pointers, flushers, hounds, or versatile breeds. Breeds for retrieving in my experience tend to exhibit less prey drive and a slightly better recall. That's not to say a Labrador won't chase deer, Ive seen some who would.

That being said, have you thought about an American Water Spaniel? Standard calls for males to be under 40 lb and females less. They are also, from what I have seen, one of a few of what I call "adaptable" gundog breeds, meaning they can have outlets other than hunting and still be mentally satisfied. From what I hear, they can be good at flyball or agility.

American Water Spaniel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Again, if the weight were more than 50 lbs I would be a lot more help. Or if you decide to go with a hound
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Old 11-05-2013, 05:50 PM
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Thanks BigC I was hoping you'd weigh in.

I might reconsider a viszla. Many are actually tiny. I met a gorgeous pair the other day - the girl was 35 lbs and the boy was 45 or so. I've been trying to find a breed with a bit more coat - just because I kind of hate those little pointy hairs. But no dog is perfect lol!

I wouldn't say the dog would absolutely not be able to hunt but we're not hunters per se.

To be totally honest, I'm not a huge fan of a lot of retrievers, or spaniels so much.... they have their strengths and many people love them. I do appreciate them. Maybe a Duck Toller.

I might meet some of the Brittanys near me. The breeder sells many of her dogs as companions and seems excellent overall. I just need to start meeting some of the dogs I'm interested in - including the small munsterlander and pudelpointers.

Frankly I'd probably be considering a Portuguese Water Dog because they're essentially a retriever but they worked with nets. Not a super high prey drive, non-shedding, good size, smart and fun, like water, good recall. My husband isn't so interested though.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:12 PM
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You're welcome

If you are able to find them near you, a lot of the French or Italian upland breeds would probably fit your bill as well. If you like a Viszla or something similar, Bracco Italianos, or Braques Francais may work for you. Braques Francais top out around 55 lbs for males. They look similar to German Shorthairs but from what I'm told work closer and are more master oriented. Strangely enough, in Iowa they are developing quite a following. Bracco Italianos run slightly larger than your 50 lb requirement but again, finding a small female may not be impossible. I LOVE the looks of those dogs, somewhere between a hound and a pointer. VERY interesting and versatile breed. But around here they come with quite the price tag.

I guess really, my advice would be this - if there is an interest in a breed that you just can't seem to shake (maybe Brittanys in your case? ) spend the most time looking in that direction. Even if there are moments of uncertainty or areas of your checklist that they don't meet, if you find yourself at least wondering or questioning one breed habitually, it is probably in your best interest to at least seriously consider.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:25 PM
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I'll take a look at some of those other breeds (thanks again!).

This won't be happening anytime soon so the awesome thing is that we'll find out if we actually do end up getting into hunting. Hubs is really keen on it. But I also know how divided his attention is! So we'll see. He's been thinking about venison but if you're hunting fowl there are so many more options.

On an unrelated note - if you have a hunting dog can you feed them any of what you shoot? I think I've heard that you're not supposed to but I wonder if that's actually based in anything.

As far as the breeds I'm interested in - well yeah you're right I might have to meet some Britts because I am attracted to them, and I think the right dog would probably work. But same goes with the right dog of another breed. I'm still interested in meeting the guy who breeds SMs. He's not far from us and such a nice old German man and very serious about his breeding but also really adores his dogs -- and frankly, if nothing else I'd just love to see them do their thing. Same thing with the guy near me who breeds pudelpointers.

I may end up going back to looking at herding breeds who knows. Or hell if I'm considering a viszla why not a smallish coonhound? Lots of them are pretty petite from what I've seen. Gorgeous dogs, athletic and sweet.
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:32 PM
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Ooh, I love the French Pointers! They are on my dream list.

Layla, do you like wire hairs? Viszlas come in wirehair type but I have never seen a small one (like some smooth coats).
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