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basic instinct (or lack thereof)

Emily Degan

Well... At least she looks the part. #WinnieWearsA ShootersVest

Well... At least she looks the part. #WinnieWearsAShootersVest

With dove season underway and quail and duck seasons looming, some hunters have already had the opportunity to test the off-season training of their gun dogs. Many more (like me) may be nervously wondering about the natural instincts of the family pet who hasn’t exactly received the recommended amount training.

So, we thought we’d take a closer look at where some of the most popular gun dogs are naturally pre-disposed to excel.

Boykin Spaniel – A strong prey drive and natural affinity for swimming, makes these great all around hunting dogs. But, these high energy dogs can lack the focus for the repetitive training of blind water retrieves. 

Expect: instinctive flushing
Train: blind retrieves

Brittany – Their manageable size and family friendly personality make Brittanys popular hunting dogs. Though they are usually work more closely than pointers, Brittanys are natural retrievers.

Expect: shorter range pointing and retrieving
Train: water retrieves

English Setter –  The popularity of English Setters among hunters and kennel clubs has led to a dichotomy in the breed: some are eager runners and instinctive pointers, others not so much.

Expect: long range points and the focus to hold them until you’re ready to shoot
Train: water retrieves

German Shorthaired Pointer – Bred in 19th century Germany to be the most versatile gun dog, it’s no surprise that hunters can typically get by minimally training these pups. Originally used for upland, waterfowl, and big game hunting, blood tracking has been de-emphasized in recent years especially among American breeds.

Expect: long range points
Train: big game tracking

Labrador retriever – With double coats for warmth and water repellency, labs are quite literally made for the water. Smart and eager to please though, they can be trained for all types of hunting.

Expect: great water retrieves
Train: pointing and flushing

Goldendoodle -  We’re biased here, but we couldn’t not mention goldendoodles. Even though poodles were bred water retrievers and golden retrievers were bred gun dogs, goldendoodles are often overlooked among hunters. Descended from two of the smartest breeds, they are highly trainable. However, it can be difficult to find goldendoodles that come from a line of hunters, so they typically require training. But with their smarts and focus, don’t expect training to take very long.

Happy hunting!