Today's guest blog is by Drew Goodwin - thanks Drew!
Avid hunters will argue until they're blue advocating for the rifle they prefer to use. Similarly, all the different breeds of gun dogs are debatable issues for hunters. But its a lot easier to own several rifles to end the debate, than it is to own several dogs for different hunting ventures.
When choosing a gun dog, you want the best possible hunting partner you can find. You also want a dog that can quickly adapt to different environments. Here are three dogs that cover most hunters' individual situations.
The Family Man Dog - Labrador Retriever
Labs are the most popular breed of dog in America, and golden retrievers are the third most popular, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The story commonly told is that British nobility started importing the dogs from Newfoundland, Canada around 1820. They were impressed not only with the dogs' overall athletic prowess, but also their ability to retrieve fish and other things in water. Labs made their way to the U.S. in the late 19th century and became AKC-recognized in 1917.
Photo by Daniel Kempa via Flickr
Labs are perfect for hunters with young children or elderly individuals in their homes. Despite their natural instinct to hunt, Labs are known for their playful personalities and mild temperaments. They even get along well with other animals. When it's time to get serious and hunt, tools such as a SportDOG training collar can reinforce commands the dog already knows. Labs are eager to please and quick to learn, so this transition shouldn't be hard for them to conquer.
Small/Large Game Dog - American Fox Hound
This breed received extra attention from dog lovers in November when a 3-year-old Fox Hound named Jewel won the 2013 Purina National Dog Show. It is also the official state dog for Virginia. Tall, slender and fast, Fox Hounds are one of the more versatile hunting companions you can own. Deer hunters have especially become fond of Fox Hounds. The breed is also very effective chasing down small game.
Photo by beaucon via Flickr
The American Fox Hound Club reminds potential owners that the breed can be difficult to train and take care of if you're not committed to it. They can be particularly stubborn and need a lot of wide-open space to exercise. They are easy to raise and train if you get them as puppies. It is a bit more difficult for older ones to adapt. Fox Hounds are not recommended for those living in apartments unless you are committed to taking them for long walks daily.
Beginning Hunter Dog - Beagles
Pedigree.com says Beagles have "unquestionably" the best natural hunting skills of all dogs. A hunting novice can take a Beagle on their first trip and basically allow it to lead the way. They have an uncanny sense of smell that can lead you right where you want to go without giving much direction. There is no better dog for hunting rabbits, squirrels, gophers and any other small game.
Photo by Ruth Ellison via Wikimedia Commons
The one caveat that makes Beagles difficult to own in residential neighborhoods is their trademark howling. They were bred to do this, so controlling it may be a challenge. But if you live in a rural area with your closest neighbors a half-mile away, Beagles are great hunting companions to own.