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What is a good bird dog for upland and waterfowl hunting?

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  • What is a good bird dog for upland and waterfowl hunting?

    What is a good bird dog for upland and waterfowl hunting?

  • #2
    Labradors are the most popular for “all-around” hunting use. Golden Retrievers also will hunt in the field or the duck blind. Several breeds of spaniels can make excellent dual-purpose dogs, including Springers and American Water Spaniels.

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    • #3
      Will labs point or just retreave?

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      • #4
        Flushing labs are used to flush and retrieve. The lab of course is the most popular and it may be the best all arround. I have German Shorthairs that I really like. Up until this point they have been a little shy of the water. Saturday we were messing around the lake and they decided they wanted to go for a swim. Maybe they've outgrown their water fear. I use my two for upland hunting. Never have tried them on ducks.

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        • #5
          Labs are the best. You can see a fine pair in my profile photos. By the way, for any who might be wondering, Pearl is still doing great. It will be a year next month when she was struck with "terminal" brain cancer. Still going 100%.

          I would be cautious about golden retriever. That breed has not faired too well in recent years. Too much popularity as a household pet and the gene pool couldn't take it. I'm hearing of a lot of them that have lost the retrieving instinct or are gunshy. Labs are still the most popular breed overall (22 years running!) but their popularity as a hunting dog has saved them from the evil consequences of show ring and pet store breeders. The hunting dog breeders are typically quite careful and will always leave the breed with a good source of sound genes to fall back on.

          The Chesapeake breed has improved substantially over the last 25 years. They were formerly quite large, hard-headed, and often times ornery. Today I see many that are smaller, lighter-boned dogs, with much better temperament. They are best known as a retriever so I'm not sure how they would do with uplands but I'm guessing just as well as labs.

          If you have the money and can find one, I would recommend that you explore getting an Italian
          Spinone. They are a close working, heavy-haired, pointing dog that also retrieves well. They are known for their wonderful disposition and desire to please. They don't make good guard dogs (too friendly) but are becoming popular as assistance dogs (that speaks volumes right there!). My next dog, if I live long enough to need another one, will likely be a Spinone.

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          • #6
            Some labs will point. My younger lab, Opal, has always pointed pheasants but ONLY if the bird locks down. If it moves at all, she'll jump it. I think that is typical of the so-called "pointing labs." They will point but are not excellent at it. There's really no trouble telling when a lab is birdy. I enjoy the excitement of watching them go ape and not knowing exactly when the bird is going to get up. It makes the shooting a bit more challenging but, hey, it it was supposed to be easy, it wouldn't be fun anyway. And the dogs don't care much if the bird doesn't fall. Watching them enjoy themselves is a helluva lot more fun than cleaning birds.

            I have found that it's a lot more difficult to tell when springers are birdy. They just seem to be wound up all the time they're in the field. I have seen many that were hard-mouthed too. No problem telling when my Britt is onto a bird as she goes into semi-stealth mode. I do hunt geese with her but only in the fields. For water retrieves in cold weather her hair is too fine and she lacks that fuzzy undercoat that labs have for insulation. They are a wonderful dog though.

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            • #7

              A lot of that water retrieving depends on the climate you hunt in....very cold water, labs will do the job. But if the water isn't that cold, a number of retrievers will crash the water, and retrieve a duck.

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              • #8
                German Wirehaired Pointer or Deutche Drahtharr is my bias. Great on upland birds and waterfowl. On Saturday my Heide swam 35 min. in an icy 5 acre pond to retrieve a diving snow goose. But with any dog, you only get full pontential with many training and hunting sessions.

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                • #9
                  So how would someone go about training a lab to flush birds but site in a duuck blind?

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                  • #10
                    Sitting in a duck blind is just basic obedience. Teach your pup to sit (reward with treat), then stay. This is easily taught at feeding time. Make the pup sit away from the dish till you have filled it. When the pup breaks, put it back in place and make it sit repeatedly until it gets the idea that the sooner it cooperates, the sooner it gets fed. That way the pup also learns the command to release it.

                    Flushing is something the lab comes by naturally. Work with keeping the dog in distance first. I don't use an e-collar for this and unless the dog is completely hard-headed - a rarity for labs - I don't think it's necessary. Spend time teaching the dog to return on command and that is usually as easily accomplished with treats or praise as it is with an e-collar.

                    It never ceases to amaze me how my dogs, even the little Britt, make the instantaneous adjustment from sitting and hiding with me in the hedgerows when field hunting for geese and then within days jump right into upland hunting in Montana. They seem to pick right up where they left off the previous year. But I think that has a lot to do with having them out in the fields for geese early in the season. During the slack periods between morning and afternoon flights I walk the dogs to check out several small dugouts and sloughs for ducks (and occasional goose). They are under control.

                    And above all, live with your dog. Don't tie it up in the yard or stick it in a kennel. The dog will become much more bonded to you and your way of thinking if it lives with you.

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                    • #11
                      My vote goes to the German Shorthaired Pointer, with honorable mention to the pointing Labs.

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                      • #12
                        GSPs are NOT the dog for hunting out of a duck blind. For one thing they are usually way too restless for that sort of thing. And they just are not built for getting wet in cold weather. That will shorten their life span considerably.

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                        • #13
                          A knucklehead that hunts near us sometimes has a hyper GSP that my Lab absolutely detests. He is out of control, breaks at every shot, goes after any bird down, and will not come when called off by said knucklehead.

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                          • #14
                            I have found the lab the easiest to train, but i had to train mine in different spots. I would train her in the backyard, then one day moved to the front, she forgot everything till I took her back to the backyard. Now we practice in four different swamps, both yards, and a few upland fields.

                            My uncle has a wirehaired pointing griffon for grouse, I know he has taught it to retrieve, but i dont think he has ever hunted ducks with it. I am not sure how it would fair in cold water.

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                            • #15
                              If you all around the Lab is the way to go, GSP's are good upland dogs and will retrieve very well but hard to deal with in a blind. Short hair dogs don't fair well in very cold hunting situations with water retrieving.

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