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Pointer vs. Lab Feedback please


Jack The Ripped

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I am not trying to start a war/ battle here I am just looking for some advice please keep it civil.

I mainly hunt upland birds, I have not hunted waterfowl in many years.

My dogs also have free run of the house and are my best friends as well. They are NOT Kennel dogs. I know some pointer breeds will shed much less then the labs I currently have. I would really like a shedless dog if that is possible.

I have always hunted with labs and they are really good for flushing and retrieving.

I will be looking for a new puppy within a year and am considering a pointer. Any advice would be nice. Some questions I have are:

(1) Do Labs and Pointers hunt well together in a group?

(2) Can you hunt Pointers in any wind conditions?

I have been told you ALWAYS have to hunt into the wind TRUE or FALSE???

(3) Will a Pointer dog be able to handle really COLD weather?

I will post more questions as I think of them and this goes on…

Just looking for some feedback

Thank you!!

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Not really sure if one is really better than the other all depends on the hunter i would think!! I have always hunted and been around flushing labs so that is what i went with when i got my british lab in february! I do not kennel him outside but do tie him up outside after we have played for a while otherwise he is inside and does just fine! For my job i am an on the road auto paint salesman and he rides with me everyday and loves it!! Very calm and cool dog, but, is a shedder! I have all hardwood floors in my house and the hair shows up right away so i end up sweeping up my floors everynight when i get home from work and vacuum my space rug about every two days.....no a big deal but he definetly sheds!!

I am going to get another pup eventually and plan to either stud out my british and hopefully get a pup out of the litter or get a gsp! I really don't think one is better than the other it's all personal preference!! If i went with a lab again though i would definetly get a british!!

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I have 2 GPS's and have hunted with flushers. I normally prefer not to do it as most flushers dont honor my dogs points. Thats not to say there arent any out there that do honor points, when they do it can be alot of fun. I just dont like that I have to put alot of trust in somebody elses dogs.

the wind thing is all personal preference but yes FALSE

I hunt my dogs all year round through January and we see some cold temps the last couple weeks of the pheasant season. I have had no issues and have even had some nice long water retrieves it the colder months as well.

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I've got a british lab female that is going into her first "real" hunting season this fall (last year she was a pup). I also just picked up a male GSP, so my intention is to hunt them together. The guy I got him from said that I will need to have my lab respect his point, and that is going to be my intention while training. I cant tell you if it is possible, but i'm sure going to have a fun time training and hunting them together.

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I think the main difference will be training. I think a lab requires less training out of the box. They are retrive crazy and it's not had to teach a dog to run around the wooods

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Pure personal preference. I love the look of a dog on point. Some guys don't get a kick out of it like I do. Not a big deal. I hunt a Vizsla and most likely always will, but the vast majority of guys I hunt with run Labs. I never had a problem. My dog does his thing, they do theirs. There have been a few times when my dog would point, and the lab would bust it, but I never thought it was a big problem.

One nice thing about a shorthair dog is that you don't have to worry about hair everywhere, and I can throw him in the kennel at the end of a day and in 10 minutes he will be clean. Can't say that about a Brittany or a long hair dog.

I prefer to hunt into the wind, flusher or pointer. It does not always happen. My dog ranges further if the wind is at our back, and hunts into the wind naturally, just something he picked up. Wish I could say I taught it.

I have had my dog out in -20 weather. He handles it fine. The only problem I have had is with his feet, but that is any dog in those conditions.

Whatever you decide, please use a reputable breeder with full health certifications. Do your research and do what is best for you, not because someone else did it, or told you about it.

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Pointers and flushers can hunt together just fine. If you go the lab route get a pointing lab!

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I hunt a brittany who does just fine even in the cold weather. He has done just fine in some very late season hunts for pheasants, and even busts ice duck hunting. I groom him myself and that helps a lot with the hair. Only takes about 20 minutes to give him a haircut once a month, shedding isn't a major issue with him. The only times he has had a problem with the cold was when we were both falling through some partial frozen cattails when the temp was near zero. He is fine as long as he is dry, and when duck hunting I even bring with a towel for the blind to dry him off on the late season hunts. He usually will work into the wind whenever possible, although there are times when it is not an option. This doesn't really matter pointer/flusher in my mind, scent is scent.

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Glove thrown, battle on .... OK kidding ...

Lot's of truths, half-truths and misconceptions out there.

Tip: purchase the puppy from a reputable breeder with lines developed for your hunting style. Of course there are exceptions to every litter, but your odds of success are better by pick a breeder with dogs that match what you desire. Ask questions !!! The only dumb questions are questions not asked ... Ask for references ....

If you hunt pheasants and grouse and want a lab, pick a breeder that has dogs that are experienced and proved upland hunters. Buy from a field trial water dog guy with no upland .... well be ready for a hit or miss ... like wise for pointing dogs ... buy from a guy that hunts his dogs on foot if you want closer ranging dogs... buy from field trial stock where dogs are followed on horseback ... expect issues unless that is what you really want.

Lab's easier to train? I really do not believe this is true. I just look at nearly every lab hunting (with an e-collar) and it tells me the owner needs more than a voice to correct.

It is usually an advantage to hunt into the wind. Dogs smell better, birds hear less coming at them .... that said with winds below 20mph have not had a problem hunting pointing dogs with the wind at our backs .. just remember the dog's point will likely be much closer to the bird. That said mixing things up often puts wary midseason birds in the bag, because you and your dog are forcing the bird to respond to something different.

Most pointers can do well in cold weather ... except the lab with its oily skin and thicker coat has a definite advantage in COLD WATER. That is what they were bred for.

Pick a dog for how it best matches your hunting style.

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All I was saying about training is that any lab can trounce through the woods and flush birds with minimal to no training.

If you want a good dog of any breed it will take lots of work.

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All I was saying about training is that any lab can trounce through the woods and flush birds with minimal to no training.

If you want a good dog of any breed it will take lots of work.

Problem is labs that trounce through the woods or pheasant cover too far out ... will flush birds out of range. No one happy then. I have also seen labs that simply like run up and down the trail and never break into the cover.

There are guys that hunt with Mutts, poodles, weiner dogs ... what ever. If the dog has an interest in bird scent and stay withing shooting range ... probably a plus in your ability to see and shoot at birds.

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I would venture to say that there will be a least a handful of times that any hunting breed will require an e-collar to keep it in range if the owner doesn't want to make any noise. I hate hunting with guys that are constantly yelling/whistling at their dogs.

Anyhow, I personally wouldn't want a pointer as I'm pounding cattail sloughs mainly in the late season and don't want to worry about my dog on point, beeper collars, etc. etc. A buddy of mine has Wirehairs and I love hunting with them. However he did it, he trained them so that they'll lock up but once the bird starts moving they'll flush it. Very exciting.

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You can train any dog to do what you like... Get one that fits your house hold. Labs are GREAT with young childern. If you want a dog that doesn't shed as much, get one. IMO, find one that you like and fits your life style. Then train it to the way you hunt! No dog will perform right out of the box the way you like, no matter how many competetions their mother or father won or how hard they hunted. GOOD TRAINING! Alot of your seeing eye dogs or companion dogs come from animal shelters.

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I own a male chocolate lab and he "learned" how to hunt from my father in laws viszla and GSP (this will be the first season without the GSP, sad to see her go...), and I think they hunt fine together, my dog honors the point most of the time and has even on occasion pointed his own bird. The cold can be a little more brutal on the pointing dogs but as long as you are moving and have a vest on the viszla she is fine (the male viszlas I have hunted with don't seem to mind the cold as much, so who knows?), but when we stop for lunch or to take a break the viszla will get cold quick as where my lab will lay right down in the snow and take a nap. My father in law has actually taken my lab on some really cold trips in SD when he left his pointers behind. Either way all of the dogs are great, just some minor nuances between them. Oh, and my lab does shed like crazy, def more than the viszla.

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Friend in SD has pointer and I have my pointing lab. They can hunt together. The pointer genrally ranged way ahead of the hunters and you watch for a point. My lab is trained to stay close and did point several birds the pointer went past. I think if your in the open a pointer can be exciting to watch. I generally like to work certain areas like cattails and brush so my lab is fine. The e-collar thing is a non factor. Only use it if mine is getting to far out.

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1) Do Labs and Pointers hunt well together in a group?

- IMHO generally no but it likely depends on your and your hunting partners standards and expectations are. A pointer might decide to flush birds because the flushers are coming in and flushing birds they are pointing. A pointer hunting out of gun range - and IMHO a pointer should - may pull the flusher out of gun range too which will not make its master happy.

(2) Can you hunt Pointers in any wind conditions?

- Yes you can hunt a pointer or any other dog for that matter in any wind conditions. Any hunting dog should be hunting into or at least across the wind if at all possible. It gives them the best opportunity for success. Sometimes you must hunt with the wind because there is no other choice. Different dogs will do different things when hunting with the wind, you will need to be cognizant of that when hunting w/the wind.

(3) Will a Pointer dog be able to handle really COLD weather?

- Most pointers can but it depends on what really cold means, what kind of coat the dog has and what the weather conditions are like. Really cold and calm is better than really cold and really windy. As long as they are moving and generating body heat they should be okay. If you have a dog with a really short coat (Viszla, EP, really shorthaired GSP's) you will need to be watchful. I'd also carry high fat/protein dog snacks with to help them out. Nutrical is a good energy product that I use sometimes. Most of the time I want to quit because it's too cold instead of my dog wanting to quit.

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"You can train any dog to do what you like"

Perhaps but why buy a flusher and train it to point. Much better to buy one with the point built in.

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I'll throw in a quarter on this one.

I think it all depends on how you hunt and how many people you go with. Maybe depends on how old you are.

If you hunt with an army and do big drives then I don't think a pointer will work that well for you. Biggest reason is that there will be other dogs, some well trained and some not so much. The chaos that gets created doesn't work that well with a pointer.

I had a lab that I had trained professionally and I really had a great time with that dog. He did his thing, stayed close and would go and get a downed bird just about any place it was. The dog worked well for me when I was younger and did the run em and gun em style of hunting with 5 to 20 guys.

That dog died and I had parted ways with the big group and so I took a flier and bought a Brit. I got the dog from a well respected kennel and had the dog trained by a professional. I had bought another Brit out of the paper and learned that you can't train a show dog to do what I wanted it to do and that I didn't have the temperment to train a pointer. So I invested a pretty good chunk of change in the training and then the E-collar.

That dog was fantastic. He was like a vacumm cleaner in the field. Stayed close, pointed well and would retrieve what went down - again some long retrieves. I generally hunted with maybe 3 people and tried to keep it so that either I was using my Brit or a partner was using his Lab, but never at the same time. Jake wouild go after a early season duck. I never tried him in late season with really cold water. He would hunt upland in any weather even in deep snow and heavy wind. A couple of good friends that were avid flushing dog owners were stunned at how well things worked. When the dog went on point and the could calmly walk up and flush and shoot the bird they ended up just laughing at how great an experience they had.

That dog got old and I bought another Brit from a kennel in Central Iowa. At the urging of the kennel owner I started having that dog trained at 14 weeks of age. Again I spent a good chunk of change - probably close to $2 grand on training. But Cooper is like a lightening rod and on the birds at about 25-40 feet with a solid point and good retrieves. Cooper was the runt of the litter and only goes about 28-30 lbs at age 3. He's still an extremely strong and intelligent dog and he's going to give me many great hunts.

So, buy from a kennel that you have strong recommendations on. Do yourself a favor and give strong consideration to having the dog trained professionally, no matter what type or breed you get. Not many people have the knowledge, the temperment or the time to properly train a dog. Consider that you're making an investment in your next 10-12 years of hunting and realize the value a good well trained dog will add to those events. In my experience an untrained dog that hunts far out is about the best way to ruin a hunt. Having to listen to "Duke", "Duke", "Duke" yelled incessently and watching birds flush 100 yards out gets real old real fast.

Good luck with your decision.

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Hey Jack!

You will find as many (and more) opinions on pointers v.s. flushers as there are sporting breeds and people who handle them. Everyone has their own preferences, I have hunted behind both with mixed results. The key I believe as mentioned above is in the training. You have to ask youself what you want out of the animal. Shedless is probably not an option it is just the amount of shedding and how you manage it that makes all the difference. Short haired dogs shed less or at least appear to because of the length of fur shed. This is a hygiene issue and can be managed with relative ease with a well bathed and groomed animal. As far as dog smell that can also be managed with a little effort, I am not referring to purfumed shampoo either, let me know if you want more info on this.

To key in on a few of your questions:

Cold: Most pointing breeds can handle cold pretty well, however when you throw water into the mix it separates the breeds a bit. Thicker oily coats provide the needed protection that some of the short haired dogs lack. Not that fido won't perform as a pointer in a waterfowl scenario it just may manifest itself into torn pads and perhaps the onset of artharitic symptoms later in life.

Disposition: My experience has been that pointers are like Thoroughbreds, wired and ready to go most of the time. Not all are like this but I would say the average is geared towards wired most of the time. Some labs are like this as well although the average would lean the other direction. The challenge with any high energy dog is that they can become...mischievious?! They need to be ran, worked, walked more often and may be bored easily. This to me is interpreted as a training difference between high strung and mellow animals/breeds. Mellow dogs seem easier to train because you can hold their attention longer while high energy breeds appear to have ADD. This requires a different approach in training to get the same results.

Do pointers and flushers hunt well together? I am a firm believer (And I think the same opinion has been shared already) that it is the caliber of hunting companions and how well thier dogs are trained. If you have issues with this it is because the owner/trainer has not spent enough time on teaching the fundamentals of dog manners. Honor another dogs retrieve / point etc. For example: If a pointer has locked onto a pheasant the flusher handler should stop his advancing dog to honor point until instructed to flush or allow the pointers handler to flush the bird, I would call this practice good field etiquette and a display of good doggy manners.

The wind condition question: Wind helps no doubt with any breed along with moisture too dry can be a challenge as well as being too wet but I surely don't believe that a dog must hunt into the wind. If the dog quarters or covers well it shouldn't matter. We could talk about nose sensitivety but that would be futile.

My preferences:

I have had English Setters, Irish Setters, Springers, Golden Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Labradors. Most of my experience is with flushers especially on the training side. Currently I own or co-own 5 Labradors. I have settled on the Labs as the breed of choice, although they all have been great hunters and companions and little vet trouble with the exception of the Irish. I waterfowl and upland hunt in as many 5 states and sometimes Canada.

It was mentioned in a couple of replies above and I would suggest that you take some time to research the pointing lab idea. If you find the reputable breeder with the qualities you are looking for you may find the best of both worlds. I say that with confidence because I have invested in the concept myself. The pointing labs are gaining notoriety in the pointing field. Some very serious breeders are really focused on bringing out the traits that lead to natural pointing instincts. We have purchased two red pointing labs with very good lines and I am pleasantly surprised to this point one is just over 1yr and the other is 8 months. The pointing traits of energy and finer coats are prevelant in both the sire and dam. They have enough energy to work all day hunts over my three other standard labs. Great dispositions, well mannered because I require them to be and tenacious hunters. Excellent swimmers and really fearless and as far as the pet vs utility: one is asleep on our bed with the wife as I'm writing this. One of the pointing labs has an incredible retrieve to hand drive the other requires force fetch training other than that I am extremely satisfied with where we are in the process. Hope this info gives you some food for thought on what you are really looking for in your hunting experience and companionship. I wish you well my friend, best of luck to you.

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