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What kind of dog - help!!


Mugsaway

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Ok, I am in desperate need of some help here. I am looking to get a dog but have some concerns about what kind to get. I have read articles but what I am really striving for is first hand knowledge from owners. I also need the information so I can present it to my wife as this will be a very hard sell.

This dog will be used strictly for grouse hunting and am looking for a pointer. A medium sized dog that will be good around 2 kids (4 & 8) is ideal. The point my wife will bring up is the shedding. I cannot get a dog that sheds (a ton). Also a dog with a high odor is out. Growing up we had a Cocker Spaniel as did my friend and there was a noticeable odor my wife won’t go for.

Also, do I get a pup or one that is partially trained? During the summer months my wife and kids are at home all day. The rest of the year we are both working.

I have been told so many different breeds from friends that my head is spinning:

German Wirehaired Pointers

German Shorthaired Pointers

Irish Setters

English Setters

English Pointer

Brittany

What do I go with? Any information is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Mugs

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I love the german wirehair pointer. I own two and my father owns three. In my opinion, they hunt harder than the other breeds you listed, but that's my opinion. I have two young boys, aghes 6 and 2. My wirehair's are great with the boys, very gentle and loyal. They do not shed that bad and there is no unusual odor, unless you don't wash them grin.gif

I would get a puppy, then you can really have a bond with them. It doesn't require a lot of time to train your dog, 10 minutes twice a day will do it. You can check out my add in the puppies for sale forum and if you have any other questions about wirehair's, let me know.

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For shedding the shorter haired breeds may suite you better. All breeds shed but the shorter haired ones are a little less noticeable. Your best bets in the shorthaired dog department are English Pointers and German Shorthairs. Not sure what you mean by medium sized but you can find examples of both in the 50# or less range. You don't mention what you would be comfortable with as far as hunting range and speed and so on. You can get pretty much whatever you want in both breeds (close, far, fast, slow, small, big) but you will need to do some homework up front and be very clear with the breeders as to what you are looking for. I am partial to gsp's and do think that you may find them a little more comfortable to hunt with than a pointer but there are plenty of nice pointers out there that could prove me wrong too.

Also the classic grouse dog is an English Setter. You may wish to consider them even though they have longer hair and the shedding may be more noticeable.

Trying to decide which breed to get. What a great problem to have! Good luck.

gspman

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Wow, what a question. I don't think we will have any biased opinions here will we? smirk.gif I'll take the questions one by one.

1.) Dog will be used primarily for grouse? I would eliminate any verstile breed right away. Now before someone posts about how great thier wirehair/griffon/drahtar ect. is , remember this is personal opinion and expereince. I have been around enough grouse dogs and have found that MOST of the time the setters and pointers have outperformed the contintal breeds in strictly grouse hunting.

2.)Any of those breeds will be good with kids, I have heard of wirehairs beiong very "protective" of thier owners, but have never witnessed it, and I'm sure professional breeders will not tolerate that in breeding programs. Your kids are old enough that the dog will adapt to the kids right away, not the kids having to adapt to the dog.

3.)Shedding, the Wirehair, Brittany , pointers and GSPs will be much better than any setter. My dogs do shed, not terribly if I keep them brushed. In the summmer months I shave them down to eliminate most of it during hot weather.

4.)Odor - If your dog has a funky odor you should have them checked out, I know some dogs do stink and having them live outside will cause some odor but all breeds listed are going to be healhy animals.

5.) Being its your first pointer I would look into getting a started dog, you are going to have a much better chance of finding a dog that can handle grouse, if its had the opportunity to prove it. A great place to look are grouse trials. Many pros will have dogs that make great hunting dogs, but just don't have what it takes to run in the big trials so they sell them....I have seen some of the best grouse dogs come from grouse trial cast-a-ways. Be willing to spend some money $$$$ though, 1500-2500 isn't ridiculous for a started grouse dog.

What I would do is try and hook up with as many people as you can and watch some dogs perform. Take note of what you see and what you like about a particular breed, and characteristics of that breed. I would be glad to take you grouse hunting some time, I run english setters as do a couple of my buddies. Good luck, which ever great breed you select. They are all wonderful in thier own way. Even the ones with little tiny tails. grin.gifgrin.gif

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As usual, setterguy provided a pretty complete response. gspman also hit it on the head saying English Setters are "the" classic grouse dog.

Shedding:

Shedding from an ES wouldn't be too bad if you make the time/effort to groom the dog yourself or have it done professionally on a regular basis. I can speak from experience on GSPs and Drahthaar/GWPs: I honestly believe our GSP was much worse for shedding, but as mentioned above, it's like finding eyelashes all over the house. The wire coats seem to shed much less, but when they do, it's simply easier to spot. My sister & brother-in-law had a Britt - she ranked right up there with a lab on being a terrible shedder - my son's allergies were always bad at their house as a result.

Range:

Grouse hunting in MN usually requires a close to medium range dog in my opinion. That being said, you can probably find one in most of the breeds mentioned here, but homework will certainly be required. I've never hunted grouse with an EP, but I've seen a few of 'em that were horizon chasers in open country and can't imagine them ever staying within gun range in the woods. They have too much run in 'em for my taste. Likewise, my GSP was primarily a pheasant dog and never reeled in her range in the grouse woods. I sure heard a lot of grouse when hunting her though frown.gif I agree with setterguy that ES and EP are much more specialists in upland birds, but for total package I would certainly keep griffons and DD/GWP on the list too.

My recommendations based on my experience:

1) English Setter - great temperament and excellent grouse dogs

2) Griffon/Drahthaar - griffs probably have better temperament as a general rule (more laid back), both are very loving, loyal family members with lower maintenance coats

3) GSP or Viszla - great personalities - can be high strung - but excellent hunters and easy coats

Another option to consider - ever looked at a Pudelpointer? Do a google on pudelpointer and take a look. Great temperaments from what I hear and nice, close working dogs that can handle cold MN weather too. They look like fuzzy chocolate labs! laugh.gif

Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide.

-Blaze

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Mugsaway:

I am in the exact same boat as you as for type of dog, but I will be hunting only pheasants, here in SD.

I guess my advice is Research, Research, and Research some more. I am truly amazed as to how much info there is out there on dogs, hunting, training etc. The web alone is great but there are tons of proven books out there as well. I have to say I have learned quite a bit, and discovered alot of breeds and stuff about dogs I never knew.

Just be sure to take your time, and be willing to ask lots of questions, when talking to breeders etc.

I posted a similar question a while back on this site here is the link:

narrowing down breed of dog to get

Good luck to you and your search, and keep us updated.

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Why a pointing dog?

Have you ever shot a bird over a pointing dog?

I would suggest you try hunt with or watch a breeder's dog work first. Will you be comfortable with the range?

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Although it is not a traditional grouse dog...I would look seriously at the WPG. Typically close-working, excellent temperment (much better than the other versatiles on average) and sheds little to no hair.

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My advice would be to find a good GSP breeder and pick out one of the smaller females in the litter. My old dog was a huge male 75+ lbs and he was not a good family pet although he was awesome in the field. Our second GSP was about a 45 lb female and she is still a great dog to hunt behind, but about 100 times better in the house. Clean dog, never smells bad, incredibly intelligent, perfect for the wife and kids.

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Thanks for all the responses, truely appreciative.

There were a couple of things I have a question on now.

A question was brought up by brittman: Why a pointing dog?

I really don't know why. I figured that was the type of dog to hunt grouse with. It seems like most pictures I see are with pointers. Is there a high percentage of people that hunt with different dogs? I have never hunted behind a dog before, but with my experience I thought the more warning I have that there is a bird around the better the chance in getting it.

Gill suggests looking at a WPG. What kind of dog is that?

The range of the dog. With all the foilage, expecially in the early season, I figured I would want a dog that hunts close to medium range. Any suggestions? What do most others do. I know this is an personal preferance but the more knowledge I have about other owners/hunters the easier it may be to narrow a search down.

Once again to all that have replied, I greatly appreciate your opinions and information you have shared.

Thanks,

Mugs

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WPG = Wirehaired pointing griffon

If you have never hunted behind a dog before, definetly get out this year and hunt behind as many different dogs as you can, pointers and flushers.

You can hunt grouse behind a flushing dog, and some do quite well. If you are going to require a dog to stay within gun range, a flushing dog might be a wonderful option. For me, I like to have my dog find and hold birds that I wouldn't have found by myself. At times this means she is 75 yards away looking for birds. When we start to produce more birds she will tighten up, almost expecting a bird to be near. Pointing dogs aren't for everyone, they tend to develop slower than flushers and require dilligence in training. Don't buy a pointing dog and get frustrated that it isn't pointing birds, then allow it to turn into a flusher. You must be willing to make the commitment to not shoot birds that are not pointed as hard as that may be. If you have any other questions please feel free to post them here. We are lucky enough to have some very knowledgable people here that are always eager to share experiences and advice.

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Quote:

Pointing dogs aren't for everyone, they tend to develop slower than flushers and require dilligence in training.


Develop slower than flushers?!?!?! Are you serious about this, setterguy? I've always been told just the opposite and experienced earlier *mental* maturity with my pointing dogs (GSP/GWP/DD). My dogs were still filling out physically up to about 2 years old, but seemed to be out of the puppy stage mentally between 12-14 mos. How have your setters matured?

You're 100% right on the diligence issue, but I think if you want a well trained dog of any type/breed, the committment to training needs to be there.

Mugs - keep in mind that you'll only be hunting a small percentage of days a year. The rest of the time the dog will need to be a family member. If you get a chance, I'd suggest you go to Game Fair and check out the dog area and see other dogs that people bring. It will give you a first-hand look at a number of breeds to see what their personalities are like.

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In my opinion and maybe this is what Setterguy was angling at is that a pointer isn't really coming into it's own until it's had 3-4 seasons under it's belt. It takes time, experience and a lot of birds for a pointer to really learn how to handle birds properly. By it's very nature, pointing a bird is harder than flushing it and it takes time for a dog to learn how to do it consistently under various conditions. Asking a dog to be able to handle different species makes it even harder. A pointer might be mentally mature at 2 years old (I'd dispute that) but experience wise they still have a ways to go.

I may be wrong here but in my mind with a flusher if you can keep it in gun range you're well on your way to having a very serviceable gun dog.

gspman

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Mugs-

I suggest that you get out and shoot a few birds over some different dogs. You can go to a lot of hunt clubs and hire a guide and dog for a reasonable price ($25-$40) plus the usual fees. Most will have Labs so you may need to call around to find different breeds.

You will also find groups getting together on this forum. You'll find a call out for anyone who wants to go. This will give you the chance to hunt behind more dogs.

You may want to check out NAVHDA. You'll learn a lot about the versatile breeds.

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Point well taken on the "experienced hunter" angle for pointing dogs, gspman. I would also agree that for most average hunters looking for maximum return on minimum training, a flushing dog would be the way to go. Simpler training and hunting style overall.

Flushers also tend to do better on multiple species, IMO, with less training/experience. With pointers it seems they do well on grouse or pheasant, but rarely both because of how different the birds are and how their thresholds of how much pressure they'll take before flushing. For a lab or springer, it doesn't matter - sniff it out and chase it up. A pointer's job is much more difficult, which is why most pointers are so much more intelligent than flushers! shocked.gifgrin.gif

Even if it took 10x as much training for a pointer, after shooting one bird over a solid point it would all be worth it in my mind. Even though I recognize the value of flushing breeds, I'm completely hooked on pointing dogs... wink.gif

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Agreed on all points (pun intended) except for the being smarter than flushers part. Are you trying to stir up trouble Blaze??? blush.gifwink.gif

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Oh yeah... my labs can beat up your pointers!!!!! grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif lol

Your lucky my labs are only dumb and not stupid or I might take exception to your post!!! hehehe grin.gif

Now if a flusher can hold a point, they must be the most intelligent animal on 4 legs to roam the earth!!!!! cool.gif

Good Luck!

Ken

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Your labs would probably eat my little pipsqueak shorthair for a snack, but they'd have to catch her first. ooo.gif

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Ooops! Did I actually type that?!?! Just ribbin' you lab lovers... grin.gif

Ken - your lab probably could beat up my DD - he's too darn sweet to fight back. The way he looks at the neighbors' cats makes me a little suspicious though...he may be a monster in disguise!

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gspman - That is exactly what I meant by developing slower...you may not know exactly what you have in a grouse dog for 3-4 years. Some obviously develop faster than that but I have seen plenty of dogs that were given up on too soon that in my opinion could have one day made fine bird dogs.

Please, please don't go calling pointing dogs smart. I will take a dumb dog everytime. It may take them a little longer to train, but once through it they will be less likely to try and "bend" the rules they have been taught..they're not smart enough to think of a better or quicker way grin.gifgrin.gif

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My labs are wusses... the neighbors lhasa apso gave one of my labs a run for her money a couple weeks ago at the cabin. crazy.gif Your dogs would kick their butts without even a tangle... they'd definitley tip over during the foot race! grin.gif I know it was all said in fun...

Good Luck!

Ken

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