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How to Find a Great Gun Dog (4 Hot Tips)

Are you on the lookout for a great gun dog?  A great gun dog is every wing shooter’s dream.  Not just a companion in the field, a great gun dog makes things appear effortless.  They find birds, flush, and retrieve with no more than a few signals from their owner.  Here are four hot tips which will help you find a great gun dog–the one you dream about.

Tip Number 4: Word of Mouth

There are two things every hunter will talk to you about (even if you don’t ask): their guns and their gun dogs.  Someone on the lookout for a quality gun dog should take some time and talk to people who already own such beasts.  Strike up conversations with people you meet in gun stores, at the trap range, or join a breed club dedicated to the breed you are interested in.  Do some homework on your own before you engage with people, however.  There’s as much misinformation –and outright lies—in the gun dog world as there is in the gun world, so you need your facts straight.  Steer your conversation toward how people found a good gun dog and make notes after each conversation.  See if certain breeders’ names come up often, concentrate your search on those breeders.

Tip Number 3: Breed Rescue Groups

A first class way to find a great gun dog is through groups who love a particular breed so much they spend significant time and often money to locate dogs from that breed who need new homes and match them with prospective owners.  You can find these groups either on the internet or ask a few veterinarians for their recommendations.  Prepare yourself before you contact a group, however.  They will no doubt put you through a significant vetting process before they allow you to adopt a dog they have rescued.  They will want to know how you plan to care for the animal, if you have a fenced yard or dog run, how much experience with the breed you have, and many other factors.  Have patience, remain polite at all times, and understand they want to ensure they didn’t take a dog away from difficult circumstances just to place it into a new, but just as bad, situation.  Also, understand a rescued dog may come with certain “features” such as behavioral or health problems which you will have to overcome to realize the dog’s full potential.

Tip Number 2: Shelter Dogs

Many prospective gun dog owners overlook an excellent resource which is often right in their own community—animal shelters.  Dogs find their way into shelters for many reasons, and a savvy person with a developed eye for gun dogs can find a wonderful canine companion at a shelter if they put in the time and effort.  Like rescue group dogs, shelter dogs can have some rough edges, but if you already have good dog training skills, patience, and a deep love for dogs, a shelter dog could turn into the best gun dog you ever owned.  An added bonus is most shelters’ adoptions fees are far lower than the prices charged by breeders.

Tip Number 1: Reputable Breeders

There a far too many people in this world who promote themselves as gun dog “breeders.”  The reality is a mere few are quality breeders.  How can you tell the difference between what we in the dog world deride as “backyard breeders,” or even worse, a puppy mill, and reputable breeders?  There are several warning signs the person who wants to sell you a gun dog is not reputable:

  • The person always has puppies for sale.
  • The person has a poor reputation with breed clubs or rescue groups.
  • The person’s dogs have few, if any, breed specific titles such as field trial championships.
  • A visit to the breeder reveals dogs who are kept in unsanitary, unsafe, or inhumane conditions.
  • The breeder refuses to give written guarantees for their dogs or refuses to take back a dog which doesn’t work out.
  • A person who seems more bent on making a deal than determining if you are a suitable owner for their pups.

A top quality gun dog from a reputable breeder is not cheap, so don’t look for any bargains here.  However, if you pass muster with the breeder—beyond the fact you have money in your pocket—and they work to match you with the right animal, you may well find your ultimate gun dog.

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