Caribou Gear Tarp

Anybody wanna talk me out of a bird dog?

coleslaw

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Jun 13, 2018
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311
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Wisconsin
My fiance and I have been discussing getting a second dog recently and I have come to the idea that if we get a second dog, then we should get one that gives back more than just companionship. Our current dog is a hound rescue, and is mostly the companion type. She could be trained to hunt, but it would be a long work in progress, even with other seasoned dogs, so the extent of her hunting is mostly relegated to patrolling the edge of our hayfield for chipmunks which she is more than happy to do lol.

I do have some experience with hunting dogs; when I was a teen (almost 20 years ago now) I had a Walker that I used to run for Racoons with my friends who also had dogs. It was quite the way to grow up... all of us neighbors being farmers and us kids running dogs out of the backs of our farm trucks on school nights even. I wish more kids did that stuff now... If I'm being honest, training hounds to run and tree coon was kind of easy if I might say. It really helped to have other dogs that knew what they were doing in order for the younger hounds to get their "on the job training" and good dogs always picked it up fairly quick.
Anyways, I know almost nothing about bird dogs but have some friends who have had a few and I don't believe I would ever call training a bird dog "easy", but like I said, I have no idea. It seems to be much more of a finesse and patience deal vs dragging skins around the yard and releasing the hounds lol.

So yeah, I get the patience part, the investment, the time, the vet bills etc that probably come with training and maintaining a good bird dog. We are very active people and are always looking looking more excuses to be out hunting and our current dog goes almost everywhere with us, ie, she is never bored.

I have been inquiring to breeders and know the cost of a decent dog. We have mostly been deciding on Brittanys as a breed but that is mostly because of reviews and what we have read. The reason we have been leaning toward Brittanys is for the size of the dog and the temperament (we want to keep out dog inside as part of the family and not worry about it with our baby once she gets older, or any kids or our current dog for that matter). I know other dogs can do just as well (like Setters), but there's something I just like about the Brittany. Plus we have many breeders in Wisconsin that I have found.
Anyways, sorry for the long message, any thoughts or things somebody like me should know before even considering stepping into the bird dog world? We are from Wisconsin, so it would be nice to finally have some decent grouse hunts under our belt :)
 

Goodfish

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Jul 2, 2021
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The Bitterroot
Definitely need 2 dogs minimum! And hunting birds without a dog is no fun. I see you are looking at Brittanies for the size. I would consider first whether you want to deal with a pointing dog or a flushing dog. I think the pointers are tougher to train but I would like to try it again some day the older I get. The Brittany size is great; their counterpart in a flushing dog would be an English field springer or a Boykin Spaniel. A smaller version would be a Field cocker. An English Lab is the smaller sized lab that are more compact but still heavier than a Britt x2. Super easy personality though—they just want to be with you and make you happy which is not always the case with Britts and Springers. All are hell on grouse and pheasants as well as waterfowl. A big part of a dog to consider is the personality for the 330+ days a year when the dog is not hunting. Meet the parents of the litter! Can the breeder let them loose or does he have them in a kennel because they can’t control themselves? Every puppy is so cute you’ll take them home regardless without planning! Be wary of breeders that sell dogs for competition. Pups are a challenge but so much fun.
 

cedahm

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Sep 22, 2015
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Colorado
We have mostly been deciding on Brittanys as a breed but that is mostly because of reviews and what we have read. The reason we have been leaning toward Brittanys is for the size of the dog and the temperament (we want to keep out dog inside as part of the family and not worry about it with our baby once she gets older, or any kids or our current dog for that matter). I know other dogs can do just as well (like Setters), but there's something I just like about the Brittany.
Well, you got the breed right so that's a good start!!

Kidding (sort of) - most of the gun dog breeds can be excellent family dogs as well. I've always had Brits since I have been an adult and am unlikely to be swayed to anything else. Size, disposition and general mode of operation are perfect for me.

I would consider first whether you want to deal with a pointing dog or a flushing dog. I think the pointers are tougher to train but I would like to try it again some day the older I get.
Definitely put some thought to this, though. I've never personally trained a flusher, but I wouldn't say it's 'tougher' - it's just different. Basic Obedience is the same with both types and that's the most important skill set. As a very general rule, Pointing breeds are a little more high energy, so no skimping on daily walks and such.

Richard Wolters' "Gun Dog" is a great starter book.

Do it!! I don’t think I would bird hunt anymore without a dog
Mostly this. I was pretty sad walking off the mountain in the snow last night knowing it was the last grouse hunt of the year since the snow is here to stay now and even though we could get up there some more, it's time to let those tough birds weather out the next 6 months in the spruce. On to pheasants next month, though.
 

Whiptail

Active member
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
139
The dog is the easy part. Having a place with birds to run and train your dog is where it gets hard.

Do you plan to use pigeons or quail? It takes birds to make a bird dog.
 

coleslaw

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Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
311
Location
Wisconsin
The dog is the easy part. Having a place with birds to run and train your dog is where it gets hard.

Do you plan to use pigeons or quail? It takes birds to make a bird dog.
Since we already have chickens, I would probably build a small quail run and just mail order some chicks. Should I get a bird launcher? What do you do with the quail once you release them? Do you just let them fly or do you actually shoot them during more advanced training? Please forgive my ignorance of this subject, I honestly have no idea.
 

Ben Lamb

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coleslaw

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
311
Location
Wisconsin
Definitely need 2 dogs minimum! And hunting birds without a dog is no fun. I see you are looking at Brittanies for the size. I would consider first whether you want to deal with a pointing dog or a flushing dog. I think the pointers are tougher to train but I would like to try it again some day the older I get. The Brittany size is great; their counterpart in a flushing dog would be an English field springer or a Boykin Spaniel. A smaller version would be a Field cocker. An English Lab is the smaller sized lab that are more compact but still heavier than a Britt x2. Super easy personality though—they just want to be with you and make you happy which is not always the case with Britts and Springers. All are hell on grouse and pheasants as well as waterfowl. A big part of a dog to consider is the personality for the 330+ days a year when the dog is not hunting. Meet the parents of the litter! Can the breeder let them loose or does he have them in a kennel because they can’t control themselves? Every puppy is so cute you’ll take them home regardless without planning! Be wary of breeders that sell dogs for competition. Pups are a challenge but so much fun.
One of biggest hangups right is trying to find the right breeder and trying to diplomatically ask the hard questions about said breeding. There are alot of breeders in the Midwest and it can be hard to get reliable reviews or testimonials. We won't even consider being on a waiting list before at least doing a face to face on the breeders property.
 

BrentD

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In the middle
One of biggest hangups right is trying to find the right breeder and trying to diplomatically ask the hard questions about said breeding. There are alot of breeders in the Midwest and it can be hard to get reliable reviews or testimonials. We won't even consider being on a waiting list before at least doing a face to face on the breeders property.

If it is hard to ask the questions because the breeder might be offended, get past it. If the breeder IS offended by such questions, you have your answer. Pick up your wallet and move on. GOOD breeders welcome such questions. Always.
 

KB_

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Jul 12, 2018
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Bozemen, Montana
If you can swing it yea its cool to have a bird dog, Especially if you dont mind having basicly freddy cruger running around the house looking for two legged critters with wings. FYI do no wear a chicken suit.

As far as a Brittney spaniel. I would look else ware. I have not met a brittney spaniel that wasent an A hole. Was out on a hike not that long ago and my dog and I came up on another family with their little shitster brittney spaniel. My dog is not usually leashed so i just told her to sit and she is pretty dang friendly with other dogs unless they try to mount her. The lady with the leash is like oh is she friendly? I said yes she is very friendly and they let their dog greet. Takes one sniff and grabs her by the tail. I wont say what happened next cause it wouldnt look good on me. But F those dogs.

My sister had a Springer spaniel years ago, he was a really smart dog and a good hunter. But like the others, strangely aggressive towards people that didnt know his name. Kind of like serial killers.

Sorry for the rant. I'm not a fan of aggressive dogs, nor am I a fan of those breeds.

Have you look into other breeds?
 

neffa3

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Apr 17, 2015
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6,659
Location
Wenatchee
I have a 13 yr old reason to talk you out of a bird dog. Where to even start....
1. You cannot wear them out. Period. I don't care how many marathons you think you can run, back to back to back. She had a GPS collar in E MT once, did 43 miles, and never even feyned slowing down, it's insane.
2. The other county always has more birds, and that's where the dog will be.
3. Repetition and "obedience" goes completely out the window when birds around. Like there is no shock collar on earth that could slow her down and bring her back to her senses.
4. Separation anxiety^2. Imagine a cry so loud it can be heard mile away and repeats all day everyday when you're not around. Imagine how much love you get from the neighbors.

I could go on and on.

However, I also have a younger pup that is the polar opposite. The only lessons I've learned from that is that the breeder means more than I would have ever thought. But remember, all breeders love themselves, and even find other people that will love their dogs, but a great kennel- one that only produces great dogs is rare.
 

rideold

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Oct 28, 2015
Messages
720
Location
Front Range of Colorado
Training a bird dog is great. Just remember that it's kind of like a construction project. It takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will. That's not a reason not to do it but just know you're getting into more than you realize....even if you've done it years ago. Dive in. Read lots and find someone local that can help train. Find a club a trainer or something like that. I think the hardest part of training a pointer is, like others have mentioned, regular and reliable access to birds. Wild is always better but pigeons are fine too.
 

Rzrbck918

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Aug 13, 2016
Messages
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Location
Bixby Oklahoma
Lol, our current dog is trained to go out in the hayfield. I'm one of those weird lawn guys.

Good idea, if I had a field next door, thats what I would do too. Living in a neighborhood, a former neighbor of mine would walk his dog and never pick up its crap, he was confronted regularly by other neighbors and would respond, "If I wanted to pick up dog shit, Id let it go in my yard." Funny dude, Texan as I recall which probably explains it.
 

Wallydeuce

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Feb 24, 2021
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801
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NV
Lol, our current dog is trained to go out in the hayfield. I'm one of those weird lawn guys.
Ok then. Don't ask me to help you bale hay. We have a 6 pound Maltese rescue. Even her ah, deposits gross me out. Her first day of training was to do her business in the landscape rocks. Never the lawn.
 

fowladdict

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Aug 20, 2005
Messages
2,266
Chewed up boots, base boards, newly planted trees, baseball gloves, a forgotten about and left on the ground european deer mount and piss and poop piles (only temporary) are worth this....
 

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Don Fischer

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Since we already have chickens, I would probably build a small quail run and just mail order some chicks. Should I get a bird launcher? What do you do with the quail once you release them? Do you just let them fly or do you actually shoot them during more advanced training? Please forgive my ignorance of this subject, I honestly have no idea.
Do yourself a favor, don't get quail, get pigeons. feral pigeons will do everything you need. Homer's will come back from farther away and faster but for the purpose of training a bird dog, ferals come back and that enough. I've had ferals come home from right at 70 mi!

If you lean toward the Britt, get a Britt. Your never gonna know if you are right about them till you get one, very nice dog's. Keep in mind you could end up with a bad one that doesn't really represent the breed very well. Britt's are forgiving of your mistakes also, few breeds aren't. E. Setter you lose it with will turn you pretty much off for quite a while. German Shorthairs easy to work with and also very forgiving you mistakes, and, you will lose it now and then! Draw ack on the shorthair is some of them can get pretty big. About my favorite breed though. Fact of the matter is though, IMO, simply won't matter which breed you get, a puppy will make you love it even while it's driving you crazy. Get the Britt! You've set your mind on one so go for it and don't look back. I think at preserving the breed, the Britt people did it right. Used to be when you had a Britt trial you had to put on a show also. As a result the show type Britt still actually does hunt. In other breeds the show type may and may not hunt.
 

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