Beautiful, Smart and Versatile
by Kay King ( www.my-dogs-rule.com )
Sporting dogs were developed to aid their masters in hunting small game. They are some of the most beautiful of dog breeds and thrive
on vigorous activity. These intelligent animals do best with two good sessions (20-30 minutes each) of vigorous activity daily – perhaps a
brisk walk in the morning and a game of fetch later in the day. Most of them love water so swimming is an excellent exercise for them.
Sporting dogs are divided by hunting enthusiasts by their purpose as game dogs, gun dogs and
bird dogs. These refer to the specialized activities of various breeds -- the spaniels and setters that flush game from its hiding
place and move it into clear view of the hunter, the retrievers that watch closely as the hunter shoots game and then on command find and return
the killed game or bird, and the pointer who will locate birds in ground cover and flush them into flight at the hunter's signal.
Dogs in the sporting group are the larger setters, spaniels, retrievers and pointers. They are alert and friendly. Basic obedience
training is usually quite easy with these breeds though owners need patience to work with the energetic
nature and hold their attention.
The group consists of setters/spaniels, retrievers and pointers. When game is located these dogs will keep a low profile and be totally
still. When scenting birds in preparation for flushing them for the hunter the dogs are said to "couch" which refers to the slow, low
profile movement along the ground to avoid frightening the prey before the hunter gives the signal.
Setters and Spaniels (which were derived from Setter breeds) are considered best at the low, quiet stalking maneuvers, while Retrievers are
better known for their strength and willingness to go into brush or cold water to locate and retrieve game the hunter has shot. Spaniels
especially valuable to flush small mammals and push them toward the hunter because they are more agile and can pivot much
faster than the larger Setters.
Dogs used as retrievers for hunters are judged by their Mouth – their ability to pick up an animal or bird killed by the hunter and return it to
the hunter without inflicting bites or otherwise damaging the trophy. Such hunters, bragging about their retrievers, will say the dog has
"a good mouth".
Pointers are especially interesting to watch as they will locate a flock of birds or ground prey and will freeze in position in a way that tells
their master where the prey is located. They have often been featured in hunting scenes in the art world due to the graceful position they
take when game is located.
The pointer stands totally still with one front paw in the air, their tail extended in back and their head pointed directly at the hidden
game. They will hold position until the hunter gives the signal to flush the game.
Dogs of the Sporting Breeds are also well loved family pets and are often constant companions of the hunter in his daily activities. These are
the dogs most often featured in hunting photography and hunters love to compare the merits of their sport dogs.
Setters/spaniels, retrievers and pointers have excellent senses of sight and smell. Their steady temperament makes them excellent pets but
poor breeding or lack of proper exercise can make them hyperactive and cause other problems in personality/temperament.