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Useful and fun information about dogs
The dogs in this group are the fabulous hunting dogs that we know as the Spaniels, the Setters, the Retrievers and the Pointers. The AKC lists these dogs in the Sporting group, while the UKC lists them in the Gun Dog group.

There are many dogs in the Sporting and Gun Dog group including the Brittany, Clumber and Cocker Spaniels, the English and Irish Setters, the Pointer and German Short Haired (and Long Haired) Pointers, the Golden, Labrador and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers among many, many others.

The dogs in this group are all hunting dogs. Each has very specific jobs in the hunting sport. This group has a long and distinctive history, going back to the beginning of domestication when it was first determined that the dog was a valuable asset toward a successful hunt.

The Sporting and Gun Dog has long since been the prize of many hunters, breeders, trainers and owners who love the hunting dog. They are exceptionally protective of the breed standard in order to maintain the instinctive hunting quality. It is quite disastrous to hunters, a hunting dog that disturbs the game due to the absence of these hunting instincts and abilities. The lack of these natural hunting instincts of the Sporting and Gun Dog from irresponsible breeding is a disgrace.

The Pointer name comes from their natural instinct to “point” by stopping and aiming their muzzle toward game. The Pointer usually works far afield, traveling a great distance in a short amount of time to hunt for game, then stop and “point” when they have found game. This indicates to the hunter the location of quarry. The Pointer will stay frozen on point until released by the hunter. They are not natural retrievers and are not generally expected to retrieve game.

The Pointers are high energy dogs that constantly think about hunting and tracking. They are built slender with well developed muscle tone. They have a natural grace that allows them to move silently through high grass and brush without disturbing game. The Pointer’s “point” is quite impressive.

The Spaniels have a more varied background. They have various hunting abilities in that they can point, set and retrieve. The different breeds of Spaniels have been used, mostly for bird hunting, but also for other small game both on water and land. They generally work within gun range, are steady to shot, are able to mark the fall and retrieve shot game to hand with a “soft mouth”.

Most Spaniels are a smaller, more compact hunting dog. They are sturdy and solid with good muscle tone. They have long coats and drop ears. Their versatility assures a successful hunt, whether it is upland game birds, waterfowl or rabbits. The Spaniel has also become a popular family pet and companion (The American Cocker Spaniel is in the top 5 on the AKC list of most popular dog breed). This makes it important to note that this popularity makes the American Cocker Spaniel prey to puppy mill and backyard breeding. Please exercise caution if you are considering the purchase a Cocker Spaniel. A thorough research of the breed and breeder is recommended.

The Setter silently searches for game by scent. Once they have located game, they freeze (much like the Pointer). The Setter gets their name from their distinctive crouch (or set) upon finding game. They are known for being silent, in both body movement and vocally, making them a respected hunting companion.

The Setters are the largest of the Sporting and Gun Dog group with a slender build and regal bearing. They are exquisite. Upon reading the history of the Setters, there seems to be some contradictions as to where they originated from, speculation on different breeds that they may have been crossed with and the exact nature of how they came to be the Setters that we know today. The one consistent description of the Setter is they are a quite capable hunting dog.

The Retrievers are the game retrievers. They were bred primarily to retrieve shot game to the hunter without damage. The specific requirement of the Retriever is a “soft mouth”. It is desirable that they have a willingness to please, ability to learn and able to carry game in its mouth without biting into it.

There are several different breeds of the Retriever and they have the ability to retrieve game on land or in water. The gentleness of the Retriever breeds have accounted for the fact that they are popular family pets and companion dogs. The Labrador and Golden Retrievers both are in the top 5 on the AKC list of most popular dog breed. This also requires mention that these dog breeds have fallen prey to puppy mill breeding.

An interesting observation: The UKC recognizes the Standard Poodle as a Gun Dog (Retriever), while the AKC recognizes it as a Non Sporting dog.

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