Pointing, Flushing, and Retrieving: The Best Dogs for the Job

dreamstime_xs_18580614Today we welcome guest blogger Cindy Romero. She is an animal lover from North Carolina who writes for PetPremium when she isn’t playing fetch with her two dogs or trying to keep her cat off of the kitchen counters.

Dogs have been a hunter’s best friend for 6,000 years—since the time that humans domesticated cattle, and hunting became more sport than necessity. In that time, dogs have been used to hunt all kinds of creatures from bears to cats to water fowl, and certain dog breeds have prevailed over others in hunters’ collective search for the perfect bush companion.

Nowadays, hunters most often use dogs to assist them in their pursuit of birds. Ideally, the perfect bird dog would excel in three different job categories: pointing, flushing, and retrieving. As is the case with most things in life, the dogs with the most expertise in one category seem to be grossly lacking in another. Choosing one, then, is like choosing a spouse. You simply pick the one whose faults you can live with.

With that in mind, here are the best dog breeds in each job category.

Pointing
These dogs are pros at finding game and pointing directly at it with their muzzles.

Top Two:
English Pointer—true to their name, these dogs have become the true pointing breed and are known for their speed and enthusiasm. Unfortunately though, they make terrible retrievers.
Brittany—formerly the Brittany spaniel, these dogs are better at retrieving than their English setter counterparts, making them a better-all around choice.

Flushing
This job seems the most fun of three—it’s the flushing dog’s job to chase birds out of the brush so that the hunter can peg them as they fly away.

Top Two:
English Springer Spaniel—These dogs are extremely energetic and love to sneak up in zig-zag patterns and spring on birds. They’re great for both land and water, and are spunky, even in the water. They’re great retrievers.
Boykin Spaniel—usually smaller than the Springer Spaniel, and more reserved and moderate in its flushing technique. These dogs will even hesitate before flushing, but are aggressive once they have committed. They are also great swimmers, and have a natural drive to retrieve.

Retrieving

Top Two (although there are numerous contenders here)
Chesapeake Bay Retriever: They’ll hop right in the water to retrieve and are as strong at swimming as they are at heart. Their curly coats serve as great protection from the icy water, and their strong jaws are perfect for holding large game. They are known for their determination and loyalty, but their moodiness can be a detractor.
Labrador Retriever: Labs are the most registered breed in the world, largely because of their wonderful demeanor and easiness to train. As far as I am concerned, they are also make the best retrievers for the same reasons. They are eager to please and reluctant to quit—built tough enough to withstand all kinds of weather and terrain.

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