Best upland bird dog?

Nyati

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The best upland bird dog is the one which adapts better to your environment.
 

Skinnersblade

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Thanks to all that replied I've got so research to do on several breed as well as some people to contact brickburn was kind enough to provide.
 

Firebird

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I’ve owned a dozen good dogs of various breeds and have had good dogs of asst breeds. This is my wonderful springer Sam. Springers are wonderful companions and hunters. She taught me to train dogs and I put her in a position to teach me how to hunt birds.
Relatively easy to train, love people and hard hunters-notice the ears matted with burrs-in my part of the world, that was a non stop menace!
 

Skinnersblade

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View attachment 349659 I’ve owned a dozen good dogs of various breeds and have had good dogs of asst breeds. This is my wonderful springer Sam. Springers are wonderful companions and hunters. She taught me to train dogs and I put her in a position to teach me how to hunt birds.
Relatively easy to train, love people and hard hunters-notice the ears matted with burrs-in my part of the world, that was a non stop menace!

How was she in the water? Strong swimmer?
 

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“Fort” an English setter was our introduction to pointers. If you sat down to take a break he would grab your sleeve and pull you up. We started going out of state with him because he would hunt anything anywhere. He would retrieve birds but if a retriever was with us-he let that dog do the dirty work while he kept hunting.
 

chiefdale

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I hunt over a boykin spaniel. He will pick up anything. Ducks. Geese. He prefers to find birds instead of waiting for them to come to us. Very versatile dogs.
 

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“Ace” pointing mearns quail in southern Arizona. He didn’t tolerate cold very well and I eventually sold him but if I had lived in Arizona, I would have another gsp for sure!

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Skinnersblade

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View attachment 349662 View attachment 349663 “Fort” an English setter was our introduction to pointers. If you sat down to take a break he would grab your sleeve and pull you up. We started going out of state with him because he would hunt anything anywhere. He would retrieve birds but if a retriever was with us-he let that dog do the dirty work while he kept hunting.

The proper English way!
 

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My best dog was “Riggs” a Chesapeake bay retriever. Big and strong and not supposed to be a great upland dog but he and I got all but one species of upland bird available in my state and several species elsewhere and that’s before you start on the waterfowl list. He lacked only ptarmigan which we found later but he did pick up band tailed pigeon lost in black pine forest. Don’t discount the heavy retrievers!
 

Firebird

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Thanks for the opportunity to brag on my dogs and remember how skinny I used to be-but my real point is that most breeds are great if you put in the time-time-time. Give them field opportunities and there is practically nothing a good dog can’t teach you.
My current kennel is another chessie, and a pointing black lab-yes you read correctly. And they are both awesome in their own way. We had a Brittany for awhile that was the smartest most family loving dog I’ve owned. At age of three he became a gift for my hunting nephew buddy when he graduated. In a twist of fate my pointing lab was supposed to be the new family dog. She could care less about kids. All humans are for her is the means to go hunting-all she cares about. . .
 

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As mentioned earlier, your location, weather, what kind of terrain you hunt, Types of upland birds, ranging style you prefer, freezing water, burr country, etc. will determine a lot technically. But then you will find a dog you like and all the technical info goes out the window!
I live in Colorado, but have hunted from 10 miles south of Canada in Montana to 100 miles north of Mexico. I have only had one dog...a runt that stole my sole! A GSP which actually my daughter picked out of the litter. He’s been my closest companion (don’t tell my wife, but I’m sure she already knows). He has sat in the passenger seat in my truck and slept next to me in my cab over camper for closing in on 15 years. GREAT companion! Hunted pheasants in snowstorms and quail in the heat. Sharp tail, ptarmigan, blue grouse, spruce grouse, scaled quail, huns, bobs, retrieved ducks, a pretty well rounded dog.

But if I lived in Nova Scotia, I think a primarily flushing retrieving water loving dog would work well. I might even try the poodlepointer for a bit more universal dog.

I would highly recommend you sit down and determine what, where and how you like to hunt first. Then find a hunt club with guys that would let you walk behind multiple breeds you are interested in just to get an idea of the differences of breeds.

How I made my decision. I don’t care for big ranging pointers unless I’m in Georgia hunting on horseback. My GSP works within 75 yards. I hate sitting freezing my buns waiting for ducks to show up. I really enjoy walking whether on the plains or wooded mountains at high altitude. I don’t care for barking dogs unless someone is around uninvited. I enjoy upland hunting of all species. My GSP has met my criteria.

GSPs are strong swimmers, but no comparison to labs. GSPs being thin and muscular are vertical swimmers and basically don’t “float” like dogs with fat layers such as labs or spinones. But my GSP loves water and swims any time it’s available. Duck hunting has been primarily early teal season where you walk down stream beds and jump shoot.

Best of luck finding the breed that best matches your hunting preferences! I envy you starting out with a new pup! I’m too old to do it all over again.
 

Reid

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The most important thing is to find a reputable breeder.
Since you live in Canada, that translates to 2,500 - 3,000 $.
I had Griffon for almost 16 years. When I run him in NAVHDA NA
test, had an opportunity to see a Griffon female, who didn't want to enter water.
Couldn't believe it. Make sure that a pup comes from excellent hunting line.
My pup's father was one of 19 NAVHDA Versatile Champions in both Canada
and US.

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Lee M

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I’ve had two Brittany’s. Good noses and a bundle of energy in the field. Good family dogs as well with no shedding. I am thinking of getting a French Brit next. They are a little smaller.
 

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In answer to your question-my springer did fine in water until it got cold then she struggled. I do remember one day tho when there was light crusting ice on ankle deep water. We were walking to the truck after a duck hunt. We got into a mess of snipe and she was energetic and strong gathering up all we could hit. By the time we got home, she had licked herself dry and gone to sleep. She had a knack for getting around birds and flushing them back toward me-only dog I ever had that was smart enough to do that-
 

Longwalker

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Skinnersblade, you asked about recommendations for an upland bird dog that could also be used for some duck hunting. You got a lot of good suggestions here, which reflect the writers' own preferences and their local conditions. However, other than "love is blind" I can't agree with the recommendation for a lab or any retriever for what you have in mind. A lab is a specialist retrieving breed. The best there is. But for hunting grouse in the birches? or pointing woodcock? Pinning a covey of Ptarmigan on the wide open tundra? hardly ideal. A springer could serve well, if you like hunting behind flushing dogs. Or hunt mostly pheasants. They are probably the best choice there is for hunting pheasants. Or maybe tied for that title with labs, the one upland bird that labs excel at hunting.
Most upland bird hunters prefer to hunt most upland birds with a dog that points, rather than a dog that flushes. The hunting style is very different for the two activities. And you probably don't want a field trial specialist pointing dog. Most English pointer strains would fall into that category. They are too specialized and their range and speed is too fast for a hunter on foot in the bush. What I believe you may be really looking for is one of the Versatile breeds. I don't have a "favourite" Versatile breed, but have hunted a lot behind Large Munsterlanders, Pudelpointers, Brittanys and Viszlas, some Weimaraners, German Shorthairs, English setters and Deutsch Drahthaars. I have observed all these breeds and many more while serving as test gunner for almost 30 years now, during standardized tests held by NAVHDA and by the Versatile Hunting Dog Federation.
If you really want a good, unbiased overview of the subject of upland bird dogs that can be a great help as you research the different breeds and their abilities, I highly recommend an excellent book by the current world expert on versatile hunting dogs, Craig Koshyk. This is a typical comment from one of his readers: "Zsofia Miczek, Hungary - I don't think there is any similarly thorough, well-put-together, high quality book about the pointing dogs anywhere in the world."
I have hunted with Craig, and am fortunate that he lives relatively nearby in Winnipeg. What a depth of knowledge and wisdom. Good writer and expert photographer too. Here is a link to his book. http://dogwilling.ca/books/pointingdogsvolumeone
Have fun with the research! - and let us know what you decide.
 

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Longwalker

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One more note - Craig Koshyk's first volume covers most of the choices for Versatile upland bird dogs, but omits the British and Irish breeds. That 2nd volume is being written currently.
 

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I have been fortunate enough to hunt with and over many pointing breeds and all of them have their good and less great qualities. The story about EP being super fast is only true if they have not run against a hard running GSP, I own a bitch that runs just as hard as a EP and we still shoot more birds for her than the EP.
If you want a true all round dog that can be trained and handled without you losing your mind you will have to do homework, the single most important trait in any dog is not speed or will to hunt, it is the ability to be trained to do it in the way the handler wants it done. We have many GSP's that work in the snow after Ptarmigan and Capricalle, cold is not such a great issue with them. I have had my dog break ice to fetch a few ducks and they manage well. I have had GSP's in SA and I have seen both lines from the US and Europe work, the European lines are better all round dogs. There is just one species of bird I have not shot over my dogs here in Scandinavia, but it's not that common here anymore. Pheasants, Partridge, Ptarmigan, Capricalle, Grouse, Woodcock, Snipe and then Hare, Fox, Rabbits, Ducks and Geese on point too. I am fortunate in that I get too see and train many breeds of pointing dogs each year, last year I ran with around 160 other dogs and I won't trade my GSP's for any other. There are better runners, there are better retrieves and there are better trackers, but there is no better dog to do it all in every biotope in any weather any day of the year.

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