Characteristics Of Sporting Dogs
All the dogs in the Sporting Group were bred in order to assist their owners in certain activities, such as hunting and retrieving. Even though they are different, they do share a common set of characteristics. They are all intelligent and very energetic, so dealing with them can be a tough job.
Sporting dogs are also called “gun dogs.” Even though they didn’t really hunt, they used to help their owners identify and retrieve prey in different environments.
In order for a hunting session to be successful, the dog and owner need to communicate and be in perfect sync. Whether hunting in open fields, water or rough terrains, the sporting dogs need to be perfectly trained to fulfil a specific role.
What Are The Types Of Sporting Dogs?
In the Sporting dog group, we have four other categories of dogs: setters, pointers, retrievers and spaniels.
When a setter identifies prey, he will freeze in a down position, showing the hunter where the prey is. In this category, we have breeds such as the English Setter, White Setter and Irish setter.
The pointers are quite popular from many movies and TV shows. Just like setters, they will freeze the moment they see prey, but instead of laying down, they will stand up and point their noses to its position. As pointers, we can identify the German Shorthaired Pointer and the Pointer.
Unlike pointers and setters, retrievers didn’t have to hunt or identify prey. Instead, they would sit carefully until the hunter shot his target, then went ahead and retrieved it. In general, these dogs have a very soft bite in order not to ruin the prey. In this category, we have the classics, such as the Golden and Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Spaniels are also called flushers, and their purpose was to chase the birds until they took off and the hunter could shoot them. Whether on land or in water, these pups were trained in order to chase birds. If you look at a Spaniel nowadays, you will notice that they don’t really like to see birds hanging around. In this group, we have the Cocker Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel and Clumber Spaniel.
Sporting Dog Temperament
Even though every breed is unique, sporting dogs do have a few shared characteristics. For starters, they are incredibly energetic. Because they used to be out in the field at all times, sporting dogs need to have some sort of activity. Be it running, chasing critters or simply waiting excitedly for something to show up.
On top of that, they like to be around people. This is perfectly understandable because they used to be around them at all times. They are incredible companions for any family that’s willing to cope with their energy and affection levels. Because of this bond with humans, sporting dogs are generally easy to train based on their instincts. You can teach a retriever to bring you stuff around the house, for example. It’s one of the reasons they are used as service dogs.
If you’re the type to go jogging, running or even swimming, then a sporting dog can be the perfect partner for you. Because their coats are perfectly designed to protect them from both cold temperatures and water, sporting dogs make the perfect companion even if you live in a cold area.
Exercise Needs Of Sporting Dogs
Sporting dogs are probably the most active dog group. They like to run and play all the time, so besides a couple of daily walks, they also need at least an hour of intense exercising. They won’t enjoy the apartment life, as there’s nothing there for them to sniff or hunt.
Keep in mind that training can count as exercising too. Make sure to have at least one 15-minute training session every day with your sporting dog, so he learns proper behaviours, and stays calm and happy.
If left alone for too long, sporting dogs will develop separation anxiety, which will lead to destructive or self-harming behaviours. When you are not around, you should crate them, or hire a dog walker to completely exhaust them. You should read a crating guide before attempting to crate a sporting dog.
Caring For A Sporting Dog
Caring for a sporting dog is not very different than any other dog. You need to make sure he gets all the necessary shots, that he has clean water and good food, and that his exercise needs are met.
In general, sporting dogs need a lot more calories than other dogs, but at the same time, they need to exercise a lot in order to prevent dog obesity. Sporting dogs are prone to weight problems because often their owners don’t realise how important nutrition is for them.
If your dog is outside for long periods of time, you need to make sure his paws are in good condition. Especially if you make a habit out of hiking, you should always check their paws for any kind of injuries, and treat them as soon as possible if necessary. On the same note, make sure that you take all the necessary steps in order to protect your pup from fleas, ticks and other parasites. Your veterinarian will provide you with the best solutions, for both internal and external parasites.
Most Popular Sporting Dogs
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds. They are relatively big dogs, but their loving nature gives them the ‘gentle giant’ title. They are very easy to train, obedient, and don’t really like being alone. Most times, they are used as guide dogs for people with vision impairments.
Even though all the signs lead us thinking that they are sedentary, they are actually one of the most energetic dog breeds. If your dream pup is a Lab, then you should make sure you take him to a dog park at least once a day, and allow him to interact with other pups in the process.
The most visible difference between the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever is the coat. While Labs have short hair, Golden Retrievers have long and wavy hair. Because of this, they need to be brushed at least once every two days.
They too can make amazing guide dogs, but still need to exercise a lot, and have constant attention from both humans and other pets. They love to be in the centre of attention, and their beauty and fanciness will make sure that’s the case at the local dog park.
Irish Setters have been nominated as the most beautiful breed numerous times. Their coats are truly impressive, in shades of mahogany and chestnut. Their coats need to be brushed at least once every two days, and the two long, daily walks are a must.
These pups are incredibly loving, and can’t stand being alone. They can develop separation anxiety in a very short period of time. If you have a busy period, make sure to hire a dog walker to help him exercise. They are easy to train thanks to their obedient personalities and will do everything they can to please their owners.
German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer is truly a royal and loyal pup. Being quite big and fit, these pups are most famous for their unique patterns. They are incredibly friendly and not the perfect watchdogs, but you can be sure that your German Shorthaired Pointer is going to be your best friend forever.
These pups are everything an active dog owner needs. Their agility can be hardly matched and will win over most breeds in an endurance test. This happens because they used to spend a lot of time with their owners hunting in open fields. Make sure they get enough exercise, as they can develop destructive behaviours quite fast.
Being one of the most recognisable dog breeds, the Cocker Spaniel can make the perfect companion for any family who can cope with his activity levels. It’s the smallest Spaniel in the sporting group, but also the most energetic.
Cockers are the perfect companions for families with kids, as they will play together for long periods of times, and getting tired faster. In order to maintain his incredible coat, you need to make sure that you brush him at least once every two days.
English Springer Spaniel
With their long and fluffy ears, the English Springer Spaniels really do have something to stand out from the crowd. They are medium-sized dogs with very big hearts, ready to do anything for their owners. Don’t like being alone under any circumstances, and will develop separation anxiety faster than other breeds. Instead of destroying the house, these pups would rather chew on their paws or tails if they are lonely.
Because they were bred to work with humans, they are incredibly obedient and easy to train. They will be more than happy to have a productive training session with their owner.
If you feel like a setter is too big, but a spaniel is too small, then a Brittany would be the perfect choice for you. These pups are beautiful, intelligent and incredibly agile, sometimes completely exhausting their owners.
They are very easy to train and will be thrilled to spend hours at a time with families and learn more and more things. They are amazing companions, and can even participate in dog competitions.
Weimaraners are easily recognisable because of their silver and shiny coats. They are relatively big dogs, and even though incredibly smart, they are characterised by obedience, making them the perfect partners for families with kids.
As long as their owners make sure that they get the exercise and training they need, these pups will make, without a doubt, the best companions.
These are the main characteristics of sporting dogs, but you also need to check out every breed’s specific behaviours. It’s very important to keep in mind the fact that all these breeds have incredible levels of energy, and you need to spend at least one hour a day training and exercising with them.