Category Archives: hunting dogs

Unique and Rare Hunting Dogs

By Linda Cole

A good hunting dog is an asset for hunters who need an able canine to work alongside them. Many different breeds have been used for centuries to find game – from terriers, curs and feists to spaniels, pointers and retrievers. A versatile hunting dog is capable of tracking game, pointing it out to his handler, and retrieving it on land or water. He must be able to track wounded game and be willing to work with enthusiasm. The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) is a non-profit organization that tests these special hunting breeds to protect, promote and improve versatile breeds. All of the unique hunting dogs below were developed in Europe.

Bracco Italiano – Italian Pointer – UKC recognized

The Bracco Italiano, pictured above, is one of two gundog breeds native to Italy (Spinone is the other). The breed is considered one of the oldest gun dogs and is an ancestor to many modern sporting breeds, especially European pointing dogs. Paintings and writings about the Bracco Italiano date back to the 4th and 5th centuries BC. Hunting during the Middle Ages and Renaissance era was much different than it is today. There were no guns and dogs were used to drive game into nets. Falconers used dogs to flush out game for falcons to hunt. The role of the Bracco Italiano changed after the invention of guns. Instead of driving game into nets, they became accomplished at locating, flushing, pointing and retrieving game.

Braque du Bourbonnais – UKC recognized

Native to France, the Braque du Bourbonnais (pronounced brock-do-bor-bon-NAY) is an ancient breed and considered one of the oldest European pointing breeds. Writings describing the breed date back to the late 1500s. The different pointer breeds developed in France were named after the region where they were developed. The Braque de Bourbonnais comes from the province of Bourbon in central France. Like the Bracco Italiano, it’s uncertain which dog breeds were used to create the breed, although most experts agree the Braque Francais and local hunting breeds from the region of Bourbonnais were used.

Braque Francais – French Pointer – UKC recognized

Native to France, Braque Francais actually refers to two distinct breeds similar in appearance and purpose, differing only in size and hunting style. One of the oldest pointing dog breeds, the Braque Francais is considered to be the ancestor of many European pointing breeds. The Braque Francais Gascogne, developed in the 1600s, is the larger and oldest breed. This dog was popular with wealthy hunters who had the means to care for a large dog, but the turmoil of the French Revolution (1787-1799) stripped land, power and wealth from the upper class, and the population of dogs quickly declined. During the Industrial Revolution, there was a shift from rural to urban life and a smaller version of the breed was developed in the Pyrenees Mountains – the Braque Francais Pyrenees, which is the more popular breed today.

Deutsch-Drahthaar – German Wirehaired Pointer – UKC and AKC recognized

During the 1800s, social, political and economic changes throughout Europe created a new middle class that owned land. Hunting became more of a sport and improvements in firearms created a need for more specialized hunting dogs. The Deutsch-Drahthaar (pronounced DROT-har) was developed as a versatile hunting breed to track, point and retrieve waterfowl and upland birds from land or water. The dog was also capable of hunting fox, wildcat, boar, deer, hare and squirrels over any terrain. Hunters wanted a dog with a weather resistant coat for protection from dense underbrush and harsh weather condition. The German Wirehaired Pointer is native to Germany and remains extremely popular there.

Pudelpointer – UKC recognized

Native to Germany, this rare breed was developed in the late 1800s. A cross between the Poodle and a variety of pointers, the Pudelpointer was first brought to America by Sigbot Winterhelt. In an effort to protect versatile breeds, he founded the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association.

Versatile gundogs were developed as multi-purpose dogs for hunters who couldn’t afford more than one or only wanted one dog. The goal was to create loyal dogs that could work all day on land and in water, be a patient and affectionate family pet when the day was done, and guard the family and home. These breeds are intelligent, easy to train and good family pets for the right owner.

Versatile breeds recognized by the NAVHDA include the above dogs as well as the Braque d’Auvergne, Brittany, Cesky Fousek, Drentse Partridge, English Setter, French Spaniel, German Longhaired Pointer, German Shorthaired Pointer, Gordon Setter, Irish Red & White Setter, Irish Setter, Large Munsterlander, Picardy Spaniel, Pointer, Portuguese Pointer, Slovakian Wirehaired Pointer, Small Munsterlander, Spinone, Stichelhaar, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, and Wirehaired Vizsla.

Photos by Diane Matsuura/CANIDAE

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What Exactly is a Cur Dog?

By Linda Cole

I doubt there were many dry eyes at the conclusion of the movie “Old Yeller.” Yeller was a Black Mouth Cur played by a Van Nuys shelter dog named Spike, a yellow Lab/Mastiff mix that was rescued from the shelter and trained by Frank and Rudd Weatherwax. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a cur is a mongrel mutt or crossbred dog. However, like the feist breeds I wrote about recently, cur dogs are uniquely American and played a crucial role in the lives of early rural settlers who developed a hardy hunting dog that helped them tame the wilderness in the South where these dogs originated. Cur breeds are considered the first true American purebreds and have their own distinct hunting style.

Humans learned many centuries ago the value of having a dog around. An early warning bark from roaming domesticated dogs would have been extremely helpful for a man to defend his home and family. Dogs would have been prized hunting companions as well. Since those early years, we’ve developed breeds to do specific jobs – control, manage and protect livestock, guard our homes and families, control vermin, and help put food on the table. For poor farmers, a reliable all-purpose working dog needed to be versatile and able to earn his keep around the farm. A dog wasn’t a luxury and needed to perform his duties well for his owner to justify the cost of food to feed him.

The acknowledgment of cur dogs can be found in historical writings going back to the 1700s. However, there are no recorded documents telling exactly when this type of dog was developed, nor the exact breeds used in their makeup. Curs are a blend of different hunting breeds, hounds and terriers, as well as feist dogs brought to America with immigrants who settled in the South, mainly around the Appalachian Mountains.

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Move Over Pigs – Truffle Hunting Dogs Are Taking Over!

By Linda Cole

Truffles are one of the most expensive culinary delicacies used in cooking. This highly prized tubular fungi grows underground and can only be found by pigs or dogs trained to sniff them out. Female pigs have been the traditional truffle hunters because finding them is something they do naturally with no training, but they are apt to eat the pricey mushrooms. Truffle hunting dogs have been used in Italy and France for years, and now American hunters are also relying on canine noses to root out these elusive and expensive treats.

The Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian water dog, has been the breed used by Italian truffle hunters since the 1800s. Retrievers, setters, pointers and dogs used in detection work – including the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd and Beagle – all easily adapt to hunting truffles. Poodles, Fox Terriers and Dachshunds also have a good nose for finding the hidden gems. But any dog, mixed or purebred, can be trained to sniff out truffles. Like pigs, dogs will eat the truffles; however, it’s much easier to stop a dog from eating one than it is to convince a 300 pound pig to drop her favorite treat.

Truffles are among the world’s most expensive natural foods. They are found in Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. Warty and irregular, truffles can be as small as marbles up to the size of a fist. They’re often found around the base of pine, willow, hazelnut and oak trees, although pretty much any tree can have one of these prized treats hidden underneath.
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How to Help Hunting Dog Breeds Enjoy Life without Hunting

hunting morrell revBy Langley Cornwell

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), in 2013, the five most popular dog breeds in the USA were Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Beagles and Bulldogs. The 2014 list has not been released yet, but it’s clear that hunting dogs were among the most popular breed last year, and they have been for many years.

Although I can’t support this supposition with data, I’d bet a majority of those hunting dogs are not used for hunting. Having shared my life with two retrievers in the past, it’s easy to understand why this breed ranks so high (usually number one or two) in popularity. They are wonderful family dogs; friendly, attractive and charming. In fact, one of the reasons hunting dogs make such good family pets is that they are genetically disposed to enjoy doing things with their people. They love any and all activities that involve human-canine bonding time. Even so, the fact remains that retrievers, hound dogs, spaniels and other dogs that belong to the sporting group are hard-wired to hunt.

The question is: can hunting dogs be happy with a life that does not involve hunting?

Of course I think the answer is yes. My retrievers were happy and healthy and lived long, comfortable lives. Dog behaviorists and experts say the same thing, that sporting dogs can absolutely be happy and fulfilled in a life that doesn’t involve actual hunting. Here’s how.
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The Amazing Talents of Jim the Wonder Dog


jim the wonder dog twodollaBy Linda Cole

Jim was a black and white Llewellyn Setter that astounded the world during the 1930s with amazing talents no one could explain. Not only was he crowned top hunting dog in the entire United States, his reputation of understanding the spoken word earned him the title of Jim the Wonder Dog.

Born in Louisiana in 1925 to purebred champion hunting dogs, Jim’s special talents were yet to be discovered. He wasn’t a cute pup and his owner didn’t think he’d be a good hunting dog, so he sold Jim to Sam Van Arsdale at a discounted price. A special bond quickly developed between man and pup, and Jim’s ugly duckling appearance faded as he grew.

When Jim was old enough to begin bird dog training, Van Arsdale took him to a trainer. However, Jim had no interest in learning; all he wanted to do was lie under a shade tree and watch the other dogs go through training exercises. Even though Jim failed his training, Van Arsdale decided to take him hunting one day and to his amazement, Jim knew exactly what to do. He quickly located birds, held a perfect point and waited until a shot rang out. On command to fetch, Jim picked up the bird and took it to Van Arsdale.

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What is Limber Tail Syndrome in Dogs?

By Linda Cole

My dogs wag their tails a mile a minute every time I talk to them. Even a playful stare from me can get their backside wiggling in happiness. Thankfully, my dogs have never lost their ability to show me their contentment by wagging their tail, but some dogs can develop a syndrome called Limber Tail. This is a condition that can affect any dog whose tail hasn’t been docked, but it’s mainly seen in hunting dogs like pointers, retrievers, foxhounds and beagles.

Limber Tail syndrome is also known as broken wag, cold tail, dead tail, limp tail or rudder tail. It’s when a dog’s tail hangs limp, like it’s broken, and it can be painful. No one really knows for certain how a dog actually develops this condition, but they do know it’s brought on by overexertion, swimming in water that may be too cold or too warm, cold and wet weather conditions, an out-of-shape dog, or being confined for long periods of time in a crate when traveling. Even something as simple as a cold bath can affect a dog that’s more sensitive to temperatures than other canines.

It’s also possible the condition could be due to a poor diet. That’s another reason why providing a premium quality dog food like CANIDAE can help your dog maintain his good health. Poor circulation may also be a culprit for a droopy tail.

When a dog is swimming in water, he works his tail like a rudder. If he has been sitting around during the off season for hunting or has been relatively inactive during the winter months, and isn’t in shape when he hits the water for a swim or to retrieve something from the water, he can injure his tail and develop Limber Tail because his muscles weren’t properly conditioned before the workout. When the tail is overworked, the muscles at the base of a dog’s tail swell, causing connective tissue to tighten and cutting off blood flow to the tail.

For the most part, Limber Tail syndrome isn’t a big deal, and it will correct itself in two to seven days. The condition can be mild where the tail is held just below a horizontal level, severe with no wag and hanging limp, or something in between. The tail can be permanently affected, but it’s not usually a problem. Sometimes, the dog will hold the tail out just a few inches before letting it sag down. You may see raised hairs at the base of the tail, which is due to swelling, and the swelling can make sitting or lying down more difficult for some dogs, depending on their tolerance for pain.

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