First developed in thirteenth-century Iberia, Sporting dogs were bred to work closely with hunters to assist with hawking, netting and especially shooting. Rather than capturing or killing their quarry, they helped locate it, retrieve it or both, as they still do today. As soon as they were introduced to the rest of Europe, sporting breeds became immensely popular, and they have remained so ever since. Their intelligence and natural versatility make them easy to train for a wide range of activities. Many Sporting dogs are still used for hunting. They also compete in organized field trials. But the majority of them live as companions.
Sometimes referred to as “bird dogs” or “gundogs,” there are four basic types of sporting dog. Spaniels are used to flush birds and game into the open, setters and Pointers locate game, retrievers fetch game, and water retrievers retrieve dead and wounded game specifically from the water. Some Sporting breeds have been further specialized to hunt certain types of game or work in particular kinds of terrain. For instance, the Clumber Spaniel is a slow, steady hunter, easy to follow on foot. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was designed to retrieve game from the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay. A number of sporting breeds are friendly, sociable and highly responsive to humans. They are tireless workers with tremendous energy. Many of them, especially the water-retrieving breeds, have well-insulated water-repellent coats, which are quite resistant to environmental conditions.
Is a Sporting dog for you? Look at these eight facts about the Sporting dog to decide if it is the right dog for your life situation.
1. Sporting dogs are bred to be highly responsive to human direction, which makes them easy to train.
2. They are notes for their ability to get along well with children and other dogs.
3. Sturdy and athletic, with plenty of energy and stamina, a Sporting dog is a good choice for some with an active lifestyle.
4. Their protective coats allow some of these breeds to spend a lot of time in outdoor activity.
5. They need a substantial amount of regular exercise.
6. They need plenty of social interaction.
7. Some Sporting breeds shed extensively, while others require significant grooming.
8. Some Sporting breeds are prone to doggy odor.
Excerpt from the American Kennel Club’s Meet the Breeds with permission from its publisher, BowTie Press, a division of BowTie, Inc. Purchase the AKC’s Meet the Breeds.