Choosing the right puppy to train into a bird dog can be tricky business. Imagine looking at young child and trying to determine which natural gifts they will grow into. It’s difficult to make choices when the consequences are so far into the future, and when so much commitment is required to bring the most out of the puppy you eventually choose.
It’s tough to decide, and it should be. But there are plenty of key signs that can make you confident you’re choosing the right hunting partner for your future.
First, remember that every breed is different, with their own advantages and disadvantages. Some are better than others are with different climates, terrains, and hunting prey. Do some research and talk with experts about which breed might be best for you, while maintaining an open mind about factors you might not have considered thus far.
Once you’ve decided on a breed you like, and you’re visiting a breeder, surveying available puppies, use indications of health to narrow your search down to some reliable choices. Make sure you have verifiable proof of veterinarian examinations and shots administered. Use your own judgment to determine whether a puppy looks vibrant and healthy, and avoid those that look sickly and skinny. A dog’s fully-grown size can be estimated fairly well at an early age.
Perhaps the most important factor in determining a good puppy to use as a bird dog, and the most reliable, is a record of the puppy’s pedigree. If their parents are good bird dogs, this is a huge indicator that you have a winner on your hands. If you can witness the parents in action yourself, that’s great. But referrals or videos of work in the field are nice as well. As with any animal, a puppy’s genetics play a huge role in their development, from sense of smell to the way they behave in different situations.
Speaking of behavior, it never hurts to interact with a puppy you’re interested in to get a sense of what their future could hold. Play around with your puppy, making sure they’re not too testy or too calm. However, don’t put too much stock into how they act as puppies, as they still have a great deal of growing and training ahead of them. The best candidates are those that have a history of being handled by people.
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a select few, and you can’t seem to find any quantifiable differences between them, trust your instinct to make the final choice. Settle on the puppy with which you feel the strongest underlying connection. After all, you’ll be spending a great deal of time with your new friend.
Valhalla Gun Dogs & Trainers has been a premier Colorado upland bird hunting club since 1989 and a kennel since 1998. Visit our website or give us a call today if you’re interested in expert, year-round training for both you and your canine hunting partner.