Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bird Dogs - what they are, and are not

The term bird dog is used pretty loosely sometimes. I cringe a bit when I hear the term misused, so I offer my definition of Bird Dog...

... any of a very few pointing breeds - pointer, setter, and maybe Brittany - that is trained to find, point, and handle upland birds before the flush and shot, may (or may not) retrieve shot birds, and does not hunt fur-bearers. 

So what they are not is any of the European versatile breeds. spaniels, retrievers, or mixed breeds. I have no problem with people who own and like these breeds, but in my book, they are Gundogs - a broader category that seems to suit these dogs and their abilities best.

I do not expect that everyone will agree with me - but there it is. 


David W. Martin said...

I think this is a respectable opinion. However, the GSP in America is probably used by most amateur hunters as a bird dog, and nothing more. Not many folks are out there using them as a versatile dog they are meant to be.

By the way I am a Pointer guy. Just know a lot of guys that own GSP's for quail and pheasant only.

Mike Spies said...


Thanks for posting your comment. I didn't expect that everyone would agree with me. I have seen some pretty good GSPs but the 'classic' GSP is used a lot on fur, even wild boar.

Andrew Campbell said...

Mike: Just found your blog through Querencia but thought I'd leave a comment on an early post seeing as I use the term 'bird-dog' on my blog to describe our vizslas. And yes, they do point rabbits.

Your definition is fine with me. I imagine most of us use it as shorthand to avoid a much longer conversation about what a 'versatile' hunting dog is... which has the potential to make some bird-dog folks feel as though their dogs aren't somehow 'versatile' in the much broader sense of that word.

Nice to also meet another person who enjoys shooting birds over pointers with a nice old gun.

Hope you'll come visit.

Mike Spies said...

Of course!

I hope I do not offend, but a verstile is a different creature with different talents - well tuned to the needs of the European sportsman - and many in North America who like the idea of an "all around dog".

If they run, hunt, and point birds, I like them.

BlacknTan said...

I agree completely with your charachterization of birddogs.. I just wish more people understood it.