Picking your next Puppy

Waterfowl hunting has so many great traditions and practices no matter what part of the country you may live in and pursue ducks and geese. For many folks the calling or type of call you blow the decoys you set, weather you hunt in timber, open water, marsh or maybe you’re a dry field goose hunter. All of these are great but for me the use of a retriever and the interaction and bond built in them and their owners is by far top of the list for me.

The selection of your next four legged hunting partner is the very first of an important step and process in building your mark in this tradition. So, how do we go about picking a puppy? First of all ask yourself, what are you looking for with this dog? Do you just want a hunting dog that is a great friend and picks up ducks for you? Do you want to ever run or compete in any hunt test with him? Or are you looking into the field trial type of life? For me with my first ever pup Ace I was wanting just a plain old great hunting dog that could get my birds and I could enjoy hunting with him. Now with my most recent selection of the new pup Scout I wanted both the hunting dog and to run the UKC hunt test world.

First place to start is finding a breeder, make sure that they are a reputable one and that they have a good reference source. As a general rule finding parents that are AKC (American Kennel Club) registered if you can even look for UKC (United Kennel Club) registration. Look for some titles on the pedigrees of the parents. Notes such as FC, AFC, NFC, and MH, SH are all great titles for dogs and show some good bloodlines and abilities in your pup’s blood. Also notes such as HR HRCH and GRHRCH are titles from UKC hunt test and mean that the parents have successfully completed tests to show their ability. Health clearances are a big issue as well. Look for the grade on the parents hips weather they are good, or poor as hip dysplasia is a very painful and common issue in labs. EIC (exercise induced collapse) and CNM (a type of muscle disease) are also dangerous things to check for testing on. No matter if it’s the pure hunter or competitive hunt tester you want all these health clearances, and pedigree notes can help in the future of your goal with your new puppy. Although the titles are no guarantee they do however usually show the ability that is there in the puppies.

Once you do all the research and find that pup that seems to be the one you are looking for go and pick them from the litter. Another decision to make is do you want the shy wallflower pup or the hard charging bull? I usually like to find the one that seems to be in the middle ground of the litter. I like to take a duck wing with me and play with the puppies just seeing which one shows some interest in it. Watching to see which pup has the drive to pursue the wing and which one seems to just want to sit and watch everyone else play. Of course there are other things like which color to pick, male or female. For me color is not really a big deal although I do have a soft spot for those black dogs and never owning a female personally I can’t say if I would prefer them over their brothers. That is more of a personal decision and has to suit the guy that is going to hunt and own the dog.

Picking the puppy is just step one of a big road and commitment but if you do your homework and really look for it you could find a dog that will forever change the way you hunt and will quickly become part of your favorite traditions and reasons you chase ducks each season.

James Staten

Banded Pro-Staff

Avery Outdoors Pro-Staff

MIG Custom Calls Pro-Staff

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