Gun Dog Breeds Across the U.S.

Gun Dog Breeds Across the U.S.

As many owners can attest, your gun dog of choice says a lot about you. And much like people, no two dogs are exactly alike.

We recently surveyed the folks at Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever to see just how many different breeds are represented within both organizations across the U.S. As two groups focused on habitat, their motivation for wildlife is closely connected to providing their gun dogs room to run.

Located across the country, the only thing more varied than the terrain they work in is the dogs they use to chase all the local upland species. Here are a few of those dogs and their handlers.

Alex Brazeal

Role: Farm Bill Biologist
Location: Wyoming
Breed: Hungarian vizsla
Name/Age/Sex: Sonny/6yrs/Male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
My family got a Vizsla puppy when I was younger, so I grew up hunting over them. We've had another vizsla since, and I adopted Sonny about two years ago, so the breed is almost a family tradition. We hunted mostly pheasants in Nebraska growing up with a chance at bobwhite quail from time to time. Here in Wyoming, Sonny and I will be chasing pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and chukar. I like this breed because they are nicknamed 'œVelcro Dogs' always by your side with lots of energy for long days in the field.

Dog's greatest strength:
Although he is a pointer, his desire to retrieve is phenomenal.

Andrew Vavra

Role: Marketing Specialist
Location: Minnesota
Breed: Labrador retriever
Name/Age/Sex: Beau/4yrs/Female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I live in Minneapolis and I love to upland and waterfowl hunt. This means I need a dog that can not only break ice and pound prairies, but also one that has an off switch around the house. Considering Beau is my first bird dog, choosing a breed that could do it all while traditionally being more biddable, like a Lab, simply made the most sense.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Beau\'s greatest strength is two-fold: Her willingness to please and her bird-drive. Those two traits combined in the field are all I could ever ask for out of any bird dog.

Andrew White

Role: Farm Bill Biologist
Location: Missouri
Breed: Deutsch drahthaar
Name/Age/Sex: Chef/3 yrs/Male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
In northwest Missouri we have both pheasants and quail. When I was thinking of breeds, I wanted a dog that could do it all and would be a real brute in the field. Elsa (Quail Forever Missouri State Quail Coordinator) was looking for a rescue dog for me and found Chief. She hit it right on the nose. Brute in the field, can hunt it all. We even have the same facial hair.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
I would say Chief\'s greatest strength is hunting non-stop until it is time to go on. He is the type of dog that would hunt until he could not physically do so anymore. He is also fearless. He has been shot with porcupine quills, trampled by a deer, and when all other dogs are afraid to go in the bush, he does without hesitation.

Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Anthony Hauck

Role: Online Editor
Location: Minnesota
Breed: English cocker spaniel
Name/Age/Sex: Sprig/2yrs /female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
The area I lived when I got Sprig was an apartment in the Twin Cities — the point being, I really wanted a small dog that could hunt pheasants, other upland birds and occasionally ducks. Even though I now have a house and a yard, I have no plans to upgrade dog size. I really love these little cockers.

Dog's greatest strength:
There's a lot of drive packaged in just 20 pounds.

Bob St. Pierre

Role: Vice president of Marketing
Location: Minnesota
Breed: German shorthaired pointer
Name/Age/Sex: Trammell/7 yrs/Female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so I grew up hunting grouse and woodcock. I knew I wanted a pointer for the grouse woods, but also desired a strong retriever to track down those running crippled pheasants when my travels took me to the prairie.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Trammell's greatest strength is adaptability. She knows when we're hunting in the woods that she'll have to ease up on grouse, and when we're in the grasslands she's able to change her style to effectively corner those hard-running roosters.

Carol Durtschi

Role: Membership Service
Location: Minnesota
Breed: English springer spaniel
Name/Age/Sex: Rough-Shootin' 'œScout'/5yrs/female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
My husband got his first springer as a sophomore in high school and has had them ever since. They are great on everything from pheasants to ruffed grouse to ducks. Scout is our sixth springer, and is mostly used for chasing pheasants across western Minnesota.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Scout hunts close and is a great retriever. She has a great knack for marking falls, and loves to root out birds from heavy cover.

Charlie Payne

Role: Regional Representative
Location: Ohio
Breed: English setter
Name/Age/Sex: Parker/9months/Male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
We grew up with setters and just always loved their drive and nose, along with their ability to be a fun dog.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Does making me laugh count? We're still working on a lot of things, but his drive so far is awesome; I am ready to be done long before he is.

Elsa Gallagher

Role: State Coordinator
Location: Missouri
Breed: English pointer
Name/Age/Sex: Pike (My Covert Operative)/9months/male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
In picking out Pike\'s litter, I wanted a dog to hunt quail and prairie chickens. I also wanted to be able to field trial with this dog as well as hunt quail with him. Pointers are the Cadillac when it comes to hunting bobs. I also wanted a dog to be able to hunt prairie chickens, and he has the range needed to cover the areas that prairie chickens enjoy.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
He is only 9 months old now, but he has a tremendous nose and an innate knack for finding quail already. He seems to be pre-programmed to know where they are and he finds a lot of them. He is also a fantastic retriever; it\'s the Elhew line in him, he loves to retrieve.

Elsa Gallagher

Role: State Coordinator
Location: Missouri
Breed: Vizsla
Name/Age/Sex: Rooster Cogburn (Everedi's Blazin Inferno MH)/10yrs/male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I wanted a continental breed that liked to retrieve and swim. Missouri has an abundance of differing habitat types and we can enjoy pheasant, quail, woodcock, dove, and early season teal with a multi-purpose dog. We do a lot of quail hunting, but we also enjoy dove hunting. We have taken him to six different states to hunt. He is also an excellent rabbit retrieving dog when we go rabbit hunting with the beagles.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
He is the smartest dog I\'ve ever owned and very obedient. Rooster has been an excellent dog for youth hunts with QF and PF volunteers and youth. He also really excelled at a 'œHunting for Hero\'s' event. He bonded with one of the disabled police officers from Iowa and really made that guys\' weekend. He loves to hunt quail, pheasants, grouse, and doves.

John Edstrom

Role: Merchandise Coordinator
Location: Minnesota
Breed: English setter
Name/Age/Sex: Molly/7yrs/Female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
There\'s a large number of grouse hunting/upland hunting opportunities in Minnesota. I am an English setter guy, but I have owned a lab as well. The three setters I have owned have all transitioned to pheasant, quail and sharptail grouse hunting as well.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
A never quit attitude towards finding birds.

Jordan Martincich

Role: Development Officer
Location: Kansas
Breed: English setter
Name/Age/Sex: Call name-Ike, Registered Name: Free State Ike/5 yrs/Male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I arrived at the decision to own English Setters because I grew up hunting behind my cousin\'s setters. They do a great finding pheasants and quail in all terrains, and they are very pleasing to the eye. My first setter, Kate, who is 11, got me hooked on the breed.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Great nose.

Laura McIver

Role: Regional Representative
Location: Oklahoma
Breed: American Brittanys
Name/Age/Sex: 'œAbigail' Rebel Rose/6 yrs/female (the smaller dog with more orange), the one with more white is Chase/14 yrs/male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
Bobwhite quail are great to hunt with Brittanys and on a good day, you might get lucky enough for your dog to scent them well enough in advance and point them before the birds run or flush. I love Brittanys because they\'re great family dogs outside of hunting and my other half is who introduced them to me.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Her nose! And she also hunts well with other dogs.

Mark Herwig

Role: Editor, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever Journals
Location: Minnesota
Breed: English springer spaniel
Name/Age/Sex: Hunter/7 yrs/Male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
In my job as editor, I hunt quail, pheasants and prairie grouse all over the country. On personal hunts, I hunt many other types of game birds around the country. I chose a springer because they are a breed adaptable to different habitats and weather and are very energetic with good prey drive and retrieving ability. They're also a very handsome dog.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Hunter's main strength is his drive and determination.

Nancy Anisfield

Role: Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever National Board Member
Location: Vermont
Breed: German shorthaired pointer
Name/Age/Sex: Rimfire/9yrs/male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock in northern New England where I live, but I also hunt pheasants in the Midwest and quail down south. I need a dog that can adjust its speed and range to the density of the cover. I also need a dog that can hunt in warm temperatures as well as wet, cold and snow. That adaptability along with the exceptional pointing and tracking skills of a versatile hunting dog puts the package together with German shorthair on the label. I also must have a dog with a sense of humor.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
His balance of independence and cooperation. He has taught himself things I couldn't teach him, but they are all designed to produce game for me, such as circling wide to pinch a grouse or doubling back on a scent trail going in the wrong direction.

Rachel Bush

Role: Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist
Location: North Dakota
Breed: Labrador retriever
Name/Age/Sex: Belle/7yrs/Female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
Living in North Dakota, the majority of the hunting I do is waterfowl, so I wanted a breed with a strong retrieving instinct and the versatility to hunt upland game. I considered adding a pointer to the family, but have a hard time leaving a dog home while I'm out hunting. I was also worried the sometimes harsh conditions of North Dakota waterfowl hunting would be too much for a thin-coated pointer.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Drive — when asked to retrieve this dog has only one speed.

Rehan Nana

Role: Public Relations Specialist
Location: Minnesota
Breed: Red setter
Name/Age/Sex: Raggedy Anne/2yrs/Female

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I chose a pointing dog because pheasants, grouse and woodcock are the three predominate upland species I enjoy hunting in Minnesota where I live. I also wanted a dog that could hunt quail and other traditionally pointing dog species when traveling. I chose a setter because I live in the cities and wanted a happy-go-lucky dog, and I got a red setter because after talking with an old Missouri trainer for an hour or so about everything I was looking for in a dog, he told me, "Son, just get a dog you like looking at."

Dog\'s greatest strength:
Understanding different terrains.

Ryan Diener

Role: Farm Bill Biologist
Location: Missouri
Breed: German shorthaired pointer
Name/Age/Sex: Chance/3yrs/Male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I chose a pointer, because I am hunting bobwhite quail for the most part and need a dog that will hold well for me and not push birds before I am ready for them. I chose a German shorthaired pointer because I like the looks of them. They remind me a lot of a typical hound with the slim head long muzzle and floppy ears. I grew up with hounds as a kid, and I have always liked the looks of a nice sleek dog.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
This dog has an excellent nose and is a retrieving fool. He has as much, if not more, retrieving drive than my lab that I take duck hunting.

Matt Morlock

Role: Data Analysts / Biologist
Location: South Dakota
Breed: Golden retriever
Name/Age/Sex: Puck/11 yrs/male

How did the species of birds you hunt/area of the country you live in affect your breed decision?
I hunt both upland and waterfowl throughout the fall and wanted a dog that could do both. Living in South Dakota where the weather can take a turn for the worse early in the season, I wanted a breed that could handle the cold and keep on hunting. Additionally, golden retrievers have always had a special place in my heart since it was the first dog breed I had at age 3.

Dog\'s greatest strength:
I would say it is a tie between his nose and his wisdom with age. Puck has always been a slow, methodical hunter that tends to follow his nose in and around cover instead of busting through it at a high rate of speed. He has also spent some time as a guide dog early in life that had him exposed to a ton of birds and this has allowed him to be pretty cagey when he is after a crippled pheasant.

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