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Sporting Dogs – Conclusion -Finding the Prefect Dog

Finding the Perfect Dog


I am not certain what it takes to buy a dog, other than money. I know all the advice from the professionals. First ask yourself; “What do you want your dog to do?” for me that is simple. “What ever I train her to do.” And notice I said, her, because I am convinced that males of dogs, can only be trained to a certain level. After that they refuse to learn anymore!! So I will stay with a female. In reality, I am only considering dogs that have a tradition of being bred to perform certain tasks related to hunting. All hunting breeds can be trained to retrieve, and flush. After that it is a matter of preference.

I have been studying breed books for months. I have looked at pictures and attended field trials. I have talked with owners and handlers who love their breeds and I have spoken with those who have not been very successful with breeds and I have narrowed it down between the retrieving breeds and the pointing breeds and the flushing breeds. Which is exactly where I started.

I know from the onset that I do not want a Labrador because of their popularity, and quite frankly, I just do not want a dog that everyone else on the block has. So in the retrieving breeds, I am looking at the Chesapeake, the Portuguese water dog, the curly coated retriever, the Irish water spaniel and the Boykin Spaniel.

Within the pointing breeds, I like the English Setter, (for nostalgia reasons) the wirehaired pointer, and the German Shorthair. Then we move to the flushing breeds and here we find the English Springer Spaniel, the Boykin Spaniel, (again) and the Brittany Spaniel.

Of those listed above…..I quickly eliminated the Portuguese Water Dog for financial reasons…..they are simply too expensive because of their limited availability not to mention their terrible hair cuts. Then I have eliminated the Wirehaired because my wife thinks it is ugly and the Brittany because one of my best friends has one and I do not want the same type of dog he has. So the list shortens even more and I get to the real important questions I have to ask before I move on.

The irony is that we read stories about selecting a dog written by the foremost breeders in the country and I try and follow their advice. But regardless I continually find myself going to the same 3 categories before I consider anything else;

  1. Looks of the Breed. Is it an attractive animal? Is his coat the color and consistency I want?
  2. Size of the full-grown animal. I do not want a hunting dog I cannot carry out of the woods or field. So anything over 50 pounds is immediately eliminated.
  3. Temperament of the breed. What is the normal temperament of the breed with adults and children?


So with this in mind we eliminate even more breeds. Gone are the English Setter– Males often top 70 pounds….females are at the breakeven point and I know I feed my animals too much food. Gone is the Chesapeake…well over 100 pounds. If I tried to carry that animal out of the woods, search and rescue would have to find both of us. Gone is the Curly Coated Retriever….just too big and they look like Dr. J. in an afro! Gone is the German Shorthaired…looks dirty all the time and a little tall for a lap/hunting dog. That brings be to the Boykin and the Springer – both spaniels. It is these two that are the finalist….along with the Irish water dog…but this is so similar to the Boykin that the Boykin has to get the nod because he is the state dog of South Carolina and that is my home state.

Springer and Boykin the two breeds that have passed the tests. Both are the right size, both have the temperament needed for a combination lap/hunting dog. Both have beautiful markings and wavy coats. (Something I am partial to)

I love the copper wavy coat of the Boykin and the Black and white patches of the Springer. Either long or cropped, both are pretty and practical.

So now that we have narrowed it down to these two….let us look at them in detail (from my perspective of detail) and make the decision once and for all.

The Boykin….designed to “not rock the boat” is a wonderful retriever in water and land. Great companion, and has a great nose. Many are taught to flush and retrieve. They do have the reputation of being somewhat high strung until around age three. Then they are considered to be one of the best companion dogs alive.

The English Springer has a great nose, much calmer than the Boykin at an early age….but bred more for the show ring than the field. She can be trained to readily retrieve on land and water. Takes commands well and is a fast learner. When a field line can be found they are usually well bred. But there is the slight fear of “Springer fever” a temperament that causes them to sometimes be somewhat unpredictable.

So with all else being comparable it comes down to availability and price. The Boykin can be found for $200-$400. And the Springer from $300-$600. Here in South Carolina, Boykin’s are readily available, while the Field line of the Springer is less available.

But in my gut, I am drawn to the Boykin. When I saw a young Boykin with that copper wavy coat I immediately fell in love with the animal and have decided that is the breed I will go with if I can find a good animal in the price range I have allotted and close enough that I can go get it.

I have now begun the tedious process of selecting a name for my copper colored wavy haired Boykin female. I have decided to name the dog after one of my closest friends and closest hunting companions. But he is a man, and the name Walter does not fit a female Boykin. So I have decided to go with a name that will fit either sex, so I think I will go with Ruger that is a great name for a hunting dog! And since I have great expectations for my new companion, I will go with a name that has a strong tradition in American hunting lore.

Stay tuned and get ready for the tales of Ruger, my new Boykin that I hope to have in a few months. I am sure that together we will cover a lot of fields, forest and water in the coming years.