Bird dogs are types of hunting dogs that are bred to help hunters locate and retrieve birds. These dogs can be described as either pointers or flushers.
Pointing dogs are a type of bird dog that can show hunters where birds are located by pausing or standing staunch. These dogs are typically high energy and are used to cover lots of ground while the hunter holds back a short distance until a bird is located. They are known for having excellent noses for picking up bird scent. Some popular pointing dog breeds include the Brittany, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, English Pointer, and Poodle Pointer. Pointing dogs have been used by bird hunters for several hundred years. For example, first images of the Brittany, originally from Brittany, France, were seen hunting and retrieving game on tapestries and paintings in the 17th century. Each breed has its own specialties and a hunter’s personal preference will guide you to the best breed for you. Some pointer breeds are more specialized while others are more versatile and will vary in their ability to retrieve or how far the dog will range from the hunter.
A flushing dog is a bird dog trained to locate and flush game birds by provoking them into flight. These dogs differ from pointers as they don’t keep still after locating the bird. Popular flushing dog breeds include the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, English Springer Spaniel, and other spaniels. Several of these species are known for their social demeanor and make excellent family dogs. Some new flushing dog breeds have come on the scene, such as the Boykin Spaniel, which was bred by South Carolina hunters to hunt in swamp conditions in the early 1900s. But most spaniel breeds have centuries of game-flushing history behind them. The English Springer Spaniel is America’s original pheasant specialist and has grown into a versatile hunting dog on land and in water. Other breeds include the American Water Spaniel and the Cocker Spaniel. As with pointers, flusher breeds will vary in their specialties. For example, the retrievers are known for their ability to deliver game undamaged to the hunter.
While these are the main classifications for bird dogs, it is important to remember that dogs often have skills that go beyond tasks outlined in their breed description. Depending on training, bird dogs can be useful in multiple hunting situations. Bird dog training sessions are often enjoyable for both dog and hunter as bird dogs are characteristically keen, receptive animals that are among the easiest to teach.