By Neil Hoefs
Use these tips when buying a hunting dog for the first time.
Not much else can be more exciting than buying a hunting dog when you are a serious bird hunter or becoming one.
It's a decision many will make but perhaps sometimes soon regret in some form or another.
When buying a hunting dog there are many factors one should consider. This isn't as simple as perhaps just going out to buy a pair of Nike or Reebok because that's the only brand you will wear.
A hunting dog is an investment and you will likely be spending a lot of money, so be sure to ask yourself logical questions instead of getting all emotionally tied up in a dog that may not suite your overall hunting needs. Or at the very least just liking one breed specifically because of how cute they are as puppies.
Trust me, that cute puppy phase doesn't last very long!
Will you be hunting mostly waterfowl, upland bird hunting or just a dog for shed hunting in the spring? Not all breeds are versatile in all hunting conditions. There are many factors to consider:
Now that you have narrowed down one or a couple specific breeds that fit your hunting style, now it's time to find a reputable breeder.
Don't limit yourself to just local breeders. Start your search out wide for the specific breed(s) you narrowed down. Breeders will have websites and a simple google search will populate your search and start with that.
There are many dog transporters that haul dogs across the country these days making it very easy to bring your pick to you.
Check out the puppies parents. As usual, they will give you a peak at the future of your pup.
Besides their stature and physical characteristics, see how they hunt in relation to how you hunt. This should be a good indicator of how their offspring should hunt. Disclaimer, that is if you stay consistent with your regular day to day training.
Again, some breeders may or may not have both parents. Some breeders bring in a stud or send off their female for breeding. Today's day and age in technology, video can capture the parents in work so being in person is not always required anymore.
Many reputable breeders are now getting their pedigrees tested by independent health places like Paw Print Genetics (for example).
The breeder can simple swab the pup's mouth, send it in for testing and get test results for any potential concerns for that breed and bloodlines.
Every breed typically has their own unique health issues and will be tested accordingly. If possible, request their health clearances.
Above all else, trust your gut!
Whether in person or restricted to video, talking to the breeder, never underestimate what your gut is telling you about this potential future hunting dog.
Don't allow yourself to be pressured into buying.
Remember, most breeders will be interviewing you as well to ensure they feel they are sending their pup off to a great forever home.
For a little shameless self promotion, visit Upland Game Adventures "Find A Hunting Dog" which is a free to use classifieds to start browsing.
Narrow down your favorite breed to help make it easier.
We try to make it easy to line up buyers and sellers in a no-pressure environment.
Neil Hoefs - Upland Bird Hunter and owner of two hunting labs
Upland Game Adventures