Books on Animals: Dogs

Breed books: Gundogs

Retrievers (Chesapeke Bay Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever) Setters (English Setters, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters) Spaniels (Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel) Other gundogs (German Shorthaired Pointers, Viszlas, and Weimaraners) General guides to gundog training.

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General overview

Gundogs were developed to help their owners out hunting, and are more responsive than hounds, while less intense than herding dogs. The two popular retrieving breeds, golden retrievers and labrador retrievers, are gundogs. There are many extremely elegant dogs in this category, such as Weimaraners and Irish Setters. They are outdoors dogs, however, not fashion accessories, and need a daily walk. Most can safely be let off the leash on walks, so long as you have trained them well, and find a large open space for them to run in. They vary in terms of trainability. Golden and Labrador Retrievers are very trainable, if often a little boisterous, especially when young, and they also tend to be good with kids, which is why they are such popular family dogs. Labs and Goldens are also used as service dogs with blind and disabled people. Chesapeke Retrievers are more challenging, tougher, a little more 'serious', and less gregarious. Spaniels were developed to flush out game, so they tend to have a strong chase instinct which means that teaching recall can be a challenge (this also applies to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, which were once used in the field, as well as being lap dogs).

Some breeds have suffered at the hands of breeders who did not put temperament high on their list of priorities, and this applies especially to Golden Retrievers, and Cocker and Springer Spaniels. Epilepsy can be a problem with some spaniels, especially cockers, and this has been associated with biting episodes where the dog appears unaware of what has happened. It's important with any pup to check the temperament of parents if you can, but this applies especially to these three breeds. Pointers and setters were bred to indicate prey, rather than catch it. Some pointers and setters can be a little nervy, especially if they don't get enough exercise, or are subjected to sensory overload from untrained children. German Shorthaired Pointers tend to be quite robust, but Irish Setters are often a little skittish, and have also suffered from breeding for looks rather than temperament. Weimaraners are all-round dogs, and need a firm, but gentle hand. They are perhaps the most challenging of the gundogs to train.

Training is very important with all these dogs, especially the larger and stronger breeds. With good training and socialization, they usually get on with children and other dogs, though entire males will sometimes want to show off in front of other entire males they meet on walks. Good manners are best taught from puppyhood, because it's easier, but adult rescue dogs can still learn fast. The best time to teach good manners to a rescue dog is as soon as the dog arrives. That is when the dog is watching you to learn what the rules are. It's tempting to spoil the dog a bit, because you feel sorry for him or her. But it's kinder in the long run to let the dog know gently and firmly what you consider to be appropriate behaviour. Rescue centres usually have their own behaviourists and provide ongoing help for adopters. Gwen Bailey's 'The Rescue Dog' is also full of good advice.

Advanced training is well worth thinking about, even if your gundog is mainly a companion dog. Much of what working gundogs learn is extremely useful when you are out walking. Gundog training includes teaching a solid recall, stay, and retrieve on command, which can endow your dog with a lifetime of useful skills. You can find books on advanced training, including gundog training, here.

One health problem that can affect larger breeds is bloat, which can be very serious and even fatal if not treated rapidly. Prevention is better than cure, and dogs should be fed at least twice a day, rather than having just one big meal. They should also rest after eating, rather than being encouraged to play actively, so they have a chance to digest their food. It used to be thought that raised feeding bowls were a good idea, but ideas have changed, and floor level bowls are seen as better. A tendency to bloat appears to be inherited to some extent, so this is one more reason to check the longevity of the ancestors of any pup you are interested in, and find out what the ancestors died of, and how old they were.

Individuals with nice temperaments from any of these breeds can make good family dogs, so long as you are prepared to go out in all weathers to give them exercise. They do have the advantage of keeping you fit and getting you out to meet the local dog owners. Gundog owners tend not to be couch potatoes. Many a gundog has helped a child learn to love the outdoors, or kept a younger retired person active and sane, if a little muddy. Here is a great blog for people who like golden retrievers, and dogs in general. It's American, but much of what is said here is relevant to the UK: http://retrieverman.wordpress.com/ Breed Profiles

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Brittanys

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Britannys, formerly known as Brittany Spaniels have more in common with pointers than true spaniels, and the 'spaniel' part of their former name has been dropped. They are particularly useful as bird dogs, and enjoy retrieving from water. They are especially popular in their native France, as well as the US, and deserve to be better known in the UK.

Brittanys tend to be smaller in France than in the US, but even in the US, they are smaller than pointers and setters, and their relatively small size makes travelling easier. They are quite easy to train, so long as owners are consistent, and usually get on well with other dogs, so they are an excellent choice for active owners who want a companion, as well as owners who want a working dog. However, Britannys do need commitment to daily walks and something interesting to do, or they can become a little neurotic, or be tempted to wander off. It is well worth investing time in advanced training with this breed, whether or not you want a hunting dog, because the rewards are so great.

Is the breed good with kids? Brittany Spaniels can find boisterous children a little overwhelming, but they are excellent companions for sensible, older children who take training seriously.

This book is a useful introduction to the breed, though it is geared more to pet owners than to people who want to hunt with Brittanys. If you want to bring out the best in your dog, it is well worth learning about the advanced skills you can teach through gundog training, while your treasure is still a pup.

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever: A Complete Handbook

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Chesapeke Bay Retrievers look a little like chocolate Labs with curly coats, though the shade is different, and Chessies are much more serious dogs than Labs. They are strong-willed dogs, and aren't as affectionate with strangers as Labs are, preferring to reserve their affections for their owners and human family. They are very trainable, though it helps to set out ground rules from when they are pups, because they can be a bit pushy, and like to have their own way. They can perform well in obedience activities, though don't stand as much repetition in training as Labs can.

The job they were designed to do is retrieve, which they can do tirelessly. They enjoy swimming, and like to get muddy. Bored chessies will tend to chew, and they need a supply of legitimate chew objects to ensure that they don't chew your posessions. They can be entertained with ball games, but do like to get out and about, so it's best not to choose a Chessie unless you enjoy a daily walk. Well trained and well socialized Chessies are generally good with children who respect them, especially if the children play games they like, such as retrieving. Children should always make Chessies sit before throwing the ball, because these are such powerful dogs they can easily knock children over. It also helps if children learn the basics of training, so that the dog learns the same rules from all the family. Chesapeke retrievers aren't especially playful with other dogs, and can be a little cantankerous, but well-socialized Chessies will usually tolerate dogs they meet on walks.

Chesapeke Retrievers aren't very barky dogs, but they are serious enough to take on the role of guard dogs. Chessies do need extensive and ongoing socialization, even, and perhaps especially if you want them to be guard dogs, since they have a protective and territorial streak, and you want delivery people and visiting children to be safe. Chessies have a powerful presence and will look serious if they meet uninvited visitors, even after socialization - they don't have the same open 'love everybody' character of Golden and Labrador Retrievers.

Common health problems affecting the breed include hip dysplasia, von Willebrands, hypothyroidism and eye trouble.

Stacy Kennedy's book is a short, well illustrated guide to Chesapeke retrievers. The history of the breed is well covered, as is their general care and training. Anyone who wants to get the full potential from their Chessie will need a more in-depth guide to retriever training, but this is a good general introduction by someone who fully appreciates this dignified breed.

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The Cocker Spaniel Today

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Cocker Spaniels (also called English Cocker Spaniels) can be very good family dogs. They are not so big that they bowl children over, and the best cockers are friendly, outgoing and tolerant of children. They take to obedience training well, and enjoy a range of activities, including retrieving, flyball and agility. This breed is very trainable, so long as owners are gentle as well as firm, since Cocker Spaniels are generally sensitive dogs. They are sometimes a little slow to housetrain, and can put on weight easily. This may be because owners find it hard to resist cute spaniel eyes telling them it's cold outside, or pleading for another titbit. Fat little pups tend to turn into obese adults with associated health problems, so it's important not to believe a fat little pup who tries to convince you he is starving!

Historically, the  Cocker spaniel has been one of the UK’s most popular breeds, based on kennel club registrations. Two types of cocker have evolved  as the show world increasingly sought a more refined appearance, the competitive gundog world wanted more energy and drive and today it’s evident that there are two very distinct types.

The show cocker has a much longer and lower ear set than working, or pet cockers and is considerably taller. Their coats are also much longer than those of working cockers, because this trait is prized in the show world. They still tend to be more active than American cockers, because they have a shorter history as show dogs.

In 2012 the working cocker spaniel suddenly became recognised by the general public as a breed different from the cocker spaniel when Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and her new puppy Ludo made the tabloids. Previously, these were very much the type seen on the shoot, and less so in the family home. The working type is bred for functionality over looks and tends to have a much less domed head, is smaller and lighter in build and has shorter ears and lighter textured coat. They are also incredibly active little dogs. They are sometimes referred to as ‘pocket rockets’ and when watching them in action, it’s clear to see why.

Cocker Spaniels need a fair amount of grooming. They like going in muddy places and through undergrowth, where they pick up burrs and other debris. Some Cockers can also mat easily. Many owners have their Cockers trimmed to make grooming easier. They can also be quite barky dogs, which means they are good watchdogs, though they are too small to be good guard dogs. Cocker Spaniels are often a little nippy, and they do need extensive socialization with people, proper training and an active life to realise their potential. Part of the trouble, however, lies in their past popularity, which led some breeders to produce puppies with no thought for their temperament.

The problem of Cocker 'rage' persists, though there has been a drive to eradicate this. Epilepsy is also all too common in Cockers. The two conditions seem to be related, with some dogs suffering from epilepsy also biting, and appearing dazed after the event. Often, though, Cockers are nippy simply because they are cute as little pups, and not enough effort is put into teaching them that biting people is unacceptable.

Other health problems that Cockers are vulnerable to include hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, eye trouble, allergies, and ear trouble. Like all dogs with long ears Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections, especially if the ears get wet on walks, so it's important to dry them properly and protect them during baths. Hereditary deafness can also affect some Cockers, especially those of more than one colour.

Joyce Caddy's guide to Cocker Spaniels not only covers the usual breed history and general care, but also deals with cocker spaniels as gundogs. There is also an illustrated guide to grooming and trimming, and the cocker spaniel as a showdog, though anyone who just wants a Cocker to look cute and be well groomed could perhaps think again about whether their dog should be allowed to go out and get muddy, which is what this breed most loves to do!

 

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German Shorthaired Pointers: Complete Pet Owners' Manual

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German Shorthaired Pointers have become more popular than English pointers, and are generally more robust. They are affectionate and versatile dogs. Though German Shorthairs lack the sweetness of English Pointers, being a bit pushier and rougher looking, they are less likely to be shy in the way that English Pointers can be, and they are still very elegant dogs. German Shorthaired Pointers are also outdoors dogs, which need a lot of exercise, or they can become too lively and noisy for comfort.

They like being with people, so are not good dogs to leave home alone all day, since some can rearrange your home if they are isolated.. Owners should be prepared to take them out every day, whatever the weather - though it's important to regulate the exercise of pups, so they grow properly. This breed is very trainable, though a little more patience is needed than with a Golden or Labrador Retriever, since the breed can be a little independent .

Are German Shorthaired Pointers good with children? Generally, yes, though they are quite large dogs, which can easily knock small children over. Individuals of this breed usually get on well with other dogs. They are good watchdogs because they are quite barky, and can be wary of strangers, but are not especially good as guard dogs.

Their forte is as versatile working gundogs, and they are good retrievers and trackers. Pet owners can benefit from reading about the work they were designed to do, so as to understand their pets better.

Health problems that can affect the breed include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, bloat, and von Willebrands, but, despite this long list, the breed is generally healthy! This introductory guide to the breed covers general care, behaviour, and training, and provides a history of the breed. It is a good book for a novice pet owner who wants to understand the potential of the breed, though owners of working dogs are likely to want more detailed training advice.

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German Shorthaired Pointers Today (Book of the Breed)

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This is a very good breed guide for people who want their pointers to be working dogs, or who want to understand the work that their dog was designed to do. The book covers a lot of ground, from choosing a puppy, and general care, to gundog training. Owners interested in shooting, falconry, field trials, and showing their German Shorthaired Pointer are likely to enjoy the book. It's not fully comprehensive, and some aspects of care and training receive better coverage than others, but experienced owners are likely to find it a source of useful tips. It is also very well illustrated, with numerous photographs.

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Working Pointers

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This is a very useful book for all pointer owners, not just people who own working dogs. Pointers need to get out and about, and they do have special training needs. You will be able to get the best from your dog if you research what pointers are designed to do.

Owners of working pointers will also enjoy this book, and find it useful, though there is more coverage of the German Shorthaired Pointer than the more refined and gentle, and often underrated English Pointer.

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Pointers and Setters

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This is an excellent book for owners of Pointers and Setters who want to work their dogs. There is good coverage of the way the breeds were developed, and how their behaviour and characters are linked to the jobs they have been designed to do. There is good advice on choosing and raising pups, and on training dogs for work, including falconry as well as shooting. English pointers are well covered, not just German Shorthaired Pointers. The three Setter breeds, English, Irish and Gordon, also get full coverage.

This book is highly recommended since it covers a lot of ground, and the author clearly knows his subject.

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The Complete Guide to the Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers along with Labrador Retrievers are the classic family dog. They are generally patient, tolerant and affectionate. They tend not to worry much about noises, or changes in their routine, unlike Border Collies and German Shepherd Dogs, for example, which tend to have a strong need for order. They will generally tolerate children hugging them and otherwise expressing clumsy affection with them. They also love playing ball games with children, Goldens need to be taught the 'drop' command in order for them to give up retrieving objects nicely. Goldens are a large breed, so can accidentally knock over small children if they get too boisterous, and small children and Goldens need supervision, because of the risk of accidents.

The popularity of the breed also means that some breeders have neglected temperament in an effort to produce a dog that is merely saleable, so some individuals can be snappy. Generally, however, Golden Retrievers are one of the best breeds with children. They are also a dream to train, and are well represented in obedience competitions. The breed retains some puppyish characteristics for quite some time, tending to mature late, like the Labrador Retriever, but is generally attentive and keen to please. Well-trained Goldens are gentle with toddlers and frail elderly people alike, and they look such happy dogs that they always seem to cheer people up. They are good confidants for children, and provide congenial company for older people.

Golden Retrievers are also usually friendly with other dogs, though of course they need socialization with other dogs as puppies. They tend to bark a bit more than Labrador Retrievers, but barking is not usually a problem if they have enough exercise. They are good watch dogs, in the sense that they will usually bark when the doorbell rings, but then they are likely to want to make friends with whoever comes in through the door, so they are not good guard dogs. They can be chewers, and need their own legitimate chew objects. They can also be droolers, and more than one family pet has been nicknamed 'slobberchops'. These are not low-maintenance dogs, they do need exercise, and a fair amount of grooming, with a good towelling after muddy walks, because the feathering on their legs, belly and tails tends to be a magnet for mud, and they often mat behind their ears. Common health problems include eye disorders, hip dysplasia, cancer, hypothyroidism, heart disease, von Willebrands, epilepsy, and allergies, which may lead to skin complaints.

This book is an excellent guide to Golden Retrievers, which covers gundog training in some detail, as well as showing, and temperament. There is a very useful account of hereditary problems which can affect the breed, which is refreshing, since many breed books gloss over these. There is enough information here to interest experienced owners of Goldies, as well as novices, who just love their dogs and have no competition ambitions. A real treat.

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Golden Retrievers for Dummies (For Dummies)

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This book is an enjoyable read. It gives you a clear picture of the breed, and has a lot of good advice on the general care of Golden Retrievers.

There are also good ideas for activities to keep your dog fit and happy, which is useful, since these are dogs which thrive on exercise and interesting things to do.

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 The Ultimate Golden Retriever

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This is a very well-illustrated guide to Golden Retrievers, with contributions from a number of experts on the breed. It's a comprehensive guide, covering everything from general care to obedience training, showing and breeding.
It is also clearly written and accessible to novices, as well as having enough information to interest experienced Golden owners.

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Collins Dog Owner's Guide: Labrador

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Labrador Retrievers have taken on a number of roles. They were first developed to retrieve in water, and love swimming. They have since been used as gundogs, and service dogs, and they are a firm favourite as a family pet. Like Golden Retrievers, they are usually very stable and 'forgiving' dogs, tending not to be upset at changes in routine, and tolerating novice mistakes.

Like Goldens, they tend to chew a lot, especially as pups, and need their own supply of legitimate chew toys. They aren't as barky as Goldens, however, and don't make very good guard dogs. Any visitor is likely to be licked, or otherwise greeted in a friendly way. Labrador Retrievers are relatively easy to train, even though they mature late, and can behave in puppyish ways in their early obedience classes. They need training from when they are pups, since they are large dogs with a sense of fun, and can get into mischief without training. Well-trained Labrador Retrievers are ideal dogs for families with children, so long as interactions between labs and young children are supervised, since a bouncy lab can easily knock over a small child.

They need a daily walk or other form of exercise, or they can become too boisterous, and are more likely to chew. They don't tend to pick up as much mud on their walks as Golden Retrievers, though their fondness for water does mean that they are attracted by muddy puddles. Generally, Labrador Retrivers behave well with other dogs they meet on walks, and get on well with other dogs in multi-dog households.

The breed comes in four colours, black, yellow, 'fox red' and chocolate. The most unusual are the Chocolate Labradors, and there is some prejudice against them, though most tend to be as easy-going as the yellow and black varieties. The fox red are generally a little more hard wired as working dogs and require a little more patience in training. The main problem is that a focus on appearance can lead to temperament and health being put second and third. This can be a problem if breeders deliberately seek to produce Chocolate Labs, rather than healthy, nice-natured Labs. Labrador Retrievers are not especially barky, and don't need much grooming.

Common health problems include hip dysplasia and eye disorders. Arthritis is also common in older Labrador Retrievers. This is often exacerbated by obesity, since the breed has a very strong food drive, good for motivating them in training, but it makes it difficult to keep them slim. They will tend to wolf any old rubbish they find in the street, 'counter surf', or raid kitchen surfaces for food, and raid rubbish bins for scraps. However they are not fussy eaters! Owners of spayed bitches in particular need to keep a very close watch on their weight. They can also suffer from ear infections due to their love of water, and their ears need regular checks, and should be dried after the Lab has been swimming. Labrador Retrievers are also vulnerable to cancer, heart disease, hypothyroidism, seizures, von Willebrands, and allergies, including those that give rise to skin and nail complaints.

Peter Neville is one of the UK's top behaviourists, and here he has produced a concise guide to Labs that will be invaluable for first-time owners. This guide explains their breed characteristics, and gives help with general care and first aid, as well as help with training and not-so-welcome behavioural quirks. Excellent value, and best bought before you get your Lab, so that you are well-prepared.

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The Ultimate Labrador Retriever

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There is a great deal of information in this guide to labs, enough to satisfy experienced owners, as well as novices. The breed's history is covered, as well as all aspects of general care and health. There is advice on training - important for a large dog, even one that's usually as reliable as a Labrador in terms of temperament.

The advice includes help for those wanting to work their dogs, as gundogs, and for those who want to show their Labradors. The book is well-illustrated, with photos that will delight fans of this good-natured, versatile breed.

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English Setter (Petlove)

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English Setters are very elegant dogs, with flecked or solid coats. They are high-maintenance dogs, needing a lot of grooming and exercise. English Setters tend not to be as skittish as Irish Setters, though neither are they as calm as Gordon Setters.

All three setter breeds are good at scenting game, and are active dogs that need a few miles walk every day, or they are likely to become difficult. They are not entirely trustworthy off leash, since they like to follow scents, so they should only be let off well away from traffic.

Generally, all three types of Setter are affectionate, and good with both children and other dogs, though they are quite large, and can easily knock children over, so small children and Setters need supervision. Rough games should also be discouraged from when they are pups, as should jumping up.

Bloat can be a problem for setters, as with any large breed dog, and hip dysplasia can also affect the breed. English setters which are white are more likely to suffer from skin problems, such as allergies.

This is a very good introductory guide to the breed, which is clearly written, and gives good coverage of the basics such as the history of the breed, breed characteristics, general care and training, and it is well illustrated.

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Gordon Setter (Pet Love)

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Gordon Setters are black and tan setters which are very similar to Irish and English Setters, though Gordons are generally more robust, less skittish, and need a little less grooming because their coats are not so long. Gordons are sometimes passed by in favour of their more elegant cousins, the English and the Irish Setters, but they have a lot to recommend them.

They are generally the easiest of the setters to train because they are calmer, while sharing the affectionate nature of the other two breeds. Gordons are still high-energy dogs needing a lot of exercise, and training does require patience and persistence. Recall can be a problem, so they need a lot of practice in this from when they are pups in your garden, and a safe area, well away from traffic, in order to run off leash.

Setters are good retrievers, and enjoy playing ball games, though they need to be taught to sit before you throw the ball, so they don't get overenthusiastic. They can be very good with children, because they are an affectionate breed, though they are a little too lively for smaller children. It's important to teach them to greet people with all four paws on the ground from when they are pups. They can be quite barky, especially if they don't have enough exercises. They are good watchdogs, but can be very affectionate with strangers, and don't make good guard dogs.

Common health problems include hip dysplasia, bloat, hypothyroidsim and eye trouble. This guide to Gordon Setters is book is well illustrated, and covers the history and character of Gordons, as well as the breed standard. There is also advice on training and general care, including health care. It is a good introductory guide, though there is little to interest more experienced owners, apart from the nice pictures!

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Irish Setter (Pet Love)

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Irish Setters are exceptionally elegant dogs, which perform well in the show ring, but a focus on their looks has not done a lot for their temperaments. Some individuals can be very skittish and over-sensitive, which can make them difficult to train and walk, though they are an affectionate breed. Irish Setters at their best can be a handful to train. They benefit from a firm, but gentle approach, with short, daily training sessions from when they are pups.

Like English Setters and Gordon Setters, Irish Setters are active dogs that need a few miles walk every day, and, like English and Gordon Setters, Irish Setters are not entirely trustworthy off leash, since they like to follow scents, so they should only be let off well away from traffic. They like ball games, once you have taught them how to play ball, so you can train recall in your garden, using a ball as a lure to get them to come back to you. It's safer to ask them to sit, and only throw the ball when they are sitting, so they don't jump up in their excitement.

Like English and Gordon Setters, Irish Setters are generally good with both children and other dogs, though they are quite large, and can easily knock children over, so small children and Setters need supervision. Irish Setters also need to learn to greet people with all four paws on the ground, since they can easily knock over children or frail adults if they jump up. Irish Setters are higher-maintenance than Gordons, in that their longer coats need daily grooming, and collect more mud on those walks.

The breed can be quite barky, so Irish Setters can make good watchdogs, but they are generally either too friendly or skittish to be good guard dogs. Common health problems include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, allergies, and eye trouble. This book is a very good introductory guide to Irish Setters, which gives help with training, as well as covering the history of the breed, and the breed standard. There is also advice on choosing an Irish Setter, and on general care. The book is very well illustrated. It is more likely to interest new owners than people who already have experience of the breed.

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English Springer Spaniel

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English Springer Spaniels can be very rewarding dogs for people who appreciate them, give them proper training and enough exercise. They are not as easy for a novice to take on as Welsh Springers or Cocker Spaniels. They need a more active life than Cockers if they are not to develop behavioural problems, and are bigger, and more prone to health and behavioural problems than Welsh Springers.. They have a higher than average risk of being killed in road traffic accidents, whereas the risk for Cockers is lower than average. Springers also have a higher than average risk of being euthanased for behavioural problems. The main problem is that they are essentially working dogs. Untrained Springers who only get to see their back gardens can be very difficult to live with, becoming overactive and destructive. English Springer Spaniels are also more prone to being pushy to get their own way than are Welsh Springers, and this can create serious problems with adolescent dogs. It's especially important with this breed to be firm and consistent, from when they are little pups. If you don't want a muddy adult Springer on your sofa, don't allow the pup up there! Make sure the dog sits before you open the door to let him out. This helps later, because they are quite strong dogs and adults can pull you out of the door, not giving you time to close it!. English Springers are also a bit more likely than average to pick fight with other dogs, especially those of the same sex, despite socialization with other dogs, though this is not inevitable, and many get on fine with other dogs they meet on walks. Springers that have enough exercise tend to get on better with other dogs. English Springer Spaniels can be trained to a high level, however, so long as you start from puppyhood. Well-bred and well-trained English Springers are friendly and affectionate.

Exercise is essential for this breed. English Springers that don't get out enough tend to be overactive, destructive and barky. They need to be able to run off leash, which usually means taking them somewhere quite wild and muddy. They are not dogs to take to parks with ornamental waterfowl, which they will chase. They are naturally good swimmers, and enjoy getting wet and muddy. They should be called now and then when off leash, so that they remember they are with their owners. Owners can benefit enormously from reading specialist books on how to train Springers and allow them to retain their hunting instincts while having some degree of recall. These dogs are good retrievers, so you can wear them out with ball games in an emergency. Ball games can also be useful for distracting them from other dogs if you fear they may misbehave. English Springer Spaniels which get on with other dogs can do very well in agility. They also like playing sniffer dog games, and are good trackers.

Springers can be good watchdogs, and will bark to give the alarm when someone comes to the door, but they are generally friendly with strangers, so are not good guard dogs.

Are English Springer Spaniels good with children? This depends. They are a little too strong and lively for children to take on walks, their temperament can vary, and socialization, training and exercise are important. They are, however, outgoing and affectionate by nature, so well-bred and well-trained English Springers can be very good companions for older children.

English Springer Spaniels tend to have longer hair so need a little more grooming than Welsh Springers, though both have a propensity for coming back muddy and full of burrs. They need a good towelling after a muddy walk, including their ears, and can then be allowed to dry before having the burrs and other debris brushed out.

Common health problems include hip dysplasia, eye trouble, von Willebrands disease, skin complaints, phosphofrutokinase deficiency, and epilepsy, which can be linked to Springer Rage. Rage is an inherited condition, involving quite nasty attacks, with the dog often dazed afterwards. Get your dog to a vet if you think that he could be affected, since this condition can, in some cases, be treated with medication. Often, though, English Springers which snap don't actually have Rage, and are just being pushy and snappy to try to get their own way, so you need a diagnosis to see whether medical treatment or a change in training regime is indicated. Other common health problems include ear infections, which tend to affect breeds with long ears. Their ears should be checked regularly and cleaned when necessary, and not allowed to stay wet after the Springer has been in water.

This book is a useful guide to the breed, which is detailed enough to interest experienced owners as well as novices. It's well-written and well illustrated. Owners may still need some more help with training these dogs than this book offers.

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The Welsh Springer Spaniel (The World of Dogs)

welsh springer

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Welsh Springer Spaniels are slightly smaller than English Springers, and have rich red, rather than liver markings. They are a little bigger than Cockers, and a better bet than either English Springers or Cockers in some ways. They tend to have fewer behavioural and health problems than English Springers, which are generally more active, and more prone to inherited diseases. Epilepsy, and unexplained rage are more common in English Springers. Cockers vary in terms of temperament, and some are relaxed individuals, while others are nippy, with a few suffering from epilepsy and sudden, unexplained aggression. Welsh Springers tend to be free of these problems, though they are only suitable for people who lead very active lives. Welsh Springers need a long walk every day, with plenty of time off leash, or they can become overactive and destructive. They are a sometimes a little shy of people they don't know, so need ongoing socialization with people. They can be barky, and make good watchdogs, though they are not good guard dogs, since they are quite small and usually like people. A Welsh Springer will give a warning bark, but then could easily make friends with an intruder who said hello to them in a friendly way! They tend to get on better with other dogs than do English Springers.

Welsh Springer Spaniels are more easily trained than English Springers, and are attentive to their owners, though they can get confused if owners lose their patience and shout at them. They are designed to be working dogs, and will sometimes forget training in recall if they pick up a scent, and are not dogs to let loose in city parks with ornamental wildfowl. They need to be allowed to run off leash, but should be called now and then, so that they remember they are with their owners. Owners can benefit enormously from reading specialist books on how to train Springers and allow them to retain their hunting instincts while having some degree of recall.

This breed tends to be a good companion with children, so long as the dog has enough exercise - underexercised Welsh Springers can be too overactive for many children. However, children can be included in their exercise programme, teaching to dog to retrieve in the garden. Welsh Springers also like to play sniffer games, finding a hidden object by smell.

Hip dysplasia and eye trouble can affect this breed, and epilepsy is not unknown, just much less common than in Cockers and English Springers. They are also prone to ear infections, which tend to affect breeds with long ears. Their ears should be checked regularly and cleaned when necessary, and not allowed to stay wet after the Springer has been in water.

These dogs do need regular brushing, especially because they like to go in muddy places, and collect burrs on their coats. It is useful to have a towel ready after their walks, because their feathery parts tend to pick up a lot of mud. They can be brushed to get rid of debris in their coats once they are dry.

This is a comprehensive guide to Welsh Springer Spaniels with enough detail to interest those who already know a lot about the breed. It has a lot of useful advice on all aspects of keeping Welsh Springers, and is very well illustrated. It is also very well written, and the author's enthusiasm for the breed is very clear.

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The Working Springer Spaniel

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This is a very useful, authoritative and comprehensive guide for owners of working Springer Spaniels by someone who knows and loves these dogs. Springer Spaniels are designed to be working dogs, and need active lives. This is also a useful book for pet owners who want to know what their dog is capable of, and how to get the best out of and achieve a full life for their Springer Spaniel.

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The Hungarian Vizsla (The World of Dogs)

hvisla

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Hungarian Vizslas are elegant pointers, which have also been used as retrievers. They are active, affectionate dogs, who both like daily walks with their owners, and need company - they like to follow their owners round the house. They do involve a big commitment because of their need for company and exercise. They are good retrievers, and can learn to retrieve in your garden, so that they can be given ball games in an emergency if you are unable to take them out.. They are quite easy to train, because they are affectionate and want to please, and they can take part in a range of activities, including agility. Vizslas are generally good with children, though, as a relatively large breed, they can knock small children over, especially when they are younger and more boisterous. Vizslas also generally get on well with other dogs. They don't need much grooming, but they can be quite barky.

Common Vizsla health problems include sensitivity to chemicals, including veterinary pharmaceutical products such as anaesthetics, and they are also prone to hip dysplasia, cancer, hypothyroidism, von Willebrands, eye trouble, and seizures. Vizslas also tend to feel the cold, and may be a little reluctant to go for last night walks without a coat, on really nasty nights!

This book is an updated version of a classic text on Vizslas. It is full of sensible advice for anyone considering a Vizsla puppy, as well as tips for new and experienced owners. There is comprehensive coverage of all aspects of Vizsla ownership, including gundog training and ringcraft. It's also a very well illustrated guide to the breed.

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The Weimaraner: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet

weim owner

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Weimaraners are perhaps the most challenging of the gundog breeds. They are very elegant dogs, with a sleek body, silver-grey coat, and pale eyes. Their looks alone give them immense appeal, and well-trained Weims are also bold and friendly. They do need training, and the house rules should be clearly explained to them from when they are pups. They are very strong dogs, and know their own minds. Weimaraners are among the breeds with a higher than average risk of being euthanased for behavioural problems, perhaps because too many owners bought pups for their striking good looks, and did not realise the commitment needed in training them. Luckily, they are quite easy to train, so long as they are taught acceptable behaviour as soon as they arrive as pups. A very short session of formal training every day is also helpful, while they are puppies, as well as the usual puppy socialization and obedience classes. Anyone planning to train their own dog would do well to invest in a good training manual, and ensure that their Weim meets a lot of other dogs and people, in order to learn good manners.

Weimaramers also involve a commitment in terms of walks - they need regular exercise, or they tend to become difficult to live with, overactive and barky. They do enjoy retrieving, however, once they have been taught. It's safer to ask them to sit before the ball is thrown, so they don't jump up. They can excel in obedience work and field trials. Well-trained Weimaramers are generally good with children and other dogs. Untrained Weims are not! They are likely to knock children over and generally be a pain. They don't need much grooming, and are generally healthy as a breed, though not especially long-lived. Common health problems include a higher than average risk of spay-related incontinence. Other health problems that Weimaraners are vulnerable to include cancer, bloat, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, von Willebrands, and eye and skin complaints.

This is a good general introduction to Weimaraners which is aimed at a US audience. It is well-illustrated, and well set out, and covers the basics which a novice Weimaraner owner needs to know.

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Weimaraner (Pet Love)

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Lavonia Harper is obviously a great devotee of the Weimaraner and from this book; I would guess that she particularly specialises in the fields of showing and obedience.

Being a weimaraner owner myself, I enjoyed reading about the history of the breed and found myself smiling and nodding in recognition throughout the ‘characteristics of the weimaraner’ chapter. The weimaraner certainly has a very strong personality, and not a breed to be considered unless you can appreciate their strong hunting and tracking instinct, and that your weimar will more than likely catch, kill and eat rabbits and possibly squirrels, foxes, deer and fowl. You will need to work very hard to ensure that they don’t chase cats, horses, sheep and other farm animals too.

“Weimaraner” covers all aspects of living with a weimaraner as a pet and show dog. It is beautifully illustrated with photographs of both the long and shorthair weimaraner, and gives good basic coverage of everything from finding a good breeder and choosing a puppy; basic puppy training; grooming and general health care, basic training, parasites (some of the pictures here are quite alarming and maybe not for the squeamish); disease in the Weimaraner; old age and then on to hobbies and sports that you might like to participate in.

Although this book looks at training with sympathy for a deeply sensitive yet wilful and sometimes quite independent breed, I would recommend that for a new puppy owner you also look to a book that specialises in motivation and reward training, which given their intelligence, the weimaraner takes to particularly well.

As a first introduction to the breed, I would suggest that this book is more likely to make you want a weimaraner than to fully appreciate how difficult they can be but given that most breed books tend to be very biased towards the breed of their author’s choice, I felt that it covered the character and hunting instinct quite honestly.

From a personal point of view, although I appreciate that the majority of breeders are strongly in favour of traditional tail docking and this book seems to be of no exception, it is illegal in much of Europe and may well soon be over here too so I would have liked to have seen a few pictures of full tail dogs. There are good breeders who do not tail dock.

For a greater understanding on what the more challenging aspects of actually living with a weimaraner mean in everyday life, I would urge anyone considering this breed to join the weimaranerUK Facebook forum If you are more interested in field sports and working with your Weimar as a gundog, this book might not be your first choice but if you are a fan of the breed and enjoy reading about them, you will love this book.

Review by Diana Attwood.

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The Essential Weimaraner (Book of the Breed)

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Patsy Hollings is a specialist in Weimaraners, and her account of the breed is very funny at times, as well as being a source of practical advice. This guide covers the breed's history, and gives help with all aspects of Weimaraner ownership, from choosing a pup, to showing and field trials.

It's well-illustrated, with some wonderful photos of Weims, and is likely to be of interest to experienced owners, as well as novices with their first Weim.

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Gun-dog Training: Spaniels and Retrievers

guntrain

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This is a very useful training manual for owners of gundogs. It is full of ideas and tips, and is essentially a practical book which is especially suitable for people training their own working dogs. You may not like all the methods described, but you can pick and choose, and decide whether you agree with the rationale behind the suggestions that Roebuck proposes, adapting some of his suggestions to suit your own training style.

The author clearly loves gundogs, and both experienced and novice owners of working dogs can benefit from his expertise.

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Training Spaniels

spantrain

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This is a clearly written guide to training spaniels as gundogs which covers the first working season, as well as working dog field trials. There is also help with the general care of spaniels at all stages of their lives. This is suitable for novice owners, and for more experienced owners who want to improve their training methods in order to be able to compete with their dogs.