Pick the right hunting pup

This week, we’re talking about finding a hunting dog. Once you’ve decided on a breed and chosen a breeder, it’s time to pick out the perfect pup.

So, you’ve thought about everything you want your dog to do. You might want it to point birds to give your 12-year-old kid a better chance to shoot a bird. Or you might want it to have the brawn to bring back a wounded honker. On top of all that, you want it to be good with your young kids and your other dogs.

With that list of qualities in mind, you decided on a breed. You talked to a bunch of dog owners who told you about their experiences with different breeders. From that information, you picked a breeder. You put down your deposit and got your name on the waiting list for the next litter. Now’s the time to think about what you want to do when you go to select your new pup.

The first thing you want to do is to talk to the breeder again. This isn’t like buying a car. Chances are, you’re going to have this dog for much longer than you drive your vehicle. And you’re not going to form an attachment with your truck quite like the one you’ll get with your dog. You want to make sure you do it right.

The breeder will have spent a lot of time with the pups before you come to pick one and will know which dogs have the personality traits you’re looking for.

You’ll probably have to decide whether you want a male or a female before you go to pick a dog. Maybe even before you put down your deposit. There are no certainties, but males are generally more independent and assertive. Some lab breeders will tell you certain colors carry certain traits, but there’s really no scientific evidence. However, if the breeder keeps good records and talks to people who have bought his dogs, he might be right when he tells you one of his black dogs will do better than a yellow one, or vice versa.

If you’re buying from a good breeder, you shouldn’t have to worry about health problems. If there’s anything apparently wrong with a pup, that dog will probably be pulled out of the litter. But you’ll still want to look at things like a healthy coat, clear eyes and clean ears.

Take your new pup home and enjoy it. We’ll talk about training later.