Debunking the Myths
Show Dogs Do Hunt!!
Of course, you will always find folks more than happy to trash show dogs
out of hand. I wonder how many are speaking from solid experience?
The truth is that there is a lot of instinct in most show bred dogs if only
folks would be willing to utilize it. I am not saying for a minute that
all show bred dogs would make good hunters, only that there ARE good hunters
out there. For many, even if they have the instinct, they may not have the
structure to put in the long hours on hard terrain (in ECS beware of narrow
fronts, poor shoulder angulation, over-legginess, and flat feet). Then,
of course, there is the coat, although a set of clippers solves that problem
(not that one should have to deal with all that hair, but that's another
Here in Connecticut with our English Cockers we hunt rabbits, woodcock,
grouse and stocked pheasant. Our cover is mostly densely overgrown fields
and woodland. My dogs weasel in and out of the cover like any field bred,
are solid flushers, and retrieve to hand. They are happy and enthusiastic
workers who, yes, go all day if I require it.
I have a field bred out of champion field stock that does not hunt, and
my best hunting dogs are pure show breeding (unrelated), including a bench
CH/SH that has been my hunting companion for 9 years and is still plugging
away. So much for stereotypes, huh?
The bottom line is that you CAN find good hunting dogs in show lines, BUT
you need to research your lines and the breeders. There are entire lines
of show breds that have retained good overall ability, and others that are
lacking. Learn which is which. Buy from a breeder with a clue, preferably
someone who actually hunts or at the very least participates with their
breeding stock in hunting tests at a more than casual level. Beware the
show breeders who proclaim that their dogs have the instinct just because
some dog in the pedigree has a minor field title, or because the dam chases
yard birds. Buying that way is a crap shoot. Those are the show breeders
that give show dogs a bad name in the field.
One little bit of trivia worth mentioning......since the mid 60's, field
bred ECS have been a rarity. Nearly all the field breeders quit the breed
and none were being imported. This has not stopped folks who wanted to hunt
over one from doing so. They bought show stock, which worked out fine for
the past 30 years and no one knew any different. It was not until the resurrection
of field trials and the renewed importation of field dogs started up in
the early 90's that field breds regained a foothold. And now all of a sudden
show breds don't hunt???
One more thing, Cockers are not Springers in miniature. They have been separated
and refined over the past 100+ years to do a job a little different than
that of the Springer and thus are physically and temperamentally different
and work with a different style. The same can be said about every other
breed of spaniel. Viva la difference!