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 story)

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!