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Old June 23rd, 2010, 12:05 PM
Floppy Dog Floppy Dog is offline
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dogs bread for show--rant

Cocker Spaniels are one of the oldest recognized dog breeds in Europe with origins as early as the 17th century in the UK and Spain. They were bred as hunting/gun dogs to point and retrieve small water fowl. They were intelligent, agile, energetic and excellent swimmers with large, webbed feet. Fast forward to the last 100 years, the dogs have been bred for show. Ears have gotten bigger and fur has gotten thicker and silkier and eye sight and hearing have been compromised.

The reason I'm ranting about it is that I have a CS (see gallery). Lady has all the intelligence, focus and agility, not to mention swimming ability, needed to be a really excellent gun dog. G-Man would love to train her and take her bird hunting. (Note, G-Man is NOT a sport hunter after trophies or bragging rights, he hunts for food and every usable part of the animal is used.) However, she has been so overbred that her eye-sight isn't that great, her ears are so big they impair her hearing and her fur! As soon as she jumps into the water she's soaked to the skin! Her fur is anything but water dog fur. If G-Man took her hunting, she could very possibly suffer from exposure and get very sick. Hunting is a fall and early winter sport and a 20lb dog just doesn't have enough of a metabolism to keep herself warm when she's soaking wet!

It's just so frustrating, because Lady is really coming into her own as a good candidate for a hunting dog. When we take her out for her daily wilderness hike, she's so focused on the stick that G-Man uses to train her, she'll ignore other dogs and people completely. She's tracking movement with her eyes, she's determined and using her nose to search in the brush when G-Man deliberately "hides" the stick so she can develop her tracking and scent skills and she fearlessly goes into the water to retrieve.

It peeves both of us off that Lady's opportunities to actually be the kind of dog she was originally bread to be are so limited by recent breeding programs to produce a "lap pet" as opposed to a hunting dog.

What are your thoughts on the matter?
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 12:26 PM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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This is the case in several breeds. Were you unable to find a dog bred from hunting lines? I imagine there are not many in N. America but working cockers are hunted in the U.K. Is Lady an American Cocker or an English Cocker?

No matter her ability to withstand cold and rough conditions, you could still enter spaniel tests to get some of the feel of it with her. It's not quite the same thing but might satisfy the urge a bit?

I don't see why you can't hunt her anyway and just modify your expectations. Surely she can do bit of cold weather work if outfitted in neoprene? And not keep her out all day? Be able to dry her off in the field and have a warm place to lie down?
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 02:01 PM
Floppy Dog Floppy Dog is offline
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I know it's a problem with other breeds too. I have read in several places that if dogs weren't considered domestic animals they'd be put on the endangered species list because their DNA has been so messed up by breeding programs.

Lady is an American CS. When we got her (at age 5 months from a family that didn't know what they were getting into), we weren't actually looking for a hunting dog so the fact that she shows aptitude for it came as a nice surprise. I think G-Man will eventually hunt her, but as early in the season as he can so as to minimize the chance she'll get exposure. I'll suggest the coat to him, but it may be a hazard in the forest, especially when swimming. Lady could get snagged on a branch under water and possibly drown.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 02:32 PM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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I'll suggest the coat to him, but it may be a hazard in the forest, especially when swimming. Lady could get snagged on a branch under water and possibly drown.
My concern too and that's why I never did put a safety vest on pup for hunting season. Afraid it might snag on something. Lots of people use the neoprene though. They fit very closely. My field trainer does on his Labs but then maybe a bigger, stronger dog is not at much at risk.

http://www.gundogsonline.com/Article...warm-Page1.htm

This is an article on exactly this topic, keeping them warm with neoprene.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 03:00 PM
cell cell is offline
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i knew someone who bred ckc labs for hunting, to look at them they didn't really even look like labs because I am so accustomed to the "show" lab look. A show lab would to too bulky to ever perform their original purpose though. To find a dog within the breed that will perform its original purpose you really have to seek them out before you buy.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 03:07 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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What would Lady be hunting, Floppy Dog? If it's something that she can hunt without ranging too far, a hair trim and a vest or coat might be just the thing--if she's within earshot (we use bells on collars for when they're moving and a beeper collar set to 'point only' mode for when they're stationary), then having a vest hook up on something is not as big an issue. We also use vests that have velcro closures--which open if they're challenged by a strong enough snag. We've lost a couple of vests that way, but it's a better alternative than having our dogs hung up somewhere waiting for us to find them! The vests aren't even neoprene--they're nylon or cotton--and don't offer much in the way of warmth, but if Lady has an undercoat, it'll help keep her warm with a thin vest even if she's trimmed short to keep her bramble-free
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 03:07 PM
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NoahGrey NoahGrey is offline
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Floppy, Since your dog eye sight and other conditions that your dog has, maybe it is in the best interest for your dog..NOT to be a hunting dog. You don't want to make a mistake and put your dogs life in jeapority, just because you guys want her to be a good gun dog. Yes, spaniels were bred and they will always have that drive to hunt, however like you stated over breeding has deminshed the breed.

I used to own a spaniel as well. I never hunted him. He did have that drive mentality...brought me some dead birds that he caught while out in the yard. I would still take him hiking, exploring, etc. He loved it.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 11:29 AM
Floppy Dog Floppy Dog is offline
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Hazelrunpack, my sentiments exactly! What about dalmatians after the newest version of 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close? I heard and read horror stories about the number of overbred dalmatians that wound up in shelters and rescues because people wanted a dog "just like in the movies" and had no clue about the work and dedication involved

Since you seem to be quite knowledgable about the issue of hunting dogs with less than ideal physical requirements, may I have G-Man chat with you about the ins and outs? Would it be better if I persuaded G-Man to create his own profile? or should he use mine?

G-Man also agrees with you about the joyfulness of hunting dogs. He says he remembers that his and his father's dogs would go wild with joy when they heard the sound of a bullet being loaded into the breach or when they caught the scent of gun oil. It meant a day in the fern forest hunting boar! Absolute bliss for dogs.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 04:17 PM
Floppy Dog Floppy Dog is offline
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Just a quick update on Lady's fur and getting soaked to the skin when she goes swimming. She's in between trims so her fur is about 4-5cm long. We took her out on the weekend and of course she went swimming. Surprise, surprise, only the outer 2-3cm of fur got wet, the inner fur stayed reasonably dry. Her legs got really wet once they got sandy and muddy, but her back and chest were ok. I've also found a spray-on mink oil conditioner that I've been combing into her fur for the last few days. It stinks (the alcohol used to keep the oil in suspension, I think, I may add lavender oil to it, will help repel fleas and mosquitos) but not only does it make brushing easier, it also seems to be soaking into the fur and possibly making it shed water better. Will update again once I've used it for a week or 2.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 10:42 PM
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mona_b mona_b is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floppy Dog
However, she has been so overbred that her eye-sight isn't that great, her ears are so big they impair her hearing
Do you mean poorly bred? You say you got her from a family at 5 months. Well that tells me that family got her from a BYB. If it was an ethical breeder, then the contract would have stated they returm the dog if they can't keep her.

I have a co-worker with 2 Labs. They are titled in Field. Parents are Ch and Field/Hunting titled. My cousins hubby hunted(years ago). He had beagles. These dogs came from a farmer who did not show or hunt. But cousins hubby "trained" them for hunting. A Husky can be shown, and could also be a good sledder. A Cocker can be shown, but could also be a good fielder/hunter. My niece has a Black Russian Terrier. He comes from champion lines. But he is SchH III titled. The point I am trying to make is, it's the training you do that makes your dog. If the family who had Lady was looking for a hunting dog, then they would have started the training early. My co-worker started training his labs at 10 weeks old. And at an age this young, they can get used to the gunshots.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 12:42 PM
Floppy Dog Floppy Dog is offline
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Originally Posted by mona_b View Post
Do you mean poorly bred? You say you got her from a family at 5 months. Well that tells me that family got her from a BYB. If it was an ethical breeder, then the contract would have stated they returm the dog if they can't keep her.
Actually, Lady has a pedigree longer than my arm and is registered with the AKC. She became a "pet" I suspect because she is undersized and has too much white on her by AKC conformity standards. I also suspect that the family from whom I purchased her did not realize the amount of grooming she would require and that her laid back nature did not tolerate the antics of a very young family and a mature doberman. I also suspect they might have been too embarrassed to return her to the breeder or the hassles of crossing the US-Canada border with a dog were unappealing to them.

When I said "over bred" I was making a general statement about Cocker Spaniels, especially Americans, in general. Since the release of Lady & the Tramp, CS's have been increasingly bred for looks and to supply the demand of people who wanted a "dog just like in the movie". I suppose the increasing urbanization of the North American population has also contributed to the loss of CS's hunting traits since most urban dwellers are not usually the type to go hunting. I know this is an issue with other breeds of dogs, Dalmations for example.

Lady herself is a very healthy and active dog with no real issues other than allergies, which are common in many dogs, let alone purebreds.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 09:51 PM
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erykah1310 erykah1310 is offline
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Originally Posted by Floppy Dog View Post
Actually, Lady has a pedigree longer than my arm and is registered with the AKC. .
Really though this means nothing more than that Lady is purebred. Papers dont make the dog.

thing with show breeding and dog purchasing you have to realize is, it is thought that the only way to have a reputable breeding program is to have CH titled dogs for it. Many retrieving breeds (take poodles for instance) are not shown in any working venues, breeders get their conformation title (as to many people this is the be all and end all of breeding) they then get their "reputable breeder badge" and keep breeding for conformation.
Any dog can be a good gun dog, my man has used his border collie and his brother uses his rough collie for ducks. Sure neither dog would come anywhere near obtaining a working title for this but the duck makes it from the pond or lake to our dinner table every time.
For some dogs its bred into them, for others, its not and some patience and positive training to make the retrieval the funnest game on the planet to your dog can get you the same results.
As for the frigid temperatures you are asking the dog to swim in, its common sense really, Come end of duck season the water is just too cold here and instead of bringing dogs the guys just grab their canoe.
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