Wilson Young, Chairman of the Kennel Club Field Trial sub-Committee, reveals his top five working dog breeds and why they are the perfect breeds for their jobs.
The Labrador Retriever is the most popular of the retrieving breeds used in this country and were originally brought over to the UK by fisherman from Canada, who used them to hunt small game and assist with landing fishing nets. Today they are overwhelmingly dominant in the Field Trials and Working Test scenes in the UK. They are even-tempered, playful and excellent around children and their popularity as gun dogs stems from this and from the fact that they are very trainable and intelligent. Their ability to gently carry fragile items in their mouth, their waterproof coat, and their natural inclination to fetch items for their owners make Labradors ideal for hunting and retrieving.
Lifespan: 12-13 years.
Height: 54-62 cms.
Weight: 27-40 kg.
Colour: Black, yellow and much less commonly chocolate.
Cocker Spaniels are active, good-natured gun dogs whose agility allows them to run, track, and hunt with ease. The function of Cocker Spaniels is to quarter the ground in front of its handler to find and flush game for the gun, and to retrieve shot game tenderly to hand. This breed loves to please, whether they are eagerly learning a new trick or repeating a challenging task. While originally bred for hunting woodcock, the Cocker Spaniel is also a very gentle, patient, and affectionate breed, leading to frequent use as therapy dogs in addition to making them a favourite pet for families.
Lifespan: 12-15 years.
Height: 38 -41cms.
Weight: 12- 15 kg.
Colour: Black, ash, tri-colour, and lemon and white.
The Pointer, sometimes erroneously referred to as the English Pointer, is one of the oldest gun dog breeds with some authorities claiming that they can trace its origins back nearly 300 years. Extremely elegant and graceful, a Pointer’s function is to quarter the ground in front of its handler to locate game and indicate it by freezing, ideally with one foot raised and tail held parallel to the ground. Even tempered, affectionate and loyal, their stamina and desire for frequent exercise enable Pointers to run for hours, while their obedient nature makes the breed ideal for performing in the show ring in addition to excelling in the field.
Lifespan: 12-14 years.
Height: 24- 27ins.
Weight: 45 -75 lbs.
Colour: Liver & white, lemon & white and black & white.
The Border Collie is a herding dog developed in the Scottish Borders for herding sheep and, to a lesser extent, cattle. In recent years the Border Collie’s qualities have made it the dog of choice for competitions such as agility and fly-ball, obedience and working trials, tasks they have excelled in thanks to being exceptionally intelligent, trainable, energetic and tenacious. In 2011, a Border Collie was reported to have learnt to respond to 1,022 words, showing just how smart this breed truly is. Border Collies tend to be very energetic, meaning they need plenty of exercise and love having a job to complete.
Lifespan: 13-16 years .
Height: 46 -56cms.
Weight: 12.5 -20kg.
Colour: Blue merle, chocolate, liver, red merle, sable merle, blue, white, lilac and brindle.
The German Shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog dating back to 1899. The breed was originally developed for herding livestock but are now used primarily by the police and military for search and rescue and tracking and security, due to their physical strength, high level of intelligence, trainability, and obedience. At one time German Shepherds were used almost exclusively as guide dogs for the visually impaired, and in wartime they were even trained to parachute from aircrafts. Today, German Shepherds remain a wonderful choice for those looking for an intelligent dog with a huge willingness to learn and explore.
Lifespan: 9-13 years.
Height is 55 -65cms .
Weight is 50- 85 lbs.
Colour: Commonly tan with a black saddle