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The Right Dog For You- The Sporting Dog

Updated on March 27, 2017

Standard Pointer

The Right Dog For You

The Sporting Dogs

Sporting Dogs is a breed type that identifies 24 separate breeds, each of which has been adapted for hunting. The group includes three breeds of pointers, five breeds of retrievers, three breeds of setters, ten breeds of spaniels, and the Vizsla, Weimaraner, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. These dogs were selectively bred for pointing, flushing and/ or retrieving game. A few of the breeds have been used as guide dogs; only two or three out of the twenty-four are natural guard dogs. Most of these dogs need a lot of exercise.

Standard Pointer

The Standard Pointer has a large, muscular body, and its function as a pointing dog has been maintained. Descriptions include "full of nervous energy and hunt"; "put together for speed, endurance and courage"; "can maintain a point without distraction"; has the "ability to concentrate on a job"; "a disposition adaptable to the kennel"; "dignified and possessing a competitive spirit"; "never shows timidity toward man or dog"; tendency toward early development, with two-month-old puppies frequently barking and pointing"; "requires less personal attention"; "they will work for someone other than their master"; "every inch a gun dog" and "even-tempered, but stubborn".

Behavior problems may include restlessness indoors, a tendency to destruction and barking if left alone a lot, and possibly roaming in males. Most common experience with pointers is that those raised in kennels without much human contact for the first six to eight months of their lives. Such isolation frequently results in the "kennel dog syndrome", where the pointer's negative traits such as restlessness and disobedience are exaggerated, and the dog becomes dog-oriented rather than people-oriented.

Standard Pointer

Dimension Of Temperament
Level Of Dimension
 
Indoor Activity
Very High
 
Outdoor Activity
Very High
 
Vigor
High
 
Behavioral Constancy
High
 
Dominance To Strange Dogs
High-Med.
 
Dominance To Familiar People
Med.
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional Stability
Med.
 
Sociability--Within Family
Med.
 
Sociability--With Children
Med.
 
Sociability--With Strangers
Med.-Low
 
Learning--Rate
Low
 
Learning--Obedience
Med.-Low
 
Learning--Problem Solving
Low
 
Watchdog Ability
High
 
Guard-Dog Ability
High-Low
 

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer, slightly smaller than the Standard Pointer, shares many of its characteristics and is described by breeders as very active and vigorous. Descriptions include: "great powers of endurance," "retrieves well in rough terrain or icy waters", "highly intelligent" and "stubborn".

Behavior problems may include indoor restlessness, destruction of furniture and barking when left alone, house soiling, roaming and stealing food. German Shorthairs also show the "kennel dog syndrome" if raised in a kennel from puppyhood, and the "isolation syndrome" when kept in pet shops for prolonged periods of time. The latter syndrome is certainly the worse of the two, since the restlessness, destruction, barking and insensitivity to punishment are greatly exaggerated.

German Shorthaired Pointer

Dimension Of Temperament
Level Of Dimension
 
Indoor Activity
Very High
 
Outdoor Activity
Very High
 
Vigor
Very High
 
Behavioral Constancy
High
 
Dominance To Strange Dogs
Med.
 
Dominance To Familiar People
Med-Low
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional Stability
Med.-Low
 
Sociability--Within Family
Med.
 
Sociability--With Children
Low
 
Sociability--With Strangers
Med.-Low
 
Learning--Rate
High
 
Learning--Obedience
Med.-Low
 
Learning--Problem Solving
High
 
Watchdog Ability
Very High
 
Guard-Dog Ability
Med.
 

German Wirehaired Pointer

German Wirehaired Pointer

The German Wirehaired Pointer is shorter than the Standard Pointer, but as heavy. Description include "very energetic in action," "extra-rugged hunter capable of working any terrain in any weather" and "intelligent".

Behavior problems may include indoor restlessness, jumping up on visitors, dominance problems and guarding of place or property, barking at noises, roaming and stealing food.

German Shorthaired Pointer

Dimension Of Temperament
Level Of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Very high
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
Very high
 
Behavioral constancy
High-med.
 
Dominance to strange dogs
High
 
Dominance to familiar people
High-med.
 
Territoriality
High-med.
 
Emotional stability
High
 
Sociability--within family
Med.-Low
 
Sociability--with children
Low-Very low
 
Sociability--with strangers
Low
 
Learning--rate
High
 
Learning--problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
Very high
 
Guard-dog ability
High
 

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is about the same size as the pointers, but more powerfully muscled in the chest. It is considered to have a high degree of territoriality, but surprisingly, most breeders suggest that it does not show aggression toward other dogs and is not likely to dominate familiar and/ or submissive people. It is described as "easygoing, but more aggressive and stubborn than other retrievers," "a roughhouser."

Behavior problems may include dominance and unwarranted aggressions toward visitors and barking at noises.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Dimensions Of Temperament
Level Of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Low
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
High-Low
 
Behavioral constancy
Med.
 
Dominance to strange dogs
High-Med.
 
Dominance to familiar people
Med.
 
Territoriality
High
 
Emotional stability
High
 
Sociability--within family
Med.
 
Sociability--with children
Very high-High
 
Sociability--with strangers
Low-Very low
 
Learning--rate
Low
 
Learning--obedience
Med.
 
Learning--problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
Very high
 
Guard-dog ability
Very high-High
 

Curly-Coated Retriever

Curly-Coated Retriever

The Curly-coated Retriever is a large retriever with tight curls over its entire body except its forehead and muzzle, which have very short hair, giving its forehead a peculiar, bald look. It is very rare in the United States. Descriptions include "enduring and hardy," "fondness for swimming," "affectionate" and "timid."

Behavior problems may arise from its timidity. This breed should not be harshly punished.

Curley-coated Retriever

Dimensions of Temperaments
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Low
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
Med.
 
Behavioral constancy
Low
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Med.
 
Dominance to familiar people
Med-Low
 
Territoriality
Med.
 
Emotional stability
Low
 
Sociability--within family
High-Med.
 
Sociability--with children
Very high-High
 
Sociability--with strangers
Low
 
Learning--rate
High
 
Learning--obedience
High
 
Learning--problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard-dog ability
Med-Low
 

Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-coated Retriever

The Flat-coated Retriever looks like a long-haired Labrador Retriever, with a similar body size and shape. Descriptions include "bright and active dog," "easily distractable," "untemperamental," "intelligent expression," and "very friendly."

Behavior problems may include overfreindliness, jumping up on everyone as a greeting, stealing food and rummaging through the garbage. Excessive timidity toward people usually means poorly socialized or completely unsocialized.

Flat-coated Retriever

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Low
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
Med.
 
Behavioral constancy
Low
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Low
 
Dominance to familiar people
Low
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional stability
High
 
Sociability--within family
Very high
 
Sociability--with children
Very high
 
Sociability--with strangers
Very high
 
Learning--rate
Very high-High
 
Learning--obedience
High
 
Learning--problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard-dog ability
Low
 

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is about the same size as the Labrador and Flat-coated Retrievers, but less vigorous. Descriptions include: "active, eager, alert and self-confident"; "easily distractable"; "untemperamental"; "potential for timidity if not socialized" and "likes everyone indiscriminately."

Behavior problems may include exuberant jumping on everyone as a greeting and, possibly, uncontrolled playfulness.

Golden Retriever

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
High
 
Outdoor activity
Med.
 
Vigor
Low
 
Behavioral constancy
Low-Very low
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Very low
 
Dominance to familiar people
Very low
 
Territoriality
Very low
 
Emotional stability
High
 
Sociability--within family
Very high
 
Sociability--with children
Very high
 
Sociability--with strangers
Very high
 
Learning--rate
Very high
 
Learning--obedience
High
 
Learning--problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
High-Med.
 
Guard-dog ability
Low-Very low
 

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is about the same size as the Golden Retriever, but appears more powerfully muscled. The yellow-coated variety may be more dominant than the black. Descriptions include "good temper," "bold" and "exceptional with children and liking everyone."

Behavior problems may include barking incessantly at noises, occasional house soiling, and occasional chewing and destruction. Some may show willful disobedience as a form of dominance challenge. Some can be pretty touch cookies, and most are relatively insensitive to rough handling and have high pain thresholds. Fear conditioning is hardly ever a problem with Labs. When it does occur, it is the result of continual fear-arousing experiences over a period of time.

Labrador Retriever

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
High
 
Outdoor activity
Med.
 
Vigor
High-Med.
 
Behavioral constancy
High-Med.
 
Dominance to strange dogs
High-Med.
 
Dominance to familiar people
Med.
 
Territoriality
Med.
 
Emotional stability
High
 
Sociability within family
high-Med.
 
Sociability with children
Very high-High
 
Sociability were strangers
High-Med.
 
Learning rate
Very high-High
 
Learning obedience
High-Med.
 
Learning problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
Very high-High
 
Guard dog ability
High-Low
 

English Setter

English Setter

The English Setter is a medium-sized dog with long, silky hair that feathers on the legs and tail. Descriptions include "active rugged, outdoor dog more suited to the suburbs than the city"; "very placid" and "quiet and friendly."

Behavior problems may include roaming and house soiling. English Setters are the least vigorous of the setters and are located toward the variable end of the constancy dimension. They are usually playful with other dogs. Some show a "stubborn streak."

English Setter

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Low
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
Med.-Low
 
Behavioral constancy
Med.-Low
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Med.
 
Dominance to familiar people
Med.-Low
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional stability
Very high
 
Sociability within family
Very high
 
Sociability with children
Very high
 
Sociability with strangers
Very high
 
Learning rate
Low
 
Learning obedience
Med.-Low
 
Learning problem solving
High-Med
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard dog ability
Low
 

Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter has a slightly more powerful body than the English and Irish Setters, with a shorter coat than the English Setter. It Is temperamentally intermediate between the English and Irish Setter on many dimensions. Descriptions include "a methodically dependable birdfinder"; "tireless worker" and "may occasionally be aggressive, guarding its owner."

Behavior problems may include roaming, house soiling and perhaps being a picky eater.

Gordon Setter

Dimension of Temperament
Level Of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Med.
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
High
 
Behavioral constancy
High-Med.
 
Dominance to strange dogs
High-Med.
 
Dominance to familiar people
Med.-Low
 
Territoriality
Med.
 
Emotional stability
Med.
 
Sociability within family
High
 
Sociability with children
Very high-High
 
Sociability with strangers
Med.-Low
 
Learning rate
High
 
Learning obedience
High
 
Learning problem solving
Med.
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard dog ability
High-Low
 

Irish Setter

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter, with its long, glossy, chestnut-colored coat and exuberant nature, is very popular in the United States. Descriptions include "impulsive," "highly distractible," "rollicking," "gay," "has moments of sheer giddiness," "excitable," "good with energetic older children, but a bit too excitable for toddlers."

Behavior problems, which may be inferred from the above descriptions, center on overexuberance and flightiness. A dog of this breed may develop bad habits if left alone and/ or untrained. Other problems may include roaming, house soiling, mischievous playful destruction, pulling on lead, jumping on visitors and barking.

Irish Setter

Dimensions of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Very high
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
Very high-High
 
Behavioral constancy
Low-Very low
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Low
 
Dominance to familiar people
Low
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional stability
Low
 
Sociability within family
Very high
 
Sociability with children
Very high-High
 
Sociability with strangers
Very high
 
Learning rate
High
 
Learning obedience
High
 
Learning problem solving
High-Med.
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard dog ability
Very low
 

American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel has a tightly curly coat. It is a strong swimmer, the oil content of its coat giving it a waterproof quality. Descriptions include "thorough" when retrieving birds and "eagerness may render him overanxious."

Behavior problems may include barking, whining, roaming and irritable snapping. Certain specimens may drool, snore and have a strong coat odor.

American Water Spaniel

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
High-Med
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
Low
 
Behavioral constancy
High
 
Dominance to strange dogs
High
 
Dominance to familiar people
High-Med.
 
Territoriality
High-Med.
 
Emotional stability
High-Med.
 
Sociability within family
Med.-Low
 
Sociability with children
Low-Very low
 
Sociability with strangers
Med.-Low
 
Learning rate
High
 
Learning obedience
High-Med.
 
Learning problem solving
High
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard dog ability
High-Low
 

Brittany Spaniel

Brittany Spaniel

The Brittany Spaniel is larger and has longer legs than the water spaniels, with a distinctive coat of white and dark orange. Descriptions include "capable dog, can be trained to retrieve and is strong, vigorous, energetic and quick of movement"; "less inclined to live in its master's shadow than other spaniels" and "one of the brightest spaniels."

Behavior problems may include restlessness when not exercised, possible destructiveness, excessive barking when left alone, phobias, fear in cities, roaming and stealing food.

Brittany Spaniel

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
High-Med.
 
Outdoor activity
Very high
 
Vigor
High
 
Behavioral constancy
Low
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Med.-Low
 
Dominance to familiar people
Med.
 
Territoriality
Med.-Low
 
Sociability within family
Very high
 
Sociability with children
Very high
 
Sociability with strangers
Very high
 
Learning rate
Very high-high
 
Learning obedience
High
 
Learning problem solving
High
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard dog ability
Low
 

Clumber Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel

The Clumber Spaniel is the heaviest of all the spaniels, looking like a combination of a silky-coated spaniel and a Basset Hound with its long, low body. Descriptions include "rather dignified, slow worker and sure finder and retriever"; "sedate in movement"; "sometimes stubborn"; "rather lazy, perfering to sleep instead of move"; "a nanny with children."

Behavior problems are minimal. Some may steal food and some may wheeze, snore and drool.

Clumber Spaniel

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Dimension
 
Indoor activity
Very low
 
Outdoor activity
Low
 
Vigor
Low-Very low
 
Behavioral constancy
Very high
 
Dominance to strange dogs
Med.
 
Dominance to familiar people
High-Med.
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional stability
Very high
 
Sociability within family
Very high
 
Sociability with children
Very high
 
Sociability with strangers
Very high
 
Learning rate
Low
 
Learning obedience
Med.-Low
 
Learning problem solving
Med.-Low
 
Watchdog ability
Low-Very low
 
Guard dog ability
Low-Very low
 

American Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest breed of all the spaniels, and its great popularity has resulted in puppy-mill production, which has produced large numbers of animals with a general degradation in quality and some bizarre temperamental changes and behavioral problems. The puppy-mill variety has been described as "shy-sharp" by breeders-connoting a combination of fear and dominance that can cause viciousness. The well-bred variety is described as "gentle" and exhibiting "playful submission."

Potential behavior problems with the puppy-mill variety include excessive whining and barking; dominance problems; submissive urinating; aggressive guarding of objects, people and places; house soiling; self-abusive hair chewing; hyperactivity; shy-sharpness; hyperphagia; pica; polydipsia; hypersexuality and roaming. The well-bred Cocker may exhibit excessive barking, stealing food and perhaps house soiling.

American Cocker Spaniel

Dimension of Temperament
Level of Temperament
 
Indoor activity
Med.
 
Outdoor activity
High
 
Vigor
High
 
Behavioral constancy
Low
 
Dominance of strange dogs
Low
 
Dominance to familiar people
Low
 
Territoriality
Low
 
Emotional stability
Low
 
Sociable within family
Very high
 
Sociable with children
Very high
 
Sociable with strangers
Very high
 
Learning rate
High
 
Learning obedient
High
 
Learning problem solving
High
 
Watchdog ability
High
 
Guard dog ability
Very low
 

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