I was up in northern NH last weekend visiting Lexi. She’s about 1/2 through her summer training program, and she’s just starting to get out in the woods to chase wild birds. She turning int great bird dog — very easy handling and a real strong bird finder.
I took her out for a couple hours and hit a few spots. Lexi moved 3-4 grouse. I only heard the birds. The woods were too thick for me to see a thing. Here’s a quick vid of Lexi plus some pics of what we saw (and a vid of a slithering little guy we came across). Enjoy.
Germany is the ancestral home of some great hunting dogs. Here in the US, we see German Shorthair Pointers all the time (or at least I do). The GSP is one of the most popular pointers around, and I see them all the time in the field. In fact, nine times out of ten, if a guy tells me he has pointers, he means a GSP.
But Germany did produce other breeds of pointing dogs. One was an the Württemberger, an extinct breed that author Craig Koshyk documents in his great book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals.
“The Württemberger, known in Germany as the Dreifarbige Württemberger or Dreifarbige Württembergische Vorstehhund, was a short-haired, tricolored pointing dog that disappeared just after World War I. Exactly where, when and how it came to be is the subject of speculation.
The most common assumption is that the breed was developed in the Württemberg region of southwest Germany in the 1870s. Some sources claim that Gypsies traveling from Russia brought it to the Kingdom of Württemberg in the early 1800s, but others insist that it was an ancient breed, known in southern Germany for centuries. Whatever their origin, heavy, tricolored pointing dogs were present in large enough numbers in the 1880s and ’90s to catch the attention of Germany’s Delegate Commission which, for a time, recognized them as a breed. But no separate stud book was ever created for Württembergers and they, along with Weimaraners, were registered in the German Shorthaired Pointer stud book.”
In this video, HiFive Kennels’s Bruce Minard takes you through the process of steadying up a young pointer named Buck. Check it out. It cool to see how the dog progresses, and how Bruce gets the job done while building up the dog’s confidence and enthusiasm.
Shooting a grouse over a pointing dog is tough. Think about what it involves: Reading you dog’s body language, watching your footing, minding your shotgun barrels, searching out shooting lanes, checking the position hunters — and you’re doing all this while you’re expecting a football-sized bird to rocket out from anywhere at any time. THAT’s a lot to have on the brain.
When my mind is this occupied, the last thing I want to worry about is my dog. That’s why it’s important for a pointer to be steady to wing and shot. A dog that 100% steady stays put – through the shot and until I release her. Dogs that bust on the flush are furious to get to the game. During the chase it, their eyes and focus on the bird. They risk all sorts of harm: slamming into barbed wired fences, impaling themselves on busted sticks, and even getting shot. It’s darn disruptive to the shooter, too.
Many pointing dog breeds have been lost to history. Craig Koshyk thought that the Majorcan Pointer was another one that only lived on today in books and stories. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Below is a bit of what he discovered about the breed.
This excerpt comes from Craig’s book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals, the most thorough and authoritative work available on the history of continental Europe’s pointing breeds. If you love hunting dogs, it’s a book you have to have.
“Of all the breeds I’ve seen and studied, the Majorcan Pointer came as the biggest surprise. Despite finding a good number of historical references to it in the old literature, I was unable to determine if the Balearic Islands’ native pointing breed was still being bred today. And since Googling its name in English, French and Spanish only turned up the same old quotes from same old books, for a long time I assumed that the breed was extinct.
But only a few weeks before flying to Spain to photograph Burgos Pointers and Pachónes Navarro, I decided to give it one more shot. This time the words I entered into the Google search field were in Catalan, the other official language of the island of Majorca. I typed ca de mostra and ca de caça, then hit return. Less than an hour later I was on the phone to Sheryl Marchand, my very understanding travel agent, telling her that Lisa and I would need to extend the Spanish leg of our trip. Majorca’s native pointing dog was still alive!”
It’s grouse season now in New England. The woodcock are long gone. They’ll be back in March, and as they arrive, Puck and I will in the field to greet them. Until then, we can watch videos like this and think of next season.
When it comes to their dogs, people love believe the craziest stories. And when it comes to Vizslas, these stories get pretty crazy. Some include bits about how the breed appears in ancient European rock paintings and others say these dogs have been pure bred for the last 1,000+ years. One tale even has them as the favorite hunting dog of medieval Magyar barons and warlords.
But as romantic as many of these tales are, there’s no real evidence to confirm them as true. Craig Koshyk points this out in his excellent book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals. You can some of the truth about Vizslas here on Craig’s excellent Pointing Dog Blog. While their true story is far from the romance that some people would like to read, it’s still fascinating and worth learning about.
Bird hunters have always cross-bred dogs with the hopes of creating better four-legged companions. The Braque Français is a perfect example of this process. In Craig Koshyk’s superb book Pointing Dogs: Volume One, The Continentals, he explains how hunters modified this breed and developed two types of pointing dogs with a shared ancestry and the same first name.
Back in the early days of bird dogs, the Navarre region of Franch/Spain was ground zero for some of the earliest Braque Français pointers. These dogs were big bodied and short haired, with large ears, loose skin, and a hound-like look overall. They hunted close, at a trot, and were known for their all-day stamina in the field.
Of course some people thought these dogs could be improved. These hunters developed a smaller, quicker line of Braque Français, with a wider range and more athleticism. Soon fanciers had a dilemma: which dogs were the true Braque Français?
To solve the problem, the Braque Français club established two sub categories: the Braque Français Gascony and the Braque Français Pyrenean. You can read more about these dogs here on Craig’s blog.
The history of the modern pointing dog is convoluted and tangled. The further into its past you go, and the more clouded its lineage becomes. People believed that Spain’s Burgos Pointer was the great-great-great-great grandaddy of them all, a dog that could trace it’s origin back to the beginnings of pointing breeds over 600 years ago.