In the 1800s, Germany opened hunting to the average person rather than just the wealthy elite. The new crop of German hunters couldn’t afford a large fleet of bird dogs. Rather, they needed one dog that could perform many tasks, so they developed what’s now referred to as the “versatile pointing breeds.” These dogs do it all—hunt, point and retrieve. Of these, the German shorthaired pointer is one of the most popular with Americans. They are a product of English foxhounds, extinct German hounds and pointers from English and German lines.
This pointer statue displays a classic 12 o’clock tail. Interestingly, the statue is outside “The Bank of Fayette County” in Grand Junction, Tenn. Considered the birthplace of America’s pointing dog field trials, Grand Junction is the annual host of the Grand National, the national championship field trial for pointing breeds, and is also home to the National Bird Dog Museum and Field Trial Hall of Fame. The statue is modeled after Dunn’s Fearless Bud, a Grand National winner and Field Trial Hall of Fame inductee owned by Grand Junction resident Wilson Dunn.
The English springer spaniel may have developed in Great Britain as early as the 16th or 17th century, but the name “springer” was not officially coined until 1902. Before the shotgun’s invention, springers would chase furred and feathered game from thick brush, at which point hunters would release sight hounds or falcons to dispatch the quarry. Springers later became very adept at retrieving, as evidenced by this dog competing in a field trial.
The golden retriever was developed in Scotland during the 1860s by Lord Tweedmouth, who crossed wavy and flat-coated retrievers with the now-extinct Tweed water spaniel. Its beauty has actually been detrimental—over-eager breeders have watered down the golden’s hunting stock.
The Brittany, the best thing to ever come out of France, is easily trained and matures quickly. It’s perhaps the oldest of the pointing breeds, with origins that may date to 150 A.D. The Brittany was used for the development of several versatile pointing breeds.
Butch, a handsome blue belton colored English setter, pointed a woodcock on average every 20 minutes for his owner, Jason Nash of Federal Premium Ammunition, and the author. Butch didn’t give up until the hunt’s conclusion, but is clearly exhausted.
English setters are named for the “setting” or crouching posture they display upon finding birds. The dog in this photo has a rather flashy, nearly 12 o’clock point, but some setters still “set” and a 9 o’clock tail is acceptable.
Labs appeared in literature as early as 1662. Most people believe they can be traced to an early retriever, the St. John’s water dog, which was used to fetch fishermen’s nets off the coast of Newfoundland and elsewhere.