Like your chosen rifle, the dog you opt to share your home and time afield with reflects the personality and vigor with which you tackle life and hunting season. Without saying a word, your fellow hunters will peg you by the four-legged hound at your side.
Breed of Dog: Labrador Retriever
The most popular American Kennel Club registered breed of dog in the United States for the past 20 years, the Lab can do it all—hunt the uplands for quail or pheasants, retrieve ducks from backwoods marshes or geese from big open water and then lay contentedly by the fire while your children climb all over him. Willing to learn and desiring to please, the Lab matures quickly and can make even the amateur trainer look like a dog-whispering Cesar Millan.
Your Personality: You’re an all around good guy; a family man who loves to work hard and play harder. As a staple in middle-class neighborhoods, you’re a balanced and upstanding member of society and aren’t prone to raising hell in a bar every weekend (although you might enjoy an occasional night on the town). When not in the field, you spend time with friends and family and make new acquaintances easily, but you are more than capable of defending yourself and loved ones if the need arises.
Breed of Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
An all-American retriever and the official state breed of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay retriever served a dual purpose during the height of the market-hunting days: that of guard dog and game retriever. Originating in the cradle of our country’s waterfowling heritage, the breed retrieved ducks and geese by day and protected punt guns, boats and bags of decoys while their masters hit dockside saloons at night. The hardiest of the retrievers, no water is too cold or too big for a Chessie. Retaining more than a sliver of their guarding genetics, the breed has a reputation for being a one-man dog, protective of family and turf and stubborn during training.
Your Personality: You’re hardcore in the field, as well as in life, and you know it. While you can accomplish high-level tasks, it takes someone that understands your sometimes surly disposition to motivate you. You’re not trusting of strangers or new acquaintances, and Heaven have mercy on anyone who tries to push you into a corner because you’d just as-soon throw a punch for a perceived insult as ignore it. Aloof and somewhat willful, you often seek contemplative solitude so as to avoid the mindless chatter of society. You love your family and friends dearly and surround yourself with them. You also possess a concealed-carry permit and sleep with a gun in the nightstand so as to best protect those closest to you.
The Dandy Gentleman
Breed of Dog: English Springer Spaniel
Springers shine in the upland fields. Able to quarter and make finds with the best of bird dogs, these small liver-and-white or black-and-white dogs can also pull double duty and retrieve waterfowl more than passably. Only their small stature and thin skin keep them from tackling the biggest of geese and roughest or coldest of waters.
Your Personality:Happy and willing to please, Springer owners approach life with a proverbial bounce in their step. This gay approach to life might leave coworkers and hunting buddies under the impression that you’re a little soft but you don’t care—nothing can deter your enthusiasm. Vanity often plagues Springer owners; they must always look the part by sporting brand name and matching attire, a delicately engraved firearm (nothing less than a Caesar Guerini will do) and a coifed hairdo are just some of the quirks necessary to be considered part of the Springer glitterati. While your enthusiasm allows you to pull double duty in the marshes, cold turbulent waters aren’t your strong suit. No, you’re most happy frolicking through the dry upland fields of life in pursuit of love and happiness—perhaps you’d make a fine outdoor writer.
The Caring Clown
Breed of Dog: Golden Retriever
Perhaps the softest, most needy of all the gun dog breeds, the Golden retriever, with its long flowing locks of amber-tinted hair, is a clown that loves to perform and make its owners, and any guest or passerby, laugh. Heavy doses of show lines have hurt the breed’s hunting ability in general, but those dogs bred for the field willingly burrow through the nastiest of upland fields or take the plunge for waterfowl under any conditions. A soft disposition, plenty of positive reinforcement and a light hand are required during training.
Your Personality: As a golden owner you are eternally optimistic, and just a tad bit goofy. The likeable nerd when you were in school, you see the good in all people and all things. In social settings if you’re not acting as the center of attention, you’re the one stuck in the corner with someone crying on your shoulder. You love to make people feel better and it sometimes attracts the crazies in life, but you don’t mind. While it’s sometimes hard for you to focus on field work, what with all the socializing and shoulder-sobbing demands you must fulfill, when you do get out to hunt its generally a few weekends a year. Just as you sometimes adorn your golden in various colors of bandanas, you often wear unnecessary accessories, like Orvis waders when fishing a no-wading zone.
The Driven Loner
Breed of Dog: Pointer
Hard charging and energetic, pointers have a one-track mind and it’s all focused on finding birds. Their genetic disposition to course a field in search of feathers tends to make them bigger runners than other breeds of upland dogs. These are the elitist of athletes and at best are one-man dogs; but if that man can’t put him on birds, a pointer might not show any inclination to acknowledge the two-legged being in his life except during meal time. These hardy dogs can tackle the most difficult of terrain and will answer the call day after day during the season.
Your Personality: Like your chosen breed, you’re a hard-charging loner who’s driven to succeed. To you, second place is the first-place loser. You’re a fast thinker on your feet and love to tackle new challenges. Energetic and unable to sit still very long, you probably have more than a borderline case of Attention Deficit Disorder. With your somewhat addictive personality, you approach hunting season and life similarly, with a conquer-all attitude and nearly obsessive desire to be in the thick of either a quail-filled briar patch or pitching a board of directors on your newest entrepreneurial endeavor.