Dusty Rose K-9 Trainers

 Picking a Breed

Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are the 3 most popular retriever breeds. Some others are Curly Coated Retrievers, Flat Coated Retrievers, Poodles, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and American Water Spaniels. They are all a little different to train and have different specialties.

We will look at the “big 3”. The most popular is the Labrador (lab), it comes in 3 colors black, yellow, and chocolate. These are the only 3 colors that the dog can be registered under. The lab is not only the most popular hunting dog/retriever but the AKC’s most popular dog of any breed. The reason for this is dogs from good breeders are easy to train, not overly hyper, and do several jobs well. They are also great family pets. Labs are also noted for an even temperament.

Labs are a very good choice for the average hunter/dog owner. They can do upland flushing work as well as retrieve all manner of feathered game. They are also the most easily trained, most of the training programs were designed by trainers who mainly worked with labs. They are also very social and take well to new hunting partners. The puppy buyer needs to do their home work on breeders as the Lab has been divided into several lines. The hunter is going to stack the odds in their favor by picking breeders that have hunt test or field trial titles in both parents’ lines.

Golden Retrievers are the 2nd most popular of the retriever breeds. They are very fun loving and are the most willing to please. Most Goldens do not have the highest hunting drive, but do the job with the most style and fun of any retriever. Goldens can do retrieving as well as flushing work. Most people limit the upland work due to the coats ability to pick up every bur the dog walks near. Their color ranges from almost white to dark red. Breeder selection is the most important with the golden, hunters are going to want to buy a puppy from Hunt Test or Field Trial breeders. There are a few exceptions but you are always going to want at least some field titles in both parents.

Golden Retrievers love to be the center of attention and there for are an excellent choice for the owner that only wants 1 dog but wants to do many disciplines with it. The dogs with the most varied titles are almost always Goldens. You will see 1 golden that has titles in Obedience, Tracking, Hunt tests, agility, and more. The other breeds just do not do as well with that kind of intense and varied training.



Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are my personal choice. They are #3 for reason a though, they are definitely not a breed for everyone. Some of their faults are also their greatest assets. They are very protective, if this asset is not giving boundaries it can turn into aggression. Also they are aloof and do not take well to strangers, but are loyal to their family more than any other retriever.  Chessies are also the specialists of the retrievers, although they are great in the uplands, chasing pheasant, quail and partridge. The Chesses’ true calling is in the hardest and most adverse retrieving venues. Although the other breeds can do this work Chessies thrive on it. Chasing cripples through heavy cover or across rough water is a personal challenge to these dogs. The hard core goose hunter also will appreciate the Chessies determination to bring in the biggest geese and make it look easy, day after day. They say goose dogs are born and not made; I believe most are born to brown parents. Although I have hunted over labs and Goldens that did geese very well, dog in and dog out more Chessies do geese with ease. Chessies need a job year round or they will start to entertain themselves, always at your expense. Picking a breeder is somewhat easier as there are no distinct show, pet, or field lines in the breed. You still need to do your home work though. If the Chesapeake Bay Retriever sounds like it may be for you, contact a few breeders and meet some of these dogs. As I said before they are not a breed for everyone, but for those of us that they fit, there is nothing else.

As for the rest of the retriever breeds, it is best to contact the breed parent clubs and get a list of their member breeders. Talk to as many breeders a you can before making a decision on any breed. This is also a good place to find breeders for “the big 3”.

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