Hunting Dogs


English Setter Hunting dogs in Alaska

with Christine Cunningham

























Hunting Dogs


By Kathleen Kalina



“It’s better to spend $1000 on good genetics than $1000 on training” Said a trainer at a hunting dog seminar.

Running to retrieve a duck



On a hot scent for pheasants

He also said another bone of wisdom “The only difference between a 70lb hunting dog and a 40lb is the amount of food needed.”

Looking for a good fit in a hunting dog takes a lot of research, but I quickly found the best qualities in an English Springer.

At 8 months, in the woods watching me and staying close

These qualities were loyalty, stays close, perfect hunter, affectionate, loves the sound of gunfire and is fearless to all terrain. Hunting close to me, now
that I’m moving slower in my old age, is an important quality. I don’t want to have a dog flush pheasants 100 yards out, beyond the reach of the shotshell. I want that dog flushing right ahead of me so the bird flies to where I can hit him.

Happy hunting dog


watching flushed pheasant

Good genetics is a key factor. My dog had field champions for both parents. 

watching for ducks

The day I brought her home at 6wks old, I bought a furry ball with a tail and tied a string to the tail. I tossed it about 10ft. She ran for the ball and I pulled the string slowly back with
her mouth on the ball. Doing this only three times before she got the idea that
retrieving the ball to me was what she needed to do.

Daisy at 7 weeks old

The first time I took her ruffed grouse hunting at 1yr old. She chased the grouse barking up at the trees it flew from tree to tree. It was my job to keep up with the bird and shoot it.
But there was problem knowing where it was.

Daisy with Ruffed Grouse


Retrieving spruce grouse in Canada at 6yrs old

She was out at the pheasant club at age 10 weeks, following the big dogs while they flushed. The smells overwhelmed her, but her attention span was very good. I knew then that she
would be a premiere pheasant hunter. The genetics were there and working good.

Daisy at 10 weeks old out at pheasant hunting club to get her nose in shape

I took a good scolding from another pheasant hunting friend because I did not crate the dog. He was convinced that I would ruin the dog. She has never taken to a crate and wants to sit next to me in the truck. To discourage this affection would be detrimental to the mental health of my dog. Some dogs are not as sensitive as the springer, so maybe they are better at crates. 

competition retrieval at 1 years old (Gamefair MN)

I read several books about springers and they all emphasized the need to
please was very strong and that they could become depressed easily if the owner
yelled at them at all. You might think this is ridiculous but it’s true. I have
observed that when I’ve panicked and yelled, she becomes immediatly despondent. In order to bring her out of it, I’ve had to say “come here little
sweetheart.” She responds only to sweet talk. With that type of talk she
performs and responds best.

Immediately after getting a puppy, I took her to puppy school. This is a two fold experience, it’s good
socialization and learning the training words.

Running at puppy school faster than speed of camera

Once a year, I sign her up for any type of training just to keep her mind in gear. 
So shes had puppy school, beginning, intermediate, advanced obedience,
good canine citizen class and license, agility and flyball.

Agility school

Repeating a class is just as good. The dog feels like they are
special. Training for water retrieval should be done for a few minutes every
other day. Too much hunting training can bore a dog and it no longer becomes fun. She really enjoys it. Playing ball by shooting them from a slingshot is her favorite game.

Everyone thinks that their dog is the best hunting dog and of course we know all good dogs go to heaven.




Forms, Registries and Fees

By Laura Bell

Staff Writer



So, your female dog has just been bred and
now you have approximately 63 days before a litter of pups arrives. First,
enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts! Second, let’s discuss how much money
you’ve invested into a “potential” litter, as there’s no guarantee that your
female will have puppies.

Costs to consider:

Stud Fee: This varies and ranges from 1st
pick of the litter, free, to hundreds of dollars. But, ultimately, it depends
on the owner or the stud dog.

Taking off work: You can’t pick when your
female will need bred. Depending on how far you live from the stud dog, you may
have to take off work. Even if you think your female will be ready to breed on
such a day, she may not stand right away for a strange dog, in a strange place.
Or, the stud dog may not take immediate interest in the female or cannot
perform on such a day. So you may be stuck for another day or two until the
actual breeding takes place. Sometimes, more than one breeding is needed and,
typically, vets say to wait 24hrs between breeding’s. So there’s at least 1-2
days off work to factor in. Plus, if you must stay the night, factor in a hotel
cost and food.

Gas: Depending on how far you live from the
stud dog and what type of vehicle you drive is also a factor to adding the cost
of raising a litter.

DNA: Some dog registries require you to have
your dog’s DNA on record before they will let you register the litter. Fees
averagely range from $40-$50. Plus, a small fee for another registries to
recognize it.

Now the tricky ones –

How much did it cost you to raise your
female and earn titles on her? Some factor this in, others do not. I chose not
to, because I feel that this is just a part of owning a dog.

Dog Food: Again, this varies depending on
what kind of dog food you feed and how much, but it should be factored in. When
your female hits about week 4 of her pregnancy, watch your dog food bill start
sky rocketing!

These are approximate costs I incurred while
breeding Tanner.

Stud Fee: $300

Taking off work: $0. I was able to swap
shifts and thankfully Tanner was bred on the day I took her to the stud dog.

Gas: $40. The stud was 3 hours away and the
vehicle driven was a Ford F-150.

DNA: $40.

Dog Food: I feed a mix of Purina Dog Chow
($23 per 50lbs)/Purina Puppy Chow $20 per 37.5lbs), however it was free fed to
Tanner and 3 other dogs within the household. With no set amount, I just added
both costs of one bag of food per month, for a total of $43. Times that by two
(dogs are pregnant for about 2-months) and the cost would equal $86.

Grand Total = $466

And, we’re not even sure we’ll get puppies
yet. PLUS, once the litter arrives, there will be even more costs to register
the litter, shots, wormer, food, etc. We’ll cover those costs once the puppies

If you would like to take a look at some of
the forms and fees, as well as a huge variety of dog registry information, I
highly encourage you to check out –

Up Next: Waiting The Weeks Until The

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                   By Carol Carver
                              Staff Writer
                             North Carolina

February may be the shortest month, but it is a long
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