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Grady Istre – FIELD DOGS

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Thursday, April 20, 2017
The fine art of training a dog
Thursday, June 15, 2017
The dirt clod drill


Male or female
About this time of year, hunters begin thinking about purchasing a new puppy for next season. One question I get a lot is this: which sex makes a better hunting dog, male and female? Personally, I like quality and I don't care what sex the quality comes in. But if your personality is such that you cannot see yourself owning anything but a particular sex, don't be foolish— get that specific sex. It’s doubtful that you will be happy with anything else.

So, the question still remains: which sex make the better hunting dog, especially for the average hunter? As you might imagine, there are a bunch of different options on this often controversial subject. I think I've heard most of the old wives tales on the subject, such as, when it comes to finding difficult cripples that have fallen in the muck and mire, the females seem to come up with the bird, whereas, the males’ attitude seems to be, “Oh hell that one is got away, I’ll get the next one.” There are different opinions on this of course, but I agree. Maybe it’s because of the motherly instincts to feed their young which makes females seem to hunt more tenaciously for difficult, downed birds. Also, because the basic nature of the female is often more submissive than the male, I really feel that they make better hunting dogs for the average guy.


Females are not necessarily easier to train, but once trained they are much easier to control than the males of equal talent. That's my opinion after over a half century of observing both sexes in the field. However, here's one rule I have learned to follow while training the girls: don't ever be unfair in your training practices. If you do, they can get back at you at an inopportune moment down the road.


Here’s a memorable example: some years ago, at a National Retriever competition, I watched in disbelief as a female Labrador ate a bird in the sixth series. Having trained with the owner many times, I knew how unfair she could be in the training of this wonderful talented female. She would nag and pick at the smallest details and repeat drills endlessly even when the dog performed perfectly. This particular National test was a triple retrieve that was giving many of the contestants a variety of problems in their attempt to come up with the birds.


After just hammering the difficult test, this dog stopped 15 feet from the handler with the last pheasant and proceeded to rip it apart in front of the judges the gallery and her owner — especially her owner. She sent a memorable message: don't be unfair to a female dog.


Here at Reibar, both sexes go through the same training regimen while learning their hunting skills. However, it's not just the learning of skills that makes the females more favorable in the eyes of hunters: they know how to make you fall in love with them a whole bunch faster and better then the males.


So, which sex dog do I personally like to hunt over? Given two dogs of the same ability, I lean towards the females, even though I have only had males for the past 40 years. My only reason is this: male dogs bring in the stud fees.


No matter which sex you choose, it's doubtful you'll make a mistake if you make sure to get a quality dog.


Good hunting!


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Grady's column appears in WON every other week and he can be reached at reibar.com


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