Pure Bred Sporting Dogs
Filed in Dogs, Getting a New Puppy/Dog
The 24 breeds classified in the Sporting Group by the American Kennel Club (AKC) make good companions because they were bred to hunt with humans and other dogs. They are always ready for action. Their way of pleasing you is to perform well at whatever task you give them, even if it's just retrieving the ball you've thrown or going swimming with you. Your task will be to give them the kind of active exercise and open space they need to be happy.
American Water Spaniel
The origins of this excellent retriever are unknown, but the breed was developed in the Mid West for use as an all-purpose hunting dog. As his name indicates, he's a good swimmer, using his tail as a rudder in rough water. The Water Spaniel is medium sized with a brown wavy to curly coat and a solid build. Good with family, he's eager to please, responds well to training, and likes to protect his environment.
Developed in France centuries ago, the Brittany is larger than most spaniels and may have been influenced by the Irish Setter. Introduced in the U.S. in 1931, Brittany Spaniels have dense, wavy coats of orange or liver color and white, which require only a quick daily brushing. Some have no tails. A capable dog, the Brittany possesses a keen scenting ability and loves people.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The ancestors of this breed survived a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland in 1807, demonstrated admirable retrieving ability, and were bred to produce dogs capable of retrieving in icy waters. The Chesapeake has great endurance and wears a woolly coat under his wavy, brown or sedge-colored outer coat. His medium sized body is both strong and agile. These dogs are happy, smart, and sensible.
Probably originating in France, the breed was developed for hunting in England. Small but powerfully built, the Clumber makes a versatile outdoor dog. His dense, soft white coat has yellow or orange markings. He may look serious, but he loves to work and play. Reserved with strangers, this loyal dog responds with great affection to those he knows.
The smallest member of the sporting dog family, the Cocker has an inherent desire to hunt and is good in water. This dog is a popular pet because she's trustworthy, loves her home and family, and makes a good companion for children and adults of all ages. Regular grooming is essential to maintaining her long, wavy coat. Cockers adapt well to smaller living spaces and to any climate.
This dog is one of the oldest classified as a retriever. He may have been crossed with the Poodle to give his thick coat the tight curl he wears today. Widely acknowledged as easy to train, he is hardy and able to practically live in water. An affectionate and faithful companion, he makes an excellent guard dog.
English Cocker Spaniel
Descended from the original spaniels of Spain, the English Cocker is one of the smallest sporting dogs. This breed was separated from the Cocker Spaniel breed in 1935. An active and happy dog, she wags her tail while working or playing with you. Her coat is medium length, silky, and slightly wavy. Her even and affectionate qualities make her a good family pet.
This breed dates back 400 years in England. The Setter is an active and rugged outdoor dog who is also beautiful. Her coat is straight and white with intermingling dark hairs. She has a gentle, lovable disposition and makes a good companion. Because she requires a lot of exercise, she'll be happier in the suburbs or country than in the city (unless you have a bevy of dog parks or other off leash areas at your disposal).
English Springer Spaniel
A medium sized, sturdily built dog, the English Springer comes from an ancient family of spaniels. The coat under his moderately long outer coat provides natural weatherproofing. This agile dog keeps on going whether he's playing or working. He is friendly, obedient, and eager to please.
The Field Spaniel has suffered from being bred into exaggerated types, but efforts to eliminate these mistakes have been successful. He is medium sized and has a moderately long, flat to slightly wavy coat. The Field Spaniel is built for active endurance. The dog is fun loving and intelligent. Although he's independent and reserved at first meeting, he likes to be with humans.
Although one of the least known purebred dogs in North America, this retriever descends from two breeds that are indigenous to the continent. Her origin and development occurred mostly in England. A natural water dog and efficient worker, she also gets along well in hilly areas. She has a sturdy build and dense black or liver colored coat that protects her in water. She's a good guard dog and faithful companion.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Known as an all-purpose dog, this pointer is a cross between the Spanish Pointer, Bloodhound, and American Pointer. Her abilities in field and water are numerous, and she has keen scenting powers and intelligence. She wears a short, thick coat of liver or liver and white color and is medium sized. A good family dog, but with a very high energy level.
German Wirehaired Pointer
A completely weather-resistant wiry coat distinguishes the German Wirehaired. Medium sized and sturdily built, he springs energetically into action whether at work or play. Aloof by nature, he is still friendly and shows a reliable temperament. This is a loyal, affectionate, and eager-to-please dog whose liver and white coat requires minimal grooming.
The Golden is the second most popular breed. His golden, wavy coat covers an undercoat that helps repel water. He loves the water and takes every opportunity to go for a swim. His "soft mouth" protects the bird he's retrieving from being damaged and also makes him a gentle dog with children. He likes to work hard, even if it's just chasing around with the neighborhood kids. The Golden is friendly and reliable.
A true Setter, this black and tan dog has a distinctive beauty. Her coat shines and is flat or slightly wavy. She can do a full day's work in the field without tiring, and she also excels at home. Wary of strangers but not unfriendly, she protects her surroundings diligently. She loves to be petted and is careful with children, but she can be aggressive with other dogs when guarding her family.
Considered by artists to be the most beautiful of all dogs, the Irish Setter has a straight coat of rich red. Although of a large build, he moves quickly and gracefully, his glossy coat flowing. He may require more training than some dogs, but once he gets it he's trained for life. Sweet in nature and likable, this dog will be your solid friend.
Irish Water Spaniel
Another dog of ancient lineage, the Irish Water Spaniel has a unique appearance. He sports a dense, curly liver-colored coat, a smooth face and tail, and a curly topknot on his head. An undercoat helps to shed the water he loves to be in. He has an alert and inquisitive intelligence and is strongly built for rugged endurance in water and field. Loyal to those he knows, he's reserved with strangers.
The Lab's appealing nature has made him the most popular of all purebred dogs. An excellent retriever, he's medium sized and strongly built. He wears a short, dense coat with a soft undercoat of black, yellow or chocolate. His unusually stable temperament gives him an advantage as a superb hunting dog and a reliable family member. He's gentle, adaptable, and likes to please.
The Pointer was the first dog to locate and point at hunters' prey, and the first dependable record of this breed comes from England in 1650. He has a short, dense coat, great energy, and a strong will to work and play. A good companion at home or outdoors, the Pointer has an even temperament and is a true and loyal friend.
This excellent hunting companion was among the first ten breeds recognized by the AKC. Not greatly popular in the U.S., the Sussex has remained essentially the same for generations. The golden liver color of her coat reflects this purity of breed. Although not a speedy dog because of her short legs, she's strong, serious, and responds well to training.
The Vizsla's innate hunting ability was developed on the plains of Hungary where he was trained to hunt game as both a pointer and retriever. The breed almost died out between the two World Wars. He is medium sized, strong but lightly built. His short coat of solid golden rust is smooth and dense, and his training abilities are excellent.
A younger breed developed in the 19th Century, the Weimaraner is the product of selective breeding. Originally used for hunting large animals such as the mountain lion and bear, she then was trained as a bird dog. Medium-sized, her distinctive coat runs from silver to mouse gray and is short, smooth, and sleek. She is capable of great speed and endurance. A good companion, she won't like being penned up in a kennel.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Another ancient breed, the Welsh Springer was one of the original dogs used by man to hunt for animals. He can withstand the extremes of heat and cold and has a flat coat of red and white and a soft undercoat. An excellent water dog, he works hard and willingly. Loyal and affectionate, he's good with children and other animals and guards the family well. He can live in town or city but is happier in the country.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
This dog originated in Holland in the last quarter of the 19th Century, but most of the breed development took place in France. A Griffon has long facial hair, and her wiry, brown and gray double coat provides protection in water and rough terrain and is unique among the sporting dogs. She is a medium sized dog, intelligent and easy to train. Griffons do well with children and other family pets, and they are good watchdogs.
Margaret Cullison is a freelance writer who in past years has provided a home for a variety of dogs, cats, hamsters, rats, lizards, parrots, fish, and snakes. Currently she lives in the East Bay area of Northern California with a Burmese cat named Kona.