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My First Bird Dog – Best Bird Dogs for an Apartment

Pheasants Forever's "My First Bird Dog" series follows a pheasant hunter's journey into bird dog ownership.

Pheasant Blog reader Jeff posted recently: I am surprised that only 65% of (Pheasants Forever) members own a dog. Who hunts pheasants without a dog? Who’d want to?

Probably not many, but circumstance and desire don’t always match up – just ask any apartment dwelling pheasant hunter such as myself. My last two weeks included a phone call informing me dogs would no longer be allowed in my apartment building (evidently someone’s unapproved dog had bitten someone else), to a lengthy conversation with the apt. owner going over every detail of my upcoming pup to earn an exception to the newly instituted “no dogs” rule. With just five weeks until my pup is in my hands and a week-long Rooster Road Trip in the mix, moving just wasn’t an option.

The first question from my apartment owner was “What breed are you getting?” A valid question, as when it comes to an apartment, not all dogs are created equal. Recently, Kyle Wintersteen from the NRA’s American Hunter wrote about Five Bird Dogs for Today’s Suburbs. In addition to his solid list, here are five more (and yes, the breed I’ve selected is on either his or my list) worthy of consideration in the tight quarters of the concrete jungle:

American Water Spaniel. This small (25-45 lbs.) sporting breed is obedient, a good family fit and the State Dog of Wisconsin, where they must have lots of apartments.

English Springer Spaniel. Their breeding stock learned the Queen’s manners before crossing the pond.

Golden Retriever. Very adaptable and eager to please, which pleases other tenants.

Poodle. With its hypoallergenic coat, can accommodate almost any living situation. Perfect if you want a hunting dog with the look of a city dog.

Weimaraner. This breed is known for getting along easily with children, which urban areas are usually full of.

What do you consider the best breed(s) for an apartment or urban area?

Previous “My First Bird Dog” posts:

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauck.

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9 Responses to “My First Bird Dog – Best Bird Dogs for an Apartment”

  1. Epagneul Breton says:

    I think you are leaving out one dog that needs to be looked at and talked about: the Epagneul Breton, is the smallest of the pointing breeds with a Continental spaniel-type head and a short or non-existent tail. This breed is built harmoniously on a solid, but not weighty, frame. The whole is compact and well-knit, without undue heaviness, while staying sufficiently elegant. The dog is vigorous, the look is bright, and the expression intelligent. The general aspect is “cobby” (brachymorphic), full of energy, having conserved in the course of its evolution the short-coupled model sought after and fixed by those having recreated the breed.

    In the true meaning of the word “versatile” they are companions both in the field and in the home. In the field, with little direction, they will search, find, point, and retrieve all manner of game; in the water they will swim for and retrieve both shot dead and wounded waterfowl; and in the home they are calm and attentive. This versatile quality of the breed makes them the best of friends no matter your age, gender, or hunting season. In fact, while these dogs are bred for field performance they are often appreciated more for their manner in the house, ease in transport, and temperament.

    The French Brittany (Epagneul Breton) was first brought over to North America in the 1930′s and 1940′s where they became popular with both hunters and field trialers. The trial and performance breeders selected the tallest and fastest dogs that hunted big enough to be run from horseback for breeding. The breeding for dogs larger and of a different temperament than the original standard produced a bigger, faster, and stronger willed dog than the original effectively eliminating some of the core qualities of the initial breed. Sadly the American clubs also incorrectly interpretated the language of the original breed standard and disallowed any black color in the coat severely narrowing the gene pool.

  2. @Epagneul Breton. Thanks for augmenting the list! In fact, we recently profiled a gorgeous Breton in Pheasants Forever’s “On the Wing” eNewsletter: http://www.pheasantsforever.org/page/201110itk.jsp – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  3. Glenn Peyerson says:

    U should check out the field breed English Cocker Spaniel; small, excellent nose, ready to please and a very fun dog to be around

  4. The Poodle is an excelllent hunter and great friend.

  5. @Glenn – you’ll be happy to know I’ve looked into that and attended a spaniel hunt test: http://www.pheasantblog.org/ahauck/my-first-bird-dog-%E2%80%93-why-attend-a-hunt-test-or-field-trial/ – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  6. Dixie says:

    A poodle? Really? I never knew they could be a pheasant hunting dog. Could my larger rat terriers learn to do the task? They have super large hearts but doesn’t a hunting dog need to be relatively calm? Just wondering. I live on a 10 acre plot in Faulk County SD with lots of trees and lots of pheasants and my terriers do like to follow them but not hurt the pheasants. I’d like to sell my property also. Anyone interested? I prefer to keep my terriers and would like to move them back to MN so they have a larger acreage to run. Do pheasant hunting dogs ever wear protective boot/booties to protect their feet? Last week I just saw a pup with a cut pad at the vet. He cut his pad out in the field hunting and it was a nasty injury and the vet said it would take quite some time to heal. This was something new to me also. Do they make a protective boot for dogs? Lots of great information here. Thanks. Sorry if I posted in the wrong part. dixiebk@yahoo.com

  7. @Dixie – Yes, some dogs wear protective boots while pheasant hunting. Pheasants Forever doesn’t currently carry any of these products. For now, you could look to Cabela’s, a PF national sponsor, as they carry a couple models. – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  8. David says:

    I am one of the 35% without a dog… and a wife with severe allergies to dogs, even their saliva. How do I hunt without dogs? Very carefully. It can be done by pushing birds to an edge so they flush over open ground/water so you can see where they fall and quickly retrieve them. But I prefer to hunt with dogs too. It’s a great opportunity for me to meet fellow enthusiasts who DO have dogs! Want to hunt our property? You must have a dog! ;)

  9. @David – that’s a good rule to have! – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor


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