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When is the Right Time to Add Bird Dog Number Two?

At 3 1/2 years of age, Trammell is now entering her prime bird dogging years.

My good friend and FAN Outdoors radio partner, “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand stopped by the Pheasants Forever office this morning.  In tow was his new Brittany pup “Snap.”  Snap joins his eight year-old golden retriever, “Tess,” as the Hildebrand’s newest hunting family member.

I currently have a 3 1/2 year old German shorthaired pointer named “Trammell.”  If you’ve read my blog before, then you know how much I adore my pup.  Last year about this time I started toying with the idea of adding a second bird dog to the mix.  I went so far as to put my name on the first pick of females in a shorthair litter planned for April.  As that litter’s birth neared, I had second thoughts about the timing of adding that second dog to the family and pulled my name off the list.

As I enter the mid-point of this hunting season, I’m thankful I did remove my name from that litter.  While I missed out on the joys of having a puppy this spring, I am benefiting from focusing on Trammell as she enters her prime bird hunting years. 

The more seasoned dog owners I talk with, the more consistent the advice:  “Add dog number two when your first dog turns six or seven.  That way, you’ll always have a dog in its prime.” 

Do you agree with that advice or do you have a different opinion?

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.

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8 Responses to “When is the Right Time to Add Bird Dog Number Two?”

  1. Jason says:

    I understand where you are comming from. I got my first pup when I was a freshman in college. I spend a few years (4) hunting/training her and she got to exactly where I wanted her. I decided to breed her and ended-up keeping a boy pup, not my dicision, girlfriend at the time, Wife nows dicision. Neeedless to say I am taking back all that I said because they have given me so many great memories. She is now 8 and he is 4. They hunt great together and I am so glad my now wife convinced me to do so. It was not easy training at times but the risk is well worth the reward.

  2. Chris says:

    In theory it is great advice. I too have a GSP who is 3 1/2 and this is his finest season yet, he listens to me, he is finding more birds and doing all he is bred to do, a beautiful sight. It would be a good thing to always have a dog that is in his prime, however, my problem is space, time and money. If my world were different, bigger back yard, good kennel, a few more bucks in my pocket and an agreeing wife I’d get another pup when my dog turns 6. I for one can understand the wisdom in this advice, let me tell you how. I decided to get another bird dog about five years ago, I got an adult female GSP who had never been hunted. I gun conditioned her but it was not enough, she was gun shy, well, season number one was shot, I got rid of her and started looking for another pup. This time I got a 6 week old GSP in March 2007, I began hunting him seriously in 2008 by fall of 2009 he was beginning to catch on nicely. So because I had start with a new pup I basically lost one bird season and one of those seasons was a lot of training. So, I say get another dog. I’d like to have another two dogs. One reason is that they tend to get worn down hunting chukar, well, at least their pads do.

  3. cathy says:

    Wow, I am amazed. He just “got rid” of his dog. What about enjoying the dog for being just a dog? You can and did get another to hunt with. People like you blow my mind. Dogs are not trash to be thrown away. I like watching my dogs do what they were meant to far more than the hunt itself.

  4. G says:

    Don’t jump to conclusions Cathy. Chris may have found his 1st dog a more suitable home. That would have been acceptable correct? Bird dogs are bred to hunt. It is a disservice to them and the bred if you are not working your dog on birds in some form, shape, or manner; just as it would be wrong to own a birddog and keep them locked in a apartment.

    I agree with you insomuch that when you get a dog, it is a committment and sometime part of that committment is finding the dog a more suitable home that fits the dog’s temperment.

  5. Chris says:

    Dear Cathy,

    Had I predicted your response I would have re-worded what I said. The dog actually went to much better home than mine, it was hard to part with her but after working with her for months her gunshyness got even worse. What is more she was a great dog, birdy and had a good nose. But, I’m a hunter I need a dog to do what it is bred for and so I had to let the dog go. She went to a lady who spends 24 hours a day with her and who has many acres of open land for her to run, the lady does not hunt so Greta’s new master was a better match.

    G, Thanks for your comment.

  6. John says:

    I purchased a GSP pup a year ago. We’re in our first year of hunting and she’s doing great. I had two labs (10 and 11 years old) when I got my pup. Sadly my 10 year old dog had to be put down in October. My now 12 year old is hunting hard but I only hunt her an hour each time. The pup of course, can hunt for 2-3 hours. I’ve found over the years that it’s good for my dogs to have each other for company. I think being alone can be stressful and they can get destructful in the house. Once my 12 year old is gone I’ll wait awhile to get another dog. I want to enjoy “Henri” without sharing her with another pup. She is though, used to having a “pal” to play with so who knows how long I would wait.

  7. Carole Edwards says:

    My husband and I have two sisters (GSP’s) now 5 years old. We got one as a 6 week old and were fortunate to get her sister at one year. They love to hunt quail. If one points the other will back. They both will look for the bird and either one will bring it back. They also are family pets and we would never give them up.

  8. Kevin says:

    I waited a little too long. My old Boy ( Narco) was 10 and his last season was a little painful to watch. He still had the fire inside however physically, he was not able to do a lot of tough hunting. I added Pup 2 (Froid) last year, he is going to become a good dog but as of now the roosters definitely have the winning hand.


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