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Which is Best: A House Dog, Field Dog or a Combination?


Wolf was a great dog afield, but as a house dog he left something to be desired.

  My last Springer, the late, great Wolf, was bred to be a hunting machine. Really, the dog was only interested in two things: hunting and food. He was tough as nails, too. Wolf was very stocky, had a heavy coat and never got sick or incapacitated in the 14.5 years I had him. No conditions ever turned him back, and he hunted ducks with me a lot in the worst weather imaginable. Wolf was sly and aggressive afield and never, ever gave up on a tough retrieve, hard conditions or a long hunt. I loved Wolf. He made me proud afield.

          Wolf, however, left something to be desired during the majority of the off-season. Wolf was not a good house dog and wasn’t very warm with people. I could never leave him un-tethered in the house because he would destroy anything that smelled good or otherwise interested him. At a picnic once, Wolf put his front paws up on the table, grabbed a whole ham, dragged it to the ground and with both paws as leverage, started tearing it apart and eating it, much to the horror of everybody there.

          Pet Wolf on the head once or twice, and he was happy and would walk away. Now that he’s gone, and in comparison to my current Springer Hunter, it seems the humanity was bred out of Wolf. In some ways, I felt sorry for him.

          Hunter, on the other hand, is not the hunter Wolf was. I don’t think he ever will be. Hunter, who is nearly four, does an acceptable job afield. He runs good, finds enough birds and retrieves most of them. He’s a bit sensitive hunting and with people.

          But Hunter is much more the people dog. He is very affectionate, which my wife and I enjoy. Winters are long here in Minnesota, and having a playful, affectionate dog around the house is great entertainment for us. He is seldom tethered and never bothers anything, food or otherwise, around the house. He is a great guard dog, barking and jumping aggressively when any stranger comes around, a quality I like.

          I guess I’m willing to accept his 75 percent field performance during the short hunting season for his 100 percent, year-round companion performance the whole year.

          Which do you prefer?

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11 Responses to “Which is Best: A House Dog, Field Dog or a Combination?”

  1. Mike Serbin says:

    My current hunting dogs both GSP are above average at both hunting and being house pets, aside from one still being too much of a pup at times (10 mo. old). I am sure there are some better at both than these two are but I am satisfied and that is enough for me. My previous GSP was more as you speak of WOLF and was a far more dedicated hunter than home body. The pair of GSP I have now I belive are more enjoyable as I spend much more time with them at home, unfortunatly! than in the field due to the length of hunting season. Being very good house pets helps make it a year round pleasure to have them as a companion.
    By the way I hunted with Wolf on your trip to Canton MO. in Lewis County several years ago. Hopefully some day will get to do the same with Hunter.

  2. Steve Tondi says:


    I’m on my third Brittany and they have ALL been 100% in both areas!

    Steve :-)

  3. Walter Moon says:

    Golden’s make great house dogs,and are great around children. Find one that can still hunt and it’s a hard combo to beat.

  4. Adam Jaquet says:

    I have an almost 3-year old Spinone male, named Omar. He is about 90% in the field, but that can all be attributed to my shortcomings and failures to train properly or enough. But we are working on that in preparation for a NAVHDA Utility Test this Spring. In the house with the family, he is great. Even sleeps in the bed at night. But when new people come in the house he gets a little too excited and has to be restrained. But overall, a great dog all around.

  5. brittluvr says:

    My current Brittany is a top line hunter, and about 90% in the house. But he’s manipulative and knows how to tug heart strings to get away with stuff. Most of his “bad house stuff” basically involves him getting over excited and doing things (like punching out the front window by jumping at it).

  6. Mac says:

    Have owned English Setters and Brittany Spaniels. All but my present one were kennel dogs. When I retired I planned on a companion dog so Dale lives the life all dogs dream of as he is with me about 99% of the time. Great with people and kids, not bothersome, rides AV, Kayaks, walks the trout streams, runs a trapline, bass fishes, pleasure boats,etc. I think one would get the point. Hunting he is a driven, never tires, great nose, retrieves even from water or across streams. I believe he would have made a trial dog but he is very happy where he is. My Brit before him was allowed in the house but for some reason preferred the outdoors. Dale will hold point for a while whereas my previous brit had to be tapped on the head to release. Other than that the tradoff for the companion I have is OK by me.

  7. Jason says:

    I am very satisfied with my bird dog when in the field but when I go to work. I better hang everything up in the house. nothing is safe. I’ve lost hunting boots, pants, vest, gun cases, shotgun shells, leashes, dog collars, undergarments, hats, seat warmers, exercise equipment, ect… ect… I still love lovem and when the points are staunch and retrieves are great, I tend to forget about the, well, maybe it’s just tolerable then.

  8. Kirk says:

    I’ve owned Chessies all my life,great dogs in the field,blind ,boat and on occasion,slept with for extra warmth in the camper shell,waiting out a late winter night at the refuge.Great companion to me when I was single.When I married, they tolerated my wife, but I worked as a Lineman then and would get called out on storm damage alot, leaving her alone with them and she was never scared.Not great house pets, their coats kinda smell, they shed heavy come spring,and are” rather large and in charge”when it comes to getting their own way!I’m 56 yrs. old and they are a young man’s dog, requiring alot of work to train.I also hunt a club now , putting my refuge days behind me, and they don”t play well with others.I now have a young female Lab that’s bright as hell, well behaved, and a pleasure to be with,for me and those around me.

  9. Tim says:

    Your suggestion or premise, gundogs are somewhat less than 100% of what they could be in the field if they life in the house is really all wet. There is no reason, scientific or otherwise to prove your theory or supposition. I have a ton of photos which show a hunting dog can be pure hunter in the field giving 100% and loveable companions in the home who don’t want to get out of your bed in the morning.
    More than once while guiding hunts, someone will mention those GSPs are sure high powered hunters but they like dogs they can keep in the house with the family or kids. More often than not I have to tell them I had to drag this one out of bed this morning to go hunting.
    Bottom line hunting dogs can give 100% in the field and be fine well mannered loveable companions in the home. Ask my five grandkids.

  10. Chuck De Young says:

    I have had 3GSPs 1Choc Lab and just aquired a Korthals Griffon pup.The GSPs were all in the house as well as the Lab and all were excellent field dogs.The new pup is being trained using the same Richard Wolters method found in his book Gun Dog as was used to train my previous dogs.I’ve found this method produces well ajusted house pets as well as eager gun dogs.All my dogs have been and are pets and working dogs that live with family when not afield

  11. Matt says:

    I have a four year old brittany who is a great family dog and is a good hunter as well. But I know what brittluvr means about them being emotionally manipulative.


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