How many gun dogs?

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Mosby
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How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:59 am

I am going through the process of reserving a couple of new pups next year. I lost one of my Vizsla's in May and initially was going to replace with a single pup but I have decided to get two pups(with time in between) so that I have the option to switch out on a hot day or rest one when needed. I am planning on hunting significantly more days going forward and having at least two working dogs seems to make sense.

That got me thinking though. Do most people on here that hunt have more than one or two gun dogs? One dog was fine for hunting weekends but if you are hunting weeks at a time, how many dogs do you normally take with you?

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deseeker
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by deseeker » Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:40 am

Back when I was younger and hunted all the time I used to get a new pup every two years, so most times I had 5 dogs--1 pup learning to hunt, 3 dogs that knew how to hunt, & 1 old dog that knew how to hunt but was better at laying around the house ;-)
Now that i'm old and my back & knees barely work, I'm down to a 14 year old SH, a 12 year old MH, a 10 year old blind MH, and an 8 year old. I still hunt the 8 & 12 year old & they outlast me.
IMO if you are a serious addicted hunter, you need at least 3 dogs spaced out in years, that way you are covered if you have a litter of pups, a dog in heat, a hurt dog, an old dog, a new dog in training, an extended road trip, etc (you always have the dog power). :D :D :D

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by shags » Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:40 pm

Disclaimer - we compete with our dogs rather than bird hunt.

But the dog population question has similarities between the two.

I think first you have to consider your housing situation. If you live somewhere with restrictions on the number of dogs you can keep, it's a whole other game than if you can keep as many as you want.

We've always had multiple dogs, between 3 and 5 at any time. IMO it's better to space them out by about 3 years. Two pups at a time - Yay! Fun! No gaps in dog power. Until they get old, then ya have kind of a House of Death situation. If you have no limits on the numbers you can keep, this might not matter ( except that losing old dogs in close order can be difficult) since you can add more at intervals. But if you need to limit dogs, you're right back where you are now.

I've always liked to have one veteran that may be close to retirement but who still can go once or maybe twice a weekend, one dog in its prime that I can run as much as I wish, and one youngster to just mess around and have fun with. Basically it's having a dog and two half dogs :D a good part of the time. But then comes a sweet spot where I have 3 whole dogs.

Good luck in whatever you choose. What a great problem to have to wrestle with :)

Edited to add something else... a couple times I've had same sex pups close in age (less than 12-18 months apart) and we wound up with major fighting problems. But a gap in age of 2-3 years, no problems at all. No problems if young ones were different sexes.
Mine have always been housedogs, and I tend to choose the more pushy obnoxious ones in the litter, maybe that's part of it. Just something else to consider.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by birddogger2 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:15 pm

Mosby -

I hunted my first dog Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Most hunts were half day or less, depending on how long it took to limit out.

I did this for pretty much the entire upland bird season.

As my first dog got older I got a year old trial reject and hunted the two together on pretty much the same schedule until the older dog was 14 or so and then hunted the other dog alone for a few years.
Over the years I varied between one and two dogs, basically because I couldn't keep more than two. No legqal restrictions in the town, but it was in the 'burbs, a relatively small lot and with a job, a family and all the rest, two was plenty. I had some of my best hunts with two different pairs of dogs where each dog worked a little differently from the other. One hunted a little close and one reached out more. I can't tell you how many birds they pinned in between them. Both pairs of dogs were positively deadly. I hunted, on average, four days every week of the season, but with the dogs I have had, the hunts were generally less than half day affairs.

I got into trialing in my later years, when my son was getting into High School...because by I then had the disposable income and the time to devote to the sport. Have had as many as seven dogs and currently down to three...with a puppy coming in a few weeks. My current dogs are 11, 8 and 4 and I am able to hunt even the old timer for a couple of hours. I am only trialing the 4 year old.

FWIW, the best trial pair I had were whelped within months of each other. I had recently retired and was able to work with them a lot and they were a lot of fun.

RayG

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by averageguy » Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:47 pm

Most of my run with bird dogs has been one dog at a time. Hard to overstate how good a dog gets when it gets hunted that much and I really like that.

My current adult dog is going into his 5th season. He was my only dog during his first 4 seasons, he has great genetics, I have alot of time and resources to develop and train him, and did. He was good in first season and has improved every season since. I shot 10 species of wild upland birds over him last season, waterfowl and some whitetail recoveries. I frankly am concerned about sharing hunting time now that I have two dogs.

I am retired and average hunting 4 days a week from September to February with some Snow Geese taking us into March, then I go solo for Spring Gobblers in April/May. Hunt Tests in the Summer. My now adult dog hunted in 6 states in his puppy season, Good Lord willing we have plans to hunt at least 5 this season.

I have a nice puppy going into her first season. I have no concerns about being able to give both dogs a good deal of upland bird opportunities. I do have concerns I can provide enough waterfowl without cutting into the adult dogs time but that is what I will do in order to develop the pup this season.

In my younger days I was guilty of overhunting my dogs. Now days less so. The dogs I over hunted were excellent and lived long lives.

The PIA factor has gone way up adding this pup to the pack vs life with only one mellow adult dog. I told her this afternoon she had better be a superior bird finder or she was going to ship out. :)

I don't see myself ever wanting to have two pups at the same time as the time inside the house would present challenges I do not want to deal with.

Those are my thoughts.

Mosby
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:19 pm

I am now retired and have significantly more time to hunt and work with my dogs than I did in the past. Elk and whitetail hunting in multiple states has been my primary focus the last 25 years but getting tags is getting harder and carrying out elk quarters on my back isn't getting any easier. The window for that is closing.

That said, I am 61 this year and my brother is 10 years older than I am. He lives on the east coast and he can't hunt like he used to and our kids are getting married and having families. Hunting by myself is going to become my primary option in the next few years and I have decided I need to make a transition and change my focus, as I get older.

Loosing my dog sort of put things into motion, when it required me to sit down and really think about what I wanted to do moving forward and have an honest conversation with myself about what hunting looks like, before committing to another dog.

I spent time looking at started dogs and adding a pup later but bringing an older kennel dog into a house is a risk that my wife wasn't comfortable with. Happy wife, happy life.

Eventually, I found a Vizsla breeder I am comfortable with but there is a real possibility that that pup is well over a year away. They don't have many litters and they have a waiting list on the next. Thats ok but my biological clock started ticking and that is when I decided to get two pups and space them out.

I am getting a male and female this time and I am going to get a GSP and a Vizsla. We love our Vizsla's but there are a ton of quality GSP breeders in the midwest and the timing will seemingly work. I am hoping they will have different strengths and allow me some flexibility when hunting.

We have an 8 year old Vizsla at home that I love dearly but she would struggle to find a bird in her food bowl and is typically not more than 3 feet away from my wife. The dog I lost was my primary hunting dog and her loss was unexpected. In hindsight I should have planned better and gotten a pup a couple of years ago but you live and learn.

The hardest part for me is being disciplined. I made a mistake when I bought my wife's dog when I made a spur of the moment decision and got a pet quality dog out of it.

This time I am sticking with high quality breeders with a proven history of hunting dogs and relying more on them to get what I want then just buying what's available now. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a waiting game and I am big on instant gratification. :D

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by cjhills » Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:09 pm

Mosby:
There is GSP for sale on the "dogs For Sale". on here He comes from as good hunting GSP lines as you can get. He is well along in his training.I think nearly finish. I know his bloodlines well and have owned close relatives. he would be a wonderful family bird dog for you and is a steal. ready to go. I think you should buy him so I don't.
I was nearly your age when I started breeding dogs and have done it for 25 years. it gives you a reason to get up in the morning and is definitely a game changer healthwise. You may be selling yourself a bit short
Even in these trying times I run three dogs every day it is very hard to be depressed when you are in the field with happy dogs........Cj

averageguy
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by averageguy » Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:10 pm

I raise my dogs from puppies from the best genetics I can find. I love the process of working with talented puppies and bringing them along as well as the bond we form.

But I have a good Friend who seems to find really nice adult dogs on a recurring basis. I have hunted with one of his GSPs on wild bobwhites in Texas, pheasants and grouse in SD numerous times. Very nice dog in every way. Hunts out well, finds his share of birds, handles them well, natural back, good downed bird finder, excellent disposition with people and dogs. He paid $1000 for the dog.

Same guy just bought a young EP. Nice run, excellent nose, stylish point, natural back, retrieves to hand, comes when called, great in the house, great disposition. Good looking dog to boot.

It is very possible to find nice started and trained dogs at very reasonable or even cheap prices.

Mosby
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:59 pm

averageguy wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:10 pm
I raise my dogs from puppies from the best genetics I can find. I love the process of working with talented puppies and bringing them along as well as the bond we form.

But I have a good Friend who seems to find really nice adult dogs on a recurring basis. I have hunted with one of his GSPs on wild bobwhites in Texas, pheasants and grouse in SD numerous times. Very nice dog in every way. Hunts out well, finds his share of birds, handles them well, natural back, good downed bird finder, excellent disposition with people and dogs. He paid $1000 for the dog.

Same guy just bought a young EP. Nice run, excellent nose, stylish point, natural back, retrieves to hand, comes when called, great in the house, great disposition. Good looking dog to boot.

It is very possible to find nice started and trained dogs at very reasonable or even cheap prices.
I hunted with a guy in Iowa that had a nice GSP that he rescued from a local shelter. A really nice looking dog that someone left behind or abandoned. Someone clearly had worked with him and I think he got it for less than $100.

I have looked at starter dogs but I backed away primarily because of my wife's concerns but truth be told it would be a good option for me, especially for the next couple of seasons, while I get pup up to speed.
Last edited by Mosby on Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mosby
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:14 pm

cjhills wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:09 pm
Mosby:
There is GSP for sale on the "dogs For Sale". on here He comes from as good hunting GSP lines as you can get. He is well along in his training.I think nearly finish. I know his bloodlines well and have owned close relatives. he would be a wonderful family bird dog for you and is a steal. ready to go. I think you should buy him so I don't.
I was nearly your age when I started breeding dogs and have done it for 25 years. it gives you a reason to get up in the morning and is definitely a game changer healthwise. You may be selling yourself a bit short
Even in these trying times I run three dogs every day it is very hard to be depressed when you are in the field with happy dogs........Cj
CJ,

I agree. He is actually one of the dogs I looked into. I spoke with Timmy about that dog. Our dogs live in our house and we don't have outdoor kennel facilities at this point. Because of the dogs history, he wasn't sure that our set up would work well. If I lived closer, I would have likely already driven there, met the dog and talk more but he knows the dog and he seems like a stand up guy, so I took his advice and came up with a different solution.

Mosby
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:31 pm

averageguy wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:10 pm
I raise my dogs from puppies from the best genetics I can find. I love the process of working with talented puppies and bringing them along as well as the bond we form.
I have really enjoyed reading your updates and watching some of your videos. You have done a great job with your dogs. A lot of time and hard work.

Mosby
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:23 pm

shags wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:40 pm
Disclaimer - we compete with our dogs rather than bird hunt.

But the dog population question has similarities between the two.

I think first you have to consider your housing situation. If you live somewhere with restrictions on the number of dogs you can keep, it's a whole other game than if you can keep as many as you want.

We've always had multiple dogs, between 3 and 5 at any time. IMO it's better to space them out by about 3 years. Two pups at a time - Yay! Fun! No gaps in dog power. Until they get old, then ya have kind of a House of Death situation. If you have no limits on the numbers you can keep, this might not matter ( except that losing old dogs in close order can be difficult) since you can add more at intervals. But if you need to limit dogs, you're right back where you are now.

I've always liked to have one veteran that may be close to retirement but who still can go once or maybe twice a weekend, one dog in its prime that I can run as much as I wish, and one youngster to just mess around and have fun with. Basically it's having a dog and two half dogs :D a good part of the time. But then comes a sweet spot where I have 3 whole dogs.

Good luck in whatever you choose. What a great problem to have to wrestle with :)

Edited to add something else... a couple times I've had same sex pups close in age (less than 12-18 months apart) and we wound up with major fighting problems. But a gap in age of 2-3 years, no problems at all. No problems if young ones were different sexes.
Mine have always been housedogs, and I tend to choose the more pushy obnoxious ones in the litter, maybe that's part of it. Just something else to consider.
We live on 5 acres in the Ozarks. No restrictions to worry about. We don't even have building codes out here. :(

The Vizsla breeder recommended we get two different sexes if the pups are going to be close in age. We didn't have a problem with our recent Vizsla's but I am going with different sexes.

We evidently like the same type of dog. My wife lovingly referred to my dog as "the bitch" or "your bitch" ...as in "guess what "your bitch" or "the bitch" did today"? She was my girl though.

It is exciting but scary at the same time. A large commitment on our part to do right by these pups and give them what they need from a time and training perspective. I planned poorly, lost a dog and my current situation is fun but not ideal but it is what it is.

I will make the best of it, devote the needed resources and try not to make the same mistake again. As others noted a started dog would makes sense in my situation and it probably makes sense to continue to look around, between now and next year. I could always push a deposit back to a future litter, if a fit was found between now and then.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by cjhills » Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:35 am

Mosby wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:14 pm
cjhills wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:09 pm
Mosby:
There is GSP for sale on the "dogs For Sale". on here He comes from as good hunting GSP lines as you can get. He is well along in his training.I think nearly finish. I know his bloodlines well and have owned close relatives. he would be a wonderful family bird dog for you and is a steal. ready to go. I think you should buy him so I don't.
I was nearly your age when I started breeding dogs and have done it for 25 years. it gives you a reason to get up in the morning and is definitely a game changer healthwise. You may be selling yourself a bit short
Even in these trying times I run three dogs every day it is very hard to be depressed when you are in the field with happy dogs........Cj
CJ,

I agree. He is actually one of the dogs I looked into. I spoke with Timmy about that dog. Our dogs live in our house and we don't have outdoor kennel facilities at this point. Because of the dogs history, he wasn't sure that our set up would work well. If I lived closer, I would have likely already driven there, met the dog and talk more but he knows the dog and he seems like a stand up guy, so I took his advice and came up with a different solution.
Mosby:
Well I tried.
Thanks for your response.
Housetraining does not really seem to be a problem with older dogs.
Females seem to have a lot harder time getting along together than males do.
I have had 4or 5 breeding males at a time with no issues. Sometimes with a in season female in the next kennel. Females get very aggressive with other females before they come into season.
One other thing. With two pups you will need some sort of outside kennel. You can't be with them all the time and you will need a safe restricted area where they can spend some time and be separated from each other. My preference is a indoor kennel. Dogs do not learn a lot of good things in a outdoor run. Mostly barking and standing with their feet on the fence.........Cj

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by reba » Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:11 am

I leave in early September and hunt wild birds in 6 or 7 states, drive 10,000 miles and hunt more than 100 days.

Early on I learned that I need at least two dogs. A simple foot or toe injury will stop the action for a week or more.

Yes I am packing. My truck and trailer are serviced.

Life is GREAT!

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by gonehuntin' » Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:07 pm

It's nice to have two dogs. If one gets hurt. Other than that, by having one dog, in great shape, that pooch gets all of the work and will develop into a less dependent, more experienced dog much faster. Two dog's are twice the work. For most of my life I have had two or many more dogs to fall back on. Now I have one, but the chances are, she'll outlast me. Most people can make more excuses than you'd ever think existed to own more than one dog. MOST people can't even do one dog justice.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by weimdogman » Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:38 am

Some great points being made.

Training 2 pups is at least 3X the work😉

It is nice to have more then 1 dog during hunting season,but the solo dog gets more attention.

Good luck in whatever you decide and be sure and let us track your progress!

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:21 pm

I really appreciate the great advice given. I think two dogs makes sense for me for some of the reasons mentioned. People used to say two kids were easier than one. They weren't. Two pups won't be either. I get it. I am committed if that is the way it works out. You never know with females and litters though and I might still end up with a started dog and push back a pup into a future litter if I can find the right one.

I am trying to slow down, stay flexible, make good decisions, one dog at a time and get the right dogs from the right people. I will let you know how it works out with pictures when it gets to that point.

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gonehuntin'
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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by gonehuntin' » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:25 am

Since you're committed to two dogs, stagger them. Five years apart is about right. That way you're never without a dog when one can't hunt anymore.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by mask » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:10 am

I think how many dogs you need depends on what you hunt and more importantly where you hunt. I keep three, this works for the where and what and also for our out of state out of country hunts.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by marysburg » Sun Sep 06, 2020 10:09 am

gonehuntin' wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:25 am
Since you're committed to two dogs, stagger them. Five years apart is about right. That way you're never without a dog when one can't hunt anymore.
This. We usually have 3 to 5 dogs at various ages, and they are spaced 2 to 4 years apart. At one time, we did get two pups only 16 months apart to get a pup from a special breeding. Only did that once! It was a TON of work, and they both aged out at about a year apart. We went from 4 down to 2 dogs suddenly. I wouldn't get pups closer together than 3 years apart, so the older one has gotten the attention and training they need to be a solid dog.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by greg jacobs » Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:59 pm

I keep two. Thats all I can live with. They camp and go places with us.
I sure wouldn't do two at the same time. Two old dogs isn't a good thing. Space them out according to how many you plan to have.

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Re: How many gun dogs?

Post by Mosby » Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:15 pm

As a follow up, I just bought a young started dog this week and will pick her up when I get back from elk hunting in Colorado. She is a 10 month old female GSP. I got her from John Prince in Kansas. I visited his kennel twice and spent several hours with him and several dogs over birds. John has some nice hunting dogs, was honest about them and is easy to deal with. I am excited to get her. I think she is going to be a nice dog.

I have a Vizsla pup coming next year and depending on timing, they will have about 1 1/2 years or more between them. Probably not ideal but it is what it is. I turn 61 next week, so I feel the clock ticking a bit and I don't want to loose another season. Getting a started dog gives me a young dog to work and hunt with this year and next.

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