Contact Us    Help    Site Map    About Us   

Bumper Types

Note: We asked the opinion of several of our trainers so there would be a wide range of information. There seem to be three (or more) different kinds of bumpers........Canvas, Inflatable Rubber/Plastic and Knobby Rubber/Plastic, and maybe more. What are the pros and cons of the different types of bumpers? Thanks for your answer(s).

Doc E


Bumpers seem to come in all sizes, colors and materials these days.

Canvas bumpers are nice for dogs that are naturally soft mouthed or hesitant to hold, they also take scent well and can be used for trailing scent work. They are difficult to keep clean and they are a mess in the water. A hard dog will chew them and develop bad mouth habits.

Soft rubber or vinyl bumpers are a compromise between had and canvas bumpers. Most dogs will pick them up, they are easier to keep clean and they work well for water work. Some can even be inflated to adjust float height in the water. Again, they can lead to bad hardmouth and chewing problems in some dogs.

Hard rubber or plastic bumpers are commonly used by Pro Trainers because they are durable, easy to keep clean, float well and are difficult for a dog to chew. They give very little so a dog is not tempted to maul them. They can injure a dog if he is accidentally hit by one and they can become brittle and break in cold weather. these are my personal favorite for most retrieving work.

The size of bumpers also varies. I use large bumpers for lining and casting drills as they stand out and are easy to spot on a mowed field. They are also nice to use on long marks for visibility.

The smaller ones are easier to store and you can carry a bunch into the field.

Bumper colors can also be varied but each color has some purpose.

White is visible from a long distance and against dark backgrounds, great for beginning lining/casting.

Black is easy to see against a cloudy or dull sky. It is also very difficult to see floating in the water, forcing the dog to rely on the mark and his memory and not just swimming to an object he sees.

Black and white bumpers are visible against most any background and the alternating effect created when thrown really draws a dog's attention.

Orange is very difficult for dogs to see and can be of some use in intermediate handling drills.

While there are other variations, these are the most common.

Thanks for the questions and best of luck,

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retriever Kennel
Highland Retriever Kennel

We have found that the plastic knobby bumpers are good during the early phase of developing the natural retrieve. It is firm and the pup will carry it gently thus encouraging the dog to remain soft mouthed.

The canvas bumper is good for placing scent on it or wrapping in feathers. It feels more like a bird and it retains scent well. It is good for teaching the dog to "find dead" (hunt/trail cripples).

Remember to only let the pup use the bumpers in training and to put them away all other times (to prevent the start of bad chewing habits).

We prefer to use frozen birds and freshly killed birds in place of the above mentioned bumpers (for pointing dog training).


Dave Jones
Chief's Brittanys
Guided Upland Bird Hunts, Gundog Training, Started Gundogs, and Brittanypuppies
We GUARANTEE our Brittanys to hunt and be healthy!
Visit us at

I like the hard plastic dummys to start with. They don't promote chewing like the softer ones. The large canvas dummys are the best when the dog can handle them. They fill a dogs mouth up when they carry it, so the dog does not get in the habit of rolling them in its mouth.

Maurice Lindley
Lindley Kennels
803-243-4979 (Home)
803-243-3583 (Kennel)


I would recomend the hard rubber or wood bumpers. They help make a dog "soft mouthed" on birds, keeping him from biting too hard. When he picks up something hard he bites harder; thus, when he mouths a bird, he will be more gentle in his bite. Hope this helps.

Ted Wigglesworth
Houdini Llewellin Setters

<< Back to Q&A

follow us on: