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Can a non-sporting breed be trained to hunt?

My brother-in-law has a german shepard and wants to train him as a pheasant hunter. He is a really smart dog. He loves to retrieve, and brings the thing you are throwing right back to you. Do you think he has a chance or do you think he is just waisting his time. If you think that he is not just waisting his time, do you have any pointers for him?

I have hunted over nontraditional bird dogs in the past. One was a blue heeler and he was truly awesome on Pheasants and quail. I trained German Shepherd dogs for police service for years before becoming a retriever pro so I know what the breed is capable of.

I would have to say that if the dog is OK with gunfire and likes to run and retrieve, he can probably be taught to be a decent pheasant dog.

Your brother-in-law needs to understand that the odds are stacked against him and his dog. His dog is no more likely to become an exceptionally skilled bird dog than my lab is to become talented at taking down armed felons.

Dogs are selectively bred for specific purposes. While there is some crossover, it is best to train bird dogs that have been blessed with natural bird hunting, marking and retrieving ability.

If he is interested in proceeding, have him review the training advice on this panel specific to flushing dogs.

Best of Luck,

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retrievers
Highland Retriever

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