Gun dog tips: Thinking ahead to spring puppy-purchasing season

If you’re thinking this spring will be a good time to pick up a new puppy, start researching bloodlines now so you can hedge your bets on finding a great dog.

When you live in the north country, planning when to purchase a puppy often revolves around the weather. The ideal time to take in a new hunting partner is about the time the snow melts and the temperatures begin to rise.

This also means that right now is the time to research litters and settle on a puppy. The process is tougher than it sounds, especially if you want a really good dog. And you do.

Once you’ve settled on a breed, forget color and other aesthetics and take a long look at the bloodlines behind a few litters. You’ll probably notice that the more expensive puppies sport parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents titled in field trials or hunt tests. This is a good thing, even if you never plan to compete with your dog.

Dogs that can earn titles generally are bred for athleticism, brains, and longevity (health). The farm dog down the road selling for half of the price likely has a few surprises in its genes that won’t work in your favor. Reading a pedigree is pretty simple, but if you need help, there are plenty of professional trainers who can guide you in the process.

You’ll pay more for a well-bred puppy, but the extra cost is worth it. Not only are you hedging your bets for a rock star in the field or the duck blind, you’re also ensuring that your puppy pick will be easily trainable. This doesn’t mean it will be easy (it never is), but a well-bred puppy generally understands commands and drills much faster.

Couple that with the fact that they are usually very driven to retrieve and to please, and you can start to understand why the expense of a great pedigree is worth it. This is true for the hardcore hunter, as well as the weekend warrior.

If you’re in the market, learn to read a pedigree or enlist the help of someone who can. You won’t regret taking the extra time to suss out a well-bred puppy, even if they cost more than the average dog.

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