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Altmoor Pointer TrademarkVersatile Gun Dog Owner Checklist

We are very frequently asked by first time versatile gun dog owners what they need in the way of equipment. Since that’s what we sell, it puts us in a peculiar position - we don’t want to “over recommend”, and yet it doesn’t make sense to be so conservative that the owner doesn’t get those things he or she really needs. This page is our attempt to solve that problem. For owners of those breeds of dogs considered versatiles, we’ve put together this list of recommendations. Many of the items can be obtained through us. Of course, even if your puppy is not what’s traditionally thought of as a “versatile”, if it’s a gun dog you will still probably want most of these same items.

For those who have landed on this page out of curiosity, a versatile gun dog (or simply “versatile”) is one of any of those breeds of hunting dogs which are expected to have inherited the natural instincts to point, retrieve on land and from water, and track game (follow foot scent on land or body scent trails across water). In Germany, this class of dog includes the Deutsch-Drahthaar, Deutsch-Kurzhaar, Kleine Münsterlander, Deutsch-Langhaar, Grosse Münsterlander, Pudelpointer, Weimaraner, and Griffon. (We've listed these in the order of their participation in VGP - the German Utility Test.) Obviously, there are great differences between the breeds and between individuals with respect to their inherited abilities in each area. It’s the handler’s job to create balance in the dog, so that it does everything to an acceptable or better level. In the USA, these breeds are becoming increasingly popular, and American counterparts that you might recognize include the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP), German Wirehaired Pointer (GWP), Weimaraner, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (WPG). We should also point out that other versatile gun dog breeds also exist - we’ve just concentrated on those from Germany.

OK, here we go with our list. For these purposes we’ll assume that you have raised other pups before, and probably have had another hunting dog, but that you now have a new versatile gun dog pup and want all the necessary “stuff”.

Books and Publications - This is one of the toughest areas in which to make a recommendation because there is so little on the subject written in English. So, your library should include several titles each on training pointing breeds, retrievers, and tracking training - this will all provide good general background. A standard in the field is Training and Care of the Versatile Gun Dog, a NAVHDA publication. There’s a lot about this one we don’t like, and wouldn’t want a pup out of our kennel trained with it exclusively, but it remains a “must read”. Yet another is Training the Sporting Dog, by Don Smith & Ervin E. Jones, the Official Training System of the American Hunting Dog Club. However, we haven’t read this one in it’s entirety, and there are some aspects with which we don’t agree, but it does contain a wealth of good information. Don’t forget a good book on health care, like Carlson & Giffin’s Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.

We don’t sell any of the books mentioned above, but we imagine a decent search engine will find you one or more sources for them. One we used to carry is the Tri-Tronics book, Retriever Training. Again, not perfect and now out of print, it contains a tremendous amount of good information, particularly about e-collar use.

Of course, all this has been leading up to our little book, the Drahthaar Puppy Manual. We think that it’s absolutely essential for anyone who intends to test in the German tests, or the counterparts in this country. It’s biased toward our breed of choice, but if you can get over that, and if you’ve read the other stuff we’ve mentioned, you should find our manual will keep you on track. It’s intended to cover what you need to do (versatile gun dog training-wise) from eight weeks to about two years. While it does not detail VGP preparation, it does include sections on steadiness training and beginning blood tracking work. It differs from many of the others in that it stresses development of natural abilities to their fullest and avoiding anything that might weaken those abilities. We, for example, typically don’t use a check cord until a dog is over about 18 months, and feel that Hold training is mostly to get a proper delivery, not a substitute for the desire to retrieve.

There’s also a periodical which is very popular with the versatile dog folks - “Gun Dog Magazine”. Keep in mind that not all authors are straight-shooters and not all know what they’re talking about. This caution applies equally to books. We once mentioned to one of America’s most popular hunting dog authors that we thought one section of his most recent book was complete and utter B.S. His reply, “I know, but it sells books.”

Finally, and most importantly, we would urge you to join your breed club and purchase any publications they may have. Certainly, if they have breeding and/or test regulations, you must get them early on, so you know how to interpret or weigh what is said in your other reading. We cannot keep our manual updated with test rule changes.

Gear for 7 weeks up to 5 1/2 or so months old - In our view, socialization and exposure to everything possible is what is most important now. Throw in a little light obedience training and response conditioning, and maybe a puppy obedience class. Items we normally stock are indicated by an asterisk.

Gear for 5 to 18 months old

Gear for about 18 months and beyond

Email: outdoors at altmoor dot com
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