Whether in the field or in the yard, these breeds are Dedicated, Hard Working and always have enough energy left for Play! Sound like a perfect companion to you? If so, then a breed from the Sporting Group may complete your life and bring many years of joy. Read on as we break down the various breeds and traits of the Sporting Group.

Four Groups Within One Large Classification

To understand the Sporting Group and its breeds, it helps to break the group into four sub-groups, Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Flushing Spaniels. Each of the breeds in these groups share common characteristics as well with the Sporting Group as a whole.

The Pointers

The AKC Pointer breeds (Brittany Spaniel, German Shorthair Pointer, Vizsla and Weimaraner) all share the common characteristic of being excellent at pointing. This is very useful for helping hunters find game in the field that they cannot see. Not a bad trick either if they are taught to Point out car keys

Pointers typically go out and search for game. When it finds it, the dog will freeze in place and points directly where the game is located. The dog will hold this position until the hunter comes and flushes the game out. Usually this is done when hunting various birds and the Pointer retrieves the bird once it has fallen.

Though proper training needs to be done to make a top pointer, these breeds have the natural instinct to point out game and excel at it. They would much rather be out doing fieldwork then cooped up inside trying to learn cute tricks to impress friends.

The Retrievers

The Retriever breeds (Chesapeake Bay, Golden and Labrador) are some of the most popular breeds in the United States. They not only make excellent working partners but excellent family pets.

As opposed to the Pointer, the Retrievers’ work does not start until the bird has fallen. The Retriever, as the name suggests retrieve the fallen bird. These breeds excel at this as they have the ability to mark, which is the ability to memorize the exact location that a bird has fallen. The breeds have such good memories that they are capable of marking three different positions that a bird has fallen and retrieve each.

As with the Pointers, the Retriever breeds often do not have the patience to learn cute pet tricks. Of the three breeds in the group, the Golden Retriever is often the best natured for this type of activity. Labradors on the other hand are often bundles of energy and have the need to be in constant motion and are fully capable of learning the tricks but does not have the interest or desire.

The Setters

The Setter breeds (Irish, Gordon and Springer) most resemble the traits of the Pointer breeds. The main difference is that they often sit down close by to the game for the hunter as opposed to pointing. Some Setters also are a good cross and carry the characteristics of the Pointers and Retrievers as after the game has fallen, they will retrieve it.

The Flushing Spaniel

As the name suggests, Flushing Spaniels (American Cocker, English Cocker, English Spaniel and Welsh English Spaniel) excels at Flushing. The term flushing refers to going out, finding the bird and scaring it into flight allowing the hunter to shoot. Once the game has fallen, the Flushing Spaniels will retrieve it. These breeds are often very well natured and do very well in a family environment. Many enjoy learning tricks and always have the energy for a good game of catch.