"The Dog is man's best friend" is a saying which is based on more than affection. 

Records show that man had domesticated the Saluki in 329 BC but is almost certain that the relationship between man and wolf strectches back to the earliest days of man hunting for food.  Perhaps the wolf would circle the camp after a successful hunt in the hope of stealing food, or even the possibility that early man would throw the wolf a bone from the meal.  This may have developed into a beneficial partnership where the wolf would guard the camp in the exchange for a ready meal.  Perhaps the reverse was true, it could have been that man recognised that the wolf was a better hunter.  So he waited until the wolf had caught and killed its prey before chasing the wolf away and stealing the catch, perhaps leaving some of the prey for the wolf in return.

We will never know how the relationship between man and dog started but one thing is certain, it has been a partnership unlike any other for a long time.

More recently, with the invention of firearms, man recognised that once the prey had been shot, it would fall some distance from the man with the gun.  If the prey could not be found then it would be wasted.  What man needed was to develop the natural ability of the dog, with its excellent sense of smell, to locate the prey and bring it back to the shooter. 

As the development of firearms improved from the early muzzle loading guns which were slow to reload, to the breech loading shotguns of today, man needed to breed a dog which would hunt the ground to find game

Modern gundogs are not a breed of dog, but are made up of several breeds, each of which has developed over many centuries to bring out different characteristics.


This is a question which simply can not be answered, as each breed of dog has different characteristics and is suited to a specific task.  The modern gundog breeds can be summarised in 4 main groups:


Curly Coated Retriever & Flatcoated Retriever 

As the name suggests, these dogs are used mainly to find and retrieve game back to the handler.  The breeds in this category include

  • Curly Coated Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Flatcoated Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever




English Springer Spaniel

The main use of the spaniel is to sweep the ground to hunt for any game which may be hiding in the undergrowth.  It must not catch the game, but instead must flush the game from its hiding place.  The spaniel is also expected to retrieve game.  The breeds in this category include

  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Field Spaniel
  • Clumber Spaniel



English Pointer, English Setter and Gordon Setter

These two types of dogs are typically used on open areas where the game is widely distributed.  They work at much greater distances from their handlers to find game and when they have located it they must not flush the game but must wait for the handler to get close enough to be in range.  They must have some way of indicating the presence of game without disturbing it they do this by keeping still and pointing to where the game is.  The dog will then on command flush the game.  These dogs are renowned for seeking dead and in recent times the retrieve has been introduced.  The breeds in this category include

  • English Setter
  • Irish Setter
  • Gordon Setter
  • English Pointer




Weimeraner & German Short-haired Pointer

These dogs have largely been bred on the continent and as the name suggests, the dogs are able to do all three of the main tasks (point, flush & retrieve).  The breeds in this category include

  • German Short-haired Pointer
  • German Wired-hair Pointer
  • Weimeraner
  • Vizsla
  • Large Munsterlander
  • Brittany 
  • Italian Spinone

Do you own a Pure Bred Gundog?

Are you intested in Gundog Activities?

Please do not hesitate in contacting FRA for further information


Contact Details
Mr Geoff Dawson
Burpengary 4505, QLD
Phone : 07 3886 6367
Email : [email protected]

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