View Full Version : Where to get a good bird dog in TX?

May 4, 2007, 10:52 PM
Hey guys, I'm making the plunge to get a good lab for our new south Texas property. It's going to be my fiance's graduation gift, so maybe I'll kill two birds with one stone.:D The last time I dove/quail hunted, I was the 10 year old bird dog, and I'd like to get a lab to do the leg work for me. It'll be my first experience with bird dogs, so I don't know what to expect. I've never been one to leave my dogs outside, so our lab will be an inside doga long with our two retired greyhounds, one Yorkshire terrier, and a cat. Will being a family pet interfere with the dog's training? I'd like a pet first, and working dog second. Is that too much to ask out of one dog? What should I look for, and does anyone have a breeder that they prefer in the central Texas area?

This is what she wants:

I want both!

May 5, 2007, 12:11 AM
I don't think it's too much to ask. My two Brittanys are both pets, and they hunt like fiends! Get a good pup from hunting parents, train it right, and stand back!

May 5, 2007, 12:44 AM
I don't know if you are committed to the Lab, but I can get a bead on a really good line of German Shorthair. In fact a litter may be coming along in the near future. They are incredible dogs when trained well. Be prepared to spend a little money on a good bloodline regardless of the breed. The puppy mills are not usually a good idea if looking for a hunt dog. JMO

May 5, 2007, 01:24 AM
Yeah, I plan on steering clear of puppy mills and "recreatonal" breeders. Our AKC Yorkshire set me back a bit over a grand. That's about $250 a pound! I'm looking to spend about the same for a good lab with respectable lineage.

Here's what I'm thinking about so far...

May 5, 2007, 03:23 PM
Are you going to be hunting mostly waterfowl, or mostly upland birds & dove? The lab retriever excels at the former, while dogs designed for upland birds excel at that (ranging, pointing, & land retrieving) - breeds such as pointers, setters, & spaniels. Such as a GSP (German Shorthaired Pointer).

However, be very very careful - there are a million and one bad backyard breeders out there. As with any dog, you need to find a breeder that breeds for the love of the breed, not principally for money!

At a minimum, find a breeder who:

-will let you inspect the breeding premises. If they won't, there's something wrong. Check for space, cleanliness, organization, overall care
-can tell you in detail in what manner he/she socializes the dog prior to you adopting them, using other dogs, people, noises & sights
-will give you a health guarantee
-has had the dog checked & certified on hips - you should absolutely require an OFA dysplasia certification
-will let you test and evaluate the puppies before making your selection of the litter
-asks YOU questions about the fitness of YOUR home, what YOU want to do with the dog - questions that show a concern for the health & well-being of the dog
-who is NOT wrapped up in conformation shows, which tell you almost nothing about the 3 most important things you are concerned with: Working ability, health, and temperament
-perhaps most importantly, can tell you the how/what/when/where/whys of how they make their breeding priorities: (a) working ability, then temperament, then health, or (b) temperament, then working ability, then health, or (c) working ability, then health, then temperament, or (d) [you get the idea]
-on working ability, find one that suits what you're trying to do. For quail & pheasants, you want to know how far their parents liked to range from the hunter while hunting, how good they work, how well they point, how well they retrieve, how teachable are they, etc. You want one really "birdie" - one that is highly motivated in finding birds.

PLEASE DO NOT REWARD THE IDIOT BACKYARD BREEDERS by getting a dog from them - search out and find a GOOD breeder such as I have described. Thank you for your help in preventing bad breeders from creating bad dogs with heath problems and little to no working ability. Sorry for the rant.

PS. AKC registered is *ABSOLUTELY* meaningless to what is important - working ability, health, intelligence, and temperament!

Do a search on the internet. At the very least they should have a good website & operation. Not just a classified ad. You might expand your search to neighboring states or all of USA or even North America, to find the best breeder for you. But as big as Texas is, and as many hunters are there, there oughtta be a few really good breeders within a 3-4 hour drive of you, almost certainly. Remember, the best breeders do not necessarily charge more than backyard breeders - usually the same, and sometimes less, unless they do actual training for you, or have highly prized bloodlines. Also remember, every backyard breeder out there has a good sales pitch about this bloodline or that bloodline, or blah, blah, blah....it's meaningless until you ask the hard questions. Say show me some pictures of mama and daddy and a pickup bed full of quail - the proof is in the pudding. For that matter, say let me see mama and daddy in person - inspect them for their health, their temperament, etc. If possible, view grandparents of the litter as well.

One more thing - IF the dog is going to be an indoor pet/companion, in addition to being a worker, then you may not want one too terribly excitable/hyperactive. Some instinct/working ability yes, but the ones very highly driven can make bad pets, as they are just too rambunctious to mesh with a indoor home, particularly with small children.

ONE more thing - If you DO go with a labrador - remember, they were bred for retrieving waterfowl, not pointing and working the land looking for birds. As a result, if that is what you plan to do, you MUST make sure that the particular bloodline of labs you're looking at has some pointing instinct like that - some do and some don't - be careful. They are ALL cute. But are you fully committed to take care of that dog for life if it grows up and cannot/will not point, and/or has serious health problems? If the answer is no, then you oughtta do some serious research on your breeder.

May 5, 2007, 04:00 PM
Thanks for the info FirstFreedom. Much appreciated.

June 1, 2007, 01:46 AM
I've been hunting Quail in South Texas for the past 3 years, and the one thing I know for sure, your dog needs to be very driven and have a very high pain tolerance. They have a saying there, about the land sticking you or biting you or some such thing...
The guides I've hunted with always run english pointers, and those dogs take a beating by the land and hard! They seem to run through it like they don't even feel it. The guides usually have a lab or 2 on the rig, but they are only used to find the downed birds. They don't like to get huge thorns in them, and they wont hunt for long or hard after their wounded even a little bit. I hunt with an English Setter at home in Cali, but I doubt that he'd have the hutzpha to take the abuse needed to chase those pretty little birds around in the South Texas brush.
I'd really suggest looking at getting a Pointer, either English or a GSP if you're planning to upland hunt. I'd talk to the local guys about where they get their dogs, and all how they stand up to the terrain. The texans I know take pride in their dogs when they're hunting well, but won't hesitate to liquidate a dog that won't run... so you may be able to save a couple from a sadder fate. I got my setter from a guy that runs them competitively, and for some reason he felt he wasn't a champion - but he hunts great for me.

Best luck.


June 1, 2007, 08:33 AM
My dad hunts a chocolate lab. She weighs in about 105 and is a great upland bird dog. She is also a house dog who honestly gets more love then we kids do. The only thing about most labs is that they hit a wall at about 3 to 4 hours where they get pretty worn out from running. I'm not sure if this is because of where we hunt(very heavily brushed state land) or if their big bodies just get worn out.

When you go to buy the dog if they don't ask you about where you live you probably don't want to buy it. When Sophie(the lab) had her litter of 15!!! my dad would not sell a dog to someone unless they signed a legal contract stating that they could not breed the dog unless they obtained permission from my dad and also if they at any time did not want the dog my father would take it back from them. Although AKC papers don't men a dog is better then a non papered dog. The processes they have in place are very helpful

Fat White Boy
June 2, 2007, 12:02 AM

Ask them about English Cocker Spaniels. Great Upland game dogs and house pets. These are NOT American Cocker Spaniels. These are real hard core hunting dogs...

June 2, 2007, 08:50 AM
That's about $250 a pound! I'm looking to spend about the same for a good lab with respectable lineage.

You can have my lab for that price. Let's see, $250/lb @ 114 lb (he's a BIG one) that'll be $28,500. Oh, heck, I'll round it down to $25,000 just for you! :)

June 12, 2007, 05:42 PM
Have you thought about a Texas Blue Lacy? I'm not sure that very many dog breeds can handle the South Texas terrain.