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Old February 3, 2005, 05:04 PM   #20
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Join Date: May 31, 2004
Location: The Toll Road State, U.S.A.
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Also, look at this:

Versatile hunting dog is defined as "a generic term applied to a dog that is bred and trained to dependably hunt and point game, to retrieve on both land and water, and to track wounded game on both land and water."1 The Weimaraner is not the only versatile hunting breed developed on the European continent, and in Germany, all are tested by standards established by the German Versatile Hunting Dog Association. The following versatile breeds are recognized by the AKC: Brittany, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Vizsla, Weimaraner, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.

Breed development followed a different pattern on the British Isles, where breeds were expected to excel in only one specific function: the Pointer as well as the Irish, English, and Gordon Setters pointed feathered game; the Golden, Labrador, Flat Coated, and Curly Coated Retrievers retrieved feathered game; a variety of hounds filled the needs for large and small furred-game hunting and blood tracking.

The AKC, established in 1884, developed field trial rules and performance standards for its recognized breeds -- that is, the British specialists. Bird dogs either pointed or retrieved, never both. When the versatile breeds arrived later, the AKC classified all as pointers instead of designing a new type of trial to evaluate their unique and very different talents.

Competing in pointing-breed trials placed the newcomers at a disadvantage, though there have been a few Weimaraners over the years that competed successfully in all-breed competition. Through selective breeding to enhance speed, range, and pointing style, the performance of some versatile breeds such as the Vizsla and German Shorthaired Pointer has been altered for greater competitive success in AKC pointing-breed trials. In general, however, this has been achieved at the expense of their retrieving, tracking, scenting aptitude, trainability, and interest in furred game.

For the hunter, the most important difference between the Weimaraner and the other versatile hunting breeds is that the Forester's Dog cannot be kept in a backyard kennel between hunting seasons. It requires human companionship because hunting is only one facet of its total partnership with humans. The Pointer hunts because birds are the most important thing in its life; the Weimaraner hunts because hunting is the most wonderful activity that can be shared with the people it loves.

Owners who lack the time and skill to train their Weimaraners, especially if they hope the dog has competitive potential, must send them to the few professional trainers who understand the Weimaraner's temperament. Field trainers who are accustomed to the hard-headed Pointer often lack the soft touch and the partnership bond required for success with a Weimaraner.

Fortunately, the very quality that frustrates so many professional trainers -- the need to treat a Weimaraner gentle and lovingly -- makes the breed uniquely suitable for an amateur. Some trainers admit that the breed's intelligence and instinctive aptitude are so strong that the best way to train a Weimaraner is merely to provide an opportunity for the dog to hunt and to observe other dogs. This is, in fact, the approach used by German trainers -- to provide guided experience that allows instinctive behavior patters to unfold. The dog's instinct provides the motivation, and its intelligence helps it discover the best way to do it. Moreover, when Weimaraners work with an older, well-trained dog, the breed's copycat trait accelerates and reinforces learning.

The Weimaraner is an excellent breed for sportsmen who want a gundog that does not range too far for hunting on foot, covers the terrain with painstaking thoroughness, retrieves birds on land and in water, is easily trained by a novice, and is a delightful companion when not hunting. It thrives on human companionship and must be part of the family; this bonding with humans is linked with its versatile working traits, and if isolated from household activities, the Weimaraner's hunting aptitude rarely develops properly. Those who desire these traits consider the Weimaraner the finest of all bird dogs.
So I think the Vizsla and Weimaraner lead the list, with GSPs and possibly Ridgebacks in the running.
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