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The Other Reasons We Buy Hunting Dogs

The Other Reasons We Buy Hunting Dogs

A boy with his hunting dog.

There are many reasons, unrelated to wingshooting, that we buy hunting dogs.

The decision to get a hunting dog puppy was made last spring. Though that decision was not necessarily made by me and it wasn’t necessarily made primarily for hunting purposes. It happened like this…

I was sitting on the sideline of my son’s soccer game, watching the ball bounce merrily back and forth between clusters of second graders. My son, playing goalie at the time, was most certainly not watching the ball. His eyes were trained on a little brown blip that was running back and forth along a chainlink fence fifty yards away, marking the edge of the park.

“DAD!” shouted my inattentive goalkeeper, “look at that awesome dog!”

Fall 2022 Prairie bird hunting Magazine ad

I squinted. Recognizing that the brown blip was actually a chihuahua, I sighed, realizing I had to teach my son what the word “awesome” means.

After a fatherly admonition (“Watch the game, son!”) I turned to my wife. She simply nodded. We knew the time had come.

I’d spent the last year or so researching hunting dog breeds and hunting over a buddy’s pair of Brittanys, but I had already decided on the dog breed we were going to get: Braque du Bourbonnais. It’s a little-known breed that excels both in the field and in the home. I had stumbled upon an article in Gun Dog Magazine about the breed and my imagination had been running wild ever since. The only question: with a very limited number of breeders across the country, was there a litter on the horizon?

Side note for a moment. I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that the name Braque du Bourbonnais sounds awfully pretentious for a hunting dog. So, when people ask what breed she is, I mumble something about her being a pointer and being from the region in France that inspired the good folks of Kentucky to name their liquor “Bourbon.” That usually gets me off the hook.

Fast forward about five months and five thousand requests from my son to “get a dog.” I found myself pulling up to Elk Run Kennels in Southern Idaho—a mere 5 hours from where I live—to pick up our new family member. The best part is that, while I described the breed in great detail to my son and got his own little imagination churning, he was under the impression that we were going to Elk Run to “film something for Project Upland.” We walked up to the house and the breeder, Lonn Kuck, opened the door—a nine-week-old female with liver ticking and a perfect brown spot on her eye came careening down the steps of the front porch, colliding with my son’s shins. It would not be a cliche to say that it was love at first sight.

After rubbing his face on nearly every square inch of the dog, he looked up at Lonn and asked, “What kind of dog is this?”

Lonn smiled, “That’s a Braque to Bourbonnais.”

My son, in a move that you only see on slapstick sitcoms, whips his head to me and with wide eyes says, “Dad! This is the breed that we want to get!”

As I reflect on the decision-making process of picking a hunting dog breed, I’ve found myself thinking about all the reasons I bought a hunting dog. To my surprise, there were a lot of them that had nothing to do with hunting.

Directly, anyway.

Now, my son would have been content with a chihuahua (the shame!) but mere contentment wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted him to have a real dog. I wanted a breed that could keep up with him…maybe even wear him out. I wanted a breed that would be affectionate and loyal. A breed that knew how to hunt hard and terrorize our cats, but also knew when to calm down and curl up for a fireside nap. I wanted a breed that was eager to please and happiest while working. I wanted a breed that was overflowing with intelligence and instinct and was as doggy as a dog can be. In other words, there was no possible option to get a non-hunting breed.

You see, Pearl isn’t just the best hunting dog I’ve ever owned. She’s the best dog I’ve ever owned. Period. And that’s important for all those off-season months when we all want (need?) more than just a good nose and elegant point.

At the end of the day, it brings a smile to my face thinking that my son’s childhood memories will be full of this amazing creature and that he will always know exactly what a dog is supposed to be. And that is the primary reason I bought a hunting dog.

View Comments (10)
  • Chet great article. Really parallels a similar experience we had in our family. My wife was set on ensuring or dog would be a great family dog first and foremost after some previous negative experiences with family dogs as a child. So she asked me what I enjoyed hunting the most and I said Ruffed Grouse and didn’t think much of it again. Then one day shortly before our wedding and honeymoon she tells me she has us on a list for some up coming litters on a rare Continental Pointing breed I had never heard of before at a kennel in Spokane, Washington. For further context we live in Ontario, Canada so not exactly close to home, but after much begging and pleading I agreed to make the drive from where we were staying in Montana for our honeymoon over to Spokane to visit the breeder and learn about Drentsche Patrijshonds (Drents). We were smitten from the start and got our first puppy a few months latter from a breeder slightly closer to home (at least in Canada anyways). One recent story my father-in-law loves to retell is when they were watching our dog and she was let outside for a bathroom break and she slammed onto a point of a chukar that was still hanging around after we did some recent field training and so he went to see what she was up to and accidentally flushed the bird, which sent her off in hot pursuit to his amazement. I love how he recounts this story and imitates her point. Happy hunting and glad you are teaching your son the real meaning of “awesome”.

    • Thanks, Paul. Man, great story you have there too! I confess that I had to google the breed but that’s a good-looking dog. Happy hunting to you as well.

  • Great story. My first bird dog was a big, male Weimaraner. A very strong headed dog. After marriage and two children, one with special needs, we determined he needed to live with another family. Heart broken, but knowing it was best for him and for my family, I let him go finish the rest of his life with a warm, loving family who had a female Weim. We then lived 14 years without a dog. During that time, I read and researched many versatile breeds to find one that my non-dog loving wife could live with. I was looking for a calm house dog, light to no shedding but one who could hunt. Last November, we picked up our male Pudelpointer, Kona. The boys love him. And he hunts. Momma tolerates him and on occasion, likes him. He is calm in the house and moves beautifully, with range, in the field. Could not be happier. Having a dog in the house is the completion of the family.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Troy. Pudelpointers are beautiful dogs. My wife and I went 8 years dogless as our previous dog died when my son was 6 weeks old. We had forgotten what a joy it is to have a dog around the house. Hope you have a great season with Kona!

  • Great article! I have a pup from there from his last “O” litter. He is the best dog I’ve ever had. Lonn is the best Bourbonnais breeder in the country for sure.

    • Thanks, Bryan. Pearl is from the “R” litter and yes, Lonn is definitely world-class. I just have to convince him to write up a breed profile for Project Upland! I’d love to see the breed grow with breeders like Lonn leading the charge. Happy hunting.

  • Great article Chet! In many ways, similar to my experience of researching, acquiring, & now living with my current dog.
    He is also a French breed, called a Braque Francais. He is also not only a great family dog and hunting dog, but the best overall dog I have ever owned. I also find myself, when asked what kind of dog he is, describing him as a French pointer. He was easy to train, a wonderful hunting companion, and perfectly content to be curled up next to my wife, on the sofa.
    Thanks again for a well written article.

    Leon LeMoine

    • Leon,

      Thanks for the kind words! Braque Francais are beautiful dogs and the breed was one of our finalists. The deal was sealed, though, when we found a world class BdB breeder within a few hours of us. It would certainly be nice if our breeds could get simpler names!


  • My kids grew up with a Shorthair named Buckshot.
    Grouse dog, show dog, & above all their dog from the ages of 6 & 8 till they left home for college.
    Buck has been gone since 2008, but my kids (29 & 31 now) have those memories you speak of, and to this day believe German Shorthaired Pointers are the best breed of dog ever.
    We all know it’s birddogs that are the best breeds of dogs ever.

  • I am now on my third Brittany….in short i truly believe that a Brittany is the finest breed on the planet…..super intelligent and loyal….totally awesome companion

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