Gundog Breeds: The Labrador Retriever

by admin on November 26, 2011

labrador retrieverThe Labrador Retriever is the most popular gundog and family pet in the UK.    The reputation of these  amiable and biddable dogs as efficient retrievers on land and water,  is without compare.

Most people that buy a Labrador to  train  as a gundog,  also intend the dog to be a companion and family member.   And many Labradors perform this dual function superbly.

Labradors are famous not only for their abilities in the shooting field,  but also as service dogs  and as outstanding competitors in working trials and obedience competitions.   There is very little that the Labrador cannot turn a paw to!

Training your labrador

Basic training  is essential for Labradors as they are large and powerful dogs that can be boisterous.  Whilst Labradors are relatively easy to train,  there is a certain amount of knowledge and information required in order to get the job done effectively.

The Gundog Club’s graded training books  provide step-by-step instructions for teaching your Labrador the basic skills needed to be a well behaved dog  in addition to gundog training instructions, for those that wish to work their dogs in the field.  Proceeds  from sales of the books go to the Gundog Trust.

For those that need some extra help with their Labrador’s training there are Gundog Club instructors  in many parts of the UK who will help you train  your  dog  to whatever standard you require.


Neil Dunlop January 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Could you please assist with any advice
I have a 19 Month old Labrador that will not retrieve game from the ground, but she will retrieve pheasants that have been shoot over a river and land in the water with no problems, she will retrieve dummy’s from the ground and water, I also have a dummy with a pheasant pelt stitched to it which she will retrieve from the ground and also a large bunch of pheasant that she will also retrieve.

Thanks Neil

admin January 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hi Neil, it is not unusual for dogs to be initially picky about picking up birds. Taking a bird from the water feels different to the dog and with practice your bitch will learn to pick up birds from the ground too.

One old fashioned trick that might work in your case is to make a parcel of the bird in ‘stocking’ or ‘pop sock’ The fine fabric makes the bird feel more like a dummy and with success you can gradually pull the feathers through until it feels like a bird again. Use hen birds to practice on as they are lighter and less strongly scented

Sometimes mixing a dead pheasant in with a bunch of dummy retrieves can do the trick too.

A session with a gundog instructor might be very helpful as they will be able to judge your dog’s reaction and give you tips based on her behaviour at the time.

Julian Johanson-Brown January 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I am a complete novice to gundog training but eager to learn. I have a 14 week old black lab puppy (Stanley) who comes from a long line of very good gundog stock. I want to offer him the best in training so will be looking at your courses (to train me) but wondered if you can give any advice on how best to respond to his playful chomping of the air when he gets excited in the garden. He rushes in and play bites. It is no doubt all in play but I dont want it to continue and no do I want it to prejudice his future temprament or training. He is generally very well behaved, a family pet but clearly capable of alot more. Any suggestions most gratefully received and suggested courses we can attend. Julian

Pippa January 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Hi Julian,
Congratulations on your new puppy. You might find this article on puppy biting helpful. It can also help to keep the excitement levels down, especially outdoors. Keep a soft, low calm voice and stop any games if the pup is getting overly wound-up.
You can follow this link Affiliate Instructors to find a trainer in your area. Most of our instructors run courses and will also give you a very useful one-to-one puppy session to get you off on the right foot.

Leigh Trimmer May 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

Hi there,

Can someone please help me, I wanted to know why you don’t dock the tails of a labrador retriever but you do a spaniel? Surely they are both at rick of injury even more so the labrador with its long bushy tail?


admin May 28, 2013 at 11:10 am

Hi Leigh,
Docked breeds are those that are bred to hunt and flush in thick cover. Labradors do sometimes injure their tails but these injuries are far more common in longer tailed spaniels.

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