Pointing Labs


How To Pick A Pup


We intend to present some input that will enable you to get going in the right direction researching for a puppy or started dog. There are many things to consider and aspects to evaluate. We've got a number of recommendations to present. You will discover all types of marketing and advertising strategy's kennels and breeders use to try and sell their dogs. A number of them are good , some bad and some ugly. Hopefully we can assist you through the gauntlet so to speak, the sales pitches, advertising strategies as well as some instances smoke and mirrors employed by some kennels for making the sell. Thankfully you may still find ethical folks wanting to improve the breed and produce a better dog. They have got the animals best interests in mind. You may be pleasantly surprised to uncover who those individuals are during your search for a dog.

Health Clearances

First responsible dog breeders will always make an effort to produce a better dog. Dogs that provide the very best of what the breed has to offer. They're going to try to produce dogs with out health conditions and produce pups with the best pedigrees available. They will endeavor to improve the dogs through selective breeding of superior animals. Regrettably you will discover kennels and folks who's principal desire will be to generate income. They have got little interest in the breed or the prospective new puppy owners. They've got very little consideration for all of the possibilities and implications of genetic conditions within a gene pool which can be transferred through generations. Excellent breeders won't breed dogs with known health conditions. Their breeding dogs will have health clearances for their dogs hips and eyes. They're going to guarantee their dogs against hip dysplasia and blindness for 26 or more months. In some instances they will test for other potential problems within the specific breed. We advise not dealing with any breeders selling dogs which do not have a passing OFA hip rating and an eye CERF. We suggest going to the web sites for the OFA and CERF organizations for additional information about what they do. There is a different procedure for evaluating hips which is called Penn Hip. We currently use OFA but are taking into consideration PENN Hip and understand how Penn Hip works. What we like about it is that they take several different views of the hips. OFA takes one view. As with most data group the more data you have generally the better the conclusion. Go look at the links to these different organizations if you desire to learn more.


The initial step during this process really should be checking out pedigrees. We recommend looking closely at the titles throughout the pedigree. There are two registries with pedigrees for the dogs registered. The AKC and the UKC. Both have various pedigrees for their organization. The UKC does not recognize AKC titles on their pedigrees and The AKC does not recognize UKC titles. You wont see an FC/AFC or MH title on a UKC pedigree. You also wont see a HRCH title on a AKC pedigree. To make things even more interesting neither on recognizes the APLA titles. All of these titles are significant achievements especially the upper levels. The UKC runs the retriever events in the HRC ( Hunter Retriever Club )

For a pointing lab what we are primarily looking for are AKC , HRC hunt test titles, Field trial titles as well as APLA titles. Ideally we would like to have both parents of the pups to be APLA GMPR's ( Grand Master Pointing Retrievers ) and AKC FC's/AFC's/MH's or HRC HRCH titles. There are other hunt test organizations like NAHRA as well. We suggest going to the hunt test web sites for more information about their testing criteria and the titles they have to offer qualifying dogs. Titles on dogs provide some valuable information about the dogs. If they are upper level titles it shows that the dog was trainable and was capable of learning advanced concepts. If there are several generations with upper level titles it shows there is a trend in the traits that are being passed on from generation to generation. If you have several generations with titles on both sides of the pedigree it greatly increases the probability that those traits will be present in a puppy you buy from that breeding. For example if you see two or more generations of GMPR's on both sides of a pedigree it is highly likely the pups from that litter will point. The more titles you consistently see in a pedigree the stronger the pedigree is as a general rule. Occasionally you will find a dog with little or no titles in the pedigree that are still very nice dogs that can achieve upper level titles. Empirical data through our experience of training many dogs is this is an exception rather than a rule. As a general rule if you see two dogs with the same titles we recommend taking a closer look at the dog with the better pedigree. Incidentally we feel that breeders that only emphasize the pointing trait in their breeding program and pedigrees are traveling down the wrong road. In our opinion it is a disservice to the breed with the same consequences that have appeared in breeders only breeding for color. We recommend looking much closer at dogs that have advanced ( SH ) or high level retriever hunt test titles( MH ) (HRCH), within their pedigrees besides GMPR.

There are actually characteristics expressed in dogs which can be recognized by their type of breeding and pedigree. Most noticeably with field trial dogs. Ease of training, co- operation, natural marking abilities, big motor, intense focus, ability to give a 100% at anything they are working at regardless if it is marks or repetitive drills, ability to do complicated tasks, decision making quickly and more. For anyone who is fortunate enough to be around lots of dogs in training you will observe several of these characteristics in the field trial bred dogs. In a group of dogs you can see things like better marking abilities, better blinds, running harder/ faster to and from the bird, thinking through diversions including the lay of the land and different structure, more co-operation, diligence on marks, to name a few. There are distinct benefits to having a dog with these abilities as part of their genetic makeup. Benefits when it comes to training in general and specifically for hunt tests, field trials and hunting dogs. Additionally it is quite common to see several FC/AFC field trial dogs within the pedigrees of Master Hunter or Hunter Retriever Champions level dogs. If you look at enough pedigrees you will see this is the rule as opposed to the exception. There are also traits expressed through pedigreed dogs that are GMPR's. Obviously the pointing trait is one of them. Another is a dog that almost immediately puts their nose to the ground when hunting, birdiness to the point that they see everything in motion around them, working and staying on scent of an upland bird until it is located, diligence on birds that are crippled. There tend to be more but these are some of the obvious ones we have seen. In our thoughts and opinions the combination of a field trial dog and a GMPR produces the very best of both worlds in the very well bred dog. It's our recommendation that whenever you look at pedigrees you consider this combination. Virtually all of our dogs have this kind of breeding. If you go to the web page labeled Our Dogs it is possible to pull up pedigrees on all of our dogs.


Whenever you see a title on a dog there are some things to take into consideration. While you often see the outcome from the work to obtain a title, unless you have trained the dog or observed them run in all the events they ran in you don't know how many times it took for them to qualify for the title. If all things are equal with regard to training and the number of events entered, a dog having a higher rate of success of passing is generally a better dog. There a variety of factors to take into account when making comparisons. Let say for example it takes 5 Master passes for a AKC MH title. Assuming the dogs have experienced approximately the same amount and quality of training with an equally good handler, a dog that achieves a title with five straight passes compared to a dog that required eight or nine attempts to get five passes is usually a better dog. These can be important distinctions. Yet another illustration may be three attempts at a GMPR rather than one successful attempt. Don't assume that because two dogs have the identical title they have exactly the same over-all abilities. While two dogs may have passed a GMPR test and attained a title there may be substantial variations in their abilities. Another example could be two dogs running a blind in a GMPR or MH test. One dog does the task without having a handle. The following dog requires half dozen casts to get the there. If all other things are equivalent the dog that consistently lines the blind is usually a better dog at this task. All these situations are indications of most likely a better dog if you take closer look at them.

All titles are not necessarily equal. Meaning a retriever title from each one of the various organizations are not always equivalent. Testing and qualifying measures could be more challenging in one organization than another. Does this imply that one title is more valuable than another? Depends who you talk to and what your goals are? By far the testing organization with the most tests and entries through out the country is the AKC. We would like to see SH and MH titles in dogs along with an APLA title of GMPR. We always take a closer look at dogs that have SH, MH and GMPR titles as opposed to those that don't. Other organization like HRC , NARHA also have several level titles. We have experienced some truly challenging tests setup both in HRC and NAHRA. We have successfully ran and titled our dogs in every one of these organizations. For additional information about these organizations, their testing criteria, rules and titles pay a visit to their web sites for more details.

One more thing to make note of with titles is that not everyone is able to train their dogs to upper level titles. They also may not be in a position to pay a pro to get them there. An owner which has enough time, funds and resources to go to many events is a lot more likely to have the ability to get titles on their dog rather than the typical person with a capable dog who doesn't possess the resources. There are , without any doubt, numerous dogs in existence which can be trainable to the GMPR/MH levels if they were provided the training and could run events given the chance. In cases like this it can be all the more essential to consider an excellent pedigree. Look for the history of dogs that have proven themselves for several generations. In many cases kennels with the greatest advertising and marketing funds seem to have the best dogs. That isn't always the case if you search deeper. They are the ones with the most presence. They're able to place advertisements in internet websites, Gundog, Retrievers Journal, The Pointing Dog Journal, APLA newsletters, get vender booths at sportsman's events. They are able to manage to pay for their dogs to be put on a professionals truck and also have them handle their dogs in tests throughout the country and be seen. Business wise there isn't anything wrong with any of this. However , don't presume the kennels or folks with the most resources provide the best dogs to choose from currently. Accomplishing a GMPR , 4XGMPR or MH is a substantial accomplishment for any individual. We particularly admire owners that learn how to train their dogs and put the titles on their dogs on their own.

Another side of the coin are owners that have really nice dogs that don't run events at all. They may have great pedigrees, maybe even superior than the dogs with a good deal of advertising and marketing, running events or acquiring titles. We are mindful of a number of dogs we have properly trained that are not noticed at hunt tests or promoted at all that could rise to the top and be regarded as good as any dog out there running events currently. They have the pedigree and capabilities to develop into 4X GMPR's, MH's, AFC's , FC's. Their owners would rather hunt their dogs than run them in events. I once listened to an individual say " You feed the dog, do what you want with them ". We agree with the fact!

We recommend placing a considerable amount of weight in searching for titled dogs with MH , HRCH and GMPR titles. We also like to see dogs with more than one GMPR title. Ideally a 4X GMPR title. They have run several tests, often in several places all over the country and have demonstrated they can pass them. That mentioned keep in mind how many tests they were entered in and passed or failed. That should also be a thing to consider.

Run and Gun titles

Some folks choose to run their dogs in what is known as run and guns, shoot to retrieve or tournament hunts. These are competitive hunts where birds are planted, contestants receive a certain amount of shells and are given x amount of time to cover the field with their dogs inside outlined borders. The individual with the fastest time and the minimum amount of shots to shoot and retrieve a particular quantity of birds wins. Sometimes there are actually cash prizes and or shotguns or dog boxes the winner gets to takes home. A significant point to make note of is the fact that dogs are not judged as with a hunt test or field trials. They're scored only on time, the amount of birds shot and shells used. All of the dogs have to have the ability to find birds, point them and retrieve them to hand and also the handler needs to be capable of hitting the birds to score. Oftentimes the individual with the best planted field, which means essentially the most birds within the field when they run their dog wins. That is presuming obviously the dogs do their part and also the handler shoots the birds his dog locates. There are several viewpoints about these events. We certainly have one too. It's our thoughts and opinions that whenever folks are active with working together with their dogs it's a positive thing. Including these kind of events. Having said that there are some things we don't like about them. The dogs and handler are usually not judged. The dogs ability to cover an area , nose, co-operation, trainability, pointing style, steadiness on point, wing and shot and retrieving ability is not evaluated or given a score. Normally all of the dogs can perform the task and any dog can win on any given day. It comes down to who has the best planted field. Where things get a little interesting and can be somewhat confusing to the uninformed or casual observer, are when hunt clubs that put these events on start giving titles to the dogs that win the occasion. That in itself is fine. However when you start putting, for example, the title of Colorado State Pheasant Champion or National Champion on a dog, that has some implications that may be confusing to someone that does not understand the game. Where people get into trouble is when they make the assumption, since the title implies it, is that the dog the hunt club calls a State Champion or Nation Champion is the best pheasant hunting dog in the state or nation. That simply isn't the case. It was the dog and handler with the best run in a field on that day or weekend , with the dogs that entered at the event in that hunt club location. Where it can be used as a marketing strategy, and some what deceivingly in our opinion, is when kennels or owners start using these titles to offer dogs to customers not understanding what these titles really mean. When someone is looking at acquiring a pointing lab, maybe their first one, pulls up a site which includes the 2010 State Pheasant Champion dog on the front page they are most likely going to make some assumptions. Assumptions by the uninformed that are most likely not going to be correct. We should say here we are not endeavoring to take away anything at all from the folks that are running these events. We've got clients that run them with dogs we train for them. There are some excellent dogs running in many of these events. Some of those with GMPR, MH and HRCH titles. Were also not indicating that everybody that mentions some thing about their dogs having club titles and running these events are attempting to pull the wool over any customers eyes. Really, the only issue we've got is when the titles turned into a advertising and marketing design for folks seeking make an impression on selling their pups or most dogs to folks who don't have a hint as to in regards to what they really mean. When you notice these hunt club titles on dogs if your doing research on a breeding keep in mind what they are and actually necessarily mean. We suggest you visit the web site of the club that put on the event. Look at the rules, what it requires to obtain a title along with the number of contestants that ran in the event. Make your very own determination on regardless of whether or not the title given reflects just what it suggests.

The Sire and Dam.

While health clearances should be required and excellent pedigrees really should be a priority, the abilities and traits of both parents is important. We feel the parents abilities and titles they have achieved tend to be more significant than successive generations after them. It's just as essential or even more so that the parents have titles than their parents or grand parents. When ever possible go and watch both parents train and observe them perform in events. The most significant affect of traits you will see expressed in a pup is going to be from the first branch in the pedigree, the parents. When you are looking at pointing labs and the pointing characteristic we have empirical data that shows the female has got the dominate influence on puppies. Which means, when the female is very strong pointing the possibilities relatively higher the litter will produce pointing puppies. We have observed a number of cases when non pointing stud dogs were utilized, typically a field trial bred dog, and still produced pointing pups. We have, to a much lesser degree, seen pointing studs produce pointing pups in non pointing female litters. Again this is less common in our experience. When looking at a litter we look initially at what the female has to offer. Preferably what we would like to see is FC/AFC /GMPR titles on the dog. To date we don't know of any female that has accomplished this. The next best thing is a MH/4X GMPR, HRCH/4XGMPR titled female. A dog having a pedigree such as this will in most cases have a number of FC/AFC dogs in her own pedigree. You will find very few females today that have these titles. Are the dogs that meet this criteria the only one to take into consideration breeding to. For our own kennel the response is certainly. As a consequence of our goal to try to improve the breed with the best bred proven performance dogs in the country. This is one of the points that sets us apart from the rest. Are there dogs with pedigrees that are not HRCH/MH/GMPR's that are producing nice dogs? In some circumstances yes. Again it is more typical to be the exception than the rule.

Realize that the stud dogs that are bred the most are not always the best stud dogs out there. It would appear that more than a few folks become kennel blind. Which means, all they see and know is what other people are doing with the same kennel or breeder. Seek out dogs that consistently produce pups that perform. There are a handful of good stud dogs to choose from. The thing is that not all stud dogs or females produce good dogs. They can be accomplished high performance dogs but don't produce pups with their abilities. There are more than one stud dog and female out there today that are this way. We search for stud dogs that not only produce consistently but produce the characteristics we mentioned in the pedigree and title paragraphs above. Really excellent females and stud dogs produce pups as good as they are and ideally better than they are. Seek out these kinds of dogs.

Check out both parents work upland birds, do marks on land and water, multiple marks if their at that level and blinds on land and water. This may not necessarily be possible depending where the breeder is located and where the buyer is located. If that's the case you assume some risk. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Where ever feasible minimize your risks by watching the dogs work! Also learn how to understand what good marking and blind work looks like. A good option to see that is where several dogs are doing work or running in a test. One simple guideline for assessing good marking in a dog is one that takes the most direct line, covers ground quickly, drives through cover and terrain changes, marks the location of the fall accurately, has very short hunts before finding the bird and does it all with style. They will do equally well irregardless whether it is a single, double or triple mark. Regarding running blinds look for dogs that take good initial lines, stay on line through cover and terrain changes, respond well to a sit whistle, make accurate casts when needed, require little if any corrections on their lining to the blind. We also like to see dogs that move out quickly. All of this requires a well bred proficient dog with a significant amount of training to do well. Dogs at this level quickly set themselves apart from the rest. You will not find many average dogs with marginal pedigrees performing this sort of work.

Prices for dogs

We look at pricing sometimes wonder why anyone would pay that much money for the dog. Especially one having a marginal pedigree and with a CP or JH title or none at all. Just like any other market generally the price folks get is the price people will pay. Having said that you can find new dog owners paying more than they ought to, and what the dogs are worth in our view. Customers are not aware that in many instances they're able to have better bred, better performance animals with high level titles for much less than another overpriced dog. Why do folks do it? We believe that there are various reasons based on conversations we have with folks searching for dogs. oftentimes folks don't know exactly where or what things to begin looking for in a good dog. In some instances they may have only seen the high visibility advertising and marketing of the more commonly known kennels. It may be on the kennels web site or possibly a magazine ad. They presume they're the main source or place to go to. In other instances it's a captive market. Which means they simply see or know about one breeders dogs. In some of those cases there are a small number of PL's in the region to look at . People see these dogs at a preserve or on a hunt somewhere and from their point of view they're the greatest. Over all great for exposure for PL's for people who have not seen them before but not always an example of a really well bred, well trained dog. It's all relative. If you don't have a number of dogs with various breeding including different levels of training to compare with how can you come up with a evaluation? If all you have ever driven is a 1972 Ford Pinto how can you possibly know or understand what it is like to drive a 2011 Turbo Porsche or maybe a Ferrari? You don't possess a reference point for making a comparison. With dogs the best way to make the comparison is to consider pedigrees, titles, observe a number of different dogs work and watch both parents of the litter your researching work.

There are pups with CP and JH titles advertised for $800 to $2000 in some locations. Some of these dogs have entry level titles as well as some have marginal pedigrees at best. These are often what we call the captive market circumstances. In our case at our kennel we typically wont recommend dogs such as these for our clients or consider them for our kennel. We believe it is reasonable to pay $1000 to $1800 for a dog that has a good pedigree loaded with GMPR's/ MH's / FC's and AFC's. From our point of view you will find very few PL puppies out there today which are really worth more than $1500 with an excellent pedigree and high level titles on both parents. The simple truth is you don't have to pay more if you carry out your homework researching. Be conscious of the amount of training and time it requires to develop a GMPR , 4X GMPR , HRCH and MH can cost a considerable sum of money. Training fees, birds, food, event fees, travel costs, vet bills, training equipment, training grounds all add up. It isn't easy being a responsible breeder. It can be a high risk expensive business. If done right it is a substantial investment on their part and they need to recover those costs and make some profit. Profit is fine, overpriced decent dogs is a different story? The good breeders breed to make a difference for the dogs and also the owners of those dogs. These would be the people we suggest you support with your hard earned dollars.


There are many ways to get referrals. Friends, trainers, attending events, joining local retriever clubs. We would suggest speaking with a number of different folks. Try to look for people who have owned several dogs. Good dogs preferably with GMPR and or HRCH ,MH titles. In some instances these folks have discovered through experience exactly what a really good dog is particularly if they have trained and handled them to GMPR,HRCH or MH titles. Keep in mind as a general rule everyone is convinced they have a nice dog. In some instances they are right. In other cases they don't possess the experience with several dogs to truly make an reasonable comparison.

Sometimes trainers can help you. Having said that, bear in mind for some they are looking out for the best interest of their clients. Meaning they are going to try to recommend puppies from their clients litters. In some instances given that they have trained the dog they are able to have some valuable insight. Also be a little cautious of trainers that work with a lot of a particular kennels dogs. We have noticed more than one instance where they send everyone that contacts them to kennel X because some of those dogs will come back for training and produce income. In some instances they're not looking out for the best interest of the new owner knowing they are recommending marginal dogs. There is nothing wrong with trying to earn money to make a living. We all need a place to call home and food on our table. What we are pointing out is that you simply need to pay attention to the dogs a trainer in this type of situation are recommending. Look at pedigrees, titles and evaluate these to other dogs. If what they've got to offer meets the needs you have then go for it go for it. Look for the best dog no matter where it is located.

One of the most useful approaches to evaluate a dog or dogs that are going to have litters is to watch them work. Hunt tests are excellent places to go watch the dogs work. In the event the dogs are prepared they ought to do well. One advantage about a hunt test is that in many cases it is not the training area normally used to train the dog. On the other hand dogs that are trained regularly at the location and grounds of the tests are generally going to have an advantage. Their working in a place they know well and work all the time in. Try to watch them in a couple of test. Good dogs which are trained right are consistent in their overall performance. Once in a while they are off a bit or have a bad day. Keep these issues in mind.


Ten guidelines for deciding on a pup or dog.

Don't be in a big hurry to pick a dog.

Pick a dog from proven bloodlines. Look at the pedigrees. Look at titles. Ask if the dogs are hunted.

Pick the best bred dog you can find that will meet your needs. Make the paint job or color selection secondary.

Select a breeding that is going to produce a dog that will more than likely be right for you.

Observe the parents work in the field that includes marking and upland work. If feasible go watch them run a hunt test or competitive event.

Only take into consideration dogs which have health guarantees.

Go see the pups in the litter your interested several times provided you can. Both males and females develop at different rates so separate them when you take a look at them. Keep in mind your looking at little pups that have not been around long. What you see now may be significantly different down the road.

There are never any guarantees that your going to get wonder dog even when you do your homework.

A good breeder knows all their pups in the litter. Take advantage of their knowledge and ask for input on which pup is showing the traits your looking for or like.

Don't assume that the best dogs come from the largest kennels with the biggest marketing/advertising budgets. Look for breeders that are trying to produce the best dogs possible.

Spend the money for an excellent dog. All other things are going to be equal for the most part. A really well bred dog is going to cost you pennies more a day in the long run. Do the math. The benefits can be significant and justify spending the money for a good dog.

Some questions you should ask dog breeders.

Why did you do this breeding?

What do you like about their pedigree?

What are the traits you like in the Sire and Dam?

Are there things that you would like to see stronger in them?

Do you have both Sire and Dam onsite. Can I see them work?

Do they have titles? What are they?

Do you hunt your dogs? What type of hunting?

Do both parents have OFA's and current CERF's. Any health issues with either parents?

Is this a repeat breeding? If so tell me about the previous litter? What have owners done with the pups? How old are they now? Are any of the dogs titled. Can I see a dog from the previous litter work?

Any health concerns with previous litters I need to be aware of?

Factors to consider in individual puppies.

1) Aware of what is happening around them.

2) Tend to leave the group and go out and explore.

3) Approach obstacles, figure them out and get through them.

4) Love to retrieve.

5) Crazy about birds.

5) Are not overly aggressive.

6) Like to be around you.

Good luck,

Poudre River Gundogs


Site Updated

January 20, 2012