By Karen A. Soukiasian
Families or individuals hoping to find a dog that is easy to train and fun to live with, should consider adopting a sporting group dog.
Dogs in this group include: pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels.
The extraordinary attachment between sporting group dogs and people is virtually magic. Being exceptionally biddable, sporting breeds thrive on the challenges and interactions, of working with and pleasing their people.
Sporting group dogs are known for their intelligence, energy, pleasant disposition, and willingness to do whatever it takes to please you. This renders them easier to train, than most dogs. They have been bred for their tireless, working drive and their desire for human companionship.
Canine behaviorists consider their neoteny, meaning retaining their juvenile characteristics even as adults, as one of their most endearing characteristics. This is what makes sporting group dogs especially suited for families with energetic children. Their enthusiasm, playfulness, responsiveness to positive reinforcement, devotion, loyalty, affection, combined with proportionate protectiveness, makes them an amazing family pet.
Ideally, starting with a fresh slate is what many people would prefer. For them the puppy stage is important.
It is strongly suggested, to get your puppy off to a good start. Enroll in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten as soon as possible. Generally, puppies in this group are easier than most to train, however, the real point of enrolling in a class, is to teach you, how to successfully communicate with your puppy.
The plus side of dogs of any age in this group is almost by instinct, they bond rather immediately with their new people. It’s remarkable how quickly most adjust to their new home, surroundings and family. Their gratitude for being part of a pack is heartwarming. Enrolling in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free obedience class would help to bolster the relationship.
It should be noted, sporting group dogs are not ideal for inactive, housebound families. They need and thrive on human companionship and most need oodles of exercise. They are intelligent, so they must be kept constantly busy and challenged; otherwise they can get bored, and into trouble!
Popular Sporting Group Dogs
The breeds below are not a complete list. However, it will give you a sense of the size, personality and temperament of some of the more popular breeds.
American Cocker Spaniel/English Cocker Spaniel – Smaller than most in the sporting group, Cockers are intelligent, loyal, playful, protective and easy to train. They do well with children and other dogs. Cocker Spaniels are a great pet for a moderately active family that enjoys water sports.
Brittany Spaniel – They are also known simply as a Brittany. Medium size. Alert, intelligent and happiest when included in a family that keeps busy with outdoor activities and brainy challenges.
Boykin Spaniel -Thrives on human companionship. Medium size. Does well with children and other dogs. This loyal, intelligent, fun-loving dog makes a great family pet.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Would do best with a family that loves outdoor activities, especially anything to do with water! Medium size. Intelligent, active and tough!
English Setter – A gentle, friendly, obedient, family dog. They range from medium-large. This breed does not do well when left alone too long. They need and thrive on human companionship and vigorous outdoor activities.
English Springer Spaniel – A terrific, intelligent, medium size family dog. Loves to please their people, obedient, easy to train, they prefer to stick close to you and stay busy.
German Shorthaired Pointer – An intelligent, even-tempered, medium size athlete, and watchdog that thrives best when interacting with an active, outdoorsy family. They are a breed that need to stay busy, or they will find something, usually inappropriate, to amuse themselves!
German Wirehaired Pointer – A high-energy, affectionate, intelligent, dog that is devoted to their human companions. Like their Shorthaired cousins, this is a dog that has to be kept busy. They are a terrific dog for an energetic family.
Golden Retriever – The dog with the everlasting puppy face! Larger than the spaniels, this friendly, affectionate, loyal dog, is regularly in the Top Ten of America’s Most Popular Breeds. They make an incredible family pet.
Gordon Setter – They are also known as a Black & Tan, this is the heaviest of the Setter breed. They are intelligent, active and devoted to their families. Their nickname “The Thinker” should give you a clue. They are strong-minded, sometimes even down right stubborn! This breed is not recommended for an inexperienced dog owner. Positive reinforcement, punishment-free training is strongly suggested. They are an amazing pet for the right family.
Irish/Red Setter – A tall, friendly, high-energy breed. They love nothing more than to make their families laugh at their silly antics! Not as easy to train as most others, but a handsome, fun-loving pet. Expect to be amused by their affection and goofiness!
Labrador Retriever – The most popular dog in America! Labs can vary in size from medium to large. More American families share their lives with Labrador Retrievers, than any other breed… that should tell you something. Labs come in three colors, Black, Chocolate and Yellow. They are intelligent, affectionate, loyal, eager to please, happy, alert, and the list goes on and on. An incredible family dog!
Pointer – Somewhere between medium and large, this is a high-energy, affectionate, intelligent dog that gets along well with everyone! Be prepared to spend a lot of time exercising your Pointer! This is not the dog for a laid-back, calm family! They thrive on vigorous activity. A bored Pointer will have no problem finding trouble!
Weimaraner – Also known as the Grey Ghost, they can vary in size from medium to large. An incredible family pet, this is a fearless, handsome, easy-to-train, friendly dog that loves to be with their people. They are known for their speed, courage and intelligence. This is a dog that is especially great with active children.
Bottom line: If you are an active individual or family, looking for an intelligent, alert, friendly, devoted dog that can keep up with you; research sporting group dogs. There is bound to be one just perfect for you and your family.
Keep in mind, these dogs need lots of action, constant positive-reinforcement, intellectual and physical challenges and a family that wants to share their outdoor adventures with their canine best friend.
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