An Explanation of Gun Dog Training Levels

We sell English Springer Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels. The dogs we sell are classified in one of four ways. Depending on our client’s wishes, their training skills and their available time, dogs are purchased as a puppy, introduced, started or finished dog. All dogs receive a written health guarantee.

Most people typically purchase a dog based primarily on price. These people end up with a puppy because it is cheapest. We do not sell our dogs on price and we typically only sell two puppies out of each litter that we have. Economically, the puppy is the worst choice you can make. Although cheapest at first, it ends up being the most expensive when you consider the cost of birds to introduce the dog properly and the cost of getting access to appropriate training grounds where you can shoot birds. In addition, most people underestimate the time required and the cost of their time.

However, the number one reason not to buy a puppy is because a breeder can only give a health guarantee, not a quality guarantee. With an introduced, started or finished dog, you can go see the dog work. You can see if the dog hunts, retrieves and listens based on your expectations and the level of dog at which you’re looking to purchase.

Puppy

All puppies begin with quality breeding. We predominately only breed within our kennel. This allows us to be sure we are breeding dogs that prove they can find wild birds...not just the birds planted for a test or game. Occasionally, we "go outside" the kennel to prevent "kennel blindness" and to add something we are looking for to further refine our dogs. Although the paper of a dog does not guarantee a bird dog, it is the best way to increase your odds. Add that to personally seeing the parents work and you have a good formula for success.

Our puppies are just what the name implies. They are between 7 and 12 weeks of age, are well socialized, include a certificate of good health and the eyes are checked (CERF). Additionally, the hips are guaranteed until age three to get a passing OFA rating. Depending on the breeding, our puppies are typically $1,200.

Introduced

These dogs have the same health checks and guarantees as our puppies. The difference comes in additional training. The Introduced dog lacks formal training, but has been properly introduced to birds and the gun and has a basic understanding of the obedience commands (kennel, sit/hup, here). It sounds simple, but most dogs are not properly introduced and, as a result, problems develop later in training.

This is a good purchase for a client who wants to get a young dog and do the bulk of the training. However, the client may not have access to enough birds and to grounds on which they can shoot to properly introduce a dog to birds and the gun. Our Introduced dogs are generally $3,000 and are between 6 and 12 months of age.

Started Dog

Again, our Started dogs have the same health checks and guarantees that our puppies have. They have also been properly introduced to birds and the gun. Formal training has begun – yard work and basic obedience in the field have been completed. You’ll have a dog that will find birds and hunt in control without yelling or excessive use of the whistle. A Started dog is the most common dog we sell.

This dog will do everything most people will ever want. The Started dog listens to both voice and whistle commands and is ready for you to take it upland bird hunting. This dog is for the client who really wants to bird hunt and do minimal training. Our Started dogs are generally $4,000 and are generally between 12 and 24 months of age.

Finished Dogs

Our Finished dogs are truly something to behold. These dogs have a certificate of good health, the eyes have the CERF completed and the hips have the OFA completed. All of the training is completed and the dog is steady-to-wing-and-shot. This is a dog that complies with commands the first time. It sits down on the flush, the whistle or gunfire without being told, and waits until you give the command to retrieve the downed bird. Our Finished dogs have been on our guide team for one year or more and have been hunted in many different States and on many types of wild game birds. Our finished dogs have also been on a peg numerous times for private shoots.

Rarely will you ever be on a guided hunt with a dog as well trained and professionally finished as these dogs. Our Finished dogs are generally $7,500 and are typically two years old or older.