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Annabell Dennis

What qualities should gundog puppies have?

By | Dog Welfare | No Comments

When deciding on a gundog for hunting purposes there are many attributes you may want consider.  Here is a run-down of the some of the qualities that you should be looking out for when choosing your dog.

Sensitivity to sound

Some dogs are a lot less shy than others when it comes to noise, which is a huge factor when dealing with firearms in a hunting environment.  This is something to consider when choosing your dog, although bear in mind that sound sensitivity can be improved through training.

Sense of smell

Whatever the purpose of your gundog, whether it be a pointing breed, a flushing dog or a retriever, their sense of smell needs to be exceptional in order to carry out their duties successfully and efficiently.

Jaw Strength

For big game hunting a larger prey, a good strong jaw is a positive attribute.  However, for those who are wishing to hunt birds and smaller prey, a gundog with a soft jaw may do the job just fine. 

Mentality

This is particularly important if your gundog will also be your family dog and general companion.  Although different breeds can vary in temperament, many dogs are naturally relaxed, calm and obedient, which will benefit you in almost all scenarios.

Courageousness

A hunting environment can be a tense place for a regular dog.  The last thing you want when hunting is for your companion to be fearful at a time when you need them to be fearless.  Of course, through spending time with your dog you can influence their behaviour to encourage a cool, calm and low-key approach.  However, those dogs who are naturally courageous are more likely to be able to deal with a wider range of prey.

Endurance

Depending on the type of prey, you may require your hunting dog to pick up the pace at any given moment, and keep up the pace until the job is done.  This quality is particularly important for the longer hunts that require more duration.

Intelligence

Intelligence is a very important factor when training your dog.  Although gundogs are known to have natural abilities that are valuable for hunting, they still need to have a high level of obedience so you can get the most out of your hunting partner.

For any advice on feeding your gundog puppy, email info@alphafeeds.com or phone us on +44 (0)844 800 2234.

working dog

Should I feed my working dog before exercise?

By | Dog Welfare | No Comments

It’s important to recognise that your dog needs to retain a large amount of energy before any intense activity, but you should also be aware that they need sufficient time to digest this meal beforehand.

There is no definitive amount of time to leave your dog to digest their food before beginning an activity, but between one and a half to two hours is recommended.

Dogs can easily ‘bloat’ if they partake in any strenuous exercise too quickly after eating their meal. This may cause the stomach to swell and twist upon itself, causing blockages which can be life threatening to a dog if not treated quickly.

When thinking of your dog’s feeding schedule, it’s always best to keep it consistent, working this effectively around your exercise schedule.

If you’re thinking of feeding your pet after exercise, then this may affect your dog’s performance beforehand. It’s also not a good idea to feed your dog straight after exercise, when they’re excessively warm or when they’re still panting from their workout.

You should wait for at least an hour after exercise before feeding your dog, as this gives them sufficient time to calm down and relax their stomachs before eating a large portion.

Whether you feed your dog before or after exercise, always ensure that fresh, clean water is always available.

For any advice on feeding your working dog, email info@alphafeeds.com or phone us on +44 (0)844 800 2234

husky sport

A year in the life of Mystic Charoite Racing by Mel Hannam

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

A life lived with dogs has amazing highs and devastating lows. This year has been an emotional rollercoaster with the joy of seeing our amazing youngsters hit the trail for the first time and the inevitable sadness of saying goodbye to old friends.

Sadly, old age and health problems finally caught up with first Mojo and then Beany and both joined the eternal sled dog team this year. Mojo was almost 15 and Beany 14. They both had enjoyed full, well lived and happy years and no one can wish for more than that (other than for our dogs to have lives much less fleeting than they are naturally blessed with, of course).

Beany was the foundation of everything we have. She only had one litter, of four puppies, in her amazing life. This past weekend, three of those “pups” who will be 10 years old in May ran at the BSHRA Santon Downham race, so did 11 of her grandkids and 7 of her great grandkids. They notched up, I think, a total of eight top three places over the weekend with the winning six dog team on both days entirely made up of Beany progeny. Pretty awesome.

I like to think all of these amazing kids, grandkids and great grandkids must sometimes notice a silver grey dog with a big smile running alongside them on the trail.

The great grandkids, of course, are Rogue’s puppies who, not one to hang around, she produced speedily and without fuss over three hours one amazing night in October 2016. She had nine. Six stayed to race with us at Mystic Charoite with three going to friends (two of these to live with their sire Bear and John and Mary Carter (John is the current WSA World Dryland 8 Dog Champion).

The youngsters, who like all our dogs are fed on a diet of Alpha High Performance with the addition of meat or fish, have been in training all summer and took part in their first race at the end of October.

We have spent the first half of the season moving our teams around, letting the pups run in different positions on teams of different sizes, as this year is all about bringing on the yearlings and letting them learn from the wealth of experience and talent on our teams including mum Rogue, grandpa Brew who is still running very well aged 9 and a half and plenty of aunties and uncles.

These are exciting times and the youngsters have been going from strength to strength. The odd turn mishap aside, created by over enthusiastic youth overruling experience, the teams have put in some great runs with plenty of top three places, having raced already with BSHRA, SHCGB and SDAS this season.

We have lots to look forward to in the coming months with the rest of the BHSRA Championship Series, supported by Alpha, and the SHCGB Aviemore race when we will head up to the Cairngorms for a week of racing, hopefully running dogs in snow (we can but hope!) and giving our fantastic oldies some lovely Highland walks.                     

Mel Hannam

Mystic Charoite Racing

 

Does a Labrador’s coat colour matter?

By | Dog Welfare | No Comments

Labradors are the most popular breed in the world, but in the shooting community, a Labrador’s coat colour can be a controversial subject. It’s been a highly discussed topic for many years.

The general rule amongst the shooting community is that black is respectable, yellow satisfactory, chocolate is strictly a show bench colour and fox-red Lab is purely an accessory. During the period of 1909 to 2011, 1,790 black Labradors qualified to run in the IGL retriever championship, whereas only 367 yellows were authorised.

Although, it seems that each colour is suitable for a different job. Whereas a fox-red Labrador is suitable for wildfowling and game-shooting due to their natural camouflage, a yellow Lab would seem totally out of place in a shooting field.

As for chocolate Labradors, their name meant that they became increasingly popular as pets, but unfortunately it has been said that they can be difficult to train, due to having their working instincts being bred out of them.

Similarly, there is a controversy between black and yellow Labradors that suggests yellows are less trainable but have more brains than blacks. Though the black gene is more dominant, genetically, there are no obvious differences between all of the colours to suggest that this is true.

The UK breeding standards are quite flexible, allowing colours to range from light to dark, whereas the US are able to breed an almost unheard of silver Labrador.

In the end, coat colour comes down to a matter of preference, your need for a camouflaged dog and perseverance with training your dog. Each is different and some can require more time and patience than others. If you are looking to invest in a gundog, we recommend getting a dog with proven working bloodlines on both sides of the pedigree. This would be much better factor at determining their working characteristics than the colour of their coat.