What to Look for in a Young Retriever

What to Look for in a Young Retriever

When the day for picking a puppy arrives, I go through four evaluation steps before making my final decision:

What-to-look-for-in-a-young-retriever


1. Tail position


Is the tail tucked between the pup's legs? This indicates the pup is timid, submissive and likely harder to train. If the tail is held high above the pup's back it indicates the pup is dominant and will also present training problems, albeit a different set of difficulties from the low-tail dog.


You want to see the tail held in a position between tucked and above the pup's back, which means the pup is neither overly submissive nor overly dominant and likely is both biddable and trainable without the issues associated with the aforementioned less desirable positions.


2. Sociability

Has the pup been exposed to other dogs and people or just left in the pen alone? Discuss this with the breeder. You want a dog that plays well with others for a variety of reasons.


If the pup comes to me and actively seeks and maintains contact, this is indicative of a pup that should receive high marks in biddability and trainability.

3. Retrieving

Does the pup readily retrieve a thrown object such as a tennis ball or duck wing? You want a retriever that already has retrieving in his blood. If a pup has this, then you're in business. He should want to fetch up anything you throw in front of him.

4. Lip Licking

If a pup licks his lips when praised for obeying a command or making a short retrieve, that's the nail in the coffin. This shows me the pup understands my commands. If a dog is distracted/constantly looking everywhere but at me, training is much more difficult.

While there are many variables in the selection process, these are the factors I look for when selecting from a litter, with one caveat: they can never be all-inclusive.

However, in every case, if you exercise due diligence in your selection of the sire and dam of the litter and have a puppy selection procedure in mind, your chances of obtaining an excellent and healthy gun dog that will be by your side for many years will be very high.

Recommended for You

Recipes

Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe

Scott Leysath

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe...

Recipes

2 Easy Duck Recipes for Summertime Grilling

WILDFOWL Online Staff

Make summertime barbecues super easy by grilling up one of these duck recipes from Scott...

Retriever

Waterfowl Workouts: 3 Summer Duck Dog Drills

Tony J. Peterson

Keep your retriever sharp in the offseason.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Women's Waterfowl Lineup

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture-wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways!

Wentz Bros Outdoors - Throwback Waterfowl

This video is a classic! Take a front row seat with Carson as he hunted back in college. The clips are all either filmed with a GoPro or cell phone!

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Shotguns

Best Waterfowl Shotguns of 2018

John Taylor - September 25, 2018

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season.

Calls

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during...

How-To

Building a Duck Boat Blind on a Budget

Mike Marsh - May 10, 2016

Jim Orth needed'a simple blind for hunting Lake St. Clair. A staffing recruiter and outfitter...

See More Stories

More Retriever

Retriever

Waterfowl Workouts: 3 Summer Duck Dog Drills

Tony J. Peterson

Keep your retriever sharp in the offseason.

Retriever

Properly Introducing Your Dog to Gunfire

Bill Gibson - March 23, 2018

Properly introducing your dog to gunfire is integral for training your new partner in the...

Retriever

Daily Drills for Duck Dog Consistency

Tom Dokken

Training never ends - try these quick drills.

See More Retriever

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×