There are dozens of dog breeds suited to retrieving ducks, including Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Brittanys. These are all gun dogs, a category that includes all retrievers, setters, pointers, spaniels, and water dogs. Most gun dogs are capable hunting companions, able to locate and retrieve birds upland and in the water, but can a Brittany dog do this?
Brittanys can retrieve ducks if given proper training. This breed of dog is a high-energy breed that has a high work ethic, is easy to train, and enjoys retrieving ducks and other creatures in and out of the water.
If you have a Brittany or are considering getting one, I’ll cover everything you need to know about taking your dog on duck hunts in this article. With the right training, your Brittany will be retrieving ducks like a pro before you know it.
Hunting With Brittany Dogs
Brittanys were bred to be pointers, which means their greatest strength is their ability to find prey and point.
They are typically considered upland hunting dogs.
This means they aren’t often used to retrieve waterfowl, so most waterfowl hunters tend to use Labrador or Chesapeake Retrievers. Instead, they are traditionally used for hunting upland birds, like grouse and pheasant.
That said, they have strong jaws, are good swimmers, and can make excellent duck retrievers.
Keep in mind that not all Brittanys have the same skills and preferences. If your Brittany isn’t a strong swimmer, he should probably stick to hunting upland. To be a good duck retriever, your Brittany needs to have patience, focus, the ability to sit still in a boat or blind, and a love of swimming.
Advantages of Brittanys As Duck Dogs
Brittanys have several qualities that make them great duck dogs, even if they are not the most conventional choice for waterfowl hunting. The main advantages to using a Brittany as a duck dog are a strong work ethic, pointing and retrieving skills, and versatility as a hunting dog.
Let’s now take a closer look at these advantages.
Brittanys are very high-energy and will work tirelessly. Additionally, they require lots of play and exercise, and duck hunting is one way to give your dog the stimulation and activity he needs. They are eager to please and will be happy to do whatever you ask of them.
Pointing and Retrieving Skills
The focus and strong jaws that make Brittanys great upland pointers also make them good duck dogs. The jaws that are good at retrieving pheasants can carry ducks as well, and they have an excellent focus on the job and an ability to find birds that many retrievers might miss.
Brittanys are also incredibly versatile. They are useful for upland and waterfowl hunting and make for good pointers and retrievers, making them one of the most versatile breeds of gun dogs around.
If your Brittany has the right temperament for duck hunting, he could be the only gun dog you need for both upland and waterfowl.
Disadvantages of a Brittany as a Duck Dog
A Brittany is not the perfect duck dog, and there are some disadvantages to hunting with one.
While a Brittany can retrieve ducks, there are breeds that will do the job better. The following disadvantages might deter you from choosing to take your Brittany duck hunting with you:
- They are not suited to the cold, which can be a challenge when it comes to hunting a water bird, and they are not naturally bred to be retrievers. The biggest deterrent to taking a Brittany duck hunting is the cold, as they do not have a thick undercoat to protect them from cold in the water.
- Compare that to Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (Chessies), which have a thick, water-repellent coat. Dogs with a thick coat designed to get wet will be far more comfortable and natural at duck hunting.
- Additionally, dogs bred to be comfortable in the water, like Chessies, also often have the ability to break through ice easily, which Brittanys do not have. This means that you cannot use your Brittany for duck hunting in the winter. If you do choose to employ a Brittany in the winter, they will need to be accompanied by a stronger dog that is better suited to the cold.
- Brittanys also don’t have the webbed feet of a Labrador Retriever, which makes them inferior swimmers to labs. While they can be good swimmers, they won’t be as comfortable and natural in the water as labs.
- Furthermore, some Brittanys don’t have the right temperament to wait in a blind or boat. If your dog is too energetic and not used to sitting still, she might end up scaring away more ducks than anything. She needs to be able to wait patiently with you until it is time for her to retrieve.
Because your Brittany doesn’t have the best coat for swimming in cold water, you might want to invest in a neoprene vest for your dog, which will keep your dog warm without interfering with his ability to swim.
I recommend the Browning Camo Neoprene Dog Vest from Amazon.com. This vest comes in multiple sizes, and you can trim it to fit your dog.
Training Your Brittany To Retrieve Ducks
If your Brittany is already used to going on hunts, training her to retrieve ducks should be fairly straightforward. But if she’s brand new to retrieving, here are some tips for training her.
Train Your Brittany In Obedience
Your Brittany should already be trained with basic obedience commands. If she doesn’t obey you when you tell her to sit, stay, or come, she won’t be able to follow the more complicated commands that come with hunting and retrieving. If you are looking for training help, I highly recommend Brain Training For Dogs. Check out their site and learn why you should take advantage of this at home training.
Acclimate Your Brittanny to the Water
Get your Brittany accustomed to the water if she isn’t already. She needs to be comfortable swimming to retrieve ducks. Start while your Brittany is still a puppy and use a tub or kiddie pool to help her get used to the water.
When she’s comfortable in shallow water, introduce her to a pond or lake.
Get Your Brittany Used to Guns and Boats
You’ll also want to get your Brittany used to guns and boats. If she already goes on hunts, she should be used to seeing and hearing guns. However, if she’s new to hunting, slowly introduce her to guns in a safe environment.
Let her see and smell them, and eventually, have her listen to the sound of shotgun fire.
Make sure your Brittany has been on a boat before your first duck hunting excursion. You don’t want her to be anxious about her first boat ride when you need her to be focused on the hunt. Teach her where she needs to exit and enter the boat and practice it a few times.
Use Decoys To Practice Retrieving Ducks WIth Your Brittany
To train your Brittany to retrieve ducks, you’ll need to practice with decoys.
I recommend the Pooch Buddy Duck Bumper Toy for Training Hunting Dogs from Amazon.com. This is a lifelike duck decoy that floats, and you can use it to teach your dog to retrieve a decoy at your command. As your Brittany gets accustomed to the sights, sounds, and smells of retrieving a decoy in the water, she’ll be prepared for the real thing.
A Brittany dog can be an amazing duck retriever if given the right tools and training. A Brittany makes for a loyal, fun-loving companion and a helpful pointer and retriever. However, Brittanys aren’t the best dogs for retrieving waterfowl in the cold. If you prefer to hunt late in the season or a particularly cold region, you’d be better off not using a Brittany.