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 Post subject: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:40 pm 
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Hello All,

This being my virginal post I wanted to start off by saying that, as a longtime lurker, I have learned quite a bit from the knowledgeable folks on this forum. Thanks to everyone for their insight and patience.

Being new to gun dogs and upland hunting I am hesitant to dive straight-in with a puppy (leaning towards a Brittany at the moment).

1.What are the pros and cons of started and finished bird dogs ?

2.What should I expect to pay?

3.What should I look for in a good trainer of started/finished dogs?

Any other insights would be highly appreciated. As a beginner, I appreciate any input so feel free to chime in!


John B.




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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:00 pm 
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Dogless,

Pros - You will (hopefully) have a trained dog, and will have avoided any mistakes that you might have made in getting to the same level. You should get a very good hunting companion from the start.

Cons - Much higher cost. A good puppy may cost you anywhere from $600 - $1000. A finished dog could cost you several times these amounts ($2 - 3K or more). Of course training costs, and room/board while you get it to the same level will offset some of this. Much more risk. You could easily get a dog that is a dud that an unscrupulous trainer wanted to get out of their kennel. You will also miss out on the puppy stages and your involvement in the training process.

Also, I do not think I would ever buy a finished dog that I had not had the opportunity to hunt over them, or observe them...hopefully in conditions similar to what they might see with me.

What will you pay, will depend on a started vs. a finished dog? And could be anywhere from $2-3K on up. You can also get lucky and find a dog that due to unfortunate circumstances is a fine finished gun dog, but that needs a home with a family that hunts and these are often free.

I would look into a local Spaniel Field Trial Club (If you have one) and start there. Contact the secretary of the chapter, attend a local event or 3. See what you like, ask about trainers that are good.

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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:08 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:03 am
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Dogless
I agree with what Striper said. Especially the being able to hunt over the started dog part. If I was going to buy a started dog, I think I would want to spend some time with the him/her. Possibly hunt over the dog on some ground that they haven't seen.
We have 2 dogs. A 5 yr old and a 15 month old. So far the most inexpencive part of the entire adventure has been the price of the pup.
Good luck with your choice. I would be interested in reading about your process, and how things go for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:50 pm
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Location: SE Ohio...where ruffed grouse were
The advisability of a puppy, a started dog, a finished dog, a washed-out of field trialing dog or a number of other possibilities goes to the individual....only you can say when looking at yourself and how the dog will be melded with the family and your life....same as breed, etc..

If, a started dog is chosen then the important point is to determine exactly what started means to the seller....."started" can mean different degrees of training to different people.
I would suggest field time with the dog to determine the seller's idea of started and if you have no experience then take someone along who can see through smoke.
If you are new to the game then I would suggest a finished dog....in a year or three it will be time for another dog and you can choose another route, or not, as your own experience dictates.

Initial purchase cost...is most often over-valued in the big picture.
Cost, itself, is determined by level of training, marquee/genetics and marketing...impossible to say, tho $2K would buy many started dogs.

In a trainer, one wants a person who is honest, one who can read a dog, one who has a track record with dogs so giving a wider range of experience with diagnosing and correcting issues, one which has time to give each dog in his charge attention and, one with access to training facilities/good birds that will benefit the dog as it progresses.

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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 11:52 am
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In th elong run a puppy, a started dog and a finished dog all cost about the same. The only difference is for a started dog or a finished dog you have to pay the price up front all at once. To get a pup to a finished dog you are going to pay, just that it will be a little all along the way until you are to the finished point. The advantage of a started dog or a finished dog is you get to see what your dog will be when you buy it. Sometimes a puppy does not work out to be a good hunting dog, I know I have had two well bred pups in a row that neither one turned out to be a decent retriever.

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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:58 pm
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Location: North Platte, Ne.
I think the right question is: "How dedicated will I be to training a dog?" Dog training is not hard but it does require consistency on your part and dedication to getting the job done right. Reading the dog and anticipating a mistake is an aquirred skill learned as you go. Getting a finished dog is proablly the best way to go for most hunters. I consider myself a dog trainer first and hunter second. Meaning I am always in training mode, passing on shots where the dog did not do what he should have, covering ground based on what kind of quartering pattern he needs to work on, like with the wind instead of the more effective into wind... well you get the idea.
Now to answer your question, A puppy is going to be the most fun and frustrating thing you will ever do. If you go this route subscribe to training forums for hunting dogs and buy a training book or two, and join a club.
A started dog, will form just as strong of a bound with you as a puppy, but they are at the age they are full of vineger and in top physical shape, they are very fast and a lot can happen quickly if you are not right on top of them. A started dog is going to be less expensive in the long run over the finished or the puppy if you do your part. Most started dogs will be bird crazy and may ignore you completely. Which is what you want your started dog to do around birds. The first hunting season with a started dog should be viewed with an eye toward his future.
A finished dog is a beauty to behold. You will know exactly what you are getting and you should get to know the seller. A finished dog will teach you more than all of the books and internet tips ever could. If you go the finished route, I recommend you get him close by so you can lean on the trainer occassionaly when the dog needs a brush up.


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:49 pm 
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Thanks to all for their input so far.

Like most of you did at some point, I am putting an unhealthy amount of time into bird dog research. As a child I grew up with two highly undisciplined dogs (Alaskan Malamute/ Basset Hound). To their credit they were wonderful pets but they could have benefited tremendously from training and more importantly, well-informed owners. Common sense suggests that sled dogs do not belong in Central California come summertime....god knows I don't. With that said just a few other Q's:

1. How old are most finished dogs?

2. I prefer the disposition of older dogs versus hyper adolescents. Is it realistic to expect a finished dog will fall into the former category?

3. Is there any particular pointing breed that is relatively docile (with the understanding that bird dogs by nature are a rambunctious bunch)?

4. Finally, will a finished dog be able to smoothly transition to their new family? Are there certain breeds that have difficulty making this transition?


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:29 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:50 pm
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Location: SE Ohio...where ruffed grouse were
One could say that there is no such creature as a finished birddog...training is ongoing and an owner must be consistent with every outing or a dog will...be a dog. Again tho, the definition of finished is the same as started...different to different folks.

Most dogs sold as truely finished will have a couple of bird seasons under them, imho but..many opinions and definitions of finished out there.
While washed-out FT dogs can be a bit hyper-ish, it is far from a given and they can, with the right owner, be a sound choice with xtra training and especially, bird contacts the benefit....I would classify them as super-finished.
A bored dog is a dog headed the wrong way....repeat that often.

Transition?...impossible to say w/o knowing either the dog or the family.
Often, the family is the real problem :!: ....best to get them on board first.
Some breeds such as the Dual setters are more laid back than the field setters....only very generally of course.
Britts are great dogs....not sure of a birddog that isn't great.
Some springers do not age well and Springer Rage is a known commodity....if there are small kids, or will be, do not let them bother any dog.
We all have our favorites...myself...40-50# zippy setters, but they hold no lock on anything.
Have you considered a flusher?...Labs are tough to beat in many ways and some even believe the "pointing lab" nonsense so popular today....may be the best dog to have on a Preserve.
I believe one of those may be your personal best bet, from the sounds of everything.
That would be my advice....w/o knowing either the birds or cover you hunt or the area of the country.

Possibly most important tho would be to find some training yourself...owners screw up the most dogs.
Do not rely on e-collars to either robot a dog or shortcut training....they are fine tools which in the wrong hands can be ruinous.
Find a nearby amateur trialing group or training group and join would be a good idea.
One can share tools and can find that xtra hand when needed, physically or for advice.
May be a good idea before you get a dog to join and see some dogs in the field and what really is what.
I would also register on some actual birddog- and birddog-oriented message boards for wider opinions and suggestions....this board is definetly NOT one of those.
Best O' Luck.

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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:58 am 
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Location: North Platte, Ne.
In the Springer breed are two seperate sets of springers, field bred and show bred. I have never heard of rage associated with field bred dogs. I am a big fan of field bred springers. The field bred springer has more energy than most breeds, but makes a nice house dog when given some exercise and obiedence training.


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:51 am 
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Location: SE Ohio...where ruffed grouse were
I have, in field dogs...Duffey mentioned it long ago....and on.
Springers are wonderful dogs but it is something to consider as they age, as with almost any aging dog and family dynamic to a degree but one should never ignore out of admiration.

There is an obvious difference between bench and field lines in many hunting breeds...I would expect the OP to purchase from a hunting breeder. It is not really an exception if one knows the dogs but the Dual setters have that bench look but will perform as fine hunters...again, one must know the dogs and the potential.

As the OP noted, birddogs have energy.
Training , socialization and work makes a whale of a difference...as does age, patience, expectations of the owner and, the luck of the draw.

Clumbers they say are more logy....might try one of those if concerned.

But here is an example of a Dual...SettersWest...they have a website.

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Last edited by Multiflora on Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:50 pm
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Location: SE Ohio...where ruffed grouse were
I reckon one should add one important factor regarding the purchase of an older or finished or, in many cases, started birddog....they will not always be housebroken.
Odds against it in fact. I never heard of a birddog trainer housebreaking but...I reckon that again depends upon one's defitition...in this case...of Birddog Trainer.
Fitting an un-housebroken dog into a household or housebreaking a dog past a puppy increases the difficulty, work and frustration.
For ALL family members.
Personally, I could care less about the human element, my concern is for the situation in which any purchased dog finds themselves dumped...of absolutely any age.
Dogs rely on us....never let them down.

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"The longer someone is dead, the greater is the number of their closest friends"....message board 101


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:31 pm 
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Location: back in the South!
I considered a started dog versus a finished dog too and went with a pup and after posting your same concerns on versatile dog forums.

I've hunted with people who have used both started dogs and finished dogs and they did well, but the people who trained the dogs themselves seemed to have the 'best' dogs. I don't think it was from the training per se, but the continued investment in time by the owner. In otherwords, the people i had hunted with were looking for a shortcut to a good dog, and they got it, but they weren't as reliable on the follow-on training to keep the dog tuned up. They had money, but not time. They really liked their dogs, and enjoyed them, but the dogs didn't get the attention that they probably would have enjoyed.

As a boy I had several dogs that were not acquired as pups and were the most loyal friends that anyone could've hoped for. They went fishing, swimming and 'hunting' with me and spent lots of times catching lizards and even climbing trees. I had no idea how to train a dog back then (not that I know too much now) it was just a friend and companion. I think, the 'thing' that made the dog 'good' was the time investment.

To me the advantage of a started dog, especially in breeds that vary in size, you'll know the size and coloring of your dog and temperment. And, of course your dog should come with the basics for your area of hunting.


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:24 am 
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in my eyes a pup is the only way to go, buy it make it a part of youre family, train it youreself, and i garentee you you will establish a bond with each other that will carry into the hunting feild, you will know what the dog wants and youre dog will know what you want. also the pride that you will have in a dog that you trained youreself versus one that you wrote a check for is far greater and you get bragging rights. trust me the bond you will have with a pup that you raised and trained cant be bought.


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 9:02 pm 
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Late to the party but for me , as much as I like puppies , a started dog is the way to go . I'm older now and have had my share of dogs . Some puppies I've had turned into good hunters , some never showed any interest . All were raised as part of the family because once in my home they deserved a home for life . The last dog was a year and a half trial setter , started and broke . He is a male and fit in a family of three other males . They all get along fine . He was not housebroke , he lived in a kennel . It took less than a week to train him . The good part is I got to see him work wild birds . I knew immediately what I was getting and have never looked back . I did not train him but our bond is as good as any other I've had , may be better because he lives in a home now and gets more love than ever . I'll never go back . If you do go the puppy route , know the breeder and the lines .


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 10:12 pm 
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New to upland hunting and new to dog training... What are the odd of success? No offense but it would be about like me riding the winning horse in the triple crown. I'd need to know something about horses, something about riding and something about horse racing to even get around the track, let alone win.

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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:50 am 
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Location: Pointe Coupee Parish, South La.
Have done it all 3 ways and hunted in this past Nov. over a finished 19 mo. old GSP male in Co. that did everything but clean and cook the birds. He followed me home to south La. where the owner of a preserve that I like to use tried to buy him 4 times. I finally had to say"Trust me-He is not for sale" Best dog I have owned in 60+ yrs of bird hunting. His running mate is 6yrs old was a started dog and while a good hunter just not as good as the male. Guide at the preserve said "He is not a dog-He is a bird finding machine!" Made me pretty dang proud. At my age now it will just be finished dogs.


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 Post subject: Re: Finished vs Started vs Puppy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:19 pm 
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One suggestion you might try. Find the breed you are interested in. Then find the local competitions for that breed. You will be able to see what a finished dog can do. You may also find dogs for sale in various stages of training, from puppy to finished. Be careful in selection. ask the right questions regarding health issues within the particular line of dogs you are looking at. Hips, elbows, Eyes, PFK, are some of the tests that should be looked at before buying so as to insure a healthy animal in those areas.




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