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Choosing the right breed of working dog

With a myriad of working dogs to choose from, the world really is your oyster when deciding on the perfect dog, whether you are adding to an already established clan or this will be your first dabble in working dogs - there really is something for everyone.

Of course, working dogs are adaptable within reason, with some attentive training, their innate capabilities can be honed to suit the job at hand. As a matter of course their individual physiques lend themselves to specific tasks; therefore, it would be prudent to choose a breed whose natural ability aligns with your choice of working activity.

By nature, different breeds’ personalities make them more trainable than others and as a result require different training approaches. Obviously, individual dogs will buck the so-called psyche trend but as a rule of thumb certain breeds provide a fairly consistent base line temperament to work with.

Take the Labrador Retriever for example, this loyal breed is primarily used to retrieve fallen game, aided by a keen nose, this mellow mouthed,  gentle soul has the strength of will to sit stock-still by his handler’s side watching birds fly overhead and then be sent out to retrieve those fallen. So, if your passion lies in spending frosty December days out in the field seeking out gamebird then a Labrador may well be your next best friend.

Next the Spaniel, a familiar sight out in the field, the most common being the Working Cocker and the Springer Spaniel, with the former being smaller in stature and often considered the real grafters of the spaniel family. Springer Spaniels are larger and more powerful, handlers will agree that ‘springer’ is certainly an accurate depiction of their boundless energy, yet when put to task they rarely disappoint. Other, perhaps lesser-known Spaniels include Clumber, Sussex, Field and Welsh Springer which would all be excellent choices to work in the field.

As the name suggests, a Sighthound generally makes use of two superior skills- speed and sight. Watching a Lurcher at full speed pursuing prey across country is awe inspiring, these breeds are aerodynamic athletes, best suited to ferreting, lamping and bushing. Despite their athletic prowess, they are aloof yet loyal, quietly affectionate dogs; having said that their results-driven personality can cause them to be somewhat more challenging to train than other working dogs. It can be said they work ‘with us not for us’, unlike the adoring Spaniel that when we say jump, they reply with ‘how high’.

Working dogs from years gone by include the Dachshund, or ‘badger dog’ when translated from German, a small but courageous breed that has boomed in popularity as a pet in recent years. Although they may rarely hunt badgers today, most owners would agree their tenacious, vocal personalities would lead you  to believe they were more than capable.

It is true that dogs become accustomed to a certain degree of daily exercise, but mental stimulation is really what working dogs of any breed require, by providing consistent, regular training you will do just that.

When choosing an appropriate diet for your dog there are several key points for consideration:

What breed is your dog?

Why? Some breeds are more prone to gaining weight as a general rule of thumb, of course there are exceptions to the rule and all dogs should be considered as individuals.

What age is your dog?


Why? Dogs in different life stages will have varying digestive requirements and our various diets accommodate for that change. As well as calorie requirements changing through the life stages, Chudleys diets also have additional dietary supplementation including Green Lipped Mussel in our Senior diet, QLC and antioxidant package in our Lamb Sensitive diet and supplementary taurine and carnitine amino acids for heart health in our Working Crunch recipe.

What workload are they currently in?

Why? How often and to what intensity your dog is exercised determines their energy requirements for maintenance. Dogs in hard work where they are spending several hours out in the field 4-5 days per week, possibly in cold temperatures will benefit from a higher calorie food because their daily calorie expenditure (MER) is higher than a dog who is exercised for one or two hours daily and goes out beating once a weekend.

What is your dog’s weight?

Which leads on to, are they underweight, overweight or just right? Are they prone to gaining or dropping weight?
Why? This a key indicator of if your dog’s MER is being met or not- adjustments to the chosen diet and amount fed can then be made. Whilst the use of scales is useful to monitor changes in weight over time, the use of body condition scoring is a more thorough visual and palpable method of monitoring your dog’s condition. A guide of how to do this can be found here [insert link to PFMA guidelines and image].

 Whatever breed you opt for, Chudleys can nutritionally support. With over 45 years experience fuelling working dogs, we have tailored diets to help a worker throughout its life.

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