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Duck hunting dogs belong to a wide group of hunting dogs referred to as AKC's Group One, the group of Sporting Dogs, also referred to as the waterfowl hunting dogs. It is from this group the duck hunting dogs have developed and gained their reputation. Today duck hunting is considered to be an outdoor sporting activity, and the duck hunting dogs are now part of a huge world of hunting, where commercial waterfowl hunting is not as popular as in the past. But for those who do hunt for a variety of other reasons, the water dogs or waterfowl hunting dogs can spot and remember perfectly the exact location of the downed bird.
Birds such as ducks and geese are part of the same habitat, and have the same hunting seasons or at least they will overlap while using the same hunting methods. In the early days, waterfowl was hunted for food, their down and feathers. Today, considered more of a sporting event, the bird dog or the duck hunting dogs consist of breeds such as the Clumber spaniels, American cocker spaniel, English Springer spaniels, German Wirehairs, Irish Water Spaniels, and Nova Scotia Duck Trollers.
It is no accident that the duck hunting dogs eventually became located in the United States in the early settler days, as the Europeans and early settlers brought hunting dogs with them when with they first came over to North America. The most prominent early imported hunting dogs were the imported Mountain Curs and the American coonhounds, with early diaries of Hernando de Soto having the first written word of the hounds in America. This diary said their hunting dogs were not used for hunting gamebirds or small game, but used for hunting Indians, unfortunately.
In the late 1800s, bird dogs became the thing for "sporting gentlemen" with the quail hunting preserves developing, and then onto more duck hunting dogs and small game bird hunting dogs, in a variety of hunting events. Titles, contests, and money became the thing to do by highly bred gentlemen with highly bred bird hunting dogs that were trained to win by the best. It was at this time that events brought in breeds such as the duck hunting dogs to participate in the first annual National Championship Field Trial in Massachusetts, sponsored by Hobart Ames. Eventually, this became a 25,000-acre hunting reserve by the country. Today, bird dog clubs hold annual events that eventually lead into the national contest, with the duck hunting dogs participating. This area near Grand Junction is the home of the original National Bird Dog Museum honoring 40 breeds of those first hunting days.
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