The Do-Everything Dog

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

Pointing Griffon. The NAVDH also recognizes the English pointer under the miscellaneous category.

For more information on versatile hunting dogs, contact the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA), Box 520, Arlington Heights, IL 60006; or visit the NAVHDA website.

Following are capsules describing a few of the versatile breeds:


Once rare, the Brittany is now almost as common as setters and pointers. It originated in France's Brittany province.

Legend says the Brittany was a poacher's dog in France. Small and inconspicuous, the Brittany was more likely, supposedly, to be overlooked by the warden. It lived with the poacher and worked all game.

The Brittany probably resulted from crossing English setters and Spanish spaniels. Spaniels are the oldest of the hunting breeds, dating at least to the 13th century. Some hound and, perhaps, pointer blood could be mixed in, too. Because the Brittany points and all other spaniels flush, breeders long ago dropped the "spaniel" part of the dog's name.

Brittanies are bouncy, enthusiastic hunters with good noses and strong pointing instincts. They hunt medium range, retrieve and find dead game and make wonderful family pets.

German Shorthair

The German shorthaired pointer epitomizes the versatile hunting dog. It historically was bred to handle all kinds of game, from birds to deer. It descends from Spanish pointers, bloodhounds and American foxhounds.

German shorthairs appeared in America in 1925, but didn't become popular until after World War II. Now, they are among the most widespread and popular of upland hunting dogs, along with English pointers and setters, and Brittanies. Most work fairly close and methodically, and they have fine noses. Shorthairs are intelligent and almost self-training. They make good pets and are good family dogs.


A large dog by upland standards, the Weimaraner is about the size of a big German shorthair. In the 1950s, the Weimaraner was hailed as a miracle dog, able to do everything. In time, dog enthusiasts found the "gray ghost," as they called it, wouldn't retrieve as well as a Lab, nor point birds as well as an upland dog.

Today's Weimaraner has been bred for a better temperament and, probably, better hunting ability. It dates to at least 1800, but may go as far back as the mid-1600s. The breed was recognized as distinct in 1897 and was first imported to America in 1929.


The Vizsla is a Hungarian beauty with a lustrous

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