For hundreds of years, the hunting world has been closely linked to the history of the dog. Conversely, our companions have a special relationship with hunting. You are certainly familiar with the old adage that a hunter must know how to hunt without his dog... although it has to be said that man's best friend has become an inseparable partner in our world over the years.
Loyalty, devotion, assistance, complicity... these are the first adjectives that come to mind when referring to this animal that has shared the path of history alongside us. It is not for nothing that the interest and affection we have for this animal is a strong distinguishing feature. When the first shots are heard during a drive, or during a walked-up hunt when the stop is signalled, the hunter always experiences the same feelings at his side: pride, joy, and admiration.
While it is true that the vast majority of hunters own one or more dogs, our companions are undoubtedly the most popular feature of the hunting world?
"The hunting dog acts as a mediator between humans and wildlife. It is a beast among the hunted animals, yet all it lacks is speech" (source: Larousse de la Chasse). As proof, it is given a name, it understands the commands given to it, and the hunter can use it to detect the presence and cunning of the game. The time spent in complicity and collaboration with your helper, regardless of its age or breed, is unique for most hunters. Carlos, one of Solognac's product managers and the proud owner of a Brittany spaniel, boldly acknowledges: "what a pleasure it is to admire my dog's work in the early morning, in the middle of thickets alternating with meadows, crops and dense woodland".
Three quarters of all hunters in France own a dog. The trend is even more pronounced among young hunters, representing the 16-35 age group, who are quick to view their dogs as true members of the family. Moreover, it is also interesting to note that the relationship with the dog is one of the main incentives for young women to obtain a driving licence. When you are familiar with the range of breeds available, the different hunting methods applied throughout France and the physical, sensory, and aesthetic qualities of each dog, any hunter can find a suitable dog.
Clément, 28 years old, ammunition technician at Solognac, has been immersed in the hunting world since his childhood. Having grown up in Nord, France, more precisely in Bailleul, he is passionate about hunting waterfowl. It is therefore quite natural that he should choose a retriever: "Oxo, my young labrador, accompanies me almost everywhere. Of course, as soon as I leave for the marsh he follows me. It's a pleasure to have him at my side as I arrange my decoy pattern. What a satisfaction to see him running, jumping, listening, observing his environment, and being just like me on the lookout for mallards that might appear. Thanks to Oxo, I was able to introduce my girlfriend to hunting: she didn't see any particular interest in it until now, and she even passed her hunting licence. The relationship she was able to establish with the dog when she joined me on a hunt certainly played a big part".
For many hunters, the emotional bond with canines is omnipresent: and rightly so, between man and dog, unfailing ties have been forged since prehistoric times, when this instinctive and shared passion for hunting was born, right up to our era. It is also interesting to note that France is one of the leading nations in the world where the various dog breeds are the most represented. Is it therefore a coincidence that the number of purebred dogs listed in the French Dog Breed Register (LOF) has been increasing for several years? (source: https://www.centrale-canine.fr/articles/les-statistiques-du-lof-depuis-1969).
Is it also a coincidence that the initiatives led by the county (départementales) federations and other associations work towards organising specific days: introduction to the breeds, familiarisation with dog handling, advice from veterinarians and professional breeders on dog upbringing, training, feeding, etc.?
It is important to realise that our dogs are true athletes. It is the responsibility of every dog owner to make the most of their dog's mental and physical abilities. Like ourselves, our hunting dogs experience different levels of activity depending on the season: indeed, during the year, our companions can switch from a period of moderate activity with little effort to a period of greater activity, particularly during the hunting season when their exertion will be much more sustained. It is therefore essential to properly manage this period of dietary transition: your pet must be provided with the necessary proteins and fats to meet its energy requirements. We encourage you to discover our various solutions on this subject.
In the end, if hunting had not existed, would this strong bond built up between man and dog over thousands of years have come to be? We are justified in asking this question. In any case, for us, it seems obvious that the dog remains one, if not THE, main ambassador of hunting. And you, what is your opinion on the subject? Please feel free to comment on this article in order to exchange views on the subject.