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Working Lurchers

The Lurcher is very quickly becoming a dog that ends up in Rescue and ends up as a family pet. Our first article is the Lurcher and its work. Our writer who works Lurchers has explained the breeding of the Lurcher and the thought behind that breeding and over the next few articles, we will explore the Lurcher and his working life in the countryside .

First thing to take into consideration when choosing your lurcher puppy is whether the pup is going to be a pet, or his he going to have to work for a living. In this short article, we will focus on the latter.The lurcher fraternity has got a bad reputation of being bold headed tattooed thugs. I can assure you the thugs are in the minority and I can honestly say I have never seen a working dog being mistreated. Quite the opposite, the dog and the handler have a lot of trust in each other. If the dog stops trusting its owner it will start to hesitate when working at night with the lamp, fearing it will run into obstacles.

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Working Lurcher


So you have decided you want a pup.

How do you go about choosing one?

There are many things to take into consideration .

There are many types of breed such as Bedlington cross Whippet, Collie cross Greyhound the amount of crosses are endless .

The collie is crossed into the breed for its intelligence, the Whippet is introduced for its lightning speed and its ability to turn on a tanner.

Likewise the greyhound is crossed for its speed its not quite as fast over short distances as the Whippets but is superior over longer distances.

Many breeders are crossing the Bedlington terrier into their breed for there unbeatable gameness.
Bedlington crosses have the ability to pick rabbits up after the rabbit has ran into the usually safe hedgerow.
For rabbiting my favourite is the collie Whippet cross its got the speed manouverability and the brains - everything needed for a good lamping dog.

When choosing a puppy, one thing to try and look for is a pup with good thick pads. After all when it grows up, it could go out rabbiting three or four nights a week sometimes over rough ground and the pads are their shock absorbers.


Bedlington Terrier


When your pup is around six months old, it is time for the training to begin. Nothing too serious to start with, just a little bit of retrieving with a ball.

Retrieving is in my opinion the most important thing in a rabbit dog . I have seen dogs catch a rabbit and their owner is standing there shouting the dog or even chasing the dog around the field scaring the other rabbits away. This behaviour is totally unforgivable and down to the owners laziness when training the dog. After your pup starts retrieving its ball, its time to to move on. What I do at this stage is pin rabbit fur onto a washing up liquid bottle and let the pup start retrieving some fur. Every time she does so without squeezing the bottle give her a treat. This is done to stop the dog bruising the rabbit and making it unfit to eat. After a very short time the pup will be retrieving as fast as it can run.

The next stage of training is jumping. Its a must that you get your pup jumping because when you’re on a nights lamping you will encounter many obstacles such as gates, fencing and hedges which you and your dog have to climb over. Start off with your pup stepping over small obstacles and slowly over the weeks building up until they are clearing gates.

Remember every time your dog clears an obstacle to give it a treat and a fuss. Once your pup reaches about eleven months old, its time for your dog to go out at night and have a look at the lamp. For people who don’t know what a lamp is, or lamping, its a high powered hand held lamp connected to a battery pack that I keep in a rucksack. The lamp itself can be as powerful as 100.000 candle watt power that stuns the rabbit and sometimes will be caught without moving. So as you can imagine, things will look very strange to the dog for the first night or so. What I would try and do is take an experienced dog out with me for the first time so your pup can watch and learn. But remember not to slip - that is release both dogs together, this will only make the dogs fight over and pull the rabbit apart and all of your hard training will be down the pan.

At this stage I would like to remind you that I only work my dog on people’s land who have given me permission in writing to be on their land. Rabbits cause thousands of pounds of damage to crops and land all over the country, not counting the amount of cattle and horses who have to be destroyed each year due to leg wounds caused by rabbit holes. I think you would agree with me that lamping is the most humane way of keeping rabbit numbers under control. The alternatives are them being gased or the very cruel myxomatosis. Any one who has ever seen this dreadful disease will know that they die a very slow and painful death .

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, all the work you put in to the training of your dog will repay you tenfold in the dog’s working life time.

Alan Thorpe, our lamping expert.

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The capture of wild animals has been achieved in a variety of ways over the centuries from the setting of primitive pit traps to todays sophisticated sport of driving game to hidden guns. Animals have been speared, snared, shot with arrows, driven into nets, hauled down by fast dogs, lassooed or dug out of the ground. For many of these methods, dogs have been evolved to assist the hunter.


With the advent of the sporting gun, the hunting of game became a much more intricate business. The game had to be found before the hunter scared it off. The game also had to be collected after it had been shot.

For this purpose a whole group of dogs were developed. Many were bred for specific duties in the field. Some were bred as all purpose gundogs. They all have one thing in common, they exist to aid the sportsman armed with a gun when he is out in the field in search of game.

When working in the field, there are dogs that locate the game. There are dogs that put the game up so that it can be shot and those that retrieve it when it falls.


There are breeds that are experts in water and most of the breeds can perform at least two of the tasks well and others that will perform all of the tasks.

The breeds that locate the game are the Pointers and the Setters. Their job is to work in front of the guns when the hunter is walking towards the game. His job is to locate it before it is seen by the hunter and to show him where the game is. They do this by pointing or coming to the point. This means that they stand rigid often with one foot in mid air. They carry their tails in a straight line pointing to where there is either a squatting bird or a hare.

Two pointers working together are an extraordinary sight. They can discover not only the direction of the game but also it’s distance.

The Setters perform a similar task but on discovering the whereabouts of the game, don’t always stand to point, they sink down.



The Spaniels job is to move the game, either by putting it up in the case of a bird, or forcing it to run in the case of ground game. A Spaniel will hunt vigourously in front of the gun but should not hunt too far in front in case he puts the game up out of gunshot.

They are trained to ‘cover the ground’. This means running backwards and forwards, using their nose to tell them where the game is hidden. They vary in size and agility, this influences the speed in which they work. The sportsman will choose the breed which suits the country over which he will be hunting.


The Retrievers are usually larger and stronger dogs, which makes them capable of working their way through the roughest and overgrown cover. Their job is to retrieve the game once it has been killed. They have strong scenting powers and have the ability to mark where the game has fallen. It is the most amazing experience to watch a Retriever mark where the birds have fallen, remember where they have landed and fetch them in turn with very little assistance from the gun or the gamekeeper.

The dogs have to be reliable swimmers and prepared to work in some of the harshest conditions.

One or two dogs have been bred to work in lakes and estuary country where protection against the cold and wet are essential. One of these breeds is the Irish Water Spaniel. The American Water Spaniel, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever who excels at retrieving in water, being capable of retrieving many duck in one day. This endears him to the water fowler.

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Working Gundogs

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The Evolution of the Hound



© Janet Wesley

If you have any problems, email us for advice.


Contact Details
Head Trainer Janet Wesley
Tel: 0115 8462031


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