Some personal reflections
USA and Britain (and former colonies like Australia and New Zealand) have in this respect made a
terrible mistake, and in the most extreme cases we find that both the show dogs and the working dogs
have lost their type - the first ones having "too much" of everything bodywise and not being very
functional, and the latter having "too little" and starting to resemble alleycats and other unloved
I have during the years been trying to aquire as much knowledge as possible both about past and
present, primarily about English Pointers and English Setters. It's difficult to be everywhere all the
time, and both theory and practice must go hand in hand, but I have seen quite a bit and I have been in
contact with a lot of interesting (and not so interesting) people. In this way I have tried to form my
own picture of Scandinavia/Nordic countries, Continental Europe, UK & Ireland, USA and Australia
& New Zealand.
I haven't met anybody who holds the universal truth, and I am certainly not suggesting that I have it
myself. The only thing I care about is to achieve co-operation with serious people to breed dogs that
survive down the lines, giving excellent progeny who in turn will give further excellent progeny. There
are a lot of hurdles on the way, in dogs simply not good enough, in good dogs whose qualities do not
survive a generation or two down the track, and in people with destructive mind-sets.
As time is precious I have come to the point where I don't give a damn what people think about me.
And vice versa - one can't afford to discriminate against dogs or lines because one has disagreements
with the owners/breeders.
If people also had this same understanding and the same goals, they would also realise that we can
speak openly about each others dogs and their working (and breeding) abilities, without being personal
or destructive and throwing dirt.
Several continental European countries, primarily Italy and France, have some very knowledgeable
breeders and handlers, whom for decades have been able to run successful lines of Pointers and
Setters. Their trialling systems seem to have worked well for them in selecting their breeding material.
Usually the dogs are trained and handled by professionals, which has the advantage they test a large
number of dogs and don't have an emotional bias towards their dogs.
Asking a professional handler about a certain dog's positives and negatives, one is generally given
straight answers though they often will not know who is related to whom, or have any real
comparison to dogs from similar lines.
One thing I find negative about these countries is that they are rarely interested in what is happening
outside their borders and where to find good stock to compliment their own bloodlines.
If one views Scandinavia as a whole, I am in no doubt that the Scandinavian dog material is equal to
the best on the Continent.
There exists a great interest and enthusiasm whereby Norwegians and Swedes in particular are willing
to try mixing foreign bloodlines with well established national lines. Most people are not professionals,
but it is of course also a very positive thing that the breeders themselves train and handle their dogs,
and have first hand knowledge of their material. The trial systems and types of hunting are somewhat
different to those further south in Europe, but there is both width and height in the breeding, and
several dogs of absolute world class (often also with Italian blood in their genes).
Despite several thousand people being involved in the sport and almost just as many ideas about how
to manage the breeding, only a small percentage of the breeding stock survives into future generations.
In my view, things must be done differently to continue the development/keep up the standard and not
ruin the breeds.
One thing is to be open in discussions about the dogs, the judging, the management, the breeding. We
have to allow ourselves and each other to be honest, and learn to be tougher and take constructive
criticism. But I'm talking about face to face debates, not hiding with destructive dirt-throwing.
The other thing is to understand the lines, what and how they breed.
The only important thing is to breed dog material with the qualities to survive down through future
generations. There is nothing extraordinary in this idea. It should be quite simple and obvious.
Some people will say and do anything to promote their own dog material. One can lie and cheat and
withhold information about dogs and achieve short term results but in the long run the greatness of the
breeder and his/her lines will be seen if the quality persists through several generations.
If a dog or bitch gives several young dogs with good results but a high percentage of them disappear
as adults and none or very few are suitable as breeding dogs, then these dogs have basically been of no
value - regardless of the number of prizes and the titles they have won for the club and breed.
Success because a dog develops early or because it is hard-headed and can cope with strict training
from an early age can be very misleading for long term breeding work. Of course every breeder and
handler would like to win the Derby, but if creating a derby-winner is the main purpose of a kennel, I
think the breeding has the wrong focus.
I got my interest in dogs, and in particular pointing
gundogs, from my grandfather Fridtjof Hansen.
When I was a boy he told me to enjoy the time spent
with the dogs and to stay away from the trials.
One of the times I have a vivid memory of, was when a
trialist, a stubborn and ignorant guy, visited my grand-
father and asked advice about what to do with a dog he
had problems with. It was obvious that the dog did not
like the man and that he had been beating a lot in an
attempt to "fix it". Both the dog and the man were
beyond help, and my grandfather put the dog down.
He told me most trialists were a bunch of idiots, and
that this was no exceptional incident.
Well, my passion grew and I got a serious interest in
lines and breeding, and though the sport has its negative
sides, following the trials is a necessity that can also be
The basic idea behind showing and trialing dogs is to
select breeding material to continue the living heritage
we are looking after for future generations. That is a
fact which is to some extent neglected.
Another point of view I will state straight away, is that I
see no excuse at all, not to attempt breeding DUAL
PURPOSED DOGS - with both looks and working
Breeding dogs only for dog show exhibitions is to my
mind a complete waste of time. It does not pass
anything of value on to the future and is therefore not
of any historical value.
Breeding dogs only for their working ability is of course
more constructive, but still ignorant, and it should be an
obvious goal to have both able and beautiful dogs.
The first Swedish dual champion
Skottebo Sport (above) and the legendary
Norwegian stud Storfosens Cry (below)
are excellent examples of what fantastic
dog material previous generations have
passed on. We have our responsibilities.