The History of the Versatile Hunting Dog
The European hunting breeds are often referred to as “all purpose” gun dogs, which is a literal translation of the German “All Gebrauchshund”. We prefer to call these dogs versatile breeds, a name more suitable to the dogs’ true characteristics.
There are several breeds of versatile dogs common in continental Europe, and with four exceptions, all were developed during the last decades of the 19th century. The four exceptions are much older breeds and provided a base for some of the others. These four are the Weimaraner, the Vizsla, the Brittany Spaniel, and his German cousin, the Small Munsterlander Pointer.
Why Versatile Breeds?
What were the breeders looking for and trying to develop? They wanted and got breeds that would handle a variety of game, both feather and fur, before and after the shot. The dogs had to possess a keen nose and strong pointing instinct, a lively temperament, eagerness to retrieve from both land and water, stamina, and a durable coat and hide that would not hamper the dogs’ work in cold water.
The dogs also had to be intelligent, relatively easily trained, and have a character compatible with living in or at their masters’ dwellings. (…)
Source: S. Winterhelt and E. D. Bailey, The Training and Care of the Versatile Hunting Dog, Ontario, Canada 1973, pp. 1.