Pointing Lab vs. Flushing Lab: Which Is Better?

About thirty years ago or so, having both a pointing Lab and a flushing Lab in one canine companion was fairly unique.

A lot can happen in three decades, though. For one, a flushing Labrador Retriever that can also serve as a pointing Lab is no longer all that unusual today.

With the number of pet parents and potential pet parents today looking for pointing Labs for sale and flushing labs for sale, one could even say that it is already common to find a Labrador that knows how to both point and flush.

But for those who confused about which is the better choice between a pointing Labrador Retriever and a flushing Labrador Retriever, let’s dive into the subject below.

The Labrador as a retriever

One thing that you have to know about Labradors, first and foremost, is that they are not a pointing Lab. While they can trained, the Labrador is mainly a retriever and more of a flushing dog.

As a Retriever, Labs basically tasked to take a downed game and bring it back to their handler unharmed.

To do this, they have to pay attention to their surroundings when they take the downed bird.

This, coupled with the fact that the Lab is a great swimmer, makes them a great candidate for flushing and retrieving.

In the recent decades, however, people have been trying to develop the Labrador as a pointing dog.

While this is not its original specialty, this particular study states that this is possible for Labs that serve as gun dogs due to the fact that they are highly trainable.

What is a flushing Lab?

A flushing Labrador is one that has been trained to locate a bird and to try to spur them into motion for the shooter to take aim.

Training flushing Labs means training them to pay attention to where the bird downed and then retrieve it.

What is a pointing Lab?

A pointing Labrador Retriever is one that has been tasked to seek the game in a certain location.

The handler may require them to go to a certain area, or they may just scout the general field.

There is no particular distance at which the dog should stay when searching for a bird. This part is mostly up to training and personal preference.

Once the pointing Lab spots a bird, they will then freeze. Their rigid stance and lack of motion will serve as signals for their handlers that there is a bird nearby. These will then let the hunter know when to flush the bird and down it.

Just like a flushing Lab, the pointing Lab will also have to retrieve the game once it is downed.

Is the Labrador a good pointing Lab?

The discussion concerning pointing Labs is a bit of a sensitive topic. Some pointing Labs breeders are all for training Labrador Retrievers to point. While others argue against breeding the pointing trait into Labs as this could mess with them being full-on flushing dogs.

Those who would like to have a pointing Lab prefer them for several reasons. For one, the Labrador is a great dog overall. Plus, you virtually get a very versatile hunting dog if you have one that can point and can also flush.

In the last couple of decades or so, the prominence of the Labrador as a pointing Lab has increased. There is even an entire society dedicated to it. And while personal preferences are different, the Labrador has shown promise in the field of pointing.

So, do pointing Labs really point?

The surest answer would probably depend on the training. Gun dog work requires copious amounts of training that the owner will have to support financially. Which can be difficult for some. In addition, it is also a commitment of time and effort.

What are the differences between finding a pointing Lab and a flushing Lab?

The Labrador Retriever is already an established flushing gundog. Their main role is to “flush” out the game from where they are hiding so that the hunter can aim. 

The pointing Lab does a different thing. Instead of chasing out the game from their hiding spot or cover, the pointing Lab stalks around the area and tries to signal their owner that there is game in this specific area where the Lab is pointing.

Both of these kinds of gun dogs have their individual roles that may become necessary if you want to take hunting seriously.

How to find a good pointing Lab

If you are looking for a pointing Labrador as a companion. Then you need some basic pointers to get you started.

For one, make sure that the Lab puppy you get is certified and free from hereditary diseases that may disrupt their future role as your gundog. Next, you will want to check if they are members of the American Pointing Labrador Association, as that will help a lot. 

Once you have those in order, you can start assessing the parents of the Lab puppy you plan on getting. Make sure that you can get a video of what the parents’ pointing is like. It is even better if you can see it in real life. 

It is also ideal if you choose a Lab puppy that is from an established line of pointing Labradors already. To do this, make sure to check if there are any puppies from the previous litters that show promise in their pointing abilities.

You can even go a step further and assess the duration of the parents’ point to make sure that you are getting a quality pointing Lab.

So, flushing Lab or pointing Lab?

The answer to that depends entirely up to you and what you feel like you want in a Lab.

With the right amount of proper training, a Labrador can be both. While the traditional role for a Labrador Retriever is to be a flushing Lab, it can also be a decent, if not great, pointing Lab.

If you’re looking for tips on how to train a Lab to point, you can also refer to our previous post here.

Authored By

John Lab

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