Ugly Mugs

Does your hunting buddy have an Ugly Mug?

We spend untold hours with our faithful hunting companion. We share adventures, the spoils of the hunt, and maybe a few snacks along the way. But sometimes they were born with a face only a mother can love, but we appreciate them all the same.

Send us a picture of your magnificently hideous hunting dog. We’ll pick the ugliest (never an easy task) and feature him or her in our next catalog and on our website. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for Ugly Dog merchandise. Don’t forget to include the dog’s name, your name, address, and phone.

Please mail the photo to:

Ugly Dog Hunting, att: Ugly Judges
1067 Silver Street
Hinesburg, Vermont 05461

Or email the photo as a jpeg attachment to: [email protected]

Posted on

4 Training Tips to Mentally Tire Your Bird Dog

A Tired Dog is a Good Dog – Polar Vortex Edition

Written by: Ashley Smith

For most of us, our upland season has come to an end for the year. But, that doesn’t mark the finish line of our journey with our bird dog companions; rather, it signals a shift in focus towards nurturing their skills, reinforcing their training, and deepening the connection that transcends the pursuit of our favorite game. It’s also a time to pause, to reminisce on the triumphs and challenges of the past season, and to celebrate the moments shared in the field – the exhilarating flushes, the steadfast points, and the shared victories that etch themselves into our memories.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some quick and fun off-season training ideas for upland hunting dogs. Consider putting a few of them to work when the weather and long nights take away the option of getting afield. These will soften the sudden disconnect our dogs experience from the hunt and translate to cooperation in the field next season.

From refreshing basic commands to introducing new challenges, we hope that these next few ideas help to kick off your spring training and tire the mind of your ready-to-go bird dog after the shotgun and game bag are put away. After all, the bond of a hunter and their dog knows no season.

Dog sitting on place board while retrieving1.) Scent Work

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool bird hunter or love to pursue other game with your dog, scent work can be a great way to keep them engaged and fulfill their need to find. Hiding items around the house can be great fun for both the dog and handler. This is a great opportunity to foster your search command if already in place, or if you have a young dog during the winter months, this is the perfect chance to build their confidence. Use their favorite item for fetch whether that’s a dummy (pro-tip: Add Wings), a frozen bird or even just a toy! Start by doing short drags and then placing that item in an easily accessible but covered area, you don’t want it to be fully exposed as its possible your dog will just start looking for a visual of the item and not using their nose. Bring your dog to the start of the drag and layer over your preferred word to indicate that you want them to search. Once the item is found a lot of praise should be given! The skills and determination learned here will be used their entire lives. Every success is worthy of a party.

2.) Hallway Retrieves Dog waits patiently to be sent on retrieve

No, this is not just for puppies! Practicing retrieves and a seamless delivery are a good way to keep spirits high when the temperatures or snow prohibit spending time outside. A hallway provides one way to and from the handler, and repetitions of hold and release can be fun for the dog with a lot of praise and a favorite bumper. If you do have a young dog, shorter tosses can help their attention span stay with the game and keeps you closer to them in case they need to be reminded to bring it back to you.  And remember, keep these sessions short and sweet for puppies. Once the sequence is understood then make take it the full length of the hallway.

For dogs in adulthood, waiting for a calm heel position before throwing the dummy and only retrieving on release is a great way to give them a mental workout. If you always release your dog within 2-3 seconds of the dummy toss, try to change your release times! Count to 10 or 15 seconds. Another variation that I personally love is instead of using a hallway, I will use a staircase. Stand at the bottom, throw up to the landing, release and then have your dog come back to complete the retrieve. This is a great physical workout. Keep an eye on puppies and veteran dogs as to not overdo it.

3.) The Place Command

A highly under-utilized skill that tire even the busiest of bird dog minds is the place command. It’s easy for a high energy dog to pace and constantly be in motion, but a dog learning to slow down can actually make for a great mental training session resulting in a one tired pup (it’s even more taxing if you’re working on this with multiple dogs). You don’t need a place mat to do this. If you have a chair, kennel, or dog bed, even a folded towel or blanket, you’re in business. Invite your dog onto any platform or into their kennel with defined edges and see how long it takes them to step away. Any attempt for them to step off can be met with you blocking that attempt with your body. Or, if you have a leash on the dog (recommended for introduction), use it to guide them back to where you started them. You can then layer a command, “place”, as you ask for the behavior again. Repeat as needed until a little comprehension is shown (your dog called and told us that treats might help them understand faster). You can work your way up to a few minutes at a time, the duration it takes you to cook or eat dinner, or even up to an hour or two if you have guests over. Trust us, Canine Zen is possible.

4. Getting Hands On

Last but not least we should all brush up on handling our dogs. As hunters, we can never predict when they may need to be inspected for cuts, abrasions, ticks, porcupine quills, cactus spines or even need to have first aid performed in the field. Having a dog who is quiet and cooperative for a wellness check can be translated to professional veterinary care as well. Dog waits to be bandaged with vet wrap.

You can start by asking one of 3 things….either for the dog to stand quietly, sit or even lay on their side. Think about your favorite places to hunt and what kind of hazards you might encounter there and then take into consideration what kind of tailgate first aid or inspections you might need to do and incorporate those into your training. Handle their paws, their legs, get them comfortable with lying down and having someone be really up close and personal. Don’t forget about inspecting their eyes, ears, nasal cavities and teeth too. Practicing this can save you stress in a scary situation when time is of the essence.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed these quick suggestions on some fun wintertime training activities. Remember that any time you spend with your dog(s) who gave so much these last few months is the greatly appreciated by them, and will pay dividends in the long run. Training is a great responsibility to hold as a sporting dog owner and maintaining that bond is a gift!

Ashley Smith is a North Dakota transplant who lives and breathes her bird dogs. She also loves a good vintage book and a snappy Moscow Mule. When not bird hunting, she’s out camping and exploring and ever striving to be a student in all subjects especially if it pertains to nature and all it has to offer. You can follow her and her bird dogs, Ira and Cash, on Instagram

Posted on

2023 Ugly Dog Gift Guide

German Shorthair with Christmas Decorations

Unleash the Joy of the Season with the Ultimate Ugly Dog Hunting Holiday Gift Guide!

The holiday season is upon us, and time is running out to get the perfect gift for your Ugly Dog loving friends, family, and canines! At Ugly Dog Hunting, we understand the passion and dedication that goes into having exceptional bird dogs and the joy that comes from incredible bird hunts. That’s why we’ve curated the ultimate holiday gift guide to make this season unforgettable for the hunters and trainers you care about.

1. Show their love of Ugly Dogs: Anyone with an Ugly Dog loves to tell everyone how wonderful their dog is, help spare their voice by getting them Ugly Dog Gear. We have our classic short and long-sleeve t-shirts, zip-up hoodies, and blaze pullovers all with the Ugly Dog logo ready for your Ugly Dog lover. We also have multiple versions of hats, including the new Watch Cap style to keep them warm, and also have plenty of branded Stormy Kromers to defend against the elements in style. 

2. Better dog handling through technology: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the single biggest game-changer in the last several years of bird dog technology is a Garmin watch paired with a GPS tracking collar. Perhaps they’re already set up with a tracking system? Help them accessorize and keep track of each collar with our new, made in the USA Full Tilt Replacement Straps

3. Peet Boot Dryers: No one likes wet, cold boots. But, sometimes our Ugly Dogs take us to places wet and swampy and even the best waterproofing can’t hold up. Thankfully, we have just the gadgets for warm, dry boots the next day. For the constant traveler, try the Power Cell Travel Dryer. Or, for those sticking close to home, the classic Advantage Dryer will have things aired out in no time. 

4. Comfort meets Purpose: A good hunt requires good clothing. It’s impossible to stay focused on the task at hand when the elements are sucking all the brainpower away. The Isolation Pullover is your best defense against the elements. With wind and waterproof fleece, this hoodie is warm and cozy and keepsIsolation Pullover in the Field attention where it should be, on the dog and the birds taking flight. 

Honorable mention: The Gamehide Fenceline Jacket and Upland Pants (don’t forget the Sierra’s for the women) present a quality option for a day afield at a price point that won’t make you frown when you get a little bird blood or dog slobber on them. 

5. What about the dog?? Don’t tell us we’re the only ones who get the dogs a gift or two, or twelve this holiday season! Even the toughest trainers and hunters among us slip a bit of fried chicken or a cheese square to their Ugly Dog (shhhh. Never Spoil Your Ugly Dog.) With that in mind, what are you doing to keep them comfortable? Help them stay warm with a Mud River Kennel Cover. Keep them cozy and well-rested on the road with a Crate Cushion. Looking for something to do it all? The Rivers West Dog Blanket and Puppy Blanket are some of our best sellers and multi-functional. Keep them from growling at Santa when he comes down the chimney, make sure there is a present under the tree for them, too. 

Have the best year ever with your bird dog and want to go big? The Memory Foam Fleece Dog Bed is top notch. It’s so comfortable we’ve caught staff sleeping in them from time to time. 

6. Personal Choice: Can’t decide? Let them choose! Our Ugly Dog Hunting Gift Certificates are the perfect way to ensure your loved ones get exactly what they want. Give the gift of choice and convenience this holiday season. Their dogs will thank you for the extra reason to shop for them! 

This holiday season, spread cheer and show your appreciation for the bird hunters, dog trainers, and Ugly Dog lovers in your life with thoughtful gifts from Ugly Dog Hunting. Our carefully curated selection is designed to enhance their outdoor experiences and make this holiday season one to remember. Happy hunting, and may your celebrations be filled with joy and adventure!

Posted on

Hot Tips for Hot Days

Has your wirehair dropped hints about needing a trip to the spa for a bikini wax?

 When your setter pants, does its tongue dangle lower than an abandoned long lead on an unruly giraffe?

 Do you find your vizsla loitering around the refrigerator ice dispenser or stockpiling cooler packs?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to acknowledge that summer is upon us and we need to give extra thought to keeping our bird dogs cool.

Seriously…Dogs have higher body temperatures than humans, and it takes them longer to cool down than it does us. Although they can shed heat by panting, the only surfaces that “sweat” on a dog are its nose and foot pads. On warm days, other than when there is an early morning dew, the temperature down at a dog’s running level close to the ground can be much hotter than up at our breathing level. If the air temperature around is us 80 degrees, by afternoon, in thick hot grass, it could be over 100 degrees at dog level. What is tricky is determining whether the dog is approaching heat stroke or is simply panting as is normal when it is warm.

There are two types of panting. Controlled panting is a natural cooling mechanism. Uncontrolled panting is not. The way to determine the difference is to call, whistle, wave or do something to distract the dog. If the panting is controlled, the dog will close its mouth and look to see what’s going on, showing the ability to regulate that panting. Not responding – not pausing the panting or momentarily closing the mouth – can indicate distress. Then it’s time to intervene and cool the dog down by rinsing thick saliva out of the mouth, immersing in cool water (never ice!), and applying rubbing alcohol soaked pads or cloths to the dog’s armpits, legpits, underbelly, and under ear flaps.

Besides that heavy panting, symptoms of overheating include excessive thirst, dark red gums, heavy salivation, and poor coordination. You can test for dehydration by pinching a roll of skin on the back of a dog’s neck. If it “sticks” up, hydration probably is needed.

Further symptoms of heat stroke include glassy eyes, weakness, vomiting or bloody diarrhea, increased pulse and heartbeat, collapse and seizures.  Typically, a dog’s temperature should be 101 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When a dog’s temperature hits 109 degrees or higher, its cells literally start to deteriorate. Within minutes, heat stroke can cause critical damage to the dog’s brain, liver, heart and nervous system as the brain swells and kidneys shut down.

Cooling an overheated or hyperthermic dog must be done carefully. The first thing to do is to move the dog to a cool place—shade, creek, fan, air conditioned building or vehicle. Again, never put ice on the dog or immerse it in ice. Place cool wet towels or pour cool water over the dog, concentrating on the head, neck and underside of the dog’s legs.

The cooling process must be gradual, so the temperature drops slowly. If a dog’s temperature drops too quickly, the risk of damage to internal organs increases. If the temperature gets down to 104 degrees and the dog can keep its head up, offer small drinks of water; too much water can induce vomiting. Once the dog’s temperature reaches 102.5 degrees, stop the cooling process (it might be smart to keep a canine rectal thermometer in your first aid kit).

Having plenty of water is priority one—gallon jugs in the truck and squirt bottles in the bird vest. That being said, we don’t want to turn our dogs into hippo-sized water balloons, so we need to watch and monitor input and output. Some dogs don’t like to drink in the field or while hunting. Adding a gravy or beef bouillon to the water bottle can help.

Priority two is making sure there’s a cool down spot nearby. Shade, vehicle AC, stream, water, canopies, etc. Consider keeping one of those reflective silver mesh shade tarps on hand. Draped lean-to style over a raised hatch, open truck back window, or tree branches, these tarps reflect sun but let in the breeze, considerably dropping the temperature underneath. 

We have to be smarter than our dogs. Some of these bird-seeking-missiles have an override switch when it comes to self-regulating in the heat. To prevent your dog from impersonating a burnt fajita left flat out on the griddle plate, a little planning, a lot of observing, and some prompt responding can go a long way.

Posted on

Be Aware, Be Prepared: Substances Toxic to Dogs

Most of us know not to let our dogs near antifreeze, chocolate, and grapes. Unfortunately, those are just a drop in the toxin bucket when it comes to substances dangerous for dogs to ingest.

While the Ugly Dog canine staff prefers to live by the “my lips are the litmus test” rule when it comes to scarfing down dubious, risky, and sometimes downright astonishing substances, we human staffers know better.  Levels of toxicity can depend on the poison, amount eaten, size of the dog and other factors, but the adage “better safe than sorry” is the best rule.

Here’s a basic list of things that can be poisonous to your dog. These are just a few of the more toxic ones. For complete lists, an online search will give you several reliable websites for more complete listings.

Food: Onion/garlic, chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocado, coffee/caffeine, grapes/raisins, alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), mustard seeds, sweeteners (particularly Xylitol). And don’t forget foods that aren’t toxic but can easily cause blockages, such as corn cobs and peach pits.

Home and Yard Products:: Antifreeze, cocoa mulch, insecticides, mouse bait, ice melt, mothballs, fertilizers.

Plants: Mistletoe, thorn apple, English ivy, castor bean, dieffenbachia, hemlock, oleander.

Symptoms of poisoning may include difficulty breathing, profuse salivation, stomach pain, irregular heart, seizures/convulsions, rigidity, extended legs, bluish mucous membranes, and shivering.

What to do? Don’t make your dog vomit if you don’t know what was ingested. Don’t make your dog vomit if it ingested a caustic or alkaline substance.  Do make your dog vomit if  you know what was ingested (foods, plants, antifreeze glycols). Use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, giving .05 – 1 ml per pound of dog’s weight. Consult a veterinarian and/or animal poison hotline asap. You might be advised to give activated charcoal as well.    

Posted on

Update: Training Bumpers 2023

Ugly Dog Hunting has always carried a variety of training bumpers. The Avery Hexabumper — an all around “go-to” bumper — comes in a choice of colors all with easy-grab ridges and strong throw ropes. The Avery Perfect Hold also has the Vgrips but adds dumb bell ends to thwart cigar-style holds. Dokken’s classic Dead Fowl Trainers appease handlers’ imaginations with a selection of bird types while teaching young pups the heft of a dead bird. Our inventory has several other smart, purposeful bumpers, but the dogs on staff here have their own ideas.

Assistant Director of Inventory Reclamation, Riviera Rugertoes, announced at the last management meeting that she is tired of picking up bumpers strewn across the headquarters’ property by Shorthair Emeritus Scratch ‘n Sniff. Unfortunately due to his advanced age and daily dose of hallucinogenic medications, Scratch tosses his bumpers aside every time a whiff of tasty rabbit turd assaults his nostrils. He then promptly forgets where he threw them. To fix this, Riv has created the Magnet Mama homing bumper. Shaped like a ball peen hammer, the Magnet Mama contains a patented boomerang magnet system that, if thrown aside, sends itself back to its source with a substantial bonk on the head. Offering him a bottle of buffered aspirin to relieve bonk-induced headaches, Riviera has conned Scratch into beta testing the Magnet Mama and is bribing the local rabbits with bib lettuce and carrot souffle to establish reliable excremental parameters for evaluation of the new product.

On the bumper aesthetics front, our VP of Looking Good While Wrecking Havoc, PDog Fieldsprinter, has demanded glitter studded training bumpers that not only glow in the dark but also squirt beef bouillon on long retrieves. Her rationale is that beauty is only fur deep, and while a bumper can’t counter that by saying it’s got a nice personality, it can redeem its inner value by amusing other senses.

The third bumper in production by Ugly Dog’s staff – clearly designed by committee – is the U Wantit U Fetchit bumper. Cleverly crafted for use by creatures without opposable thumbs, U Wantit U Fetchit is launched by your dog via a mechanized tail catapult (adjustable for those with cropped tails) for you, the handler of all commands, to fetch in a brilliant game of Trading Places. We have had long debates, however, over optional accessories. The beer-seeking sensor was approved immediately given the rationale that humans are more likely to be compliant in a training session if beer is involved. The ecollar electric arc generator intended to furnish payback to heavy-handed trainers is still under review. U Wantit U Fetchit should be on the market by late spring, assuming the Ugly Dog Research and Development team will stop repeatedly binge-watching all eight seasons of Dexter.

Posted on

Tales from the Grouse Woods

Chronicles of a typical two week period in a New England ruffed grouse season…

One dog ran into an electric fence three times within two minutes. Fortunately it wasn’t live, the fence that is. Big dog bounded into it, bounced back out of it. Looked around confused, then charged it again. This time he stumbled with one foot caught in the lowest wire. Then he backed away, ran to his left and charged right into it again. All hunters present agreed that dog’s IQ is questionable.

The other dog dragged his hunter companion through what seemed like 20 miles of thick dogwood and buckthorn – the  kind that grabs ankles, wrenches knees and makes arms look like refugees from a cat fight…with a cat. After the dog pointed and tracked, pointed and tracked, a bunny raced through the underbrush. The dog’s owner bellowed “Rabbit, bad!” cursing the allegedly experienced bird dog. Then a lovely plump woodcock zoomed out of the tangle in front of the dog.

Never have so many chipmunks materialized in one region, however. Understandably no one knows where they come from or where they go, but a shockingly large population appears during grouse season. Probably due to global warming.

So far this season these two hunters have shot maples, dogwood, alders, black locust, sumac, oaks, cedars, beechnut trees and hemlocks. They’ve shot air, mist, leaves, rain, saplings, bark and inadvertently one abandoned squirrel’s nest.

Nevertheless, the magical chaos – and calm – of grouse season proves again and again that hunter and dog hunt as a team with communication fine-tuned over the years. Ugly and not-so-ugly bird dogs tell us we need to hunt more and need to hunt again, and that it’s okay if we run out of 7½ shot – 6’s will be just fine.

Posted on

Classic Canine Pharmaceuticals

Is your dog suffering from CFS – Chronic Fud Syndrome? Also known as Insatiable Meal Lust, CFS has impeded the progress of many fine hunting dogs. From the embarrassment of rushing back to shore for a quick bite of grass during high action waterfowl hunt, to all-out post-Thanksgiving-dinner trash bin raids, CFS has brought disgrace to hunting dog owners worldwide. Fortunately, there’s a cure. “Sirloinsia,” developed by Phidoze Labratories, taken in pill form, reduces canine cravings by simulating the constant taste of a fine sirloin. Dogs will think they’re eating, thereby dulling the neural pathways that make them lurk around the pantry in the wee hours of the morning with visions of cheese doodles on their minds.


“Lapsaluck Spray,” another virtual beef pharma wonder, has been developed for the treatment of hyper-active lickers. If your bird dog too often relishes a good paw slobber or under belly slurpathon, lightly  spray this odorous beef mist into the air. Body lapping will be instantly abandoned in favor of air licking, distraction guaranteed, drool piles evaporated.


Another problem common among hunting breeds is Parlorretchitis, which manifests itself by the upchucking of feathers, beaks, hairballs, and various unidentifiable avian and varmint body parts. This typically occurs in the middle of the night in the middle of the living room. While the canine medical community recognizes the fact that this purging syndrome is in itself a cure for the problem – eviction of unwelcome gastrointestinal contents – the increased use of household chemical rug cleaners is cause enough for mitigation of the retch habit. “Binge BeGone,” manufactured by Griffonguts Ltd., breaks down the ingested wild game body parts, so the tidbits can ride on the next load of kibble processing by and pass through the dog as nature intended.


Due to overzealous breeding, many gun dogs with strong prey drive find themselves suffering from RPD – Repetitive Porcupine Disorder. This can develop when a strong lineage of happy hunting genes is crossed into lines with the extra hellbentforleather chromosome. The result is a dog that perpetually confuses porcupine quills with toothpicks. Besides showcasing a snout full of quills on an average of three times annually, other symptoms include handlers with calloused thumbs (from tweezer abrasions during quill extractions) and veterinarians taking extravagant Caribbean resort vacations thanks to the extra office visit revenue. To avoid the pain and suffering of RPD, Rover & Rover Pharma, Inc. created “Leaveitalone,” a mild narcotic that when properly administered will make RPD dogs totally uninterested in porcupines. Caution: If recommended dosage is exceeded, handlers may find their dogs lying in a heap, gazing at a lava lamp, playing old records backwards and giggling uncontrollably.


Note: It’s still a good idea to keep a comprehensive hunting dog medical kit on hand. We recommend the Sport Dog First Aid Kit and the Ready Dog Professional Trauma/Aid Kit.

Posted on

On the Road

Hunting trips would be much smoother if our gun dogs could pack their own gear. And read road maps. And use the restrooms at a truck stop. Reality differs, however. Whether you cross-country cruise in a big  hunting rig or fold your little SUV’s back seats down and throw in a crate, travelling with hunting dogs presents challenges to efficiency and safety. Here are a few tried-and-true and a few new tips for travelling with hunting dogs.

  1. Rather than stopping at highway rest areas and truck stops where the parking lots and dog walk areas have a lot of litter and potential hazards (think unhealthy dog poops, antifreeze leaks, junk food wrappers), use the “texting” stops many Interstates now offer. They have less traffic than gas and food rest areas and often a nice grass/wooded backdrop.
  2. If you’re travelling for just a few days, consider pre-bagging dog food into meal-sized portions in plastic baggies. That will avoid the risk of ole Ruger chomping into a loosely closed paper dog food bag in the truck or cabin, and it will make meal time quicker and easier. (If your dog takes pills, pre-load them in each baggy with the food.) For longer trips, use a roll-and-clip closed dog food storage bag like the Mud River Food Bucket or the Avery Dog Food Bag that stands up when full but can be compressed and buckled smaller as the food is used up and gear in the truck expands (with those coolers full of birds, of course).
  3. Keep a photocopy of your dogs’ medical info – rabies vaccinations, especially — in case you need to board the dogs in an emergency or if they need to go to a vet. Unexpected roadblocks like you getting injured or needing to fly home for a family emergency or a natural disaster like a blizzard blocking your planned route (with no dog friendly hotels around) might result in the need to board your dogs. Kennels that don’t know you are more likely to take your dogs if they can check vaccination records.
  4. Consider getting an ecollar with a beacon light feature like several of the Garmin training collars and tracking collars. These are great for watching where Honeybelle wanders when you let her out at night in strange territory and also makes her more visible to oncoming vehicles or people.
  5. Keep one of those amazing reflective silver mesh shade tarps on hand if you’re making stops in hot weather. Draped lean-to style over a raised hatch or open truck back window, the tarp reflects sun but lets breeze in, considerably dropping the temperature underneath.
  6. If your dog will be riding in an unfamiliar crate or truck box, bring a towel or small piece of kennel blanket with familiar smells. This could help reduce the pup’s stress in a strange looking or smelling place.
  7. Go online and find emergency vets in the area(s) where you’ll be hunting.
  8. If you’re staying in a pet-friendly hotel and your dog will be loose in the room at any time with or without you, check under the bed and around the furniture and closets for insect traps or poisons. Never let your dog drink out of a hotel toilet; most hotels use very strong disinfectants that leave residue that can make a dog sick. And keep an eye on water puddles in rest stop parking lots, airport tarmacs, etc. where antifreeze, de-icing fluid and other toxins might be used.
  9. If your dog is a finicky eater or just gets too amped up on hunting trips to pay attention to food, bring along a couple of small cans of what we call doggie “junk food” – the juicy gravy smushy stuff that you can stir into the high quality dry food your dog usually eats.
Posted on

The UD22FX Genetic Filth Marker

Top hunting dog breeders have held a deep, dark secret for decades. They have been unwilling to share
it with prospective puppy buyers in fear the owners would ignore a pup’s excellent pointing ability, strong water drive or athletic conformation, and run away in shear domestic terror.

Coming clean (yeah… you’ll appreciate the beauty of that pun soon), we would like to discuss bird dogs’
genetic marker for filth. We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill muddy paws here. We’re talking an
attraction to decomposed rancid gunk so advanced that dogs with the marker can appreciate the
nuanced difference between rotting compost and raccoon upchuck. The UD22FX marker is passed down from generation to generation as a recessive component woven into the prey drive DNA strand,
detectable only through protein saturation of the limbic system’s output.

According to Darwin’s Theory of Barfolution, the UD22FX marker originally was only found in one or two
pups per litter, mostly in early crossbreeds where cleansing treatments post goose-dung-roll penetrated
the skin and altered the dogs’ genetic composition, keeping transmission of the marker to a minimum.
Unfortunately, when the wirehaired griffons discovered the hunting crowd’s amazement at the filthy
results of UD22FX behavior, hungry for physical attention as griffons are prone to be, they then sought
mates with the marker in the hopes of enhancing their aptitude for getting really really dirty thus
requiring delightful daily massages with a slicker brush and tickley undercoat rake. From the griffs the
marker spread to the Munsterlanders, from the Munsters to the Chessies, and since Chessies will hump
anything, it rapidly spread to the short-coated breeds, finding the best genetic environment for marker
sustainability in the German shorthairs. Shorthairs had already elevated the search and rescue of
revolting garbage to an art form, so the UD22FX has easily evolved a stronger genetic resilience.
(Researcher’s note: this applies only to the various breeds’ hunting lines. Happily for the companion and
show lines, UD22FX appears to weaken in the presence of ribbons and bows.)

The subversive UD22FX genetic anomaly guarantees owners they will win the My-Dog-Is-Most-Repulsive Contest at grouse camp. It also provides job security for truck detailers and frou-frou groomers who run out of beauty pageant contestants off-season. High powered trash breaking ecollars aside, the best solution for hunters whose dogs have the marker is twofold.

One, if your dog is an inveterate sludge magnet, be sure to use shampoo or cleansers such as the
DERMagic Grooming Spray that have natural deodorizing ingredients. The harsh chemicals found in some detergents and cleaning products can be harmful to a dog’s skin and coat, and there’s no time during hunting season for binge watching a bird dog version of the Itchy and Scratchy Show.

Two, turn on your universal nature lover. Decomposed bird guts and rotten-egg smelly, iron-saturated
marsh slime are gifts from a Mother Nature who doesn’t want you to lie awake at night wondering why
your life smells like a perfumed Hallmark card. Embrace the inevitable.


                                                                               [photo: Reina; owners: Kate Swanson and Darren Nelson]

Posted on

Recognizing a Bloat Emergency

Collage of Pointer with Basketball and Brake-Fast slow feeding dog bowl

One summer evening several years ago while playing fetch with his favorite hexabumpers, German shorthair Scratch (who looks like a cross between a brachiosaurus and a deep-chested Shetland pony) suddenly walked away trying to throw up. He was clearly uncomfortable, couldn’t produce vomit and hunched up as he circled the yard. He looked like he’d swallowed a basketball. And he felt like he’d swallowed a basketball. Even though it had been three hours since he ate, his stomach was bloated and drum hard.

Fortunately, we recognized these symptoms as indicative of gastric bloat and torsion (technically, GDV – gastric dilation and volvulus) because the Ugly Dog Founder, Scrub, had it happen a few years before. We raced Scratch to the truck and drove directly to the emergency veterinary clinic. There, the vet put a tube down Scratch’s throat to where it almost reached his stomach, relieving the gas. We were lucky in that the “torsion” part of bloat and torsion – the twisting of the stomach – was partial and the stomach righted itself, so surgery that night wasn’t needed.

Dogs can bloat without the stomach twisting, but when it does twist, the situation is life-threatening. Blood supply in and out of the stomach is cut off resulting in a severe drop in blood pressure and damage to internal organs. The dog can die within hours.

One thing known about bloat is that it is more likely in deep-chested dogs such as German shorthairs and wirehairs, weimaraners, vizslas, shepherds, setters, boxers, etc. Above all, if a dog bloats and flips its stomach, timing is critical.

When Scrub bloated, we got him to the emergency clinic within an hour, but he had already gone into mild shock. They immediately took him into surgery. Collateral damage from the stomach rotating inside the bloat wasn’t too bad. Scrub’s spleen had to be removed, but apparently spleens aren’t necessary. He lived to 14.5 years-old and never seemed to miss his spleen in the seven years after it was removed. At least if he did, he didn’t mention it. The vet also performed a gastropexy, tacking his stomach to the body wall, preventing the stomach from rotating should he bloat again.

A week after Scratch’s bloat, he had the preventative gastropexy surgery, so if he bloats again, he won’t be at risk of torsion. Following a few precautions, we’ve not seen signs of the basketball since. He hasn’t even asked for a new pair of Nikes or court-side tickets to a Celtics game.

Most vets agree that despite an enormous amount of study, no one knows for sure why bloat and torsion happens. Genetics and body type appear to be factors. “Gassy” (aka “farty”) dogs are also more prone to bloat. Among others, precautions include feeding 2-3 times per day instead of once, withholding water after eating for a while, waiting an hour after exercise before feeding, waiting 1-2 hours after feeding before exercise, and using a bowl like the Brake-fast to slow eating and reduce the intake of excess air.

In life-threatening bloat situations, tubes or needles can be used to relieve the gas, but for us non-medical people, a tube is very difficult to insert and a needle must be positioned carefully in the side to be effective.

If your dog seems to be in pain and has a very tight, distended stomach (with or without trying to vomit), get him or her to a vet as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid of looking silly. We all have had the “should we call the vet” discussion, but a little embarrassment if it turns out nothing’s wrong is a small price to pay given the alternative if it is indeed a case of GDV.