Choosing a workling waterdog

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Member Since
Barked: Mon Mar 12, '12 2:26pm PST 
I've always drawn a line through owning a dog because I feel a dog should generally have a purpose; a job. In addition I feel I would want to live in a rural location for it to make sense.

Both of these thing s could change though because there are things I like to do now that a dog could be useful for and also if things go to plan I could be moving to northern Spain. Plus, dare to dream right?

There are 2 main things I might find a dog useful for:

1) Finding mushrooms and forgaging for food.
2) I love the sea and spend a lot of time in the water.

It would also be useful to have some help carrying things or pulling a load. But I guess that would require more than one dog and that would be too much.

So I have some questions:

1) What is the swimming ability of a Barbet? Can it swim with me through 5' high surf? Can it rescue someone from the water (such as me! with a whistle)? The Wikipedia page doesn't have much info. Can the dog learn to dive under whitewater?

2) What is the ability of these dogs to withstand cold water?

What about other breeds? Is there a cross breed with a nose strong enough to detect truffles?

I would like to have a dog but I need a reason to justify it to myself, but hunting isn't for me.

Edited by author Mon Mar 12, '12 2:29pm PST


Wishing For Snow
Barked: Mon Mar 12, '12 2:45pm PST 
The Barbet is more of a water retriever than a "save the drowning victim" dog. They are not very common in North America.
Have you ever looked at the Portugese Water Dog? They were bred to be sea dogs and are very strong swimmers in rough water. They are also used as water rescue dogs. I'm not sure about the truffle thing but they are good at tracking so I'm sure they could be trained to find truffles.
Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
Barked: Mon Mar 12, '12 2:58pm PST 
Any dog's nose is strong enough to find truffles. The issue is training them to alert you when they find them, and not getting distracted by other scents or sights in the woods. Traditional working breeds usually have a strong desire to please the handler and good focus on the task at hand. In my area, people hunt truffles with dogs of many breeds- there is even one trainer that uses Boxers, a breed not normally associated with scent work because of their short nose. All that matters is how work-oriented the dog's personality is, that they focus on the job and don't tire or get distracted easily.

I would guess a Barbet is very similar to a Poodle in working ability/temperament, since they are closely related, in the past even considered the same breed. I have never met a Barbet, but Poodles are known as one of the smartest and most trainable dog breeds, with a good working temperament.

A medium-sized dog like a Barbet can certainly pull or carry small loads. Siberian Huskies are the same size and are famous for their pulling power. But if you want a dog that can substitute for a pony and pull heavy loads (like an adult human) you probably want a larger breed.

I don't know about water rescue, but some people hunt waterfowl in cold weather with Poodles, and they seem to do alright. Not as cold-tolerant as Labrador Retrievers (the most popular gundog) but they're not too delicate either.

I know nothing about water rescue training, so maybe someone else can address that part.


Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Mon Mar 12, '12 3:28pm PST 
The Lagotto Romagnolo could be exactly what you're looking for. A water dog and used to hunt truffles way to go I'm unsure how popular they are in Spain but if they was a breed you was seriously interested in i'm sure you could do a lot more research.

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Mon Mar 12, '12 3:28pm PST 
I think a Lagatto Romagnolo is just what you are looking for. They are a water dog (retriever) and they are used for truffle hunting. They are rare, but I suppose you could find one in Italy.

Or both the PWD or the Spanish Water Dog are close relatives and should be trainable to do the work you are interested in.

TD and CGC
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 9:12pm PST 
You may no longer need this information, but since you were asking about Barbet I thought I would respond.

I think a Barbet may be too small for water rescue. My dog is 22"/47 lbs and my bitch is 20.5"/45 lbs (both are on the small side of the standard). They are sporting dogs and very capable swimmers. They point, flush and retrieve so can be used for upland game as well as waterfowl. I know people who use them for truffling. They are used as guide dogs in France. They are devoted and aim to please so I think they would (try to) do anything you ask of them.

The PWD is small than (most) Barbet, but they are in the working group. I think they are a higher energy dog.