The English Setter selecting a dog for hunting

The English Setter selecting a dog for hunting

Interview with Isabelino Sánchez Breeder and owner of the De Sonella affix. Isabelino is first and foremost a hunter and breeds his dogs knowing that this will be his job: hunting.

Based on this premise, as he himself admits, the setters that come out of his De Sonella hatchery are also precocious, balanced and intelligent, which is also important for their training.

How many years have you been breeding hunting dogs?

Since I can remember, I have always hunted, first playing morralero in the gang of a friend’s older brother and then, from the age of 18, with a shotgun and dog in front of me.

Dogs of different breeds such as the Breton epagneul , pointer and German shorthaired pointer passed through my hands . And it was with the German arms that I started to make a litter for my enjoyment and that of my friends.

Elizabethan enjoying a hunting day with his two setters.

Back in 1990 it was when I acquired my first copy of an English setter , Tino, from the affix De Arguillo, belonging to Jesús Ibarra , from Zaragoza.

This setter, small in terms of size but great hunter, with his guides and his feline samples made me fall in love, made me a setterman and a lover of this breed.

After a while, I acquired a female copy of Fermín Mourenza and there, without realizing it, I began my journey as a breeder of this breed.

Almost thirty years later I continue with the same passion for the English setter, although now I enjoy studying the crossings to be done looking for ways to improve the line, sharing my setters with friends and especially hunting with them.

The litters I make are scarce, about three or four a year , since I like to socialize the puppies and have a lot of contact with them.

In addition, I try to guide them to awaken their hunting attitude from a young age. With more litters I could not provide adequate care.

Socialization spans from birth to maturity, but the most important and critical period is between 30 days and the first three or four months of the puppy’s life.

Balanced character, plus optimal socialization, equal to good tradability.

Why English setter?

Because in the English setter work we find exceptional qualities such as speed, passion, intelligence to assimilate experiences , an incredible and powerful nose, the firm sample and, of course, the crawling and feline guide that characterizes this breed and fills the hearts of those who hunt with it.

It is a dog that oozes elegance, either lying on the carpet or galloping in search of partridges , quail or woodcocks .

These aspects are exhibited both in employment in various types of hunting, and in different hunting grounds.

All these innate qualities must be carefully guided with good training and constant training.

Where does the name of your affix come from?

The hatchery is located in the town of Onda (Castellón), on a 5000 square meter plot located in the foothills of the Sierra Espadán Natural Park.

The facilities are made up of eight kennels, two farrowing pens and two parks for puppies, facing south and sheltered from the prevailing winds from the north.

The name De Sonella is given by the river that bears the same name and that borders the plot, a river that also gives its name to the game where the hatchery and my house is located.

I know that you take great care of your crosses, what criteria do you have to choose your congeners and why?

One of the most important aspects for you to consider which setter is suitable for the De Sonella line is that you have a great passion for hunting and make me enjoy yourself in the field.

One of our main differences is that, above all, I am a hunter and I am looking for a setter that responds by hunting and gives me satisfaction on every hunting day. We select for and for hunting.

The setters that leave the house have a high precocity, being also very balanced specimens . Intelligence, balance, passion and style, these are the highest demands and aspirations that I set for myself in each specimen of the De Sonella hatchery.

What importance do you give to the female and the male at the crossroads?

Those dogs intended for breeding must have shown in the field that they are excellent at hunting, balanced and intelligent, with good winds and wide range.

They must also be free of hereditary genetic defects or diseases, such as hip dysplasia, entropion, or monorchidism.

In the crosses I make, both males and females must be well built morphologically.

They have to be pleasing to the eye, because the good and the beautiful have to go hand in hand. The importance I give between males and females at crossings is divided 50% between them: “So much ride, ride so much …”.

What differences do you find between selecting the crossing for hunting or for competition?

Well, there should be no difference between a hunting dog and a competition dog, but there really are.

Now you can almost differentiate two lines: hunting and competition. Having said this, I ask: Who has not crossed, or would like to do so, with that competition specimen that makes incredible turns and its descendants give very good results in hunting work?

For hunting lines it doesn’t hurt to sometimes use competition dogs as stallions, always knowing what you are looking for and personally seeing the dog in question ‘hunt’.

Beyond the competition, my greatest satisfaction is when a De Sonella puppy owner tells me: « That setter I took with me hunts me fantastic, the winds are incredible, the hunt finds me very easily ».

Comments of this type are what make me continue with enthusiasm in the breeding and selection of the English setter.

Before being a breeder I am a hunter and I care about getting specimens that perform in the field and that make me and their owners enjoy themselves.

I value trophies and understand them as a scale among the best dogs of each breed, but they do not obsess me. I prefer to prioritize the satisfaction of the hunter who goes out to the field every weekend behind the partridges, quails or woodcocks.

It will fly and run the partridges over and over again until one day, when the first emanations arrive, it will remain nailed to the ground, tense, chewing the wind, lying as long as it is, it is on display …, the partridges will fly already From here we will realize that we already have a new hunting partner.