There are a great many dog breeds in the UK that today are hugely popular pets, but that historically, have a long working history in various different roles that certain breeds are still widely used for right up until the present day.
Whilst most dog owners know enough about their own dog and the breed they have chosen to have a basic understanding of the breed’s origins and if relevant, working roles they might have performed, not all dog lovers realise quite how many of our most popular breeds have working origins.
One of the historic working dog types that have made a very successful transition to domestic life as pets is the gun dog group, and there are over thirty gun dog breeds recognised in the UK, which is many more than some people realise!
Many dog lovers pick a breed they like the look of and the temperament traits of and find out more about the breed’s history later on, but if you know that a certain type of working dog shares several core traits across all of the dog breeds that fall within it, this information can be useful when narrowing down your list of dog breeds to consider – or avoid.
The purchase price of any dog for sale is also a significant factor for most puppy buyers, and the prices of different dog breeds can be very variable, even within broader groups of dogs with common traits like gun dogs.
Whilst the price charged for any individual dog can of course in itself be very variable, if you have enough pricing data to work from, it is possible to calculate broad average prices for an individual dog of any given breed.
Here at Pets4Homes, we’ve put together data from gun dog breeds advertised for sale during the last year and worked out the most expensive gun dog breeds to buy in the UK.
In this article we will share pricing information for the UK’s six most expensive gun dog breeds to buy, look at what contributes to their high prices, and talk in more detail about the pros and cons of owning each of these gun dog breeds.
Read on to find out the most expensive gun dog breeds in the UK.
Let’s start with the basics – an explanation of what constitutes a gun dog in the first place.
The Kennel Club in the UK is the country’s umbrella organisation for dogs and dog breeds, which registers pedigree puppies of recognised breeds to provide the appropriate paperwork the dog needs for showing and sale purposes, to prove their origins.
The Kennel Club divides individual dog breeds into sub-groups that reflects different breeds with similar working origins, or that performed broadly similar roles and so, have similar personality traits. One of these groupings is the gun dog group, and this group contains several of the UK’s most popular dog breeds as well as a reasonable number of much rarer and less common dog breeds too.
A gun dog is a dog of a breed that was historically bred and developed specifically to work with shooting hunters, which involves various roles depending on the skills of the specific dog breeds used. These may include flushing out game birds, finding and retrieving downed game, “pointing” for game, and other roles associated with gun sport.
There are three different types of gun dog skills, which are retrievers, pointing dogs and flushing dogs respectively.
Some pointers are also trained to flush out game, so that when the handler approaches a dog on point, they can give them a specific command to tell the dog to act so that the bird takes flight.
When a flushing dog has flushed out a bird, they then mark its position as it flies and is downed, and then await a command to retrieve it and bring it back to the handler.
Whilst all three of these main gun dog roles are closely related and many dogs perform several of them within their working role, these are the three main sub-categories that gun dogs are broken down into.
Additionally, even dogs that have been bred and kept as pets rather than working dogs for many generations are still classed as gun dogs if they come from a breed that was historically used for gun sport, regardless of whether or not the dog in question has ever worked themselves.
Whilst gun sport is still active in the UK, shooting with dogs is relatively niche and the vast majority of dogs of gun dog breeds in the UK today are kept as pets rather than working dogs.
However, they still share the core gun dog traits and skill sets that evolved within the breed over time, and this manifests in personality traits displayed by domestic dogs too – such as a love of swimming or a tendency to point even without being trained to do so or being directed by a handler.
Before we move on to our list of the six most expensive gun dog breeds to buy in the UK, here’s an explanation of how we calculated the figures.
Pets4Homes is the biggest and best pet advice and classifieds website in the UK, and we collate anonymous information from every “for sale” advert placed here for individual dogs of different breeds, including how many ads are paced each year, and a range of information on their advertised prices.
This enables us to put together large datasets for each individual dog breed, showing how many dogs were advertised in any given year, and their average prices – both for Kennel Club registered pedigrees, and non-pedigrees of the same breed or type.
We can then compare different dog breeds side by side to calculate which are most populous and/or expensive in the UK. This encompasses reviewing data on all 31 of the gun dog breeds offered for sale here, to find out their ranking based on average advertised prices.
To determine the average advertised prices of different gun dog breeds using the most recent available information, we’re working from advertisement data across the whole Pets4Homes website for the twelve months of 2018.
To ensure that the information that we share is reliable enough to represent the true state of the market in terms of the average price dogs of each breed change hands for, we’ve also used a few additional parameters to filter out any anomalies that might produce an inaccurate final picture of the prices.
In order to achieve this, we first discounted any gun dog breeds from which 20 or fewer total dogs of the breed were advertised for sale on Pets4Homes in 2018, because there is not enough data available across such breeds to produce a reliable average price per dog.
We have also filtered out any adverts for dogs whose price was listed at under £100 or over £8,000, to make sure that dogs with no price listed or those whose price is wildly different to the breed’s norms do not result in a misleading skewing of the figures.
We calculated our list of the most expensive gun dogs based on the average prices commanded for all dogs of their respective breeds, encompassing adverts for both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs combined. We’ve also added additional information on the pricing difference between Kennel Club registered pedigrees of these breeds, and non-pedigrees separately.
With these parameters in mind, here are the six most expensive gun dog breeds to buy in the UK, listed in reverse order.
The Weimaraner is a very handsome-looking large gun dog breed of the pointer type, and the very beautiful uniform silvery grey coat of this dog breed is perhaps their most strongly identifying feature.
Weimaraners are the UK’s 62nd most popular dog breed overall, and whilst they’re a long way off the top ten group, they are still reasonably common within the UK, and are a breed that most of us have seen within our own local areas. They’re also the 7th most popular gun dog breed in the UK too.
The Weimaraner is the 6th most expensive gun dog breed to buy in the UK, and here are the price averages:
The Weimaraner is a very intelligent dog breed that can learn a wide range of skills and commands, and they are particularly notable for being very easy to train, and generally excellent with children too.
They don’t need a huge amount of grooming and they don’t shed particularly heavily either, but they do need a great deal of exercise each day to keep them happy and fulfilled, which reflects the lively nature and high level of endurance shared by most gun dog breeds.
However, this can make it challenging to keep a Weimaraner unless you are prepared to spend significant amounts of time each day walking them, and Weimaraners are not happy if left alone with nothing to do for very long at a time.
The Weimaraner’s large size and the challenges of providing them with enough exercise means that many dog lovers who love the Weimaraner temperament and appearance are unable to consider owning a dog of this type, which limits the level of demand for dog for sale.
That said, Weimaraners are still popular and in demand all over the country, and rarely do sellers of good quality Weimaraner puppies have problems selling their litters to good homes.
Supply and demand for Weimaraners is fairly well matched and stable within the UK, although the advertised prices for dogs of the breed have increased incrementally over the last couple of years; in 2016 the average sale price across the breed was £692, rising to £751 in 2017 and finally, £853 in 2018.
These incremental but not inconsequential year-on-year average price increases reflect the likelihood that demand for dogs of the breed is slightly higher than supply at present – but when this type of trend does occur, it usually results in a higher number of litters being bred in subsequent years until both numbers and sale prices level out when an equilibrium is reached between supply and demand.
At present, demand for Weimaraners is slightly higher than the number of dogs available for sale, which has helped to make the Weimaraner the 6th most expensive gun dog breed in the UK.
The flat coated retriever is a large gun dog breed of the retrieving type, with a medium-long slightly shaggy flat coat and a very noble appearance.
Flat coated retrievers are the UK’s 115th most popular dog breed overall, and the 12th most popular gun dog breed. This means that they’re not a hugely common sight in most parts of the UK, and whilst most dog lovers would probably be able to narrow down the type of dog they were seeing to a retriever type, not everyone could immediately identify the exact breed.
The flat coated retriever is the 5th most expensive gun dog breed in the UK, and here is the information on their average advertised prices:
Flat coated retrievers are excellent working dogs thanks to their high intelligence and high energy levels, and they are reputed to be very easy to train too. They’re also good with children, which means that they can be a good choice of dog for active families that spend lots of time outdoors.
However, the amount of exercise that dogs of the breed require – coupled with their large size – means that they’re not a good fit for everyone, and demand for this breed is much lower than it is for many other retrieving dog types.
The overall health of the flat coated retriever breed isn’t great either, and the average lifespan of dogs of the breed in the UK is 8-10 years.
The flat coated retriever breed as a whole has quite a long list of hereditary health problems that can affect individual dogs of the breed, and responsible flat coated retriever breeders are strongly advised to undertake a number of pre-breeding health tests on their parent stock.
These include hip and elbow scoring, which can be costly to arrange, as well as DNA testing for a range of other breed-specific issues too.
The complex health of the flat coated retriever breed means that breeding such dogs is rather costly when you factor in the cost of health tests and removing unsuitable dogs from breeding schemes, and the reasonably short lifespans of dogs of the breed.
These factors serve to both reduce demand for dogs of the breed somewhat as many people researching dog breeds will discount those with an elevated risk of health issues – but also helps to keep prices high, reflecting the additional costs involved in breeding flat coated retrievers.
However, a relatively small number of dogs of the breed offered for sale at any one time – just 104 in total across the whole of 2018 – does mean that litters for sale rarely have problems finding buyers, which in turn, helps to ensure that prices remain relatively high compared like for like to other similar dog breeds.
The golden retriever is one of the best-known retrieving gun dog breeds, and one that most of us would immediately recognise out and about. Golden retrievers have a long and distinguished working history as retrieving dogs on both land and water, but they’re hugely versatile and can turn their paws to all manner of other working roles too.
Golden retrievers are one of the main breeds trained as assistance dogs, therapy dogs and even as sniffer dogs with the police and military, and they’re also really popular as pets and companions as well.
Golden retrievers are the UK’s 24th most popular dog breed over all, and the 4th most popular gun dog breed. They’re also the 4th most expensive gun dog breed to buy in the UK, and here are the golden retriever’s average prices per dog:
Golden retrievers are one of the gun dog breeds that have been most successful at making the transition from working roles to domestic life, and these large, friendly and very cuddly dogs have an undeniable appeal with dog lovers of all types.
However, they are very large dogs that are well built as well as tall, which means that not everyone who might wish to own one has room for them. Additionally, the golden retriever coat is very beautiful and distinctive and makes up a large part of the breed’s appeal, but it can also be very hard work to care for.
Golden retrievers need a significant amount of brushing and grooming to keep their coats in good condition, and they are also very heavy shedders, and so time cleaning up and hoovering also needs to be factored into their care.
Golden retrievers are excellent family dogs and they tend to get on very well with children, and can be very gentle with smaller children and really good at moderating their behaviour around people that may be nervous or shy around dogs. This helps to ensure that demand for dogs of this breed is always high, and so sale prices remain relatively high too as a result of this.
Despite the large size of the golden retriever gene pool and the length of time that the breed has been established within the UK, the golden retriever is another dog breed that is associated with quite a large number of hereditary health issues.
The average lifespan of dogs of the breed is 10-12 years, which is about average if slightly on the low side for breeds of a similar size. Whilst most dogs of the breed are robust and hardy, some of the hereditary health issues that are associated with the breed are quite serious, and present in a reasonable number of individual dogs.
This means that responsible golden retriever breeders have to factor in the cost of health testing on parent stock and caring for any dogs that may not be suitable for breeding, and this inflates the cost of breeding each litter, which in turn is passed on to puppy buyers.
Even though the golden retriever is a very popular breed and there is no shortage of dogs of the breed for sale at any given time, demand for such dogs is consistent and stable, and breeders producing good quality healthy litters rarely have problems selling their pups.
The Hungarian vizsla is a large pointing dog breed that is fairly similar in conformation to the Weimaraner at a glance, although there are of course several differences between the shape and build of dogs of these two respective breeds.
Just as the Weimaraner has a distinctive and beautiful coat that helps them to stand out in a crowd, so too does the Vizsla – except that their coats are a deep, eye-catching russet gold colour, or deep golden red.
The Hungarian vizsla is the UK’s 50th most popular dog breed overall, and the 5th most popular gun dog breed. Whilst this mean that vizslas aren’t one of the most common breeds in the UK, they are by no means rare either, and are becoming more and more popular over time as word spreads and more and more people learn about the appeals of the breed.
The Hungarian vizsla is the 3rd most expensive gun dog breed to buy in the UK, and here are the price averages across the breed:
Hungarian vizslas are really good all-rounders, which means that they’re very versatile and have made the transition from working gun dog roles to that of pets with relative ease. They’re above average in the intelligence stakes and also very easy to train, and they tend to be well mannered and obedient dogs when handled and managed well.
They do have very high energy levels and need lots of walks, and don’t thrive if left alone for long periods of time or kept within a very sedentary household.
The average lifespan of Hungarian vizslas can be quite variable, with a very broad average lifespan of between 9-16 years. The breed as a whole is once more one that has a long list of hereditary health issues found within some individual dogs, and many of these are complex, challenging to manage, and can affect the dog’s quality of life and longevity.
Some of these conditions can be screened for in parent dogs prior to breeding, and responsible vizsla breeders undertake a number of health tests on their breeding stock. Generally, breeders of pedigree vizslas are more likely to undertake health testing that those breeding non-pedigrees, which is one of the things that makes pedigrees more expensive to buy than non-pedigrees.
However, the main explanation for the price difference between pedigree and non-pedigree vizslas is the perception of superior quality and proven pedigree for registered dogs among puppy buyers. High prices for pedigree dogs does also serve to increase prices for non-pedigrees of the same breed too, although rarely does this price point approach the same sort of range as that commanded by pedigree dogs.
The comparatively high level of demand for Hungarian vizslas compared to the available supply also helps to ensure that prices remain relatively high too.
The Bracco Italiano is a large pointing-type gun dog, and one that is not very common at all in the UK. Unless you already know the breed or have been researching it in more detail, most dog owners would struggle to pinpoint the correct identity of a Bracco Italiano that they did spot.
The Bracco Italiano breed was first developed for use as a pointing and retrieving dog, roles that they are still widely used for in their home country of Italy, and many other areas of the European mainland.
The Bracco Italiano is the 144th most popular dog breed in the UK overall, and the 16th most popular gun dog breed.
Here are the details on how many Bracco Italiano dogs were offered for sale here in 2018, and how much they cost.
Bracco Italianos might not be a breed that most of us can bring to mind immediately, but they do have a number of excellent traits that make them worthy of consideration by people who are trying to choose a gun dog breed as their next pet.
Braccos are very smart dogs that are easy to train, and whilst they need more exercise than most dog breeds, they are also quite happy to be left alone to entertain themselves for a while too without becoming bored and destructive.
Bracco Italianos are also very good with children, don’t need much grooming and don’t shed heavily, all of which provides a number of advantages for people looking to choose a gun dog breed that also makes for a good pet.
Again, there is quite a long list of hereditary health problems that can be found within the Bracco breed, but their average lifespan is 12-14 years, which is towards the higher side of the average for a breed of this size. Whilst there are a lot of potential health issues that can afflict individual dogs, many of them are still relatively uncommon within the breed, and others still can be screened for prior to breeding to ensure that only healthy parent stock produce litters.
Factoring in the cost of health tests helps to increase the average sale price for litters just as it does for any other dog breed, but the main reason behind the Bracco Italiano’s high average sale price is their relative rarity within the UK.
Whilst this is a breed for which demand is limited due to its relative obscurity and the fact that many people have never even heard of it, given that just 46 dogs of the breed were offered for sale here in 2018 means that people who do wish to own a Bracco usually pay a premium due to their relative scarcity.
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a small water-retrieving gun dog breed that like the Bracco Italiano, hails from Italy, and the breed was originally developed for its superior skills at retrieving downed game both on land and over water.
This is another gun dog breed that is very uncommon within the UK, so much so that few dog lovers would recognise a dog of the breed if they saw one.
Lagotto Romagnolos are way down the list of UK dog breeds ranked by popularity in the 173rd place position, and they’re the 20th most popular gun dog breed in the UK. They’re also the most expensive gun dog breed to buy in the UK too!
Here are the average advertised prices and figures for Lagotto Romagnolos on Pets4Homes in 2018:
So, why is the Lagotto Romagnolo the UK’s most expensive gun dog breed?
The main reason for their high price is the rarity of the breed within the UK. Just 21 adverts in total throughout the whole of 2018 indicates just how uncommon the Lagotto Romagnolo is in the UK overall. Demand for the breed is itself very limited because it is relatively unknown in general dog owner circles, and even people who have the breed on their radar are sometimes cautious about purchasing a dog from a breed that is uncommon and so, harder to get to know.
However, given how few Lagotto Romagnolos are offered for sale each year, demand for the breed far outstrips the current level of supply. 21 dogs offered for sale in one year (2018) is of course a very small number – but this is almost double the number of dogs of the breed that were advertised here in 2016 and 2017, being just 12 and 11 dogs respectively.
This indicates that more breeders are starting to produce Lagotto Romagnolos to meet this demand and achieve the breed’s currently high average sale prices, but as there aren’t many dogs of the breed in the UK at present in total, the speed at which its population grows will in itself be somewhat limited until the number of unrelated dogs grows to a more stable level.
Lagotto Romagnolos can be fairly described as good value in terms of their average longevity, however – dogs of the breed have an average lifespan of between 15-17 years, but the breed does have a handful of breed-specific health issues that can present in individual dogs. Some of these can be diagnosed or tested for in parent stock prior to breeding, and as we mentioned earlier, this also helps to contribute to higher sale prices.
Additionally, the small population of Lagotto Romagnolos in the UK mean that some breeders and prospective breeders import pedigree Lagottos from outside of the UK to use within their own breeding programmes. Purchasing and importing dogs from abroad is understandably more costly than breeding your own lines here in the UK, which in turn, increases the costs of producing litters and so, the final sale price.
All of these things combined help to make the Lagotto Romagnolo the most expensive gun dog breed that you can buy in the UK at present.
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