WDP - Guinny and Tawny


We are in the heart of the English countryside today when we meet Julia and Phil at their home with their beautiful working gundogs Guinny and Tawny.

Guinny and Tawny are a Cocker Spaniel and a Springer Spaniel aged five years and fifteen months respectively. Both dogs are males and are working gun dogs. During the shooting season these dogs work at local shoots in Northamptonshire flushing birds and retrieving.

After furnishing us with a nice cup of tea Julia tells us about her dogs and the training they do and what its like to live with gun dogs.

Guinny, the eldest, came from a specialist breeder in Kings Lynn and following the advice of a local gamekeeper. He was the brightest of four puppies and Julia fondly remembers a tiny Guinny playfully nibbling at her shoes and she chose him there and then.


Guinny has been training and gaining experience for five years and mostly works with Julia. Training consists of constant drilling to an increasing set of commands, working from a small area out in the field and getting bigger over time as the dog gets more experienced.

Tawny, their other dog, is 15 months old and is being trained to work with Phil. Tawny is a Springer Spaniel and he starts work this season in October as he is still currently enjoying being a puppy. He is already so excited to work with his training dummies.

Gundogs are very intelligent and often the hard part when putting the team together is not just training the dog but also training the owner! The dogs have an advantage of using their natural instinct to do their job. It is hugely important that dog and owner understand each other. Gundogs work with the beaters flushing out the birds and with the shooters retrieving birds. They recognise and move precisely to their owners’ commands in a noisy and dangerous environment and so it is imperative that their connection must be strong and clearly understood.

Interestingly, there isn’t much advantage to having one dog in training and one already trained. They don’t work together so much when out on a shoot and they also train separately. With the basic dog commands like “sit” and “stay” it may be helpful for Tawny to have Guinny around but not so much in their work.

A gundog works to its owner only, so Guinny and Tawny will only work together when Julia and Phil are together at the same shoot.

These two dogs will have slightly different roles at a shoot.

Guinny is a pure beating dog. The beaters and their dogs all line up together and move forward to flush out the birds in a drive (when the line moves forward). There can be around six to eight drives in one session. The dogs run backwards and forwards covering huge amount of ground and drive the birds into the air. Guinny is a working Cocker Spaniel and these dogs are more suited to just beating.

When Tawny is trained, as a Springer Spaniel his instinct will allow him to beat and retrieve.

As you can imagine, controlling dogs at a shoot is hugely important. It is a dangerous environment and loose dogs could ruin the shoot or even worse. On a small shoot you could have six dogs and many more on a larger one.


Tawny’s basic training will take three months to allow him to come out in the field, but the training is continuous along with the experience in the field.

These dogs always have this instinct and even when they are older they still love to go beating and retrieving even if they can’t quite do so much.

It is challenging  to train two dogs together and a good idea to have an age difference between them. Guinny and Tawny are both males, but females make great gundogs too.

As a pair, these dogs live together very well. They are super friendly and great fun to be around. As with any two dogs they do have their moments and, whilst they both like to be favourite, Guinny is definitely the boss.  

It has been fantastic learning all about Guinny and Tawny and how beating dogs are trained and how they work so closely with their human partners.

Thank you so much Julia and Phil for letting us meet your lovely dogs.