Being the oldest breeder of Llewellin Setters in the U.S. today, I have experienced and learned a lot of things in the last 55 years about this breed of hunting dog.
I have hunted this breed of birddog since a child back in the 1950’s. Although, like many other young men in those days, I left Kentucky for work in the Chicago steel yards for nearly 20 years only to return in 1967. From there I became an owner of my first Llewellin setter. Back then, the Bob White Quail and Ruffled Grouse population was never better and my love for the breed had grown stronger. They are an easy going and low keyed companion around the house but, when the chaps went on and the tailgate dropped, they became all day bird finding machines.
I began traveling with my Llewellins in pursuit of the many game birds across America in the late nineteen seventies. My first travels took me to Mississippi where my dogs and I would find dozens of Quail coveys day after day, these dogs never seemed to tire as they love it as much as I. As the years slipped by, I moved on to the game rich bean and corn fields of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas, all offering a mixed bag of quail and pheasant. All the while my Llewellins handled the transitions from state to state perfectly like a well bred gun dog should. I didn’t stop there, again growing up in Eastern Kentucky; my heart was with the Ruffled Grouse so during the early seasons I often traveled to Wisconsin, Canada, Vermont and New Hampshire; where we would also find Woodcock in low lying swamps. I never had a problem with these dogs handling any of the terrain or game birds we pursued.
Now, let’s talk about the Llewelin’s that we breed at Straight Creek Kennel. We do not breed to papers only. A lot of breeders do this. I think you must train and kill birds over the dogs, in order to get the best breeders out of the litter. If you do not hunt them you will not know the true characteristics of the dog. At Straight Creek Kennels, Joyce and I raise about 1000 quail a year, all for training. I then train dogs September through March. We personally train all the sires and dames that we breed.
Here at Straight Creek, to breed the most natural puppies, we breed from only the males and females with the most natural pointing and retrieving ability. Only the dog with the greatest desire for the bird and love to hunt will pass the grade in our program. You should not have to force a dog to hunt, point and retrieve, it should come naturally. Yes there will always be some form of training for handling, obedience and introduction to the gun in the field, but the desire to be a bird dog must be there!
The amount of litters we breed per year are limited, we don’t run a puppy factory!