In my state dogs are only legal for tracking on kind of big game and only in certain counties: bears.
I know of one guy in the county in which I used to reside who has a GSD that is primarily a companion, but this GSD also ran with his bear hounds during bear season. The laws are strict regarding the use of dogs on big game so the GSD only gets to run bear for like five weeks year and three are "training only weeks." I spoke to this guy at length (he was a good customer of mine when I had a store in the area) about running the dogs on bear and he says the GSD is usually the first on the trail but prefers to hang back closer to him while the curs and hounds tree the bear. I have never been bear hunting with a dog pack, but know several folks that do run them with dogs.
Its really remote where I hunt and a lot of people do break the law and run their dogs on deer. I like dogs for waterfowl and uplandbirds, but I prefer to glass and track my big game. Never taken a bear though.
I have also heard rumors (never personally met the owner) of a guy who uses a GSD to run raccoons in the same area.
I bet a good working line dog would make a great bird dog, but you'd probably have to train it to retrieve and/or flush as I just don't see a high prey drive dog pointing on birds.
I have thought about this many times. I am a waterfowler and I debated getting a "hunting" dog before I got the GSD. However, when compared against 365 days, I only hunt a few days, but I wanted a dog for everyday days. The breeder mentioned that she used to have a GSDthat would fetch ducks. I do not know if I would train my dog to do that, but I would love to take him with me next season a few times to see what happens... Have to train him to stay still and to ignore the shooting before. I do some quail hunting too and that may be easier.
Let me know if you find any info on GSD and bird hunting. I have been unsucessful so far.
I think you could easily train your gsd to retrieve waterfowl. Focus on soft mouthing or you might end up with some half eaten ducks. the rubber training decoys with the " rubber nubbin spikes" on them are good for keeping the mouth soft on retrieve. Start using soft training decoys and work on the soft mouthed retrieve and you should have a boat buddy in no time. I got my boy midnight soft mouthed on ducks in about six months, but we do have a river, and ponds and creeks right close. Plus i jump at any chance to wander around a wilderness area so that helped.
The only reason I think training a high prey dog drive to point is because the best pointing dogs I've hunted with (none were mine as I have only hunted with others dogs) just point. Most have been breed to just point for a very long time. No uncalled running or flushing, just a stiff legged whole body point that they hold until they hear/see the shots. Sometimes it takes a long time to creep up on those upland birds so the dog may have to point, just out of pouncing range of said bird, for a while.
I know a few people that have them trained to retrieve after the shots. Those pointers I've hunted in packs with also are trained and bred to honor the points of other dogs in the brace, freezing in position when they see a bracemate on point. I'm sure you could train a gsd to do almost anything so pointing (and the more important holding at point) would just take some special methods and lots of effort.
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