Is it really a “fly shop” if there’s not a shop mascot? Dogs definitely lighten the mood and foster a friendly family feel to anyone who walks in the door. Generally, dogs will be one of the first things you encounter whilst walking in the door. Shop dogs reflect the lifestyle of their parent(s), so its no wonder you see a lot of working and sporting breeds. For those that have been through many of the shops around the country, there’s a multitude of different breeds, and you can’t single out one. However, I have noticed a trend. A couple things I want the readers to keep in mind; first and foremost, I don’t rank things on the basis of superiority, if anything it’s a fun popularity contest. Secondly, I do it more or less for how I’ve experienced. Lastly, for the fun of the shop culture and outdoor lifestyle.
5. Brittany & Springer Spaniels
Quite a few of us in the outdoor and fly-fishing industry are wing-shooters, and our pups reflect that passion. I’ve seen quite a few spaniels of different breeds throughout many shops. Some are well groomed and mainly a retired bird dog living out it’s retirement in the comfortable confines of shop life. However, many make intermittent appearances in the shop, especially during fall. As the offseason approaches, many sportsmen and women take to the field chasing their dogs and shooting upland birds with man’s best friend. You can tell the shop dogs that are still active in the field – they often have burrs and twigs sewn into their fur. That aside, they’re always willing to come say hi and get some good pets in from humans.
4. Australian Cattle Dog
Loyal work dogs, Australian cattle dogs also make great family pets that love attention. They have an ornery side like most cattle dogs, but are willing to follow you up and down the river or hitch a ride in the drifter with you and your friends. When they are in the shop they are very attentive to the door and are for the most part out of the way, if you want them to be. They make friends fast which is perfect for a part or full-time greeter.
3. German Shorthair Pointers (GSPs)
GSPs are some of my personal favorite dogs. They have a calm demeanor and are the quiet sort of friendly. Definitely built for the field, they are great at hunting and working as a team with other dogs and hunters. As for shop life, they are generally well-disciplined dogs with loyalty and charm built into their furry hearts. One thing I’ve always noticed with any birddog is they love sniffing the feather pelts of chukar, huns, and pheasants – that’s the sign of a good birddog if there ever was one. Always willing to come say hi, these are great dogs to keep the shop attended while you eat your lunch. Another perk, they will stay out of the water and won’t spook your hole…
2. Retrievers & Labs
Not necessarily the best dog to take to your favorite fishing hole all the time, they are great companions and always love a fetch between beats. Water loving dogs are a catch 22 for a fly fisherman, but man are they great duck dogs. Duck hunting fills the early offseason for a lot of folks, and subsides in the late winter months up north when things freeze up, being prime time for a rambunctious lab or golden to be lazy one minute and running around the shop the next knocking stuff off the shelves with their uncontrollable tails. Despite their naïve and destructive nature, they are some of the goofiest, personable and lovable breeds out there. They’re great family dogs and great with kids, so you never feel bad letting them introduce themselves to every person that comes through the door.
All hail the mixed breeds – the family dogs. These pups are no doubt the best of them all. Most of the shop dogs I’ve met have a lot of different demeanors and personalities mixed into their genes, which I think is what makes them the most welcoming and loving. I’ve seen hound mixes, collie mixes, beagle mixes, lab mixes, German Shepherd mixes, and even some Heeler mixes. Mixed breeds are special, especially if they are adopted from a rough background; they are in lots of ways the ones with the most love to give. As long as you treat them well and gain their trust, they will be the most loyal companion you’ve ever known. The best thing about running into a mutt in a fly shop is getting to see a new “type” of dog in each shop you go to, which is often rewarding in its own right.
Border Collie – they are hard workers and very loyal as well as friendly!
German Wirehair Pointer – runner up to the GSP, they are a great field dog for offseason hunts!
Bernese Mountain Dog – Just a giant bundle of joy and fur!
Chihuahuas – okay… maybe not the best shop dog
Didn’t see your shop dog or favorite breed in this list? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know your favorite shop dog breed! Next time you go to your local fly shop, check out what pooch is holding down the fort. Sometimes it can tell you a lot about the lifestyle and background behind the shop and its culture.
As for us, this is our shop dog – Gracie.