According to the American Kennel Club, the concept of “Sporting” implies that the dog works off the hunter’s gun, since every breed in the Sporting Group is a gundog. The Kennel Club (United Kingdom) calls the group Gun Dogs, acknowledging that other kinds of dogs are engaged in sport. Barring the showing of dogs as sport, scenthounds rioting after a fox, or sighthounds sprinting after a rabbit, Huskies hauling towards their goal, terriers racing, and herding dogs trailing; these are all in their own way sporting dogs.
The Sporting Group, however, tends to amalgamate the gundogs, and so this group includes retrievers, spaniels, water dogs, and pointers. The gundogs essentially derive from hounds and mastiff crosses and were created for the said work. These dogs are willing and biddable sports dogs of superior intelligence and varied abilities. Certain dogs were developed for one specific purpose: to point, to retrieve, to flush, to spring, etc. Many of these tasks are still incorporated in a breed’s present name: Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Labrador Retriever, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, etc. for starters. Other breeds have the inbred ability to execute any combination or all of these tasks; such multi-talented gundogs include the Brittany, Weimaraner, and German Shorthaired Pointer. This is not to suggest that any dog with a “task word” in its present name can do only that task, since this is simply not true.
The temperament of the Sporting dogs is very consistent and overall quite mellow. The flawless dispositions of the Golden Retriever, English Setter, and Sussex Spaniel are fine examples of wonderful companion dogs. Of course, the Sporting breeds occupy high registration spots in both America and England, with the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever and Cocker Spaniel (American or English) pervading as the shining stars. Popular bias also indicates that the Sporting dogs are the most handsome of dogs, and the dogs in those top positions admittedly are all very good looking, unexaggerated canines. These dogs are quality companions for persons who wish for a hunting dog or just for a reliable partner. All gundogs require lots of fresh air and exercise, almost without exception (and those exceptions quickly become dumpy).