The Wildrose Way [Back to Monthly Pro Staff Articles]
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Have you heard of Deke the DU Dog? The famous Black Labrador from Ducks Unlimited’s TV Show? If you have, then you've seen a Wildrose British Lab in action! During a recent Lone Duck road trip, I had the pleasure of touring the Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi, and spent time with the owner, Mike Stewart, and his staff. (click here to watch our Adventure Dog video)
It was an honor to walk the grounds with Mike and learn about his breeding program, training style, and the legacy he has been building since the 1970's. His passion for the breed, the industry, and his community is unparalleled. He’s been featured in Forbes Magazine, had numerous Covey Rise publications, and is the host of DUtv’s retriever training segment! I felt fortunate to share a few hours with him and his crew!
A hot topic within the retriever industry is the difference between American Labs and British Labs. Mike explained that though they are not separate breeds, they do have a few different characteristics. For an easy to understand and generalized comparison, he described the American Lab as a sports car: high energy, full throttle, and ready to rip! For some of us in the retriever games, a Ferrari is exactly what we are looking for!
Mike believes that the British Labs, who closely resemble the breed’s earlier ancestors, are more like classic cars: beautiful, easy driving, and smooth. Coined by him as "The Gentleman's Gundog", Mike likes that the British Labs show natural hunting ability and drive, but still maintain a calm, more relaxed demeanor. Overall, British Labs tend to be even-tempered and quiet in the blind, yet show great desire when it's time to work. These dogs can also be fantastic companions on day hikes, camping trips, canoe rides, and campfire nights. He chooses to breed British Labs because he believes these traits meet the highly diverse needs of his clients.
Mike has also created a unique style of retriever training, a hybrid which he refers to as “The Wildrose Way”. It's rooted mostly with training styles from England, with a splash of American methods mixed in. "The Wildrose Way" develops a pup’s natural instincts and acclimates it to various situations it may encounter in the field. As we know, with retriever training, there is more than one way to skin a cat. However, the "Wildrose Way" is Mike's proven method for developing a young puppy into a wonderful hunting and family companion!
I highly encourage you to head over to the Wildrose Kennels website and to follow them on their social media platforms! They provide great information for when you're researching which lineages and training methods will work best for you! Plus, they truly are a great group of people to work with!
Click these links to find more information on Mike Stewart and Wildrose Kennels!