I LOVE the breed. They are wonderful dogs. My last one - Mack, as in Mack truck - currently resides w/ the ex, and my kids, because no one is getting into their home uninvited, while Mack is on the job. Loyal, trustworthy, and possessing the heart of a lion. I've used him successfully on geese, ducks, grouse, woodcock, and assholes. He's brought the fowl to-hand and merely mauled the asshole, who very much had it coming. He's broken ice to get to a downed bird when labs refused to even think about retrieving, and please don't get me wrong... I've owned Labs and love them too. Chessies are literally a whole "nother" breed. (The story of their lineage is worth the read.) My advice is to buy your dog as a pup, for sure. Mack was a rescue, and never adequately/properly socialized as a pup. Consequently, his "circle-of'frirnds" was quite small and rather arbitrary. My hunting buddies all learned to announce themselves loudly when approaching the duck-blind in the dark. All that said, my son and I were at the dog-park yesterday - w/ my german wirehaired pointer - and we agreed that of all the many dogs, setters, pointers, labs, and Mack the Chessie; Mack remains at the top of our list of loved dogs. Good luck w/ your search!