Need a hunting dog? - the best dog breeds for HUNTING

Narrated from: Special Dogs

Do you need a new hunting dog? Or perhaps a whole pack of them?

Well, it would be best to search for a pedigree breeder/trainer, and obtain dogs proven on the field no matter what their breed. However, if you intend to train your dog personally, and are looking for good raw material, here is a comprehensive list of the dog breeds that are best suited for the life of a hunter’s companion!

1. Labrador Retriever

Well, we all know who these dogs are – Labs are the number one! However, they also make excellent working dogs, so if you intend to go hunting, then kick your Lab off the couch and take him/her along!

On a more serious note, Labrador Retrievers have been famed for their intelligence and good nature, which make them easy to train. They are water dogs, which makes them perfect for duck-hunting in marshy terrain. They are versatile hunters, and usually you can train them to track and point, but their main forte is retrieving (the name gives it away, doesn’t it?) – their gentle grip and willingness to please make them perfect for this task!

Labradors are medium-sized dogs that need weekly grooming and a lot of exercise, but respond doubly with their love and devotion!

2. German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer is an athletic, elegant medium-sized dog. The breed is a cross of some of the best hunting breeds in the world – Spanish Pointer, German Scent hound, etc. – and was developed in the 19th century, giving these dogs ample time to prove their prowess.

The Pointer has one of the best scenting abilities in the canine kingdom, and is widely considered to be the best tracker amongst bird dogs. These dogs work well on land and in water, and can also be used when hunting small mammals on land.

3. Brittany

Don’t be misled by the name – these dogs come from Northwestern France, where there is still a province called Brittany.

The Brittanys are medium-sized gun dogs, proficient in both pointing and retrieving. They are famed for their smartness, curiosity, obedience and stamina. These qualities make them the perfect choice for bird-hunting, and they are usually versatile enough to operate on different types of terrain – woods, plains, hills, etc.

The friendly character of the Brittanys and the easy maintenance also make them wonderful companions and pets.

4. Coonhound

The Coonhound is probably a crossbreed between two famous hunting dogs – the Bloodhound and the Foxhound. They rely on scent to track their prey, and specialize on hunting small-to-medium game such as raccoons. The Coonhounds are very courageous, loyal and devoted animals, and as such can be helpful even when hunting larger game, such as deer. Their fighting spirit makes them very popular, and the American Kennel Club even accepts scars in evaluating show participants, as long as they come from “honorable wounds”.

One of the best Coonhound breeds is the Black and Tan Coonhound, whose main drawback is the heavy drooling.

5. Beagle

Beagles are extremely popular dogs. They are smaller than other hunting dogs (small-to-medium size), which makes them popular pets even though they can be a terror in the house; however, their primary occupation is hunting.

The Beagles are stubborn trackers, and usually hunt in packs. They were often employed as rabbit-hunters, but have a history of pursuing larger game, like wild boars, deer etc. The breed was one of the most popular in England and holds historical significance.

6. Fox Terrier

Resilient, strong and fast, these small dogs were developed in the 17th century, and used primarily for fox-hunting. They had to combine the speed to chase a fox with the strength to follow it into its hiding place and chase it out. Fox Terriers usually hunt in packs, and are good trackers.

There are different breeds of Fox Terriers, one of the main distinguishing features being their coats.

7. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This breed was developed in the USA in the 19th century. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of the best water dogs, and these dogs make excellent family pets. They are resilient, and their obedience and double-coat make them perfect for duck or waterfowl-hunting.

8. Weimaraner

Originally these friendly dogs were used by royalty for hunting larger game, but as the popularity of such hunts waned, they switched to smaller animals – foxes, rabbits, etc.

These dogs are pointers, and were developed in Weimar, Germany. They are friendly, sociable, and easy to maintain, and have an elegant, athletic look – however, exercising them is a tiresome activity!

9. Spanish Water Dog

This old breed has been employed in Spain for centuries; they have also been used as breeding stock, and thus are related to many newer and extremely popular hunting breeds.

The main proficiency of Spanish Water Dogs is in retrieving game; they are very agile, obedient and easy to train. The main drawback is that their coat, while invaluable for water hunting, is largely inadequate for most other forms of hunting.

They are medium-sized and friendly, but require a lot of grooming to keep their appearance.

10. English Springer Spaniel

These dogs, unlike other spaniel breeds, are famous not only as hearty companions, but as excellent flushers as well. They specialize in tracking and flushing out small game, usually birds. Their gentle grip also makes them good retrievers, so it’s a two for one!

They are very resilient, and if trained well can learn a large number of commands, including hand signals. Their high energy level makes them hard-to-manage pets, but it is invaluable on long hunting days, and their coats and stamina allow them to hunt on various terrains.

11. English Setter

English Setters are part of the Setter family, and specialize in flushing out birds. Like most setters, they are excellent trackers, and intelligent enough to work in a team with the hunter.

This particular breed is also famed for looks, making English Setters excellent show dogs. These dogs are easy to love, but their high energy levels and medium size means they are tough to handle as pets; this is coupled with a mischievous character, even though they are usually described as canine gentlemen.

12. Dachshund

Of course, no list can be complete without mentioning the unique and moody dachshunds. These small dogs are very popular pets – if you can stand their barking that is! However, they are born hunters, and their unique appearance is due to the fact they were used to track prey underground – badgers, foxes, rabbits, etc. There are several varieties of the dachshund according to their coat – smooth, wirehaired and longhaired, but the smooth ones seem to be most popular.

The courage and strength of these dogs make them excellent hunters, but they are also among the most loyal companions one can hope for!

The order of the list…

… is completely random. It is impossible to say which breed is better than which, since these dogs use different hunting techniques. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to you to choose how you want to hunt, and to find the dog that is best suited to help you achieve your goals – and keep you company on a cold night!

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