Best Dog Breeds for Hunting
(Photo credit: Alexandra Jursova / Getty Images)
Hunting dogs make great family companions on and off the field. Historically, hunting dogs were bred to help hunters with a variety of tasks, including alerting to the presence of prey, flushing them out, and retrieving them. Since hunting dogs perform so many different jobs, it’s important to select the right breed for your needs. Here are some of the best dog breeds for hunting.
Hunting dog characteristics
The characteristics of hunting dogs can vary depending on the job the breed performs. However, all hunting dogs tend to have a high prey drive and are motivated to help people. They’re highly trainable, drawing on a combination of instincts and human interaction. Many hunting breeds have shorter coats and longer tails, making it easier for them to traverse through wooded or bushy areas. Hunting breeds also have keen senses, such as strong noses for tracking and sharp vision for flushing and retrieving prey.
The lovable Labrador Retriever is one of the most well-known hunting breeds. Designed to help retrieve prey, as their name suggests, these dogs are at home in the field and on your couch. They also make great family pets due to their calm, even natures.
A cousin to the Lab, the Golden Retriever features similar characteristics with a long, golden coat. They also share a genetic history with spaniels, giving them their flowing locks. Outside of hunting, these dogs are often used as service dogs due to their ease of training.
German Shorthaired Pointer
The classic, energetic German Shorthaired Pointer is the poster child for flushing out prey. If you’ve seen historic paintings of a dog in the iconic pose with one paw raised at the ready, you’ve likely encountered this breed. These dogs have a long history, dating back to the 1600s.
Beagles make excellent companions on the field and at home, gaining popularity as a household favorite pet. Their soft, floppy ears and tricolor coat make them an adorable breed. But this breed needs a lot of exercise — otherwise, they’re likely to wander off after their noses.
English Springer Spaniel
Another bird dog bred to flush out prey, the English Springer Spaniel is a lovable hunting dog. The name “Springer” comes from their purpose of springing birds out of hiding. They’re an offshoot of the Cocker Spaniel, and at one point in time were classified as the same breed!
The iconic search and rescue dog, the Bloodhound has no match when it comes to finding a scent. These dogs, like many other hound breeds, have supremely strong noses, able to follow a scent almost anywhere! Bloodhounds are also a popular police breed, helping to track down missing persons.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Similar to other retrievers, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, or “Chessie” is a breed native to North America. They’re an excellent water dog, equally happy retrieving waterfowl or lounging on a boat. The Chessie is also known for their adorable “smile” — a sign that they’re feeling happy to see you!
A breed with a long history, the English Setter serves a similar function to pointers — with a unique twist. Instead of pointing, the breed “sets” or lays down near where it finds birds. This was useful for hunters that used nets so the low-to-the-ground Setter wouldn’t get tangled within.
A cousin to the English, the Irish Setter is known for its vibrant flowing red coat. However, this breed does come in many different colors, including a white and red coat and a tricolor. They were designed to be an all-around breed, capable of working in harsher climates than their English relatives.
Sporting a similar look to other hounds, the Bluetick Coonhound is a breed well-suited to tracking, especially at night. These dogs love to hunt and will happily follow a trail anywhere. In addition to their hunting abilities, these dogs are very friendly, making for a good family companion.
Beyond the best dog breeds for hunting
Hunting dogs can make great companions out in the field or at home. However, they do require a lot of time and energy. Now that you’ve learned more about some of the best dog breeds for hunting, be sure to check out our guides on the best dog breeds for long walks, and the best dog breeds for your homestead!
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