A hunting we will go! Dogs have been used as an important part of a successful hunt for centuries, for many different reasons. Here are the canines that are usually hard-wired as hunting dog breeds.
Hunting dog breeds are genetically wired and physically built to perform often gruelling tasks with minimal instruction. A sighthound’s long, lean head gives him a greater degree of binocular vision while scent hounds have superior olfactory sensors that can pick up and stick with a trail for miles. Pointers and setters inherently track and locate prey then point or set to alert the hunter to its location; springers flush the prey out of hiding while retrievers mind out on land or water to retrieve fallen prey.
If you’re looking for a hunting buddy, here are the top 10 hunting dog breeds that are tops in their field (Get it? Because you go hunting in a field…).
Considered by some to be the ultimate hunting dog, he is an always willing and able all-weather companion. His thick double coat allows him to easily dive into frigid waters to retrieve downed waterfowl and his gentle mouth grip means he can do so without crushing or damaging prey.
German Shorthaired Pointer
This athletic bird dog has a great scenting ability that he uses to track prey while running far ahead of the hunter. He then physically points to its location by freezing in place. He is used to track both birds and smaller land animals and while he’s always an enthusiastic partner, his thin coat means hunting is restricted to warmer seasons.
English Springer Spaniel
This smaller gun dog is a strong, high energy hunting breed with a natural born-talent for flushing or springing birds out of hiding. Similar to the retriever breed, the spaniel has a thick double coat that protects him in any weather and a gentle grip that means he can return downed prey without damaging it.
Are you surprised to find this small pooch on our hunting dog breeds list? This little hound is the only certifiable breed of dog that hunts both above and below ground. His name (Dachs – Hund) actually means Badger Hound and he was originally bred to flush out small burrowing animals. Today his keen sense of smell has him used for tracking as well.
Black and Tan Coonhound
This scent hound is rumored to originate from a bloodhound and a foxhound which means you have exceptional scent tracker for small animals (hence the ‘coon name) with the body of a highly agile dog who can work in virtually any terrain. His thick double-coat makes him perfect for harsher climates.
Often pictured as leading the fox hunts in England, the Beagle is really a determined little scent hound who uses his great sense of smell to track and chsincee smaller animals – typically hare. These superior olfactory skills often result in him being used as a detection dog for sniffing out contraband.
Displaying the characteristics of both pointers and spaniels makes this beautiful boy an ideal hunting dog. For this same reason he isn’t a pet you can allow off-leash or in an unfenced yard. He smells it… he follows it!
As his name implies, this dog was bred to hunt fox and while that is still his forte, his size and agility allows him to pursue deer as well. He’s an independent thinker with a strong urge to hunt and requires little need for human direction. As with all great hounds that are trained to chase, his bays and howls can be heard for miles around.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Similar to the Labrador retriever, this powerful gun dog loves the water and makes a perfect companion when hunting waterfowl. His distinctive wavy double-coat means the Chessie is happy to swim out to retrieve waterfowl regardless of the temperature and while he may resemble a Lab, he is actually of Newfoundland dog lineage.
The scent receptors in this big boy number close to 230 million (40 times that of humans) making him a hound who is unmatched when it comes to tracking and following trails for miles. He has an exceptional sense of smell that allows him to track prey for long distances then crouch, set and wait for the hunter rather than spring to flush the birds out. This muscular pooch is highly agile and slow to tire out.