Here’s our list of the best hunting dog breeds; is your four-legged hunting buddy on the list?
We love dogs: we love them as pets, and we certainly love them as hunting partners.
And while not all breeds can serve terribly well as hunting dogs–if you can’t picture your chihuahua’s prey drive adding too much to your hunting success, then you aren’t alone–many different kinds of dogs can serve as wonderful hunting partners depending on what kind of game you’re pursuing.
There are plenty of hunters who are loyal to their breed, whether it’s an English setter, a cocker spaniel, a Boykin spaniel, an English springer spaniel, a Brittany spaniel or one of the dogs on this list, each breed will produce great hunters.
However, here are our top 10 favorite hunting dogs breeds.
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1. Labrador Retriever
It’s right there in the name. Most retriever breeds make wonderful water dogs, and the Labrador might just be the “ultimate” waterfowl dog.
With bundles of energy, a cold-weather coat meant for long days outdoors and on big ranches, and the willingness to go to any lengths to retrieve your kill, the Labrador retriever is best for duck hunting, but can help you out with any type of small game. Just make sure your hungry lab doesn’t eat the bird for him or herself.
2. American Foxhound
These dogs were bred for what else? Fox hunting. They are still very much up to that task. Deer hunters have also adopted their running skills for large game, but American foxhound are a great hunting breed because they are an energetic dog that will pretty much chase down anything you tell them to.
Perhaps seen as the “iconic” hunting dog, the Beagle is a small dog and is much like the American foxhound in its persistence, energy, and love of the chase. Its short legs handicap it somewhat in the pursuit of bigger game, but if you’re hunting smaller game and varmint like rabbits, beagles are great dogs to own. This dog currently ranks number six in the American Kennel Club’s popularity rankings.
The pointer’s thin coat disqualifies it a bit from effective big game hunting in the snowy north, but in the southern United States, where temperatures stay hot, this sporting breed is the perfect companion for finding and bagging upland game birds in an expansive field.
There are a number of pointers, though, including German shorthaired pointers, German wirehaired pointers and English pointers.
These are some of the more iconic bird dogs on this list.
Their very name makes them sound like ruthless hunters. These scent hounds live up to that expectation with their strong noses and unparalleled tracking abilities making them great hunting dogs. This may be the best dog for tracking on this list. Just be aware of what you’re getting into. These dogs are huge, weighing anywhere from 80-120 pounds.
6. Golden Retriever
Often considered the quintessential “family dog,” golden retrievers, like their Labrador cousins, are also wonderful small-game hunters. These high energy dogs are perfect as a household breed for the kids which also doubles as a hunting companion for the parents. Not many people realize this breed has its origins as a hunting dog in Scotland’s highlands. It is now one of the most popular dogs on the planet, ranking number three in the AKC’s popularity rankings.
7. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Like its retriever brethren, this dog, bred for duck hunting on the shores of its namesake Chesapeake Bay, is an energetic, water-loving dog with the endurance and high intelligence to happily charge through a long day of hunting. Just like the name suggests, this dog has origins right here in America in the late 19th century. The original breeders were looking to breed a hard-working dog that could handle Chesapeake Bay’s icy waters on a long day of hunting. Safe to say, they succeeded.
One of the more unique and elegant looking breeds of the sporting group. These dogs have their origins in Germany where they were originally used for hunting everything from upland birds to bears. Their long legs that may make them look awkward at first glance, Weimaraner dogs are fast and calm, perfect for hunting pheasant, quail or other upland birds.
Got a raccoon problem? These sharp-nosed hunters will root out their namesake pests for their human companions. If you are looking for a hunting dog that will go with you through all conditions and terrain types, this might be the companion for you.
10. Irish Setter
If Pointers are the perfect dog for hunting quail in the south, then Irish setters are an ideal turkey dog for fall hunting. This breed has its origins in Europe, more specifically, Ireland. Hence the name. President Richard Nixon once owned an Irish setter.