Whether or not you like hunting, knowing if you have a hunting breed can give you some insight into some of your pup’s behaviors. You will be able to gain understanding as to why they act a certain way. Dogs are our companions first and foremost. However, if you live in a different part of the world, your dog could be your livelihood.
They could be your hunting partners or pull your sled. Some pups come from a long line of utilitarian breeds. So does your dog belong on this list? So, whether you are looking for a hunting partner or a pup with an acute sense of smell, this list will be helpful to you.
1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers seem to be one of the best breeds on the planet! They are great for therapy, families and now they grace the top of our hunting breeds list. They are known as waterfowl dogs. This means they retrieve the birds that are on bodies of water (ducks). Their physical attributes make them perfect for this role. Their double coat keeps them warm and repels water.
Their webbed feet make it easier to glide through the water and straight to the game. Aside from physical traits, they also possess higher intelligence. They are amazing dogs that do well in the home and out in the wilderness. Retrievers are gun dogs that are used to locate and “retrieve” the game for the hunter.
2. American Foxhound
As their name suggests, this dog was bred for hunting. Don’t be fooled, however. Although they resemble the beagle, they are actually taller, leaner, and much more athletic. American Foxhounds excel at tracking, and hunting, and known for, as you might imagine, their skill for catching foxes. Their skills even carry over to deer hunting! The quick pace makes it easy for them to chase any “prey” down! The hound group of hunting breeds is known for their skill to hunt by scent.
Speaking of the Beagle, here they are at the number three spot on our list. You may be more familiar with these pups as family dogs. But in reality, they were bred to hunt game like rabbits and foxes to birds and even small deer! It’s hard to imagine the sweet Beagle being a deadly hunter, but they are very tenacious and full of vigor! Their supreme sense of smell combined with exceptional speed and agility make them quite the ideal hunting partner.
Pointers belong to the gun dog category of hunting breeds. They are good at locating small game, such as birds. They have great range and can pursue the hunted at a lightning fast pace. Being a short-haired breed, they adapt to heat quite well and have high endurance. They might not be as suitable for colder climates. They are naturally endowed with the skill to lock on and hold, and they do not let go of their mark. If trained well, they can locate and “point at” the prey, giving the hunter the chance to approach and flush them out.
5. English Setter
Setters are gun dogs. Their exceptional skills include running, pointing and hunting game. They are precise but also beautiful, with their long and gorgeous fur being this breed’s only drawback because of heavy maintenance. Their long legs allow them to maneuver through rough terrain to get to the fowl. English setters are highly intelligent and obedient, only acting on the command of the hunter. You don’t need to be afraid your beautiful hunting dog will scare off the prey before the hunt has even begun.
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Belonging to the Spaniel subcategory of gun dogs, the Brittany Spaniel was bred for pointing and retrieving. As you can tell from many pictures online, the Brittany stays low to the ground and are fast enough to hunt bunnies and trail wounded game. You might wonder how they got their beautiful name. They originate from the French province of Brittany. Their specialty is a usually feathered game, which includes all of Canada’s upland birds. Spaniels are among the oldest hunting breeds and have been trained to do so for over hundreds of years.
7. Jack Russell Terrier
We included a terrier breed in our list to round out the most common subcategories. Jack Russells are small in stature but don’t let that fool you – small mammals are no match for these furballs of energy and stamina. They are known to have so much vigor just waiting to be unleashed.
Jack Russells are also good at flushing out pests and vermin like rats and mice. My own Jack Russell has gone after an innocent leashed pet rabbit and locked his teeth right into the rabbit’s bottom. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it goes to show you these little fireballs have a deadly radar for small game.
Hounds are great hunting dogs in general. We see them portrayed in cartoons – most notably in the form of the MGM animation character Droopy. Don’t let their sleepy looks fool you. Their other-worldly sense of smell gives them a tremendous advantage.
Their keen olfactory sense coupled with their astute investigative skills that may rival even Sherlock Holmes! Their good temperament makes them a good companion aside from tracking and tailing game, but nothing rivals that legendary snout that can find a needle in a haystack just with their noses!
For those who want a buddy for the hunt, identify the tasks and purposes you want the dog to perform in order to filter them down to the correct skill set and abilities. The hound category includes most dogs with the word “hound” in the name and they rely largely on their noses or vision to track. Gun dogs retrieve the game shot by a hunter’s gun. This category includes the subcategories of setters, spaniels, pointers, and retrievers.
Terriers are used to hunt small game, and other hunting dogs include feists, curs, and Dachshunds. Each group has its own unique capabilities, which is largely based around hunting small game and sometimes larger game, as well as flushing out fowl and other small animals.