The Best Dog Breeds for Hunting Sports
While all dogs have a little of the hunting instinct in them, there are certain dog breeds that have been bred over the years for hunting. These breeds were developed specifically to assist hunters in performing different tasks associated with bringing down game.
Such dogs are preferred by hunters because they can be trained to work on their own without human interference; at the same time, these dogs remain obedient and responsive to their owners while in the field.
Caring for Hunting Dogs
Generally, hunting dogs are expensive to own and care for. They require a lot of exercise and training to keep their minds sharp and healthy since a dog that is not exercised or trained can become very destructive. However, owning such breeds comes with its benefits; besides being great companions in the house, they are also useful in controlling pest animals on the property, including rodents, coyotes, and foxes.
Since hunting dogs are used to working on their own with minimal human interaction, it is important that owners have some experience handling dogs before they get one of these breeds. Owners who have no experience owning a hunting breed may find it very difficult to handle the high energy levels, the dog's determination in getting to where it wants to go, and its independence.
Before you decide on owning a hunting dog or breed it is important to take into consideration the time and effort that will be required of you to provide your pet with enough exercise and training. For example, if you are gone for long hours every day and you barely have the time to train your dog, owning a hunting breed would not be practical. Furthermore, you should be aware that these breeds are not recommended for first-time dog owners.
Desirable Physical Traits for Choosing a Hunting Breed
When looking to purchase a hunting dog, there are certain physical traits you should look out for when examining the different breeds. For instance, dogs that have an athletic body build and well-developed muscles are more likely to perform well in strenuous tasks such as tackling game.
Another important physical trait to consider while looking at different hunting dogs is their coat; while dogs with rough coats might not look too appealing, they actually make the perfect hunters since this type of coat provides warmth in cold climates and it is protective enough to keep thorns and burrs from sticking to their skin.
Jobs Hunting Dogs Perform
There are different jobs that hunting dogs perform while out in the field with hunters. Most of these breeds were originally bred for performing specific tasks; however, the breeds have evolved over time so some of them can do different jobs than what they were originally bred for.
There are three basic types of hunting dogs: hunters, retrievers, and hounds. Each breed serves a particular purpose while out in the field with hunters.
For example, many small breeds are hunters. Usually, these dogs are very swift and they can chase down any game on their own. Retrievers are known for being excellent swimmers; therefore, they work best in retrieving waterfowl that hunters have shot during hunting trips. Lastly, hounds were originally bred to assist hunters to locate the location of game by following the scent of the animals.
Top Breeds For Hunting
The following breeds were chosen for their trainability, endurance, and speed while in the field with hunters. Furthermore, these breeds have been known to work independently so they can function without too much human assistance.
The Top Dog: Labrador Retriever - Considered to be the best hunting dog breed, the Labrador Retriever is the top dog. They are well suited for hunting waterfowl or upland game. The breed is intelligent, easy to train, and willing to please. Labradors will wait out in the field until called back by their master.
American Foxhound - This breed is well known for its spectacular speed while pursuing game; therefore, it excels as a coursing hound. In fact, the American Foxhound can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour when chasing prey over open terrain.
Beagle - This breed is a smaller breed, but they have a strong hunting instinct. This double-coat dog will hunt small game while being very attentive to its owner's commands. Beagles are easy to train and family-friendly dogs that get along well with children.
Bloodhound - A breed that is known for its ability to track game, the Bloodhound has a keen sense of smell and it will follow scents for hours. These dogs are often used in combination with other hunting breeds because the Bloodhound generally works alone when following game trails.
Blue Picardy Spaniel - These soft-coated hunting dogs hunt over land and water. These spaniels are fast, energetic, and they have a high level of stamina. The breed's hunting skills were passed down from generation to generation since the 16th century.
Boykin Spaniel - These small sporting spaniels were bred to hunt upland game. The Boykin Spaniel has a versatile nature and it is known for its speed. Furthermore, the breed's small size makes it an ideal companion for hunters who like to hunt during the winter months when they need to stay warm in the field.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever - These smart dogs were originally bred to assist hunters in retrieving waterfowl shot during hunting trips. These dogs have a strong work ethic and they do not need much human intervention while working in the field. In fact, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are known for being independent workers that will pursue their prey until told otherwise by their master.
English Setter - This breed is an excellent hunting dog that will work to the point of exhaustion. These dogs are split between being both a pointer and retriever, which means they have no problem tracking game, but they can also be trained to retrieve game after it has been shot by their master.
Field Spaniel - This breed was bred to hunt over land and in the water. These dogs excel at flushing game out of dense weeds and brush, which makes them great hunting companions in thick forests or underwater when hunting ducks.
German Short-Haired Pointer - This popular breed is originally from Germany and was bred to work over open fields. These dogs are considered all-purpose hunting dogs that will work to exhaustion. In fact, the German Short-haired Pointer has a strong work ethic and rarely requires human intervention while working in the field.
Golden Retriever - This hunter's favorite has an exceptional nose that can pick up a scent even when the wind's direction changes. The Golden Retriever is praised for its intelligence and strong work ethic. This breed is proficient in waterfowl hunts as well as upland game. They will stay within range of their master, but it requires extensive obedience training to prevent it from chasing game on its own.
Irish Setter - These dogs were bred to work over both land and water. These energetic hunters excel at flushing out birds that are hiding in tall grass or brush. Their beautiful red coat is a common trait that has been passed down from generation to generation since the 18th century.
Kooikerhondje - These hunting dogs were originally bred to work in the water. These dogs excel at flushing out ducks and other waterfowl hidden among the foliage, but they can also track game after it has been shot by their master or a fellow hunter.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - These energetic dogs were originally bred for hunting, but they are also popular family companions. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a versatile hunter that will retrieve waterfowl shot down during a hunt. This breed's small size makes it easy to transport in the field and keep warm when hunting in cold conditions.
Rhodesian Ridgeback - This breed is originally from Africa and was bred to track, stop, and hold large prey. The Rhodesian Ridgeback's unique trait is a ridge of hair that grows in the opposite direction along its back. This dog has an incredible sense of smell, which makes it a great hunting companion when tracking different types of game.
Spinone Italiano - These hunting dogs are known for their strong work ethic and willingness to please their master. The breed was originally bred as a pointer that excels at tracking game over land, but it can also be trained to retrieve ducks or pheasants after they've been shot by its master.
Weimaraner - This popular breed is an all-purpose hunting dog that excels at staying close to its master. The Weimaraner is also an excellent swimmer that has a strong work ethic, which makes it great for all types of waterfowl hunts.
West Highland White Terrier - If you're looking for a small breed that will bark with excitement when its master is out in the field, the West Highland White Terrier is sure to make a great companion. These dogs were originally bred for hunting small game, such as rabbits and foxes.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon - This breed was originally bred to hunt in the dense brush across open fields. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a strong, versatile hunting dog that excels at different types of hunts in any condition. Their intelligence makes it easy for any hunter to train and include in their next big game adventure.