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Best Dog Breeds for Hunting

Senior hunter with dog in forestIf you are one of those people that can’t live a day without thinking about an upcoming hunt, maybe the time has come to consider getting a hunting dog. Researchers claim that humans and their beloved pets have been enjoying hunting together long before we could even imagine.

However, not any dog can be a good hunting one. Such a dog should have a strong sense of prey and be able to get trained. Don’t think that if you buy a Yorkie, it is going to be of much help in the wilderness. For even a hunting breed dog to become amazing at hunting, you should take a lot of your time to train it.

Best Hunting Dogs Overview

Not all dog breed types are the same. Usually, people divide such dogs into two groups – gun breeds and scent hounds. The ones that fall into the first category are the ones that do hunting on birds and tiny animals. The other group is dog breeds that are great at locating the prey by its smell and even chasing it so that it will run into the hunter’s trap.

Before buying a dog to help you at hunting, remember that they are live creatures, and even if the dog doesn’t turn out as good as you hoped it would, you will have no choice but to keep it. Moreover, the more you train it, the better it will be at hunting. So, the truth is, the dog’s success depends on you and your training abilities.

But which dog breed will be a suitable one for hunting, and what are the best dogs for hunting? What qualities do those breeds have? How to choose the one right for you? Read on to get answers, as well as to find information on the top ten best hunting dogs.

Labrador Retriever Breed Overview

dog leader labradorsIt is said to be the most popular choice among hunters, both amateurs and professionals. And that is not for nothing. Almost every breed that has the word ‘retriever’ in their names are the best dogs for hunting, but this one has all of the qualities one might want a dog to have. It is tremendously smart, loyal, and enthusiastic. Moreover, these dogs are kind-hearted, which makes them great family dogs as well. If you have children and you are afraid that they won’t get along with them, then you hit the bull’s eye with this one. It not only loves kids but also is the best duck hunter that there possibly is.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 55 – 75 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 10-12 years

Golden Retriever Breed Overview

adult golden retriever close-up photographyDudley Marjoribanks had to mix and match a lot of dog breeds to create this beauty. This breed has been considered as one of the best dogs for hunting in the USA for a long time now. It has all of the needed dog qualities – intelligence, friendliness, and enthusiasm. Also, it will be a dog that will bring a lot of joy to your family, since it loves to play around with kids.

It is medium, but it has a lot of muscles, so it is pretty strong. Moreover, it has a beautiful and shiny coat, which is why many people bred them solely to make a presentation at a show ring. So, you should be careful and check whether that dog is from a family of hunters.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 55 – 75 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 10-22 years

Beagle Breed Overview

Adult Beagle Walking on Grass FieldIf to describe this dog in two words, they would be – fast and strong. They are a bit smaller than the previous breeds, but this doesn’t mean that they are any worse. It is full of energy and has a strong sense of smell. Moreover, thanks to its long ears, it can hear almost anything in the woods and will be able to sense something a lot faster than you.

If you prefer to go hunting on smaller prey, such as rabbits, the beagle breed will be your best choice for multiple reasons. But, if you like hunting on larger animals, you might want to consider getting a larger dog.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 15 – 30 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 12-15 years

American Foxhound Breed Overview

four hunting dogs waiting for a commandThis hunting helper is a miracle for getting into the big game. Such a dog will have no trouble with tracking down larger prey, such as a fox or even a deer. Some claim that this breed is also among the best bear hunting dogs. Moreover, with its precision and energy, you will be more than delighted with your hunting buddy choice.

Actually, if to consider the dog’s characteristics and even appearance, you may notice that it is quite similar to the beagle breed but just doubled in size.

Features

  • Breed Group – Scent Hound
  • Standard Size – 55 – 70 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 11-13 years

English Spaniel Breed Overview

English Spaniel sits on a fieldIf you want a dog that will help you hunt down birds, and also to become a great family pet and to entertain your children, then this is a perfect choice. Why is it a great hunting dog, you may ask? Well, the best benefit of this breed is that they are smaller than all of the other dog types, which makes it easier for them to get into small spaces.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 40-55 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 12-14 years

Pointer Breed Overview

Hunting dog english pointerEven from the name of this dog’s breed, one might guess that it is awesome at hunting. But, don’t just guess. Hunters from all over the world consider this dog to be one of the top 10 best hunting dogs that one should take along with himself on a hunt for birds. They have enough energy and power to stand the whole day with you in the woods.

Moreover, such dogs have amazing thin coats, which help them to manage their body temperature, making them able to hunt at any temperature.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 55 – 75 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 10-12 years

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Overview

Chesapeake Bay RetrieverThis is one of the best hunting dogs devoted to solely hunting purposes. There is not one dog that will enjoy hunting as much as this one, especially such a hunt that involves ducks. Also, it has a great coat that will help the dog resist even the coldest water.

However, the success of such a dog depends on your skills. You must devote a lot of your time to training this dog before it becomes as good at hunting as you want it to be. No dog has been born with all of the skills needed for hunting.

So, if you ask a professional hunter: ‘What are the best hunting dogs?’, you will see that this breed will be among them.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 50 – 85 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 12-14 years

Bluetick Coonhound Breed Overview

Bluetick Coonhound standing on the autumn leavesWith this dog, you will never feel bored and will have no time to rest since it is overloaded with energy and enthusiasm. Moreover, these dogs are rarely afraid of anything and will go with you and obey your orders till the end.

The truth about this breed is that sometimes these dogs have too much of the enthusiasm that one may want. So, be ready for the dog to stay alert and bark both at a tree in your yard when something moves, and when on a hunting trip.

Features

  • Breed Group – Scent Hound
  • Standard Size – 40 – 70 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 11-13 years

English Setter Breed Overview

English Setter dog on a grass fieldA dog that belongs to this breed will have all of the skills necessary to become your helper with hunting on any bird type. Why are they considered to be among the best hunting dogs? They enjoy hunting, pointing, and running as much as any professional hunter would.

However, be careful when buying a dog of such a breed type, since there are two categories of them. There are English setters that are amazing at hunting, but there are also ones that are show dogs, and there will be almost no use of them on a hunting trip.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 65 – 85 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 11-16 years

Irish Setter Breed Overview

Irish setter in summer forestIf you enjoy hunting birds as much as larger prey, but definitely don’t want to buy two dogs, getting an Irish setter will be a win-win. They are strong, fierce, and powerful. They give no mercy to any prey and do everything possible to catch or trap it.

You have children and don’t want the dog to be a danger to them? Take home this dog, and we assure you that there will be no problems with it since it is amazing with kids and will seem like the sweetest dog on Earth.

Features

  • Breed Group – Scent Hound and Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 30 – 75 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 12-15 years

Bloodhound Breed Overview

Beautiful Bloodhound puppy at 5 months.Even the name of this dog gives you the chills. Bloodhound is not only a strong breed name but also a word that describes the dog’s character. These dogs are not only fearless and have great snouts, but also are pretty huge. Despite the dog’s weight and size, it still is among the best hunting dogs ever known to mankind.

Features

  • Breed Group – Scent Hound
  • Standard Size – 75 – 110 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 8-11 years

Weimaraner Breed Overview

Two Weimaraners on a leashIf you take a look at the dog’s appearance, the first things that you will notice right away are its long legs and calmness. But don’t let the calm behavior fool you. These dogs may look calm, but when it comes to hunting, they put themselves straight into the game and do everything possible to help you catch that prey. They always begin with small and slow steps towards the prey, but as soon as they get close enough, they put on insane speed to trap it.

Features

  • Breed Group – Gun Dog
  • Standard Size – 65-80 lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 10-14 years

Popular FAQ’s Answered

If, after reading all those descriptions about the best hunting dogs choices, you still have no idea which one to get, scroll a bit lower to get your questions answered. After reading them, you will make the right choice without a single doubt.

What Hunting Dog Breed Is the Best Choice?

Before buying a hunting dog, think over what type of hunting you plan on doing with it. Only then think whether that dog breed will be best at it or not. For example, if you prefer hunting on ducks, rather than on foxes, your best choice would be a Labrador retriever.

What Dog Breeds Are Best for Fox Hunting?

The best dog breed for such type of hunting would be one from the scent hound group, such as an American Foxhound. However, that is not the only dog breed in that group. All of them are great for fox hunting, so think of what you would want that dog to look like and what qualities to have.

Are Poodles Good at Hunting?

If you want to get a poodle for the purpose of going hunting with you, it is better to choose a standard-sized one. They are as good as their ancestors and land among the best hunting dogs. However, if you want a smaller dog, it is best to choose a different breed, since small-sized poodles are great family pets, not hunting ones.

Which Hunting Dog Is the Smartest?

It is quite complicated to answer this question correctly since the main criteria of a hunting dog is to be smart. All of the dog breeds mentioned above are intelligent. But, some say that Labrador Retrievers are the best ones when it comes to smartness.

Can a Hunting Dog Breed Also Be a Family Pet?

Yes, of course. Almost every hunting dog can be an amazing and loving family pet. However, some dogs have a lot of aggression in them. But if you train the dog well, there will be no harm even if you buy the angriest dog of them all.

Which Gun Dog Breed Is the Best?

Experts claim that the most popular gun dogs due to their hunting skills are Golden Retrievers. Even though many hunters single this dog breed out to be the best one, it doesn’t mean that the other ones are worse.

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Images credits: photo stocks

Author

Max Gordon

Dr. Gordon has been a contributor to a range of pet media since his study at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He does not miss a chance to do in-depth research backed by his own examinations. Along with writing his own pieces, Dr. Gordon does fact-checking of the articles.

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