Hunting Dog Breeds

Pelican Flyer  |  November 11, 2020

Hunting dogs are not bred to hunt everything. Certain breeds excel at flushing and retrieving duck and other fowl, while other pups are raised to be fearless, walking alongside you as you hunt bigger game. So, you’ll want to choose the best dog for the type of hunting you prefer. With that in mind, let’s break down the top dogs for each hunting style and game.

Hunting Dog Breeds for Locating

Some hunting dogs are bred to direct you to game. Referred to as “Pointers” and “Bird Dogs,” these dogs will literally point out fowl, ducks and other game birds. With an acute sense of smell and hunting instincts developed as just a young pup, Pointers are excellent hunting dogs for locating hard-to-find game. Here are the hunting dog breeds you need!

Brittany Spaniel

A great looking dog, the Brittany Spaniel is more pointer than spaniel. Able to both point birds and flush them, hunters dropped “spaniel” once they realized they were more bird dog than lap dog. Outshowing other pointers, the Brittany dog breed has acquired more dual championships in both show and field trials than other sporting breeds. However, they still make wonderful family pets, too, and have a docile disposition.

German Wirehaired Pointer

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a fantastic bird dog. This pup’s wire hair comes in especially handy when hunting in harsh environments. Like armor, its bristly coat acts as a layer of protection against things like thorn bushes and inclement weather. They also have an eager temperament and affectionate disposition.

Hunting Dog Breeds for Flushing

Like the Brittany Spaniel, spaniels, in general, are a great hunting dog breed to have around. A wonderful bird dog, spaniels were specifically bred to flush out waterfowl. Friendly and available in many sizes, let’s take a look at some of the top spaniel hunting dog breeds for flushing.

English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel is one of the more petite breeds of spaniels. However, don’t let their smaller size turn you off! It has many advantages, like being nimble and quick. They’re also quite obedient, which makes them excellent hunting dogs.

Irish Water Spaniel

For a truly dedicated hunting dog, consider the Irish Water Spaniel. This handsome bird dog really dives headfirst into flushing out waterfowl. With a curly-haired coat that acts as a natural water-repellent, they have no problem seeking out fowl in rough terrain. Plus, this pup has an amazing nose and can sniff out the hard-to-find game.

Hunting Dog Breeds for Retrieving

best dog for hunting

Hunting waterfowl requires a dog that’s willing to get its feet wet. So, besides a watertight gun case and ammo case, you’ll need a waterproof dog, too. And for this, retrievers are your best bet. Intelligent learners and eager to please, retrievers were specifically bred to fetch a downed bird, but also make great hunting companions overall.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most coveted dogs in the United States. And it’s not hard to see why. Energetic and bright, these hunting dogs not only make excellent, docile household pets, but can fetch and return birds on land and in the water. A short but dense coat sheds water right off and protects them from cold weather, making them fantastic hunting dogs.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Called a “toller” for short, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is ideal for duck hunters. With the ginger red coat of a fox, this hunting dog tricks ducks into thinking their natural predator is nearby, luring the ducks out. And a Toller retriever will take it from there, bringing back your game.

Hunting Dog Breeds for Small Game

Beyond pointers, flushers and other bird dogs, hounds make great hunting buddies, too. Hound dogs can pick up a scent on the wind from small game located miles away. Whether hunting rabbits or raccoons, their distinct howls will alert you of their whereabouts once they take off after game.

Treeing Walker Coonhound

The Treeing Walker Coonhound was bred to trail raccoons and tree the quarry. Their nose is spot on, and once they corner a raccoon up a tree, they’ll give a howling signal and keep it up there until you can catch up.

Pharaoh Hound

While they have a good nose, the Pharaoh Hound excels in sight, speed and agility. A sighthound, as opposed to a scenthound, the Pharaoh Hound is the perfect hunting dog breed for fast game like rabbit. Plus, their ears are attuned to follow the bell of a ferret.

Hunting Dog Breeds for Hunting Large Game

For hunters who enjoy the thrill of hunting larger game, you’ll need a powerful, courageous and loyal hunting dog. The best dog to have at your side will need a wolf-like build and a hunters’ instincts to go up against larger game like deer, elk, moose and even bear.

Norwegian Elkhound

While considered a medium-sized dog, the Norwegian Elkhound has lots of guts. Bred over thousands of years, originating from the age of Vikings, the Norwegian Elkhound will help you locate and even keep game in position until you arrive. It’s not uncommon for these pups to take down moose.

Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian Bear Dog, as you might guess, has no qualms with bears. Completely fearless, this hunting dog breed is medium-sized like the elkhound, which makes them that much more stealthier and silent when hunting larger game. Locating your game, they send out a bark to alert you of their position.

Have a Hunting Dog?

Finding the perfect hunting dog breed for you is only the initial step. After that, you’ll also need to learn how to train a hunting dog to follow basic commands and track a scent, among other things. However, whatever kind of hunting dog you choose, make sure they stay active and keep those learned skills honed and sharp by entering them into an AKC performance sport. Plus, it will give you something to do in the offseason when you can’t go hunting!

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