Breed Tips

Best Hunting Dog Breeds You Should Know About

Most of the dog breeds were developed for a reason to help humans with. Herding, hunting, sledding, watching, protection, showmanship or companionship, it always has been some or the other reason. When we talk a about hunting, it goes back thousands of years. There are depictions of dogs in numerous caves alongside cavemen as a hunting companion. Dogs hail their origins to wolves who are excellent at hunting. These hunting genes have been prevalent even in the domesticated version of wolves; dogs.

Humans and Hunting: History

The very first domesticated animals were dogs. It was after the domestication that the dogs started helping humans herd and guard. Hunting assistance dates around 20,000 years ago. Hunters have many different strategies, but one is as old as mankind itself: having a dog as a hunting partner. Archeological evidence suggests that several species of wolves, coyotes, and jackals may have begun staying near human camps. This is when the domestication started.

Types of Hunting Dogs

There are mainly 3 broad categories in which hunting dogs are classified –

  • Terriers – These are small dogs which are usually used to hunt smaller animals like rabbit or birds or sometimes to track an injured deer. Now popular house pets in the US, these are yet used as hunting companions at certain places around the world. These include Airedales, Jack Russell terriers, and Rat terriers.

  • Gun Dogs – They are the ones who sniff out the hidden animals using their scent in a nearby area. Gun dogs are particularly useful when hunting upland and wetland game, birds, and small mammals. These include Labrador retrievers, English pointers, and the English springer spaniel.

  • Hound – The chasing specialists, hounds are bred for stamina and strength. With loud barks and excellent scent skills they usually are used to chase down squirrels, raccoons, and even bears until their hunter arrives. Masters at hunting deer, coyote, wild boar, rabbits, the examples include the Mountain cur, The black-and-tan Coonhound, and the American foxhound.

Let’s look at the top 5 dog breeds used for Hunting across the world.

5. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever
  • Average Weight: 55 to 75 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 21 to 24 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

  • Origin – Scotland

Golden Retriever is a powerfully built but gentle and affectionate dog. The word retriever suggests the type of dog that retrieves game for its owner. It is highly intelligent, eager to please and hence easy to train. One of the most popular pet dog breeds in the world, they have a reputation of getting along very well with children. On the other hand, they are excellent for birds and other small prey.

4. American Foxhound

American Foxhound
  • Average Weight: 55 to 70 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 21 to 25 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

The taller cousins of the English Foxhounds, American Foxhounds, as the name suggests, are a fox hunting breed. They are usually known for their sweet demeanor, obedience and excellent work ethic. Despite their hunting background, the American Foxhounds are a very docile and of a polite temperament. Mostly easy-going and amiable, these foxhounds are easy to train. Originally, these American Foxhounds were created not to hunt but to chase the foxes. So if not hunters these hounds would probably be the singers of the dog world as they are famous for their bell-like voice which can be heard from long distances.

3. English Springer Spaniels

English Springer Spanie
  • Average Weight: 44 to 45 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 9 to 13 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 15 years

Belonging to the Spaniel group which originated in England, these English Springer Spaniels are a breed of a gun-dog, which were usually used by hunters to assist them find and retrieve game, mostly quail, duck or dove. Owing to its history of being associated to hunting, English Springer Spaniels are very much outgoing and adventurous. Springer spaniels are very quick to learn as they are always willing to obey their master. English Springer Spaniels are not only good hunters and pets but also excellent sniffers. They have been used to find hidden weapons and explosives. Surprisingly, despite their rough and wild nature, the English Spaniels are also one of the best show-dogs. You may also be interested in the Tibetan Spaniel.

2. Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick Coonhound
  • Average Weight: 45 to 80 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 21 to 27 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 12 years

  • Origin – United States

A coonhound is basically a scent hound. Originally developed for hunting Raccoons, the Bluetick Coonhounds are sturdy and athletic. A very intelligent breed that has the uncanny talent for problem-solving, these hounds are also very mindful of their owners. Originated in Louisiana, these were developed from English Foxhound, the cur dog, the American

Foxhound, and the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound. They are also very vocal making them excellent guard dogs as well. But on the other hand, are also very friendly if trained well at a younger age and very good with children.

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
  • Average Weight: 65 to 80 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 20 to 22 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • Origin – UK

Not just one but the most popular pet dog in the world, the Labrador Retriever is a British breed which got its name from a colony in Newfoundland. Known for its loyalty, playfulness, obedience, energy, it is often used as a guide or assistance dog and even for rescue and therapy work. For the Police, they have been helping in bomb sniffing, drug detection and picking up sensory messages humans can’t always predict or sense with their ears and eyes. The usefulness doesn’t end here as they are also used in water rescue and lifesaving.

This is not an exhaustive list but just a list of popularly used hunting dogs. Other breeds in the hunting basket include English Settler, Irish Setter, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, English Pointer, Beagle, etc. There are a few important skills a dog should possess to be good at hunting: a strong prey drive, receptiveness to training, endurance, and athleticism. The above list of dogs undoubtedly excel at all the pre-requisites.


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