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12 Bird Hunting Dog Breeds You Should Know About (with Pictures)
Bird hunting dogs serve different purposes depending on their breed and how they were trained to hunt with their owners. They can all usually hunt a bird down and kill it on their own, but they typically have a particular job to do when they are hunting with their human companions. There are quite a few dog breeds in existence that are excellent at hunting birds. Let’s get to know more about these 12 bird hunting dog breeds.
1. The Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are awesome bird hunters for a few reasons. First, they love the water and are not afraid to go after waterfowl whether for play or the hunt. They are also extremely versatile and athletic, which allows them to perform in a wide variety of settings and terrains. These dogs have thick undercoats, which makes them suitable hunting partners during the winter months. They are easy to train and they aim to please, so they listen well when it counts most: right before the hunt.
2. The Labrador Retriever
This dog breed is arguably the most popular bird hunter in the United States, if not the world overall. Originating from Newfoundland, the Labrador Retriever is intelligent, loyal, determined, and easy to train. They became popular among sporting men in the 19th century and have since become reliable hunting partners for those who hunt birds of all kinds. Like Golden Retrievers, these dogs are not afraid of bodies of water, big or small.
3. The Curly-Coated Retriever
Unlike the Golden and Labrador Retrievers, which have smooth, wavy coats, Curly-Coated Retrievers look like they have perms. They do not mind water or hunting waterfowl, but they are best at hunting highland birds overall. They are particularly good at helping their human companions hunt down pheasants. These are fast, eager dogs that require a firm yet loving hand to ensure full compliance while out on a wild hunt.
4. The English Springer Spaniel
These dogs were originally designed and bred to work on farms and fields all day long. However, they have extreme stamina and patience, which makes them naturals as hunters. They seem to instinctually hunt birds, whether while spending time in the yard or out on a hike. Today, the English Springer Spaniel is both a household and hunting dog for many human companions throughout the world. They only weigh about 50 pounds when fully grown, so they are light on their feet and they never give up.
5. The Boykin Spaniel
Playful and rambunctious, the Boykin Spaniel is a stellar bird hunter that loves spending time with other dogs and human family members. They are medium-sized dogs, larger than Cocker Spaniels but a little smaller than Springer Spaniels. They are well known for being good turkey hunters, and many are notably good waterfowl hunters. The Boykin Spaniel is affectionate, interactive, social, and great with children.
6. The Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels are happy, personable dogs that love to spend their time outdoors, playing and running. Standing at only about 15 inches tall when fully grown, these are some of the smallest sporting dogs in existence. However, their ability to traverse wild terrains makes them exceptional when it comes to hunting. These dogs come in a variety of different colors, including red, golden, liver, black, and tan and black, sable, and blue roan.
7. The Irish Setter
Irish setters take direction well and are hardy dogs, making them ideal companions on hunting trips. They can be a bit rambunctious and surprising, but when they have a job to do, like hunting, they turn on their focus and patience. They are fine in a household situation, without or without other dogs. They can get along with smaller animals, like cats, if they get enough exercise and stimulation throughout the day. An Irish Setter with pent-up energy or a lack of stimulation can end up treating smaller household animal members as prey.
8. The American Brittany
These adorable dogs are bright, shiny, and full of energy. They have a serious affinity for hunting and are natural learners, which makes them super easy to train. They can hunt both land and water birds, but they are most effective on land. This breed also excels at agility, obedience, and even guard training if introduced to a thorough training program. They also make great family dogs, just as all Retrievers do. Overall, they are awesome at home and on the hunting range, especially when it comes to birds of all kids.
9. The Wirehaired Griffon
These dogs can grow to 24 inches tall and up to 70 pounds in weight when they are adults. They are not the fastest bird hunting dog breed in existence, but they are effective. Wirehaired Griffons are loving and kind to their family members, but they are keen and focused while on the hunt. They stand out from other breeds because of their large, seemingly overgrown eyebrows and mustaches. They look a little shaggy, but they can easily be trimmed up at home or at the groomers.
10. The German Shorthaired Pointer
These are considered “gundogs,” which basically means that they are good at gun hunting, which typically takes place when hunting birds. They can point and retrieve, making them all-purpose hunters that do not need much help from other types of dogs or even humans. These dogs need a great deal of exercise every day and require regular training to maintain their exceptional hunting abilities. They make good family pets, but they do best on farms and in households that live on acres of land.
11. The English Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are experts at finding where the birds are located. They will let their human companions know exactly which direction to go, which enables the entire hunting team to act appropriately. They harbor impressive speed and agility that helps them act fast and react when time is of the utmost importance. These adorable dogs get along well with kids and can happily live in households full of people between hunting trips.
12. The Vizsla
The Vizsla breed is great at tracking down upland birds, whether in trees, on land, or in bushes. They have a knack for alerting their human companions whenever a bird comes within earshot or gunshot. They can weigh up to 55 pounds when fully grown, and their compact bodies enable them to easily traverse tight hiking trails, caves, and other tight spaces. They can get along well within a household, but they expect to spend most of their time outdoors working.
These bird-hunting dogs are excellent at their sport, but they have more to offer than just their hunting expertise. You should be able to accept any of these dogs into your family dynamic and household without problems — if they get enough exercise outside every day. These dogs never have to hunt a day in their life to be happy and productive. However, hunting does help enrich their lives and gives them the opportunity to exercise their intuitive natures. Which bird hunting dog breed is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section.
Featured Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock
Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.
- 1. The Golden Retriever
- 2. The Labrador Retriever
- 3. The Curly-Coated Retriever
- 4. The English Springer Spaniel
- 5. The Boykin Spaniel
- 6. The Cocker Spaniel
- 7. The Irish Setter
- 8. The American Brittany
- 9. The Wirehaired Griffon
- 10. The German Shorthaired Pointer
- 11. The English Pointer
- 12. The Vizsla
- Final Thoughts