There are different styles of hunting dogs. Some will hunt and kill game themselves, while other breeds aid human hunters with their flushing, springing, or retrieval skills. In any case, hunting dogs need keen senses and must be alert and have boundless energy. Many hunting dogs form a close bond with their owner, whether while hunting or lying on the rug in front of the evening fire.
Whether you’re looking for a hunting companion or a loyal dog that enjoys long walks and plenty of activity, here are 15 hunting dog breeds that are ideal. The are not listed in any particular order so be sure to check them all out to find the right fit for you!
The 15 Best Hunting Dog Breeds:
1. Labrador Retriever
|Best for||Duck hunting|
The Labrador Retriever is muscular and strong and usually loves the water. As hunting dogs, they are renowned for their prowess in hunting waterfowl. In the home, they are known for being loving and gentle dogs. They are highly intelligent and easy to train, and it is this combination that has seen the Lab breed regularly employed as a service dog, guide dog, and search and rescue dog as well as in a variety of other professional services.
2. Golden Retriever
|Best for||Migratory bird hunting|
The Golden Retriever is similar in many respects to the Labrador. They are roughly the same size and have the same keen sense of intelligence. They are also loving and friendly, so they are used as therapy and rehabilitation dogs too. The breed is highly skilled as a small game hunter and is an excellent companion in the field and on the couch. The Golden Retriever does have longer hair than the Lab and sheds frequently but is also considered the more sensible of the two breeds.
3. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
|Best for||Sea duck hunting|
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was originally bred from Newfoundland puppies and Water Retrievers local to the Chesapeake Bay area. They are highly skilled and revered as water retrievers today. They tend to be stockier than Labradors, and their coat is exceptionally good at protecting against water. They love to swim, and like most Retriever breeds, they are equally happy spending time with their owners at home.
4. Mountain Cur
|Best for||Squirrel hunting|
The Mountain Cur is a working dog used to track and hunt small game like raccoons and squirrels. The breed is often called the pioneer’s dog because they were brought over to the U.S. and assisted settlers with hunting, farming, and guarding. They are intelligent and often used as multipurpose farm dogs because of their diversity of talent, but they can be quite stubborn and are best in the hands of experienced owners.
|Best for||Pheasant hunting|
The Vizsla is skilled at hunting fowl and water game. They are excellent scent dogs, and while they make gentle and loving family companions, they can be excitable and show signs of stubbornness. You will need to provide them with a great deal of exercise to wear them out and calm them down.
|Best for||Boar hunting|
The Weimaraner is a powerful and strong hunting dog that enjoys freedom and space. They love to hunt. If they are not being used as a working dog, the Weimaraner will need many long walks and time off the leash. They still retain a strong prey drive, so care has to be taken with this breed around smaller animals. They can make good family companions, but they do need plenty of exercise, can be lively, and tend to bark frequently.
7. German Shorthaired Pointer
|Best for||Grouse hunting|
German Shorthair Pointers are highly intelligent and equipped to keep up with even the fastest and most agile small bird game. They are built to deal with challenging terrain, are loyal and obedient, and need an owner who enjoys the outdoors just as much as they do. The Pointer does not have an off switch, so you will have to match their energetic nature.
|Best for||Rabbit hunting|
The Beagle is one of the most popular hunting and hound dogs. They are quite low to the ground and stocky. They are also trainable, eager to please, and enjoy working. As family dogs, they are curious and playful little characters. Like all hunting dogs, they need plenty of exercise to meet their requirements, but the Beagle also needs attention to thrive.
9. American Foxhound
|Best for||Deer hunting|
The American Foxhound has been bred specifically to hunt foxes, and they do so by following a scent. At home, this can make them highly skilled food thieves. Usually taller and leaner than the Beagle, they are athletic dogs and enjoy working hard. Their coat is easy to manage, and they make good pets for adults, children, and families.
10. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
|Best for||Upland bird hunting|
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a hunting dog that excels in and around water. They have the coat to perfectly deal with these conditions, and they are tireless workers. The Griffon is also known for being something of a playful character and will bring a smile to your face when hunting or at home playing.
11. Jack Russell Terrier
|Best for||Badger hunting|
The Jack Russell Terrier is a lively dog that was bred for use in fox hunting and has also been used to hunt and kill rodents. They are proof that a dog does not have to be big to be brave and a skilled hunter. They retain their Terrier ways, which means that they can dig and jump their way out of most situations, and many of them still have a strong prey drive. While smart and loving, the Jack Russell Terrier can be difficult to handle if they do not get enough exercise.
12. Wire Fox Terrier
|Best for||Fox hunting|
The Wire Fox Terrier is a Terrier breed that can become difficult to handle if they do not have enough exercise. In fact, the Wire Fox Terrier is well known for being mischievous. They are intelligent and can be quite loving, but they are always plotting something.
13. Bluetick Coonhound
|Best for||Mountain lion hunting|
The Bluetick is one of several coonhound breeds. All of them make worthy hunters and good pets for the active owner. The Bluetick is not a cautious animal, and they will chase quarry such as cougars through patches of bramble, but they are tenacious. They can also be quite vocal when at home, so they may not be suitable for living in an apartment.
|Best for||Deer hunting|
The Bloodhound is somewhat unusual in the world of hunting dogs. They are quite docile animals when they are not in the thick of a hunt. They are affectionate and will happily curl up at your feet or in front of the fire, sometimes for hours at a time. However, they are highly skilled trackers that can hunt anything once they have the scent. They do need regular exercise, but they aren’t as boisterous as other hunting dogs when at home.
15. Norwegian Elkhound
|Best for||Big game hunting|
The Norwegian Elkhound is powerful and strong because they are used to hunt and take down elk. They used to hunt with the Vikings, and they can hear virtually every noise out in the woods and at home. As a pet, they can be somewhat stubborn, although they will be incredibly loyal to their family. Their stubbornness and strength mean that they are usually best for experienced handlers.
There are dozens of hunting dog breeds, including those that are skilled in the water and those that are more at home roaming the mountains. All these breeds need regular exercise and can become difficult to handle otherwise. However, they make excellent pets for active and outdoorsy families, and they tend to be intelligent enough to learn commands and routines too.
You may also want to read:
- Male vs Female Bloodhounds: What Are the Differences?
- Male vs Female Chesapeake Bay Retrievers: What Are the Differences?
Featured Image Credit: olginaa84, Pixabay