Hunting Dogs and humans have an extensive history together. Truthfully, some of the initial domesticated dog breeds were probably reared to aid humans in hunting and bagging wild animals for food. To this day, various hunting dog breeds continue to afford their hunting owners with vital assistance on hunting excursions.

What is a hunting dog?

Hunters want specific characteristics and qualities in a hunting dog. Hunters require an excellent sense of smell, obedience, stamina, energy, and drive for tracking and retrieving the prey. There is a variety of hunting dog breeds, some may be used for multiple types of hunting and others are used for specific types of hunting.

Hunting dog breeds such as setters and pointers are reared to solely locate the prey, typically birds, and direct the hunter where to find it. Retrievers on the other hand are bred to retrieve prey and return it to the hunter.

If you are the owner of a hunting dog breed or even a mixed breed that has hunting in its genes, the dog will require activities that satisfy their drive for hunting, or they may develop problematic behaviors. These 10 dog breeds are the most popular hunting dog breeds that have assisted hunters for many centuries.

Training the Versatile Hunting Dog
  • Chuck Johnson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 02/15/2013 (Publication Date) -...

10 – English Setter

Originating in the United Kingdom, The English Setter is another popular bird dog, dating back as far as the nineteenth Century. This breed is full of energy, easily trainable and has an excellent sense of smell for seeking out prey.

There are multiple variations in this breed ranging from size to personality, however the one constant is they are all excellent hunters and will be your best hunting partner for many years. English setters can range in size from thirty to eighty pound, and although easily trainable, some may have a stubborn streak and will test you every step of the way.

hunting dogs English Setter

9 – Pointer

The pointer is a common hunting dog breed, which works equally well on either water or land. This breed is ordinarily utilized as bird dogs, though they are also equally proficient at tracking.

The name is derived from their distinguishing “pointing” behavior used when this dog smells prey, they halt and point toward the prey with their body to alert the hunter to the location of the intended prey.

The Pointer sports a thin coat making this breed a warm weather dog that does better in warm southern climates.

This dog is an excellent hunting partner for locating birds in an open sprawling meadow.

hunting dogs Pointer

8- Labrador Retriever

The versatile Labrador retriever is considered one of the top hunting dog breeds. Labradors are good-natured, intelligent, highly trainable, and athletic.

This breed sports water resistant coats and slightly webbed feet making them great swimmers and they love the water.

The soft bite of this breed allows for retrieval of prey without damage to it and their enthusiasm to go above and beyond to recover your kill, the Labrador is great for hunting water fowl, but can also retrieve any small game.

hunting dogs Labrador Retriever

7 – Coonhound

Coonhounds have a great nose for tracking prey for their hunting companion. This breed may have come from a blend of two other breeds bloodhounds and foxhounds both of which are also great trackers.

The name Coonhound was derived from their inclination to small game, with raccoons being their prey of choice.

This breed also has a tendency to be fearless and therefore is frequently utilized in big game hunting such as deer and elk as well.

hunting dogs Coonhound

6 – Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not as common as Golden and Labrador retrievers; however, it does possess all the same qualities that make retrievers great hunting companions.

With stamina, intelligence, sheer determination and a love of water this dog is an invaluable companion when hunting water fowl.

Originating from Chesapeake Bay, this dog was bred for hunting and retrieving ducks on the shores of the bay.

hunting dogs Chesapeake Bay Retriever


5 – Fox Terrier

The Fox Terrier is a hunting dog breed that dates back to seventeenth century Europe. This little dog has more spirit than size and was raised to hunt fox by chasing the fox out of its den or other hiding places.

These dogs come with a great deal of self-confidence and enjoy exploring and therefore can find themselves in mischief frequently.

Fox Terriers are escape artists, so keep them on a leash or in a secure fence and always check the fence for escape routes dug under the fencing. The willful nature of a Fox Terrier requires consistent and firm training and plenty of exercise.

hunting dogs Fox Terrier

4 – Jack Russell Terrier

A Jack Russell is a little dog with a big-dog personality. This breed has been bred predominantly for pest control and is utilized in locating and exterminating pests such as raccoons, foxes, and badgers.

Pest control hunting may be far from modern hunting of today, but it is an old hunting style that is fascinating to watch these dogs going out and doing what they were bred to do. This versatile little dog is also used in hunting big-game where they assist hunters in blood-trailing elk and deer.

hunting dogs Jack Russell Terrier

3 – Mountain Cur

The Mountain Cur was a popular breed in the Southern Appalachians where the pioneers considered these dogs a necessity to herd cows, protect against bears, and tree a squirrel, they did it all.

This breed is compact, similar to a hound and often bobtailed. The original mountain cur almost perished during the early twentieth century, as the desires of hunting squirrels and raccoons diminished until 1957.

That’s when the breed was resurrected by four mountain music performers from Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, who shared an affection and appreciation for the breed and organizing an effort to save the breed from extinction, returning hunters back to the woods and squirrels to the dinner tables.

hunting dogs Mountain Cur

2 – Bloodhound

The Bloodhound is a dog with a superior nose for scent, and can pick up a scent on a trail that has been cold for days.

This powerful and keen sense of smell has made this breed invaluable to law enforcement where they have been used to track and locate missing people, criminals and even drugs.

The Bloodhound’s name alone indicates the ruthless hunting and tracking abilities of this great hunting dog and shows why they are a hunting companion favorite.

hunting dogs Bloodhound

1 – Beagle

The Beagle is a classic in hunting dog breeds and is well-known for their intelligence, playfulness, drive, and the easily recognizable Beagle howl.

This breed hails from Britain and is used primarily for hunting small game of all types. They possess endless energy and perseverance when hunting and tracking their game.

Beagles have short legs that hinder it somewhat in hunting big game but when hunting varmints such as rabbits, the Beagle will be your best friend and favorite hunting partner.

hunting dogs Beagle

Why Hunt with Dogs?

When we responsibly hunt with dogs, we are engaging in an intimate and mutually beneficial partnership.

We depend on their creativity and skill, we appreciate their courage and persistence, but the thing that amazes us and keeps us motivated is their drive and passion for the hunt.

In the end, hunting dogs are satisfying an evolutionary drive, and they love it.

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