Although they make great companions and pets today, dogs have a long history of serving more practical purposes, with one of the most important being hunting.
Dogs, when adequately trained, are excellent hunters. Their agility, acute hearing, and incredible sense of smell set them far apart from other animal companions.
These days hunting is more of a sport than a means of survival and having a dog by your side makes the sport even better. Of course, not all dogs can hunt, and even amongst those that do, some breeds are better at it than others.
You cannot pick a chihuahua or French bulldog and expect it to run into the wilderness and bring you game. Therefore, hunters should search for dog breeds specially designed to talk if they want continued success at hunting games.
With this in mind, below are some of the best hunting dog breeds that can make your decision to choose a hunting companion easier.
1. American Foxhound
This dog breed was bred specifically for hunting. Weighing about 20-35kg and with a life expectancy of 10-12 years, they are more suitable for hunting medium to large game.
They are very loyal and capable dogs, and these, along with their heritage, make them ideal for all sorts of hunting and tracking. They are especially good at hunting foxes, as their name implies. They may look like beagles, but American foxhounds tend to be leaner and a bit taller.
This lends credence to their reputation of being athletic and hard work. American foxhounds are also very easy to care for as they require little grooming.
They make great household pets due to their kind and eager demeanor. Don’t let their kind nature fool you, though; these dogs are very resourceful when it comes to hunting.
2. Labrador Retriever
This is one of the most loved dogs in the United States and is well known for its ability to hunt waterfowl. Labradors were bred to mark, retrieve and deliver waterfowl to the hunter.
Their double coats for warmth and repelling water; webbed feet; a compact muscled body; and thick tail for balance make them perfect for cold-water retrieving and swimming.
Labradors are one of the best hunting dog breeds and also mature faster than other breeds, allowing them to understand training at a younger age. They are smart, obedient, and loving even to small children. Their short fur makes them easy to maintain. They weigh about 25-39kg and have a life expectancy of 10-14 years.
3. American Pit Bull Terrier
Although Pit bulls are generally known for their tenacity and menacing demeanor, what many people do not know about them is that one of their original functions was to serve as nanny dogs for families with small children.
When trained with love and respect, pit bulls are some of the sweetest animals on the planet. Their reputation for danger, however, is the reason why many people have turned them into guard dogs.
All these attributes combined make them excellent hunters, especially for a large, daunting game like wild boars.
With proper training, their muscular frame and remarkable strong jaws make them superior hunting animals and even better companions. However, pit bulls require a good and loving home to thrive.
Weighing 9-11kg and with a life expectancy of 12-15 years, beagles are diminutive creatures full of excitement and vigor.
Their incessant barking and baying while pursuing rabbits are often a child’s first introduction to hunting dogs. They possess the best noses in the canine world after the bloodhound and the basset hound.
Their superior scenting ability, along with their speed and agility, makes them the top choice for hunting rabbits. Their loud barks ensure that you never lose sight of them.
Beagles are one of the best hunting dog breeds in the world, they also make great family dogs and tend to be curious, playful, and cute. They make very loyal house pets and do not need a large house or yard.
The bloodhound is said to be the Sherlock Holmes of the canine world and one of the best hunting dog breeds. Their investigative skills and astuteness when it comes to tracking the scent of their quarry are without equal.
Their legendary nose makes them popular amongst law enforcement agencies to help find missing persons, a reputation that makes them popularly known as Sleuth Hounds.
When not on the hunt, bloodhounds are docile and easy-going creatures – making them a great companion both on and off the hunt. They weigh about 36-49kg and have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
6. German Shorthaired Pointer
Athleticism, determination, intelligence, obedience, and loyalty are the hallmarks of the German Shorthaired Pointer – making them superb hunting animals.
This breed requires lots of stimulation and exercise, and they are made from the outdoors. So if you like to spend time hiking trailers, swimming at the beach, or hunting, the German Shorthaired Pointer is the perfect dog for you.
7. English Setter
These dogs are said to be one of the most beautiful dog breeds. They weigh between 18-36kg and have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. They are especially good at hunting birds.
Their biggest disadvantage when it comes to hunting is their long and luxurious fur, as it can get dirty and tangled as soon as they are out on the hunt.
However, if you don’t mind grooming, then the English Setter is the right choice for you, especially if you are interested in shooting birds.
These dogs are built to thrive in uneven terrain. They are smart, fierce, and obedient. Their temperament of the hunt is sweet and loving, although they do like to get into mischief now and then, especially when it comes to food.
So it’s best to keep your cupboard close when you are not watching them at home.
8. Irish Setter
Like their English cousins, Irish Setters require lots of grooming due to a beautiful and luxurious coat of hair. They are also similarly equipped to hunt alongside you.
They are great at playing fetch – be it a tennis ball or pheasant. They are intelligent, resourceful, and determined. They make very loving pets, although they are a bit rowdy.
This means that they require patience to train them, but they would serve you well on the trail as long as you stay determined when it comes to discipline.
It also helps that this breed has been popular amongst hunters and sportsmen alike for over two centuries.
This breed was initially bred to hunt big game and even predators like wolves. They are still well-equipped for hunting, although they require a lot of discipline as they can be extraordinarily willful and unruly if not handled sternly.
However, that pales in comparison to their intelligence and athleticism. Weimaraners require very little maintenance when it comes to grooming and makes good companions for both adults and children.
10. Treeing Walker Hound
Their great nose, voice, speed, and ability to chase down anything from coyotes to bears, raccoons, deer, and squirrels make them overall excellent hounds for hunting.
Treeing Walker Hounds were bred in the U.S. and descended from foxhounds. They tend to be more competitive compared to other hounds.
They are also swift, meaning that you don’t have to spend the whole night tracking a single animal. Their tenacious stamina and unique bawl make them excellent hunters for coons.
11. Boykin Spaniel
The Boykin Spaniel, as with all spaniel breeds is some of the best hunting dog breeds, especially if you like hunting birds. They are experts in flushing and retrieving games.
This particular breed is well-suited to heavy bushes and wetlands, and this makes it an ideal hunting dog for ducks and turkeys.
At home, Boykin Spaniels are loving and amicable creatures, making them excellent house pets. They require a bit of maintenance due to their long fur.