If you are a hunter, and you would like to have a furry companion by your side, but you do not know what breed to choose from, then this guide is for you.
I will go over the 4 types of hunting dogs that will best suit your hunting style and cover 3 of the characteristics that you need to look for before choosing a breed.
As a bonus, I have listed 41 of the best dog breeds best suited for hunting and some of their characteristics. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The 4 Types Of Hunting Dogs
It is straightforward to classify a dog as a hunting dog, but it is harder to organize them into even more specific groups further. The reason why there are around four subtypes of hunting dogs is that of their characteristics.
Let’s start with the first type.
Retriever dogs are bred to fetch or retrieve a dead animal. Most of the time, these dogs will retrieve birds that were shot midair and then fell on the field in a dam. A good example is the Golden Retriever and the Irish Setter. These dogs also have the keen ability to chase after the prey.
This type of hunting dog is especially good at tracking animals with their keen sense of smell. Animals that were shot and fled can be tracked with this type of dog. Some scent dogs can also be used to track convicts.
The sight dog is best used to spot the game that you intend to hunt. This dog will either bark or perform a sure way to inform you that they have detected something. The most common type of spotter is the Pointer because of its ability to point its body to the prey’s position.
The last type is also a flushing dog. This type is used for flushing birds or smaller animals from their hiding place to expose them to the hunter. These dogs might jump or bark in a specific area, which will make the animals flee. An excellent example of a flushing dog is an English Springer Spaniel.
Characteristics Of A Good Hunting Dog
The characteristics are purely based upon a specific type of hunting dog. I will break down each characteristic below.
They need to have the right temperament
Temperament can also be referred to as a specific breed’s personality traits and not an individual dog of a breed. So when you talk about temperament, you refer to the traits of a breed that fall under their personality. For hunting purposes, you want a dog that will naturally chase the prey and follow your commands. They also need to be intelligent enough to train and be hard working. Dogs also need to be able to withstand the noise produced from a gunshot.
They need to be able to track the scent of the prey.
Most hunting dogs are good at tracking a scent, but some of them are far more capable and bred explicitly for that purpose. Scent dogs, in particular, are more sensitive to catching up on a scent than normal dogs. Their nasal cavities are larger, while their lips are also moister. This helps them to catch onto a scent much easier. Their drooping mouth and ears help them at detecting the scent in the air. It is also believed that their long ears help them scoop the scent upwards where the nose can pick it up.
Their body needs to be adapted for their purpose.
In the case of retrievers, their fur needs to help them cope with being wet. Golden retrievers have a thick hairy coat with waterproof capabilities that will help them better retrieve fallen duck in a dam.
41 Of The Best Hunting Dogs
Use: Tracking deer and hog.
The Bloodhound is a big framed dog that has a keen sense of smell. They are mostly used for tracking game such as deer and wild hog. Their large ears are very helpful at locating scent because they hang close to the ground and act as dust-brooms for stirring up scents. This breed was also used to track humans as well.
Some dogs like the Dachshund have short feet and a long body bred for hunting in burrows. The Greyhound dog has a slim body with very little body fat that makes them faster, increasing their chances of catching their prey.
#2 Finnish Hound
Use: Hunting hare and fox.
This breed is originated from Finland and weighs around 45-55 pounds when fully grown. They are bred to hunt hare and fox and have a keen sense of smell. This breed is very calm and not that aggressive. They are expected to live up to 12 years of age.
Use: Hunting deer, boar, and bear.
The Weimaraner breed mostly has a greyish color and weighs 55 to 85 pounds, depending on their sex. They can also live up to 12 years. They were mainly used for hunting larger game such as boar, deer, and sometimes bear (you need a pack in this case).
Use: Tracking deer and hare.
The Drever is a short-legged breed that is a descendant of the Westphalian Dachsbracke. They usually weigh between 35-40 pounds when fully grown, which is a medium sized breed. This breed is used for tracking game, and it also has determination with excellent stamina. This breed can live up to 15 years.
The pointer is a medium to large frame dog and weighs 35-70 pounds. Their colors also range from a mixture of white, brown, and black. This breed is very energetic and not suitable as house pets or living in small yards. The name of the breed comes from this dog’s ability to point to the direction of the game that is being hunted.
#6 Labrador Retriever
Use: Retrieving pheasants and ducks.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most common house dogs in the US, Canada, and the UK. They are intelligent and an amiable breed with a gentle heart. They can live up to 14 years and weighs between 55 to 80 pounds. They come in the colors Chocolate, Black, and Yellow. They are great for fetching duck and geese and are also good guide dogs for disabled people.
#7 Gordon Setter
Use: Mainly game birds.
The Gordon Setter is a great family dog and is bred to hunt game birds. They generally weigh 55-80 pounds. Most of them have a black coat, while the face, lower legs, throat, and belly have a rich chestnut color. These dogs are very loyal and affectionate, and intelligent enough to train. This dog also loves constant attention and is also great with kids.
Use: Foxes, raccoons, and animals that dwell in trees.
The Coonhound is a medium to larger frame dog that originates from the US. They are very good at spotting and hunting animals such as raccoons and opossums that dwell in trees. The name “coon” also comes from the raccoon. They come in the colors black and brown. They have large and long ears that are effective at catching a scent. They weigh from 66 pounds up to 75 pounds.
#9 Irish Setter
Use: Bird hunting.
As the name implies, the Irish Setter originates from Ireland. They are very well adapted and bred to hunt birds, making them an excellent companion for hunting pheasants and water foul. The color of their fur is red, and they are a medium to larger frame type dog. They need a lot of exercise and can suffer from separation anxiety. They also weigh from 60 to 70 pounds. They are an amiable breed and will get along great with children, other dogs, and visitors.
#10 Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Origin: Chesapeake Bay.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever comes from the Chesapeake Bay and is well adapted to hunting waterfowl. They have a thick oily coat that is waterproof and insulates the animal against cold water. This trait makes this animal ideal for hunting in the water. They also weigh from 55 to 80 pounds in weight.
#11 Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a common breed in the US. They are bred for hunting and retrieving waterfowl. They originate from Guisachan in Scotland. Their name comes from their dense, lustrous gold coat, which is also very well adapted for the waters. They are one of the most intelligent breeds and can be well trained for hunting. They have a friendly and outgoing personality that wants to please their owner.
Use: Hunting hare.
The Beagle is a scent dog that was bred with the purpose of hunting hare. They also originate from England and is a smaller frame dog similar in appearance to the foxhound. They weigh between 22–25 lb and is an active dog that is also very curious. They have a short coat that is easy to groom.
#13 American foxhound
Use: Hunting foxes.
The American foxhound is an intelligent hound and is a sent dog bred for hunting foxes (as the name implies). They also make good pets as they are very friendly and good with kids. They have a similar appearance to the Beagle but is much larger. They weigh around 65-70 pounds.
#14 English Springer Spaniel
Use: Hunting and flushing birds.
The English Springer Spaniel is bred for hunting and flushing birds that live on the ground. The name springer comes from the way it “springs” near the game to flush it. It is a lovely dog that can also be used as a pet. They are very energetic and are reasonably intelligent, and easy to train. They also weigh around 45 to 55 pounds.
#15 Spanish Water Dog
Use: Retrieving game from water.
The Spanish Water Dog has its origin in Spain, where it was bred as a guard dog, sheepdog, and a retriever of birds from the water. Because of the long and curly hair, this dog is well adapted for water activities. It has a powerful instinct to guard sheep and is very intelligent. They weigh between 40-49 pounds. It is also important to note that this dog does not originate from the poodle.
#16 Brittany Dog
Use: Bird hunting.
The Brittany Dog originates from the Brittany region, which is a region somewhere in France. They are familiar to the Spaniels in appearance and the Pointer in temperament. They weigh between 30-40 pounds and are best used to hunt birds. They are very energetic and need a lot of attention. They have a patterned coat that includes the colors white, red, and brown.
#17 Andalusian Podenco
Use: Rabbit hunting.
The Andalusian Podenco was purely bred for hunting instead of aesthetics. Their hunting senses, such as their sight, smell, and hearing, also adapted to hunting hare. They also come in a large variety of sizes, from small to large. They are commonly used with greyhounds to flush the rabbits from their holes.
#18 Jack Russell Terriers
Use: Small animals and fox.
The Jack Russell Terriers is a breed that I am very familiar with. They are predominantly white with light brown or black markings. This dog will hunt almost any small animal. It is also known that your home will not be infested with rats or snakes if you have this dog by your side. They were mainly bred for hunting foxes. This dog is small but has the heart of a lion. They weigh 13 to 17 pounds and has a small body frame.
#19 Basset Hound
Use: Scent dog for hunting hare.
The basset hound is a short-legged breed that was bred for hunting hare. Their long ears and short legs make them exceptional at picking up a scent at ground level. The Basset is also very prone to drooling and has a strong odor. They also weigh 40 pounds up to 80 pounds, depending on whether it’s a male or female.
#20 Cretan Hound
Use: Hunting hare.
Origin: Island of Crete.
The Cretan Hound is one of the oldest hunting breeds that can date from 3000 years ago. They originate from Crete, which is a small island south of Greece. This breed is also scarce and seldom seen outside Crete. This dog can hunt hare and is also very light on its feet. They also weigh between 44 pounds up to 60 pounds. This dog is very affectionate and meek but also serious when it comes to hunting prey.
Use: Hunting badgers and burrow animals.
Dachshund’s name has a German origin and refers to “Dachs,” which means badger, and “Hund,” which means dog. In short, it can be referred to as a badger dog. They have long ears with a long body and short legs, making them an ideal breed for hunting burrow-dwelling animals. They are excellent watchdogs and have a huge heart. They also vary from short to long-haired breeds.
#22 Manchester Terrier
Use: Hunting hare and rats.
The standard Manchester Terrier is a medium-sized dog breed to hunt small animals such as hares and rats. This breed got started during the 19th century for vermin control. Their main color is black, and they can weigh from 12 up to 22 pounds. This breed is very affectionate and tough.
#23 Norwegian Elkhound
Use: Hunting moose and elk.
The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the few breeds that can hunt large animals such as moose or elk and originates from Norway. They have a thick fur that makes them adaptable to the cold climate of Norway. They weigh from 40 to 55 pounds in weight. Most of them come in the colors black and grey. These dogs are pack dogs, which also makes them excellent family dogs. They also have above-average intelligence.
#24 Greyhound Dog
Use: Hunting hare and foxes.
The Greyhound breed is one of the fastest dogs alive today (if not the fastest). It is well known for greyhounds to participate in dog racing events because of their speed. They have a slender build, which contributes to their speed and agility. Their eyesight is also superior at spotting prey, while their speed makes them excellent hunting dogs. These dogs can reach a speed of up to 45 miles per hour. They can weigh up to 75 pounds, and their slender body makes them intolerable to cold.
#25 Welsh Terrier
Use: Hunting badgers and foxes.
The Welsh Terrier is a small framed breed that originates from Wales (as the name implies). This breed is very good at hunting smaller animals such as hare, badgers, and foxes. This breed is fearless and will not stand down to a challenge. They are also very friendly towards people. This breed also sheds very little of its hair, which is a bonus.
#26 Russian Wolf Hound
Use: Hunting badgers and foxes.
The Russian Hound can also be referred to as the Borzoi, which is the native name. They are very similar in appearance to the Greyhound but have long and wavy fur. They come in various colors, such as black, brown, white, and hazelnut. This breed is very helpful at tracking hare and fox and is also very fast and agile. They weigh between 40 to 60 pounds, which puts them in the medium-large frame class. This breed also requires experienced handling and is also very sensitive.
Use: Birds and smaller animals.
The Pudelpointer is a mix between a Pointer and a Pudel and originates from Germany. This breed has long double-coated fur that is also water-resistant. Most of these dogs are born with the color brown. They are great at tracking, pointing, and hunting smaller to larger animals. They prefer to chase birds and smaller animals such as hare and badgers. They weigh from 40 to 65 pounds in weight. This breed is intelligent and responsive. This breed to take to both the land and water.
#28 Karelian Bear Dog
Use: Moose, bear, and wild boar.
The Karelian Bear Dog is a larger frame dog weighing around 40-51 pounds in weight and is commonly used for hunting both smaller and larger animals such as bears and moose. This breed mostly comes in a combination of two colors, which include black and white. This dog is very territorial and will not allow other dogs inside its perimeter. They might require specialized training on how to deal with separation anxiety and their dominance. They are also used to living in packs. This dog is also independent and will most likely survive on its own.
#29 Halden Hound
Use: Hares and other smaller animals.
The Halden Hound looks very similar to the American Foxhound. This dog also has the blood of a Beagle running through its veins. This dog is primarily a scent dog that will help you to track animals. They weigh between 40 to 64 pounds in weight and consist of multiple colors, including white, black, and brown.
This breed will make an excellent family pet and is also good with kids. This breed needs to be active and does not require a pack for hunting purposes.
#30 Blue Picardy Spaniel
Use: Mainly wildfowl.
The Blue Picardy Spaniel is a subset of the Spaniel family with a distinctive black and grey coat with a blueish shade. This breed is primarily used for hunting birds such as wildfowl as it is responsive to a gun’s sound at fetching the dead prey. Its coat enables it to hunt in cold conditions, which makes it a very versatile dog. It is an intelligent breed that is also good with children. This breed is calm but does require frequent exercise.
#31 Greenland Dog
Use: Polar bear and seal.
The Greenland Dog is a large frame dog that originates from Greenland. They are known for being used at pulling sleds in snowy areas. They are also excellent pack dogs that can be used to hunt polar bears and seal. Their body is thickly packed with fur to prevent them from frostbite and from getting cold. They weigh between 60 up to 100 pounds, which results in a massive frame. They are mainly “pack dogs,” so it might be a good idea to have at least two per household. They are very gentle and hardworking.
Use: Primarily ducks.
The Kooikerhondje is of Dutch origin and was bred to hunt and retrieve ducks. This dog is a lovely dog (look at those locks) that are a medium-sized breed. They come in a combination of white, light and dark brown, and grey. This dog also has beautiful black tips on its ears, which can also be referred to as earrings. They are intelligent and thrives on physical activity, and are easily stimulated by their surroundings.
#33 German Wirehaired Pointer
Use: Primarily ducks and other birds.
Just look at that beard. If you have ever imagined how a pointer with a beard would look like, then you must check out this German Wirehaired Pointer. This dog looks exactly like the German Pointer, except that its hair is long and has a beard. This dog is a medium to large frame breed and is very intelligent and energetic. Their hairy coat is water repellent and resistant to cold, making them a good breed for retrieving a duck in the water.
The Vizsla is a subset of the Pointer group but is also smaller in size. They are also excellent at catching and retrieving waterfowl. They are medium-sized and weigh from 40 up to 68 pounds. Their coat is short-haired and also resembles a rusty golden color. They are intelligent, energetic and will let you know if they feel neglected. They can be easily trained, which makes them great for hunting.
#35 Ibizan Hound
Use: Mainly small animals such as rabbits.
The Ibizan Hound is a breed that originates from the island of Ibiza. They are good at hunting rabbits or hares and other smaller animals. They have a strong hunting instinct and will pursue their prey endlessly. This is a medium-framed dog that weighs between 45 to 66 pounds. This breed is obedient and very intelligent. This dog also needs to have regular exercise to perform at its best.
#36 Rhodesian Ridgeback
Use: Jackal hunting.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a well-known dog for hunting Jackal and keeping larger and more dangerous animals such as lions at bay. This dog is also known as the “Lion dog.” It also has a larger frame that ranges from 70 up to 80 pounds. They are a short-haired breed and has a ridge of hair running down their back (where the name comes from) and has a reddish color. This dog is a capable guard dog that will protect its family with their life.
Use: Hunting hares and rats.
The Whippet originates from England and resembles a smaller Greyhound. They are swift and very effective at hunting small prey such as hares and rats. This breed is also of a smaller frame with a weight of between 20 to 40 pounds. This dog is also used for racing and can be considered the poor man’s racing horse. This breed requires a lot of exercises and can make excellent family dogs.
#38 Grand Bleu de Gascogne
Use: Used to hunt deer and wolves.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a pack dog that was and maybe still is being used for hunting larger game such as deer. In earlier days, it was used to hunt wolves that terrorized the farmers. They typically weigh from 60 pounds up to 90 pounds and sometimes can even go beyond 100 pounds. They are intelligent but not that easy to train. They love to make a lot of noise with their famous howl. They have a combination of colors, which include black, white gray with a bluish shade.
Use: Used to hunt hare fox and gazelle.
The Saluki breed is a swift breed similar to that of the Greyhound and Whippet. They have a long slender body with fluffy ears. They weigh around 40 to 60 pounds in weight. They are mainly a sighthound, which means they hunt by sight. They are very good at hunting smaller animals such as hare and can even take down a little gazelle with success. They come in multiple colors that can include white, grey, red, brown, and black. They can be hard to train for which they need specialized training. They are a very quiet breed and require constant attention.
#40 Scottish Deerhound
Use: Used to hunt Red Deer.
This breed was bred for the primary purpose of hunting Red Deer, where the name “Scottish Deer Hound” comes from. This hound has a long coat that is grey and bluish. They also have a larger frame that weighs from 80 up to over 100 pounds. This dog is gentle at heart and should have access to regular exercise. They are very eager to chase almost anything that runs.
#41 Plott Hound
Use: Used to hunt bear and boar.
The Plott Hound is a medium to large frame dog that weighs 40 to just over 60 pounds. This dog is a scent dog that was used for hunting boar and larger animals such as bears. The coat of this breed comes in the form of brindle patterns that include the colors light brown to black. This breed can make a great family pet and also makes a good guard dog. They are curious by nature and also requires a lot of training from an early age.
In this article, I have reviewed 41 of the best hunting dogs that ever lived. What is your experience with hunting dogs, and what breed do you think is the best. Please leave a comment below and share with us your experience.