People and hunting dog breeds have been working together for decades. Various breeds have been developed to help us find and secure game.

It’s good for a dog to have proper hunting skills to increase its chance of survival. That includes a strong prey drive, good endurance, and a coat for hunting.

Some are gun dogs, while others are hounds, meaning they can help you flush out prey. Let’s learn more about the different breeds to help you pick the best one for your needs.

What’s a Hunter Without a Hunting Dog?

While most of us no longer depend on wild game for survival, hunting as a sport still has a place in the modern world. Despite the controversy it can cause, many participate in it responsibly.

Hunters use various types of hunting dogs. They come in two categories: hound dogs and gun dogs. The former are excellent for chasing animals like rabbits and deer, while the latter are great at finding hiding game.

Hound dogs are experts at locating prey due to their excellent noses. They also have loud voices that can alert hunters of potential targets.

To explain the relationship between dogs and hunters, we can look at how Mbuti people in Africa use dogs while hunting in tropical forests. The hunters carry bows or spears, and the dogs help them find prey by scent. To keep up with their hunting dogs, they attach wooden bells to them.

When a hunter approaches a target, the dog must follow the animal and flush it out of the bush. It’s a common technique with small animals like mongooses and birds.

If you want to keep your hunting companion healthy and alive for as long as possible, you should test the dog’s DNA to check if it’s prone to diseases. Knowing the possible danger upfront can help you take precautions.

Meet the Ultimate Hunting Partners

Not all dogs are suitable for hunting. If you want success in this sport, you should check our list of the most common hunting dogs:

American Foxhound

It’s among the least known American breeds, but it’s one of the oldest. Let’s learn more about the appearance of this four-legged hunter and its temperament.

Appearance

Although the American Foxhound may look like a Beagle, it’s leaner and taller. It has a short and dense coat that doesn’t require much care. Its eyes are large and gentle.

You can find American Foxhounds in four color patterns: red, tri, black and tan, and blue. 

Temperament

As one of the best fox hunting dog breeds, the American Foxhound has a loving nature and enjoys human company. It’s brilliant and great with children and other dogs.

American Foxhounds have lots of energy, and they need to spare it. So, if you’re not going hunting, you should still give your furry pal lots of daily physical activity. Also, a fenced yard is a must to avoid losing your dog. Otherwise, it might go hunting on its own.

chesapeake dog hunts a bird in a forest

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This gundog with an excellent nose has outstanding water instincts, making it one of the best duck hunting dog breeds. Let’s learn more about its looks and behavior.

Appearance

You’ll find the Chesapeake Bay Retriever in chocolate brown, red-gold, or dead grass color, with yellowish deer eyes. You can recognize them by their wavy double-coat, that’s also thick and waterproof.

The undercoat is dense and woolly, while the outer coat is short and harsh. Their skin has lots of natural oils, which are great for keeping them warm in cold waters.

Temperament

The breed is perceptive, sensitive, and adores spending time with family, but it’s not easily trained. So, you may need more patience and dedication to daily obedience sessions. This stubborn pup is on our list of top smart hunting dogs.

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever isn’t very friendly with strangers and needs time to adjust. Also, due to its high energy, if you don’t take it hunting, ensure to provide enough daily physical activity.

Weimaraner

These dogs were first bred for hunting in the 19th century. Royal families used Weimaraner for hunting deer, boar, and bear. But when the large game lost its popularity, they started going for foxes, fowls, and rabbits.

Appearance

Weimaraner hunting companions are light brown, regal grey, or silver. Also, they have yellowish or blue-grey eyes. Their short coat means they don’t require lots of grooming.

It’s one of the large hunting dog breeds, and you can find it in black or blue, but like having a long coat, that would disqualify them from the show ring.

Temperament

Weimaraners are easily trainable and incredibly smart, so they need a lot of mental stimulation. Also, their friendly and loving nature makes them perfect for families with children. The breed adores making its owners proud by fulfilling their commands.

But since they’re large and energetic, they can easily push small kids, so you might want to be careful. And when you’re not hunting with your Weimaraner, you should provide plenty of daily physical activity.

German Shorthaired Pointer

It’s one of the German hunting dog breeds that might be perfect if you’re into outdoor activities. The Pointer is better at hunting birds in water or on land.

Appearance

A reddish-brown or black coat, combined with some white spots, will help you recognize this breed. Although it’s thick and short, it needs regular grooming to avoid shedding all over your home.

This dog can swim fast and long, thanks to its water-resistant features and paw membranes. It’s a medium-sized dog with dark brown almond-shaped eyes, and you’ll clearly see its expressions.

Temperament

As one of the Pointer hunting dog breeds, this brilliant dog is easy to train. It’d love the entire family, but it might also choose a favorite member.

Due to its hunting heritage, a Pointer may be aggressive towards smaller pets like cats or rabbits. During the training period, you need to be kind and patient and use lots of rewards and positive reinforcement. Like any other hunting dog, a Pointer needs lots of physical exercise when not on a hunt.

American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier was bred for hunting and driving livestock. As time went by, these medium-size hunting dogs with gentle nature became family pets that would take care of children in the house.

Appearance

The short coat is stiff to touch but very shiny. You can find it in many colors: brown, brindle, blue, grey, red, and black and white. Also, the breed doesn’t require lots of grooming, which is great news if you don’t have much free time.

These dogs are very recognizable by their powerful jaws. Their bodies are mainly muscular, and their eyes are round.

Temperament

As a Pitbull hunting dog, many would think that the APBT is aggressive and dangerous. But that’s not the case. Their aggressive nature is mostly towards other animals. Plus, proper socialization will minimize hostility.

This dog needs a firm owner. A bit of training and proper exercise will give you a calm dog. If raised with other furry pals from an early age, an APBT would be okay around them. 

English Setter dog in a black background

English Setter

These dogs were bred about 500 years ago. They’re among the best bird hunting dog breeds but are also amiable and energetic companions.

Appearance

You’ll recognize an English Setter by its white coat marked with liver, orange, and black flecks. It’s known as the “belton” color. This is a medium-sized dog with long feathers on the belly, tail, ears, back of its legs, and chest.

You can find an English Setter in other colors, including blue belton, lemon belton, liver belton, range belton, or tricolor. Keep in mind that the coat needs regular grooming to avoid tangles.

Temperament

Provide enough exercise and activities if you want a calm English Setter. After all, they’re field dogs. They may show destructive behavior if they’re not busy most of the time.

Early socialization and training are crucial for a well-behaved dog. Due to its hunting nature, an English Setter can be an independent thinker. Make sure to be consistent, kind, and use positive reinforcement.

Bloodhound

Our hunting dog breeds list can’t be complete without the Bloodhound. It’s a trailing dog breed that’s very skillful in following scents.

Appearance

You’ll recognize the Bloodhound by its wrinkled face, long ears, and drooping eyes. It has a big body and a smooth and short coat. Also, it’s commonly in liver and tan, red, or black and tan colors. You may notice some specks of white on the chest and feet.

The Bloodhound doesn’t require lots of grooming, but you should brush the coat two or three times per week to keep it healthy.

Temperament

If you’re looking for a charming dog, this one is for you. It loves spending time with its family, playing around, and occasionally relaxing on the sofa. Even if these dogs seem like they sleep all the time, they’re highly energetic.

Bloodhounds are independent thinkers and a bit headstrong, so you’ll need to be more patient during training. Because of their strong nose, they may drag you along if they scent something, so make sure to have the best collar for a hunting breed.

Beagle

It’s one of the best rabbit hunting dog breeds. A Beagle may be a small dog, but its excellent nose makes it great at tracking.

Appearance

Beagles have a medium-sized, thick, and harsh coat. It’s often a combination of white, black, and tan, but the most popular kind is tri-color.

You’ll easily recognize the Beagle by the white tip on its tail. Interestingly, that helps hunters spot their dogs in the field. Brush your Beagle weekly, especially during the shedding periods.

Temperament

Since they’re hunters, Beagles like to make their owners happy, but sometimes their instincts get in the way. They adore spending time with family. These are loving and loyal dogs. If left alone, they may become destructive even if they’re among the small hunting dog breeds.

Training may not be fast because Beagles are easily distracted. You need to keep the sessions short and use positive reinforcement.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Hunters used this breed for hunting deer, bear, wild hog, bobcat, and herding.

Appearance

The name comes from the “leopard” pattern on its short and smooth coat. It’s usually in yellow, black, and red, but you can also find it in brindle or double-brindle.

The Catahoula is among the deer hunting dog breeds, and it’s recognizable by its white, pale blue, or slate, grey eyes that might remind you of glass. Due to the heterochromatic gene, you can even find this breed with two different eyes.

Temperament

These dogs aren’t very good at being family pets because they don’t like lying around. They need an environment where they can follow their natural hunting instincts.

Thanks to its high intelligence, you can easily train your Catahoula dog. Although the dog bonds with family members, it’ll stand up for itself if poorly treated.

Coonhound

This breed has a great nose, making it a perfect tracker. That’s why Coonhounds are popular hunting dogs for chasing raccoons. Also, there are various types of this breed, but let’s check the three most common ones.

Appearance

The American English Coonhound has a medium-length coat and comes in various color combinations: red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, black and white, red and white, or tricolor with ticking.

The Redbone hunting dogs have muscular bodies with short, red coats. Also, they have a black nose and floppy ears.

Black and Tan Coonhounds have a smooth, shiny, and thick coat in black with tan trim.

Temperament

The American English Coonhound is stubborn, so it requires patience when training. Because of its high energy levels, it wouldn’t make a good house pet.

The Redbone Coonhound adores chasing animals, like cougars, bears, and raccoons. It’s a hunting dog with an independent intelligence, which helps it easily solve problems. To keep it from wandering, provide a high fence in your yard.

The Black and Tan Coonhound would make an excellent family dog, especially if you provide enough physical activity and training. It’s an easy-going and loving furry pal.

Jack Russel Terrier

It’s one of the small hunting dog breeds. Still, it’s a fearless and tenacious dog that was bred for groundwork and adores digging.

Appearance

This small doggo has V-shaped ears. It has three coat types. Generally, they’re white with black or tan markings or a mix. The coat is weatherproof. Also, this dog can easily dig deep due to its flexible and small chest.

Temperament

As one of the hunting Terrier breeds, it’s a smart and friendly dog that’s a bit tenacious. Also, it’s easily trainable because of its brilliance. You can make this pet incredibly happy if you keep it busy and spend its energy.

Since it’s not a very patient dog, it’s not suitable for small children. Also, you shouldn’t leave it alone with other pets. That said, it would get along with older children.

Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient Northern Spitz-type and one of the wolf hunting dog breeds. It’s been used for hunting, herding, and guarding. Also, it’s famous for its ability and courage to hunt moose, bears, and wolves.

Appearance

The Norwegian Elkhound has a thick, double, weatherproof coat. The undercoat is dense and woolly, while the overcoat is straight.

It comes in grey with some black shades. You’ll need to brush it daily to keep the coat healthy.

Temperament

This dog is intelligent, bold, and confident. So, it may not be easily trainable. That’s why it’s crucial to start early, especially if you’re a confident leader.

Although it’s a natural guardian dog, it’s also very playful and friendly. Norwegian Elkhounds get along with family members and strangers alike.

Boykin Spaniel in a brown background

Boykin Spaniel

This is one of the best waterfowl dogs. It first appeared in the early 1900s in South Carolina. The Boykin Spaniel was bred for hunting ducks and wild turkeys, so it’s a perfect swimmer.

Appearance

It has a medium-length double coat in dark chocolate brown, brown, or deep liver. The undercoat is thick but short, and the outer coat is wavy and flat. The first feature you’ll probably notice is its large ears.

The dog has a feathered chest, belly, ears, and legs. Also, you may find some white marks on the chest or toes.

Temperament

Although it was bred for hunting, this dog is among the hunting Spaniel breeds that can also be excellent family pets. It has a friendly personality but an alert expression. Due to its high energy levels, it needs lots of physical activity.

Being attentive and intelligent make Boykins fast learners, so training is a breeze. What’s more, early socialization makes them good with other people and pets.

Golden Retriever

You might know it as one of the best family hunting dogs. The Golden Retriever was bred for retrieving shot game, birds, and waterfowl.

Appearance

A Golden Retriever has a light golden coat with a slightly cream-colored streak on its back. Also, it has a soft undercoat to keep its body warm during the winter.

The overcoat is water-resistant, making it excellent at swimming. You’ll also notice longer hairs on the neck, back of the legs, and the bottom of the tail. Make sure to provide regular grooming sessions for these long-haired hunting dogs.

Temperament

Retriever’s large and kind eyes tell you it’s a very gentle and loving dog. It’s a favorite of many and perfect as a family pet.

If you’re looking for a guardian dog, this one isn’t a good fit because of its friendly nature. But you can turn it into a great hunting companion if you’re patient.

Brittany Dog

The Brittany dog is among the gun dog breeds. It’s a mix of a Pointer, Setter, and Spaniel bred as a bird dog.

Appearance

It’s recognizable by its thick, medium-length coat that can be wavy or flat. The colors can be white with reddish-brown marks or white with orange spots.

Also, you can spot a tri-colored Brittany dog with white and reddish-brown marks on the body and orange marks on the face. On the legs, you may notice a bit of feathering.

Temperament

A Brittany dog is usually very loving and friendly. But if you’re too firm with it, it may become overly sensitive. Since it’s brilliant, you won’t have problems if you provide proper and gentle training.

Due to its immense energy, you need to provide enough physical exercise for this dog. Although bred for hunting, it’s an adorable family pet, too.

Labrador Retriever

These large pups aren’t on our bear hunting dog breeds list, but they’re perfect for retrieving fish on the Newfoundland shores.

Appearance

Labs have a short, weatherproof double coat that’s straight, dense, shiny, and smooth. You can find it in yellow, black, and chocolate, but it shouldn’t have white patches. Also, thse dogs have webbed feet that make them excellent swimmers.

Labs have soft and medium-length ears and intelligent and kind eyes. Their tail is wider at the base and tighter at the tip. Also, it needs regular grooming, especially during shedding seasons.

Temperament

While they’re not common hunting dogs these days, labs are an ideal sporting and family breed. Their loving, gentle, and friendly nature make them great for families with children. Due to their eagerness to please their owners, they’re also effortless to train.

If you decide to adopt a Labrador, you should have enough free time to provide it with physical exercise because it’s highly energetic. Also, if you want to prevent wandering due to its hunting instincts, you’ll need a high fence in your yard.

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter was bred as one of the best hunting dog breeds in its native country. Now, it’s still a prominent sporting dog.

Appearance

The Irish Setter is recognizable by its medium-length body coat and short coat on the head and front legs. Also, it has feathered ears, tail, chest, belly, thighs, and back of front legs.

Irish Setters have a deep chestnut red color, and you may notice a few white markings on their neck, chest, toes, or head. You need to brush them daily to keep their coat shiny and healthy.

Temperament

As kind, loving, and happy dogs, Irish Setters love spending time with their families. Also, they adore playing with children.

But you need to provide them with enough exercise and activities. When bored, this breed may easily make mischief. The good thing is that it’s very eager to learn, so training won’t be a problem. Be gentle and patient during your sessions.

Plott Hound

Plott Hounds are perfect for hunting wild boars, bears, and raccoons. It’s one of the hunting dog breeds that don’t shed. Also, it wasn’t bred for cuddling. It’s a working breed coming from North Carolina. 

Appearance

The Plott Hound has a short to medium coat that’s shiny and smooth. This dog mostly comes in tan, yellow, chocolate, yellow, brown, black, orange, liver, and blue. Brushing it once per week should be enough.

It’s a medium-sized but muscular breed. Its eyes are hazel or brown with black eye rims. The tail is long, and the ears are medium-length. 

Temperament

Although bred for hunting, it can be a good family dog because of its loving and pleasing nature. Also, it’s loyal to its owners and likes to make them happy, meaning it should be easily trainable.

Plott Hounds need time to adjust when meeting strangers. These dogs are fearless and determined. Because of their courageous nature, they’re perfect for hunting a large bear. 

nova scotia duck tolling retriever standing in  the forest

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The last breed on our list is the most versatile hunting dog — a perfect duck hunter. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever first appeared in the 19th century in the Little River District of Nova Scotia’s Yarmouth County. These dogs use a unique hunting method of resembling a fox.

Appearance

This type of Retriever has a double waterproof coat that’s medium in length. It has a rich red color. You can also notice feathering at the tail and legs.

Its wedge-shaped head mimics a fox. The breed has intelligent and friendly eyes that express alertness.

Temperament

The Duck Tolling Retriever is brilliant and loves making its owners happy. So, it’s easily trainable. Although very friendly, the dog can be reserved when meeting strangers. That’s why early socialization is crucial.

Since it’s smart and energetic, the breed needs lots of exercise and activities. If you don’t provide enough, this Retriever may become bored and disobedient. Due to its ability to imitate a fox, it may be the world’s best hunting dog, depending on your needs.

Conclusion

Hunting has become a sport, and people still need their most loyal life companions to help them in the game. But with so many hunting dog breeds, it can be challenging to find the right one.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hunting bears, rabbits, or birds. You could always use a good dog beside you. But keep in mind that such dogs need lots of exercise.

Hunting breeds follow the scents they pick up, and you may easily lose them. To avoid that, consider getting a GPS tracker for a hunting breed.

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