The best hunting dogs breeds are receptive to training, athletic, and have a strong prey drive. Hunting dog breeds are typically split into two categories: scent hounds and bird dog breeds. Scent hounds will locate and track prey on hunts while bird dog breeds retrieve prey after they've been taken out by a hunter.
This list of best hunting dog breeds will include both categories of hunting dogs, many of which will coincide with our list of the ten best dogs for tracking. The dog breeds in this list have stamina and intelligence in spades, and can be trained to do hunting tasks with relative ease.
The dogs listed here aren't just great hunting dogs, but are also some of the friendliest dog breeds that love their humans and love to hang out. So, whether you're looking for a hunting buddy or just a companion, this list of best hunting dog breeds will help you figure out which dog is right for you.
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1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are high-energy and loving dogs that were bred to assist hunters. As their name suggests, Labrador Retrievers are trained to hunt birds, mainly ducks, by retrieving them for their owners after they've been felled. Labrador's coats make them especially suited for cold-weather retrieving, as they have a double coat that repels water and keeps them warmed. They even have webbed feet, and a thick tail that acts as a rudder. Labs are also incredibly affectionate and make great family dogs.
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Believe it or not, Beagles make great hunting dogs. They were bred to hunt rabbits, gophers, and other small game. Beagles have a great sense of smell and are great trackers, having been bred during medieval times purely for hunting purposes. Beagles are also incredibly loyal and can be trained to be excellent companions on hunts.
3. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Lovingly called the "Chessie," the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a popular hunting dog that that was bred to help hunt waterfowl. They are incredibly strong swimmers that can handle rough waters, icy surfaces, and long swims in cold waters. They can carry game with a soft jaw so as not to damage them, as well. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers also make fantastic companions when not hunting, but they may need more structured training than a Labrador.
4. German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are considered all-around hunting dogs that can point as well as retrieve. They have a ton of energy and will be at their healthiest when living active lives, so keep that in mind if you're considering a GSP. German Shorthaired Pointers have a high prey drive and may dart after racoons or rabbits, so be careful if you have them off-leash.
5. English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels were bred to flush out game by chasing birds until they fly away (which is also known as springing). However, Springer Spaniels can also retrieve game, so they're a well-rounded hunting dog. They have great senses of smell and easy-to-read body language, which is ideal for hunting. Springers are easy to please and are considered relatively easy to train. They make great family dogs as they're great with kids and other dogs.
6. Irish Setter
The beautiful Irish Setter was bred for tracking, hunting, pointing, and retrieving. They are incredibly fast and have great senses of smell, making them a well-rounded hunting dog. As a result of their breeding, however, Irish Setters are very energetic and can (and will) get into mischief if they don't get enough mental and physical stimulation. They are incredibly friendly and make great family dogs - and they can be quite silly, so expect lots of laughs.
Bloodhounds are great hunting dogs because they are great at tracking. They enjoy the thrill of the chase, using their excellent senses of smell to track down potential prey. Strangely, their ears actually help them smell by kicking up invisible scent particles and sweeping the smells up into their nose. Bloodhounds may not look like hunting dogs as they area a bit slobbery and goofy, but they are top-tier trackers. They also make great family dogs as they are very gentle and loyal.
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