Dogs have been accompanying hunters on their hunts since their inclusion in our daily lives. With quick reflexes, natural hunting instincts, and keen intelligence, any of the dogs on this list below would make great hunting companions. Bringing home a new puppy and training it to be your perfect hunting companion is one of the most rewarding experiences a hunter can have. Below is a list of some of the most popular hunting breeds so that you can start your search.
These loyal, loving pets are the most popular dog in America according to the American Kennel Club. With a pleasant temperament, trainable nature, and high intelligence, this breed makes for a perfect hunting dog and companion. The Labrador Retriever, hailing from Newfoundland, has been a popular breed since the 1820s. While this breed originally sported a heavy coat, today’s Labs have a short, sleek water-repellent coat that comes in black, yellow, and brown varieties.
The Lab is eager to please and usually non-aggressive toward man or animal, making them ideal hunting companions. Labrador Retrievers are intelligent and love to learn; most opt to start training their Labs obedience and basic hunting skills at an early age. Due to their powerful and sleek build, Labs are excellent at field work, but they excel in the water. This breed is a powerful swimmer, a skill that is aided by the webbing between their toes and their water-resistant coats. Most hunters choose Labs for waterfowl hunting as they can swim to retrieve downed game with ease.
Another popular breed on the AKC’s list, the Golden Retriever makes a perfect family or hunting companion. Through selective breeding dating all the way back to 1800s, today’s Golden Retriever has been engineered to excel while hunting. Hunters typically admire the breed’s athletic ability and diligence while their families enjoyed the gentle, friendly nature of the breed.
The Golden Retriever sports a lustrous water repellent coat that is thick and soft, although not usually silky despite appearances. This majestic coat will need brush after a day in the wood however, due to its ability to pick up burs and other matter. Another key trait that hunters enjoy is the breed’s intelligence and highly trainable nature. And lastly, the most highly desirable trait that hunters enjoy in this breed is its soft mouth. A Golden Retriever’s moth is “softer” than that of other breeds, this allows them to carry delicate cargo, like game, without damaging. Golden Retrievers have even been known to carry raw eggs without breaking them. This trait makes Golden Retrievers ideal for waterfowl and small game hunting.
German Shorthair Pointer
German Shorthair Pointers have been amazing hunters with their hunting prowess since the 17th century. The modern German Shorthair Pointer is a cross between an old Spanish Pointer and a Bloodhound. The resulting pup is viewed as one of the best hunting breeds available. With retriever and pointer instincts, today’s hunters use German Shorthair Pointers for everything from rabbit, bird, and duck, to even large game hunting.
Appearance-wise, the German Shorthair Pointer is a medium-sized dog with webbed feet and a water-repellent coat. The German Shorthair Pointer has natural camouflage with its brown and white speckled coat. The Pointer being a pointer means that he will show his pointing instincts early in life. While your pup is young, you’ll probably observe him going into the classic pointer pose to alert you to interesting movement around him.
The English Setter is one of the oldest of the “gun dogs” still loved by hunters today. Being a member of the setter family, the English Setter is a very popular bird dog. The English Setter is the smallest of the setters and as such is able to move quickly in the field. This breed is typically friendly and gentle and gets along great with other pets and children. An English Setter is a natural gun dog with hardwired instincts that will emerge from a very young age.
English Setters almost naturally sit at prey, but training will still be needed for this breed. With a high intelligence and prey drive, the English Setter is easy enough to train if one knows what he’s doing. The English Setter is incredibly fast and an amazing jumper, making retrieving game over logs of downed trees a breeze.
English Springer Spaniel
Another “classic” gun dog, the English Springer Spaniel is characterized as a strong, sturdy sporting dog. There is some debate within the dog community as to the difference between English Springer Spaniels and American Springer Spaniels. The Americans believe that their version of the breed is different enough from the English to warrant its own breed classification, but as of this time, English and American Springer Spaniels are still viewed as English Springer Spaniels.