As you will discover with the information provided in this article, when it comes to choices for the best hunting dog breed you have several excellent possibilities.
However, the exact dog chosen would depend on the type of hunting in that different breeds offer different abilities. For instance, the type of dog used for duck hunting would be different from the type of dog needed to hunt rabbit or fox.
Keep in mind that some dogs can multitask but the goal would be to match need with skill. We wanted to offer information specific to Hounds, Pointers, Retrievers, and Water Spaniels, all excellent possibilities.
Hound Dog Traits
The following are some specific traits that would be essential when looking at choices for the best hunting dog breed in the Hound category.
- Scent Hounds – One of the primary reasons that Scent Hounds are rated as one of the best hunting dog breed options is keen sense of smell. These dogs have the ability to pick up the scent of various small animals such as fox, squirrels, coyote, raccoon, and rabbits, as well as birds better than any other breed of dog. Several types of Scent Hounds should be considered to include Walker, Redbone, Blue Tick, Redbone, and Red Tick.
Unlike Sight Hounds discussed below, Scent Hounds trail prey rather than stalk it. Additionally, some Scent Hounds are trained to kill prey whereas Sight Hounds almost always kill the animal they course. Many of the chases that Scent Hounds get involved with are long and tedious but these dogs are built for endurance.
One interesting fact is that this type of hunting dog works as a pack, backing prey into a corner or treeing an animal, followed by barking to notify the owner.
- Sight Hounds – Along with Scent Hounds, another possibility for choices of the best hunting dog breed is the Sight Hound. Although this dog also uses its incredible nose, sight is its strong trait. The Sight Hound works very different from a Scent Hound due to body structure. This dog has a long, lean head, which makes binocular vision incredibly good. In fact, the visual ability of this breed is very similar to that of a wolf.
In addition, this type of hound is known for speed, which would be used in a process of hunting prey called “coursing”.
With “coursing”, the Sight Hound would hone in on prey from a great distance, followed by stalking it, pursuing the animal, and then ultimately killing it, a process that happens extremely fast and with the dog in stealth mode.
Sight Hounds work as a team to help encircle prey opposed to working with a pack mentality. If hunting animals in larger open areas, choices for the best hunting dog breed would without doubt be a Sight Hound whereas the services of a Scent Hound would prove more beneficial when hunting prey in areas with vast trees or underbrush.
Gun Hunting Dog Breeds
If you hunt with a gun, then choices for the best hunting dog breed would be very different than Hounds since the requirements for skill and ability would be unique. Again, there are multiple choices but Pointers, Retrievers, and Flushing Spaniels are considered the best.
- Pointers – This type of dog is trained to find prey and then locking into a position known as “pointing”, which consists of the body becoming stiff, one front leg drawing upward, the head pointing directly toward the animal’s location, and the tail held straight out horizontally. Pointers are loyal to their owners so much they will stay on point until a command is given at which time the dog would break the point to flush prey out for the hunter to shoot.
- Retrievers – Interestingly, many years ago Retrievers were actually considered Water Spaniels but today, this breed has been reclassified as a unique breed. For working in water, retrieving, and following commands, Retrievers are rated as one of the best hunting dog breeds. Because Retrievers naturally love the water, they make an excellent choice for duck hunting although they would be great at retrieving any bird, whether on land or in water. When trained, these dogs have a “soft mouth”, allowing them to pick up and retrieve prey but without causing damage to the body.
- Flushing Spaniels – The last option for best hunting dog breed are Flushing Spaniels, also referred to simply as “Flushers”. This particular type of dog has been used in hunting for centuries and is still a favorite. The skills of Flushing Spaniels are impressive but as a bonus, this dog makes a perfect family pet. Flushing Spaniels work by finding and then flushing out prey but working as a team with the hunter. In fact, this breed is so keen at hunting that animals would not be flushed out until the owner is within close enough range to make the shot.