If you’ve ever spent time with a Chihuahua, then you know that not all dog breeds are made for hunting. And yet some breeds take to the blind better than others because it’s what they were bred to do. For example, Labs are known for being some of the best duck hunters around, while pointers will excel on any quail hunt.
Of course, these breeds still make for great companions — they’re man’s best friend, after all. But when you’re looking for a furry buddy that also loves the thrill of the chase, these hunting dogs are some of our top picks.
1. Labrador retriever
There’s a reason these family-friendly dogs have moisture-repellent coats and webbed feet and it’s not just to go chasing after balls thrown in the pool. Labs are great swimmers, which makes them a great choice for duck hunting. The name says it all: These dogs are the perfect retrievers and their gentle bite means they will bring you back your kill without harming it. Labradors are smart, eager to please and good-natured, making them a great hunting companion in a variety of situations.
Another dog that lives up to its name, you’ll often see coonhounds with their noses to the ground. They are persistent and determined hunters who will stay on track regardless of the conditions or terrain. This outgoing and friendly breed is relatively laid-back compared with other hunting dogs, but don’t be surprised if they tree the neighborhood cats.
3. German short-haired pointer
This breed is best known as a bird dog but is equally adept at tracking land animals, from raccoon to deer. They are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are considered to have the best scenting ability of all the bird dogs. As their name suggests, they don’t flush but rather stop and point. This loyal watchdog requires a lot of activity and stimulation.
This breed is intelligent, high energy and eager to be trained to hunt. It is best known as a bird dog and has the ability to point and retrieve. They are good-natured and relatively smaller than most hunting dogs, making them a popular choice for families as well. Brittanys have a tendency to roam due to curiosity, so good training is necessary.
The familiar howling that might get this breed in trouble with your neighbors is the reason it is an excellent hunting companion. Combined with its strong scenting ability, its high energy and its merry personality, the beagle is a great hunting dog both alone and in packs. Beagles are trackers by nature and tend to be a bit stubborn, so they need good training. Their small size makes them a good option for rabbit or quail hunting.
Next up: Spanish water dog