Which Dogs Make Good Hunting Buddies

Hunters know better than anyone else that dogs are man’s best friend. For centuries, dogs have been a vital part of a successful hunt, as some flush out the prey and others track it down. While there is a bevy of breeds that are perfect for each niche, not all dogs are cut out for a hunt. It takes more than four paws and a wagging tail to be a great hunting dog. Certain breeds do better than others, and a hunting dog is only as good as its training and the bond it has with its owner. Let’s look at the top picks and what makes them unique.

Labrador Retrievers make fantastic family pets, but they’re also one of the best duck hunting breeds in existence. Their coats provide ample warmth during cold seasons and their enthusiasm to please knows no bounds. They are also excellent swimmers, which any duck hunter knows is an incredibly valuable skill in a dog. They are also very easy to train! The only downside is a life expectancy of under twelve years.

Golden Retrievers, however, have a life expectancy of up to twenty years and have all the best attributes of a Labrador. Even better, they are not specific to water retrieving. They’ll be just as happy skirting through the bush to find your kill as they will swimming in the water. This puts them near the top of the list based on their versatility alone.

Beagles are another well-known breed that makes excellent hunting companions. As hounds, they have an incredible sense of smell that can track animals for miles, but especially love a good rabbit or hare hunt. Their bark is also a plus, believe it or not, as you can train them to alert you from far distances. Just like the retrievers above, they make great family pets, too, for the offseason.

American Foxhounds have their specialty right in the name. They’re great for fox hunting but also do well for whitetail deer. They’re swift and are bred to be tracking machines. Their coats are also easy to manage, making them an excellent low-maintenance option. You can focus on training instead of grooming.

English Springer Spaniels make the list for their ability to squeeze into tight spots. Larger dogs will struggle with certain pinch points in the woods, but not these guys! They make the perfect bird hunting companion, able to flush up quail and pheasant easily without being gun shy. That’s an important quality, as a hunting dog scared of a boom won’t do much good.

Pointers come up next, as they can silently tell you which direction your prey or kill has gone. Pointers have amazing endurance, allowing them to stand still at attention for an hour or longer. They also work well as a retriever with a bit of specialized training. Be careful, though. These dogs are so eager to please that they ignore their own needs to ensure you find your kill.

Many other breeds do well, but these top six are the best of the bunch. Happy hunting!