If you enjoy hunting, you have probably hunted with dogs before and you may have considered investing in your own. This is especially true if you enjoy hunting waterfowl, wild boar, or squirrels. But you probably don’t want a dog that has to be kept in the kennel all the time and is at high risk of running away on its own. Rather, you want a dog that is also a good pet and will be a constant companion.
Most dog breeds have hunting somewhere in their bloodline, but not all dogs are good hunting dogs and not all hunting dogs are good companion dogs. You want to look for a breed that is both loyal and willing to obey instructions, as well as an urge to prey for usefulness in the field. Check out some of the best breeds for this purpose below.
What should you look out for in a hunting dog?
When looking for a dog that you can use as both a great hunting dog and a good pet, the first thing you should do is think about a hunting dog’s purpose and then look for the traits that will give you loyalty and love to a pet.
First of all, you need to give your pet professional training. The dog needs to know how to listen carefully and follow commands in order to overcome its high prey and hunting instinct. This workout also makes them a calmer, more conducive pet for the home.
Most hunting dogs fall into one of four categories: scented dogs, pointers and setters, flushing dogs, and retrievers. All can make excellent pets and become experts in their jobs. Your responsibility is to ensure consistency through training to achieve this.
History of the hunting dogs
Humans have been fascinated by dogs for about 20,000 years and have used them as domesticated companions for hunting and protection in a way that has benefited both species. Today there are more than 30 recognized hunting breeds out of nearly 200 breeds in total, which is a big part of why people still choose hunting dogs today.
A good dog can serve as a guard animal, pack animal, companion and offer hunting advantages. With selective breeding going back 9,000 years, it is not surprising to assume that humans quickly learned to pay attention to certain traits for certain needs.
Hunting dogs today can: track and hunt animals; find wounded game; Smell and flush (the dog searches your surroundings and is able to quickly get any animal, such as birds, out of hiding and into the air); and get shot game from a variety of situations.
We’ve rounded up the seven best hunting dog breeds that are also considered popular pets. These puppies take time and care to reach their full potential, but all are amazing companions.
1. Labrador Retriever
Bred for water abstraction, the Labrador Retriever has become a popular household breed that displays a gentle, protective nature in children and displays high levels of intelligence. Still popular with hunting trials, the lab is a loyal option that works by your side day and night.
This crossbred, designed breed combines the best of the standard poodle and golden retriever to create a hypoallergenic, non-shedding dog that excels as a hunting dog in both the household with children and in the field. Incredibly affectionate, easy to train and a great companion.
3. Golden Retriever
It is entirely possible that more Golden Retrievers become fat as family dogs than they are hunted with, but this docile, gentle breed is incredibly loyal, intelligent, and bred for competitive retrieval. Because of this, they are an excellent choice for families with children.
4. German Shorthaired Pointing Dog
A popular family pet, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a smart and playful breed that works all day showing and flushing, and curls up all night protecting your family. Their high energy levels are part of their genetics that help them keep going in the field, but it also makes them a wonderful running and walking companion.
5. Brittany Spaniel
Eager to please you, the Brittany Spaniel is known for their excellent bird hunting skills and is often used in highly competitive shooting trials. That loyalty pays off in other areas too, helping them to be an amazing pet who are highly intelligent and always on the lookout for ways to please their families. Just be aware that they have a lot of energy and want to be by your side at all times.
Loyal, friendly, and great with kids, this lean, short-haired dog is known for his goofy personality and silver-gray coat. Perfect for all hunting options, they are incredibly intelligent and have plenty of energy to focus on with consistent training.
7. Jack Russell Terrier
Friendly, playful and small, the Jack Russell Terrier is easy to train and work with, but has a lot of energy that needs to be directed towards a purpose. They are incredibly intelligent, quick to learn, and great for both track and pest hunting, and have made a name for themselves in fox hunting too.
Choosing a breed of dog for both hunting and companion purposes isn’t too difficult when there are such great breeds out there. These are some of the best, but they make excellent companions and make great family dogs.
Curtis Lawson makes his home in Florida, USA. In addition to shooting sports, he and his family also participate in other outdoor activities such as boating and fishing.