Top 17 Hunting Dog Breeds

While man’s best friend makes a wonderful canine companion, dogs have a long history of being used for more utilitarian tasks. One of the most important functions throughout the history of human/dog relationships was his purpose as a hunting partner. When trained properly, dogs can be extremely agile hunters thanks to their superior sense of smell, acute hearing, and athleticism. They just rely on us humans to help refine those talents.

In today’s modern world, hunting is much more of a sport than a daily necessity. However, a hunting dog is one of the best tools any hunter could hope for. If you’re on the lookout for a dog breed with outstanding hunting skills, check out our list for the 17 top dog breeds for hunting.

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1. Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever
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While many people may consider a Lab a friendly family-oriented dog, they are also considered to be one of the best duck hunting breeds out there. Their loyal personality paired with their high intelligence. tolerance for cold weather and webbed feet makes this bird dog breed the ultimate hunting companion.


2. English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels walking together
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Are you planning an upcoming pheasant hunting trip? You may want to bring an English Springer Spaniel along for the ride. Due to the run-and-gun nature of pheasant hunting, this flushing dog makes a fine hunting partner. He can effortlessly navigate any type of upland field, including corn and cattails, and his innate retrieving instinct will ensure you always get your catch.


3. Beagle

beagle
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Blessed with a super-efficient snout and a loud bark, the Beagle is one of the best scent hounds available. If you’re hunting rabbit, hare, foxes, or birds, you’ll want this savvy sniffer right by your side. He’s can be a very smart dog with the proper training.


4. English Setter

english setter
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When it comes to a good grouse dog, you won’t find one better than the English Setter. With a keen sense of smell and an ability to stay in sight, this dog will hold a point to allow you to set up for the perfect shot.

English Setters come from two different lines, including field and conformation. As a hunter, you’ll want to opt for the smaller field line for the ideal hunting partner.


5. American Foxhound

american foxhound
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As you may have guessed from this breed’s name, the American Foxhound was specifically bred for hunting. Taller and leaner than a Beagle, these hardworking hunters excel at all kinds of tracking and hunting activities. With a devoted demeanor and willingness to learn, this athletic breed is always ready for the chase.


6. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer hunting
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A ruggedly handsome all-purpose hunting breed, the German Shorthaired Pointer can effortlessly handle all types of upland game birds, in almost any type of condition. An avid retriever, the German Shorthaired Pointer also excels at water work. Kind and patient with kids, this breed makes the perfect family pet after a long day out in the woods.


7. Bloodhound

bloodhound
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If you’re looking for a thorough sniffer who will exhaustively investigate each and every scent he picks up, the Bloodhound is the hunting dog for you. Very few breeds are as astute when it comes to tracking the smell of an animal. That’s why this breed is also used by law enforcement teams to sniff out drugs or to help find a missing person. It also doesn’t hurt that the Bloodhound makes a great pet, both on and off the game trail.


8. Brittany

Brittany Spaniel on rock
Image credit: Craige Moore, Flickr

Don’t let his good looks fool you. The Brittany lovingly referred to as a Britt, is an impressive hunting spaniel breed. Originally developed to aid French farmers, this stub-tailed, fuzzy dog is an amazing pheasant hunter due to his versatility and athleticism. Their easy-going nature also makes them great with all members of your family.


9. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever
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An astounding flushing and gun dog, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of the best duck hunting breeds out there. Developed with web feet and an oily coat, he will gladly swim in ice-cold waters to retrieve a downed duck. This breed has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years, so you can rest easy knowing he’ll be your hunting companion for the long haul.


10. Coonhound

Black and Tan Coonhound
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Did you know that there are several varieties of Coonhound, including the American English, Black and Tan, Bluetick, Redbone, and Treeing Walker? No matter what type of Coonhound you get, you’ll be getting an excellent hunter. With sheer tenacity, superior intelligence, and tons of determination, the Coonhound also has remarkable stamina, making him the ideal partner in crime for an all-day hunting mission.


11. Appalachian Turkey Dog

If you’re in the market for a top-notch turkey hunter, then look no further than the Appalachian Turkey Dog. An unofficial breed that isn’t recognized by the AKC, this dog was developed by breeding a Plott hound, a setter, and a pointer. This breed inherited the best attributes from all three, including stamina, speed, and a drive for feathers.


12. Irish Setter

Irish Red and White Setter
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A stunning breed in the looks department, the Irish Setter is also an awesome hunting dog. With a fierce work ethic, outstanding agility, and a strong need to please, this tracking dog is great for hunting birds and other types of game.


13. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever
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One of the most popular breeds in the United States, the Golden Retriever is a hard-working hunter. Highly intelligent, devoted, and always happy, this breed truly excels when it comes to hunting birds. Golden Retrievers also make the ideal pet for families because of their loving and loyal disposition.


14. Weimaraner

Weimaraner
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Living to be between 10 and 13 years of age, the Weimaraner is a great hunting breed for smaller game. Complete with long legs, an easy-going personality, and gorgeous looks, this dog is able to catch even the swiftest of game due to his top speed sprinting.


15. Plott Hound

Plott Hound
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If you’re on the quest to hunt bear, you’ll need a tough canine that’s intelligent, gritty, and able to track an old scent. The Plott Hound is a tenacious breed that isn’t afraid to track or even corner a bear. He’ll even square up against a wild hog or cougar if asked.


16. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier
Image credit: Radosław Drożdżewski (Zwiadowca21), Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let his petite size fool you. The Jack Russell is a tough little hunting dog that can definitely go the distance. Super smart and energetic, this breed was originally developed to hunt rodents and other small pests.


17. Mountain Cur

Mountain Cur
Image credit: ThoHug, Wikimedia, CC 4.0 (cropped)

This breed, brought by European settlers to southeastern U.S. states, was originally developed to hunt raccoons and squirrels. Today, the Mountain Cur makes a great hunting partner for his ability to locate and mark game. An all-around amazing dog, this breed was officially recognized by the UKC in 1998.

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Final Thoughts

Whether you’re hunting ducks, pheasants, rabbits, or bears, these top 17 hunting breeds will help you get your game each and every time.

If you do find yourself with a hunting dog, check out some of our favorite hunting dog products:


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay