A great hunting dog is the perfect partner for all your hunting adventures. Over the centuries, certain breeds have proven themselves to be the best hunting companions, and some come in low-shed breeds for easier canine care.
How to Find The Perfect Hunting Dog
There are a lot of options when you’re choosing a canine companion. To pick the ideal hunting dog, observe where the dog has come from, assess the whole litter, not just individual dogs, and ask the breeder the right kinds of questions.
Observe Family Ties
Watching a puppy’s grandparents and parents tells you a lot about the offspring’s behavior and traits. The sire and the dam (father and mother) and even the grandsire and grandam can affect a pup’s disposition and health.
The dam is the most important influence in a young pup’s life, so observe her for positive attributes like a calm and non-reactive demeanor. If you can, ask to see the parents work as gundogs, as their behavior when active tells you a lot about how the pup will behave.
Assess the Litter
You don’t just want to look at a single puppy when you’re assessing a dog as your hunting companion; you should be looking at the entire pack to see where the pup you’re interested in falls in the social schema.
Breeders who offer established and reputable bloodlines are the best bet. You may find many ideal hunting pups in a litter with the right breeder, not just one.
Ask the Right Questions
The essential information you need is the pup’s veterinary, immunization, and medical records. If there are any genetic anomalies, the breeder should also disclose this information.
You can also ask for the breeder’s references and find other people who have purchased gundogs from the same breeder to see if their dogs were successful hunting companions. Lastly, ask your breeder how many years they’ve been in business.
15 Great Hunting Dogs (and 5 That Don’t Shed)
A great hunting dog must have impeccable instincts, a calm demeanor, and a keen desire to obey. Retrievers, pointers, and spaniels are all excellent hunting dog breeds, but you can also find some pups that aren’t a traditional hunting breed, like a pit bull.
Here are 15 great types of hunting dogs, including 5 that don’t shed.
1. Labrador Retriever
These classic hunting dogs have been heading out on the hunt for centuries. Labs are even-keeled and have a hardy constitution, but they also are expert retrievers, as their name suggests, taking kills back to their masters.
2. American Foxhound
These mid-sized dogs have been bred specifically to go on fox hunts. They’re taller and leaner than Beagles, and Foxhounds are extraordinarily hard-working and kind (but also scrappy).
People love these dogs for their family-friendly demeanors, but they have some chops when it comes to hunting as well. They’re pros when it comes to tracking deer, rabbits, foxes, and even small birds with their finely tuned sense of smell.
4. Boykin Spaniel
These lovely hunting companions require more maintenance than some other hunting dogs, but they are excellent in low brush and wetland. The Boykin is determined when on the job but amiable and laid-back when at home.
It’s almost impossible to mistake a bloodhound for any other type of dog. With its incredible ears and jowls, the Bloodhound was made to track. When they’re on the scent, there’s no deterring them from their job, but when they’re off-duty, they are docile and friendly, not to mention adorable.
6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Tireless when given a job to do, Chessies are loyal and hard-working, especially in aquatic environments like marshes. They’ll flush and retrieve your kill and are great company when you’re not hunting too.
7. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a classic family dog, but like their cousins’ Labs and Chessies, goldens make excellent types of hunting dogs too. These dogs are always up for an adventure.
8. Brittany Dog
The Brittany may look like a Spaniel, but this dog is closer to a setter. This dog’s greatest strength is its versatility, as it’s able to point, flush, retrieve, and take part in competitions easily.
9. Bluetick Coonhound
Several coonhound variations, including the Bluetick, Redbone, and Black & Tan, hunt often and, even though they are not exceptionally cautious, they are determined. They will stick with you through thick and thin.
You have to be stern and consistent when you’re training a Weimaraner because if this energetic and athletic breed senses a weakness, they can be a handful. They are great with families and have a hardy disposition ideal for hunting. They also have little to no grooming needs.
11. Irish Water Spaniel
Adept at both inland and waterfowl hunting, the Irish Water Spaniel has a thick shaggy coat that will not shed. They are very pliable and intelligent, so training is a breeze, and they also make great family dogs.
12. Standard Poodle
You may only associate this breed with fancy haircuts and ribbons, but the Standard Poodle is an intelligent dog that responds well to training and is hypoallergenic. Standard Poodles have webbed feet and are bred for athleticism so that you won’t be let down with this low-shed option for your hunting partner.
13. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
This dog, nicknamed Griff, was bred by one Irish hunter and is loyal and playful by nature. They look shaggy, but their coats only need to be tended to once a year. They’re both pointers and retrievers, although they’re more short-range retrievers than anything else.
You may think that the Pudelpointer is one of the modern designer crossbreeds, but you would be wrong. The Pudelpointer is an old and storied hunting dog with a double coat that doesn't require a lot of shedding. Great for upland and waterfowl hunting, the Pudelpointer is versatile and responsive.
15. American Pit Bull
Most pit bulls are known for their fighting chops and not their short coats, but if you need a hunting dog that doesn’t shed a lot, a pit bull is a champion choice.
Although many people think pit bulls are ferocious or dangerous, the American Pit Bull was initially bred as a nanny dog for children. So even though those jaws look powerful, they can be as gentle as they need to be.
Choosing the right hunting dog doesn’t just mean picking a dog for your adventures. It’s choosing a companion for the time when you’re not hunting as well. Consider the bloodlines of the pup you’re looking at, and see if you can watch their parents at work.
A good hunting dog will take you farther than you ever imagined, always with a loyal friend at your side.
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