While many dog breeds can be considered suitable for hunting, certain breeds have specific strengths that make them the ultimate hunting partner. Although discussing the best breed of hunting dog for various games is like arguing whether a Chevy or Ford is better, we’re going to take a crack at narrowing down the most optimal hunting breeds to help assist you in picking out your next pup.
Labs are Best for Ducks
Without a doubt, Labradors are the best all-around waterfowl dog you can find because they were bred for marking, retrieving, and delivering waterfowl to a hunter’s hand. Their physical attributes make them the ultimate hunting partner due to their double coat for warmth and water repellency, webbed feet, muscled body, a thick otter tail for balance, and maneuverability in the water. Furthermore, as perfectly suited as they are for swimming and retrieving, its intelligence separates a Labrador from other retrieving breeds. They mature at a younger age and handle the learning curve of taking whistle and hand signals at great distances while also performing blind retrieves. Labrador retrievers truly are the all-American dog that can hunt all day and then come home and play with the family.
Springer Spaniels are Best for Pheasants
When it comes to hunting pheasants, there is a debate between German shorthair pointers or English springer spaniels being the best choice. Although pointers are great dogs with the stamina to cover ground all day long and the nose to point birds, the ultimate pheasant-hunting dog goes to springers. They can course an upland field and put birds up with the best of any breed (they also do a fine job in the waterfowl realm). Springers have no problem covering ground on the hunt, thanks to their abundant energy level. Furthermore, their retrieving instinct is more substantial than pointing breeds. With a good nose and an overall pleasant temperament, springers are loyal dogs that work hard and want to please their owners.
English Setters are Best for Grouse
When it comes to good grouse-hunting dogs, a nose keen enough to scent the spooky birds without bumping them is the number-one requirement, and there isn’t a better choice or a more regal-looking dog than an English setter. With their natural tendency to work closer than an English pointer, setters will stay in sight and hold a point that allows the hunter to get into position and ready a shot. Shooting at grouse is like shooting at near ghosts in the thick forests of the upper Midwest and Northeast, so having a second or two head start with an inkling of direction can make all the difference in the world. After the shot, finding a downed grouse can be a challenge, so make sure your setter enjoys retrieving.
English Pointers are Best for Quail
The epitome of all pointing breeds, the slick, speedy, and bird-obsessed English pointer won’t stop in its endless pursuit of feathers. Pointers will work in the harshest territory with a boundless prey drive, searching for a covey. Their thin coat allows them to stay cool in the heat, and their endurance ensures there’s enough energy for any hunt. In this capacity, they’re suited for the quail-rich South, but they fair just as well in northern locations. Pointers have dominated the field-trial circuit at the highest levels for decades because they work hard, fast, and possess a style rivaled only by the pageantry of Setters. They have a strong ability to lock on and hold their tail and head high for as long as necessary while a covey dances. Its a testament to both the breed’s drive and trainability.
Beagles are Best for Rabbits
With their incessant barking and baying, beagles embody the excitement of a rabbit hunt and are often a kids’ first introduction to hunting dogs. They’re also the best canine for chasing bunnies in circles to give hunters a shot. Beagles have been used for small game hunting for nearly two hundred years, full of vigor and character. Being a scent hound, they possess one of the best noses in the canine world, and combining their supreme scenting ability with speed and agility makes beagles the top choice for rabbits. Additionally, their propensity to bark ensures that you’ll never lose track of their whereabouts.
Although the breeds listed above are the “best” breeds for hunting, many more will fair just as well. Make sure to check out Duluth Pack for your next hunting adventure!
Happy hunting, friends!
(All information found from OutdoorLife)