Best Hunting Dogs 2023: Top 10 Breeds to Get the Game

Do you love bird hunts? Are you a professional hunter looking for great hunting dogs to help retrieve games and make your hunting experience more enjoyable? If so, you need to know about golden retrievers, the best companions for hunting enthusiasts.

“Gun dog breed” refers to breeds specifically trained to assist hunters in retrieving game. These breeds include hound dogs, bird dogs, and field dogs, each with unique abilities and characteristics. Scent hounds are also commonly used in hunting to track game based on their sense of smell. Understanding a breed’s profile, temperament, size, and energy level can help you determine if it fits your hunting style well.

We’ll discuss different gun dog breeds and their unique profiles so you can decide when to choose your next hunting companion. Whether you’re looking for a retriever, pointer breed,  or field dog for bird hunts and game hunters, we’ve got you covered. One breed worth considering is the Boykin Spaniel.

So, let’s dive into the world of hunting dogs and explore their fascinating characteristics. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with all the information needed to choose the perfect hunting pet for your next duck or deer hunting adventure.

Let’s get started!

Types of Hunting Dog Breeds – Which is the Best?

Labrador Retriever: The All-Around Hunting Dog

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular hunting dog breeds among professional hunters, and for good reason. They are versatile, intelligent, loyal dogs that excel in various hunts. Their keen sense of smell makes them a great scenthound, perfect for tracking animals. With their webbed feet, they are also excellent swimmers, making them ideal for waterfowl hunting.

Breed profile: Labradors are versatile hunting pets in black, yellow, and chocolate colors. They are medium to large-sized dogs that weigh between 55-80 pounds. Their short coat requires minimal grooming but sheds heavily twice a year. Although not classified as scenthounds or spaniels, Labradors have a keen sense of smell and make excellent hunting companions.

If you’re looking for an all-around hunting dog that can handle different terrains and types of game, the Labrador Retriever might be the best breed for you. They are also great scenthounds and excel in hunts for birds, just like spaniels.

Beagle: The Small Game Specialist

Beagles are a popular breed profile of small but mighty hound-type dogs that specialize in hunting small game such as rabbits and hares. They belong to the sporting type of dogs and have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to track scents over long distances. Beagles are also known for their stamina and endurance, perfect for long hunts, including bird hunting.

Beagles, known as bird dogs, come in two sizes: 13 inches or under and between 13 and 15 inches tall. They are good hunting dogs and are often used as waterfowl dogs due to their excellent sense of smell. They have short hair that requires minimal grooming but sheds moderately throughout the year.

If you’re looking for the perfect hunting dog to hunt small game such as rabbits or hares, a Beagle might be your best choice. Beagles are one of the most popular hunting dogs and make great hunting pets. However, if you’re looking for a bird dog, you might want to consider other breeds.

German Shorthaired Pointer: The Versatile Hunter

The American German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile hunting dog breed that excels in various hunts, such as upland birds, waterfowl, and even big game. They are intelligent dogs with a strong prey drive and an excellent sense of smell. Additionally, they are good at treeing their prey.

German Shorthaired Pointers are a sporting type of hunting pet with short hair that comes in liver, black, or a combination. They have a medium to large-sized build and can reach a height of up to 25 inches. In terms of personality, they are known for being energetic and intelligent.

If you’re looking for a good hunting dog that hunts different game types and can handle various terrains, the German Shorthaired Pointer might be the best choice. This breed is also known for its ideal weight and is popular among American hunters.

Other Hunting Dog Breeds

While Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and German Shorthaired Pointers are popular hunting dog breeds, many other breeds depend on our preferences and needs. Some other hunting dog breeds include sporting-type dogs bred for specific hunts, such as waterfowl or upland game, with years of experience in the field. They can be found in various group classifications, such as the Hound or Sporting Group.

  • Bloodhound: A hunting dog breed known for its excellent sense of smell and tracking abilities, often used as a bird or gun dog pet.
  • English Springer Spaniel: A sporting type of versatile hunting dog that excels in upland bird hunting, with a medium height and a life expectancy of 10-14 years. Suitable for all years group.
  • Vizsla: Agile sporting-type dogs with an excellent sense of smell that excel in bird hunting. They have a moderate weight and height and a high activity level.
  • Coonhound: A hunting dog specializing in tracking raccoons, also categorized as a gun dog and a sporting type. They can hunt big game, such as bears and mountain lions, making them ideal hunting pets.

When choosing a hunting dog breed, it’s important to consider the type of game you’ll be hunting and the terrain you’ll be navigating. Different breeds have different strengths and weaknesses, including weight, height, activity level, and life expectancy, so it’s essential to research before deciding.

German Shorthaired Pointer – A Versatile Hunting Dog

Excellent Pointers and Retrievers

German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile sporting-type hunting dog breed that excels in pointing and retrieving. They are known for their keen sense of smell, allowing them to track down prey easily. These dogs have an average height of 23 to 25 inches and weigh around 55 to 70 pounds. Their friendly and energetic personality makes them ideal for bird hunting as they can locate game birds and point them out to the hunter. Once the bird is shot, they retrieve it back to their owner.

Their ability to point and retrieve makes the German Shorthaired Pointer dog an excellent choice for upland game hunting. With a weight of around 45-70 pounds and a height of 21-25 inches, they are well-suited for tracking down pheasants, quail, grouse, and other game birds. Additionally, they are known to remain active and energetic for years, making them a great companion for hunters of all ages.

High Energy Level and Exercise Requirements

The German Shorthaired Pointer, weighing 45 and 70 pounds, has a high energy level and requires plenty of exercise. They need daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Without enough exercise, these dogs can become destructive or develop behavioral problems. With their outgoing personality, they stand at a height of 21 to 25 inches. Their life expectancy is around 12 to 14 years.

As hunting dogs, they enjoy long walks, runs, swimming, playing fetch, or any other physical activity that keeps them active. It’s important to note that this breed with pounds personality has a life expectancy of up to 12 years and can reach a height of 24 inches at the shoulder. They need mental stimulation and physical exercise; they excel at obedience training or agility courses.

Intelligent and Easy to Train

German Shorthaired Pointers are intelligent dogs that are easy to train. They have a strong work ethic and love pleasing their owners. This breed is eager to learn new things, making it an excellent choice for novice hunters who want an obedient companion in the field. With an average weight of 55-70 pounds, German Shorthaired Pointers have a friendly personality that makes them suitable for families with children. They can live up to 12 years and thrive in an active lifestyle, making them perfect for outdoor enthusiasts or those looking for a workout buddy.

Training should start early in puppyhood, preferably within the first few years of their life when they’re most receptive. Consistency is key when training these dogs; positive reinforcement techniques such as treats or praise should be used during training sessions. It’s important to consider their personality and activity levels when designing a training plan that suits them best.

Used in Search and Rescue Operations

Aside from being great hunting companions, German Shorthaired Pointers are exceptional search-and-rescue dogs due to their intelligence and sense of smell. They have a unique personality that makes them ideal candidates for rescue missions, and they can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks in pounds and other environments.

German Shorthaired Pointers, known for their pounds personality, are versatile hunting dogs used in search-and-rescue operations for missing persons, avalanche victims, and disaster relief efforts due to their high activity level.

Bloodhound: A Skilled Tracking Dog

Exceptional Sense of Smell

Bloodhounds are known for their exceptional sense of smell and moderate activity level, which makes them great at tracking scents over long distances. They have the most sensitive nose among all dog breeds, with over 300 million scent receptors in their noses. This ability to track scents makes them popular as hunting dogs and search and rescue dogs. In contrast, their moderate activity level makes them suitable for families with a more relaxed lifestyle.

Belongs to the Scent Hound Group

Bloodhounds belong to the scent hound group, bred specifically for their ability to track scents. They are descendants of ancient Middle Eastern hounds and were originally used for hunting deer and wild boar. Today, they are still used for hunting but are also commonly used by law enforcement agencies as search and rescue dogs.

Distinctive Appearance

One of the most distinctive features of hunting dogs, like bloodhounds, is their wrinkled face and long ears. These physical characteristics help trap scents around their face and direct them toward their nose, making it easier for them to follow a trail. They are also larger than other hound breeds, such as beagles or basset hounds, weighing between 80-110 pounds.

Loyal Companion

Despite their reputation as skilled hunters or search and rescue dogs, bloodhounds make great pets due to their loyal and affectionate nature. They thrive on human companionship and love spending time with their owners. However, because of their size and energy level, they require plenty of exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy.

Popular Hunting Dog

As mentioned earlier, bloodhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs for deer and wild boar. Today, they are still popular among hunters due to their exceptional sense of smell, allowing them to track game over long distances, even if it has gone off-trail or into water.

Other Hound Breeds

While bloodhounds are popular, several other dog hound breeds are also great for hunting or as pets. Some of these include:

  • Basset Hound: A smaller and more laid-back hunting dog breed known for its long ears and short legs.
  • American Foxhound: A medium-sized dog breed originally bred for fox hunting but is now commonly used for hunting other games.
  • Coonhound: A group of hunting dog breeds originally bred to hunt raccoons but can also be used to hunt other game, such as deer or boar.

Bluetick Coonhound – A Reliable Scent Hound

A Good Nose for Tracking

If you’re a dog hunter looking for a reliable scent hound, the Bluetick Coonhound should be on your radar. This breed is known for its exceptional sense of smell, which makes them excellent dog trackers. Their keen sense of smell and ability to follow dog scents over long distances makes them ideal hunting companions for dog hunters.

Bluetick Coonhounds are a type of dog with a strong prey drive and are particularly skilled at tracking raccoons and other small game. They are also used for hunting larger game like deer, but they excel at tracking smaller animals due to their agility and speed.

Oily Coat that Repels Water

One of the unique features of the Bluetick Coonhound is its oily coat, which makes it a great hunting dog. The oil in their coat helps to repel water, making them well-suited for dog activities in wet conditions. Their thick fur keeps them warm in cold weather, ensuring your dog is comfortable during outdoor adventures.

The Bluetick’s coat comes in two colors: blue with black spots or blue with tan spots. They are hunting dogs that can sometimes be confused with other breeds, such as the Tan Coonhound or American English Coonhound, but their distinctive red and bay coats set them apart.

Loyal Hunting Companions

Bluetick Coonhounds are not only great hunters; they also make loyal companions. They are social dogs that enjoy being around people and other dogs. They thrive on human interaction and need plenty of exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy.

As natural pack animals, Blueticks do best when they have a job to do or when they can hunt alongside their owners, making them excellent hunting dogs. Training is essential for this breed as it helps establish boundaries and sets expectations early on.

English Springer Spaniel – An Adaptable and Energetic Gun Dog

A High-Energy Breed with Adaptability

The English Springer Spaniel is a high-energy dog breed that requires plenty of activity to remain healthy and happy. They are known for their ability to work in various terrains and weather conditions, making them an excellent choice for hunting with a dog in different locations. Their energy level also makes them great companions for active families who enjoy outdoor activities with their dogs, such as hiking, camping, or running.

English Springer Spaniels are adaptable dogs that adjust well to different living situations despite their high energy levels. They are equally at home in apartments as they are on large estates or farms. However, they require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Confusion with Cocker Spaniels

With their droopy or floppy ears, the English Springer Spaniel is often confused with Cocker Spaniels. However, they are a distinct breed of dog with several differences. While both dog breeds share similar hunting abilities and personalities, the English Springer Spaniel is larger than the Cocker Spaniel and has a longer coat.

The American Kennel Club recognizes two separate varieties of the breed: field-bred and show-bred. Field-bred English Springer Spaniels have shorter coats than show-bred dogs and tend to be more energetic.

Distinction from Other Breeds

The English Springer Spaniel, a breed of hunting dog, is also known as the American English Springer Spaniel to differentiate it from other breeds such as the English Setter and Irish Setter. The Boykin Spaniel, another breed of hunting dog, shares many similarities with the English Springer but is smaller.

While all Spaniels share some common characteristics, such as their hunting instincts and affectionate personalities, each dog breed has unique traits that make them suitable for specific tasks.

Training Considerations

Early socialization and training are crucial for English Springer Spaniels, like most gun dogs. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and playtime. Consistency and patience are also essential when training this breed.

English Springer Spaniels are intelligent dogs that enjoy learning new things. They excel in obedience competitions, agility trials, and other dog sports. However, they can sometimes be stubborn, so it’s essential to use positive reinforcement techniques consistently.

Labrador Retriever – A Popular Waterfowl Hunter

Excellent Retrieving Skills

Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular waterfowl dogs due to their excellent retrieving skills. They are natural-born hunters with an innate ability to retrieve birds, making them a favorite among many hunters. They also have a soft mouth, which means they can carry birds without damaging them.

Labradors were originally bred for retrieving games in the icy waters of Newfoundland, Canada. Their thick coat and webbed paws make them perfect for swimming in cold temperatures and ideal for duck hunting. Their love of water is another reason why they excel as waterfowl dogs.

Friendly and Easygoing Nature

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are also great waterfowl dogs, but many hunters prefer Labradors because they are friendly and easygoing. Labs are known for being loyal companions and get along well with children and other pets. They have a gentle temperament that makes them easy to train and work with.

Labrador Retrievers are a popular breed of dog that are also versatile hunters. Labs can adapt to any environment or terrain, making them a great choice for hunting companions. Whether you’re hunting in marshy wetlands or open fields, these dogs can handle it all. They have a strong sense of smell, allowing them to track down birds, even in dense cover.

Other Great Waterfowl Dogs

While Labrador Retrievers are undoubtedly one of the best waterfowl dogs out there, other breeds also excel at this type of hunting. Here are some other options:

  • Golden Retriever: These dogs were originally bred for retrieving game on land but can also be trained as waterfowl dogs. They have a similar temperament to Labradors and make great family pets.
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever: This dog breed was developed specifically for hunting ducks in the Chesapeake Bay area. They have a thick coat that protects them from cold water and are known for their stamina and strength.
  • Coonhound: While not traditionally considered a waterfowl dog, Coonhounds have a great sense of smell and can be trained to retrieve birds in the water. They are also great hunting dogs at tracking games on land.

Jack Russell Terrier – Small but Mighty Hunting Dog Breed

Most people think of large breeds such as the German Shepherd or the Labrador Retriever. However, many small dog breeds excel in hunting, including the Jack Russell Terrier. Despite its size, this terrier breed is a fierce hunter who can easily take down small prey.

Small Prey Hunter

The Jack Russell Terrier was originally bred to hunt small game such as foxes and rodents. This breed has a high prey drive and an excellent sense of smell that allows it to track down its quarry quickly and efficiently. Its small size makes it perfect for hunting in tight spaces such as caves and dens where larger dogs cannot fit. The Jack Russell Terrier’s tenacity and determination make it an ideal choice for hunters who need a dog that won’t give up until the job is done.

Size and Physical Characteristics

The Jack Russell Terrier is a hunting dog that typically stands between 10-15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs around 14 pounds. It has a muscular body and short legs, giving it great agility and speed, making it an ideal breed for hunting small game. Its coat can be either smooth or rough, with colors ranging from white to black with tan markings. The Jack Russell Terrier’s ears are pointed, and its tail is usually docked.

Despite its small size, the Jack Russell Terrier is a dog with physical characteristics comparable to larger hunting breeds such as the American Pit Bull. Its strong jaw lets it grip prey firmly while its sharp teeth can tear through flesh easily. Its powerful hind legs give it great jumping ability, handy when chasing prey through thick brush or over obstacles.

Weimaraner – An Elegant and Athletic Hunting Companion

The Sporting Type Breed with Muscular Body

Weimaraners are a sporting breed known for their athleticism, muscular body, and elegant appearance. They have a short, sleek coat in shades of grey or silver. These dogs have a unique appearance with piercing blue or amber eyes that can make anyone fall in love with them.

This dog breed was originally bred in Germany to hunt big game like deer and wild boar. Their strong sense of smell and excellent tracking skills made them ideal hunting companions for dog owners. Over time, Weimaraners became more versatile and were also used for bird hunting.

Loyal Companions for Hunting Man’s Game

Weimaraners are loyal companions that make excellent hunting dogs due to their affectionate nature. They form strong bonds with their owners and enjoy spending time outdoors. These dogs are energetic and require regular exercise to maintain their weight and golden tan fur.

The Weimaraner is an excellent choice if you’re looking for hunting dogs that will also be your best friend at home. They are highly trainable and eager to please their owners, making them easy to work with while in the field.

Great Family Companions That Require Regular Exercise

In addition to being great hunting companions, Weimaraners also make wonderful family pets. They are affectionate towards children and other dogs and animals when socialized properly from an early age.

However, it’s important to note that these dogs require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They can become destructive or develop behavioral issues like separation anxiety without enough physical activity.

If you’re considering adding a Weimaraner to your family, be prepared to provide plenty of opportunities for exercise, such as long walks or runs in the park. This will help keep your furry friend healthy both physically and mentally. With their natural hunting instincts, Weimaraners make great hunting dogs.

One of the Most Popular Hunting Dog Breeds

Along with the Brittany, Weimaraner is among the most popular hunting dog breeds. They are highly intelligent and can be trained to retrieve games on land and water. Their strong sense of smell and excellent tracking skills make them ideal for hunting birds, rabbits, and other small game.

Weimaraners are also known for their ability as hunting dogs to work in various terrains, from dense forests to open fields. This makes them versatile dog-hunting companions that can adapt to different situations.

The Weimaraner is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a reliable hunting companion that can keep up with you in the field. These dogs have been bred for generations to hunt alongside humans and will be your loyal partner on every hunt.

The Best Hunting Dogs for Your Next Adventure

If you’re an avid hunter, you know that having the right hunting dog by your side can make all the difference. After researching and analyzing various breeds, we’ve compiled a list of the best hunting dogs for your next adventure.

Types of Hunting Dog Breeds – Which is the Best?

Several hunting dog breeds include pointing breeds, retrievers, flushing spaniels, and hounds. Each type has its unique set of skills and characteristics that make it suitable for different types of hunting. However, there isn’t one “best” breed, which ultimately depends on your preferences and needs.

German Shorthaired Pointer – A Versatile Hunting Dog

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile hunting dog breed that can hunt upland game birds and waterfowl. They have excellent scenting abilities and are known for their intelligence and trainability.

Bloodhound – A Skilled Tracking Dog

Bloodhounds are skilled tracking dogs with an incredible sense of smell. They’re often used in search and rescue missions but also make great hunting companions for tracking games.

Bluetick Coonhound – A Reliable Scent Hound

Bluetick Coonhounds are reliable hunting dogs and scent hounds that excel at trailing small game such as raccoons or squirrels. Their distinctive howl alerts their owners when they’ve found something.

English Springer Spaniel – An Adaptable and Energetic Gun Dog

English Springer Spaniels are adaptable gun dogs that can hunt upland game birds and waterfowl. They’re energetic, intelligent, and have excellent retrieving skills.

Labrador Retriever – A Popular Waterfowl Hunter

Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular hunting dog breeds due to their exceptional retrieving abilities in waterfowl hunting. They’re loyal, friendly, and easy to train.

Jack Russell Terrier – Small but Mighty Hunting Dog Breed

Despite their small size, Jack Russell Terriers are mighty hunting dogs that excel at hunting small game such as rabbits or squirrels. They’re energetic and require lots of exercise but make great companions for avid hunters.

Weimaraner – An Elegant and Athletic Hunting Companion

Weimaraners are elegant and athletic hunting dogs that have excellent scenting abilities. They’re versatile and can hunt both upland game birds and waterfowl.

In conclusion, the best hunting dog breed depends on your preferences and needs. Consider the hunting you’ll be doing, your lifestyle, and the characteristics you want in a companion before choosing a breed.


What should I consider when choosing a hunting dog?

When choosing a hunting dog, consider the type of game you’ll be hunting, the terrain you’ll be covering, your lifestyle, and the characteristics you want in a companion—research different breeds to find one that fits your specific needs.

How do I train my hunting dog?

Training methods for hunting dogs vary depending on the breed and type of hunting. However, positive reinforcement is generally recommended over punishment-based training. Seek advice from professional dog trainers or join a local dog training group for guidance.

Can any dog be trained as a hunting dog?

While all dogs have some instinctual prey drive, not all breeds are suitable for hunting. Breeds with specialized skills such as pointing or retrieving are often better suited for specific types of hunts.

How much exercise does a hunting dog need?

Most hunting breeds require plenty of exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise daily in addition to regular training sessions for your dog.

Should I adopt or buy my hunting dog?

Adopting a rescue organization is an excellent option, as many dogs end up in shelters for no fault. However, purchasing from a reputable breeder may be the best option if you’re looking for a specific breed or hunting line.

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