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Sights, Scents, and the Kill: Choosing the Best Hunting Dog Breeds For Your Purposes

Hunting dog breeds come in dozens, making it hard to choose just one. But knowing the classifications of these breeds according to their skills and purposes can help you make the best possible choice.

There are dogs that hunt by sight or scent, dogs that flush out or retrieve game. Some breeds are used to locate small animals, while others are trained to hunt bigger preys. One dog may have one essential hunting skill, like either one of finding, flushing or retrieving game, while others may have all of these skills and more.

Dogs are natural hunters, from the biggest to the smallest breeds. There is, however, a big difference between choosing dogs for pets, and picking them up for hunting companions.

Serious hunters who wish to have reliable hunting dogs look for more than just the cutest brown eyes and the most enthusiastic tails. Becoming familiar with the different classifications of hunting dogs and what they do best should help any hunter determine the type that will serve his purpose best.

Best Hunting Dog Breeds

Hunting dogs are divided into six common groups: the hounds, the gun dogs, the dachshunds, the terriers, the feists and the curs.

Hounds can either be a scent hound or a sight hound, depending on which of the two hunting senses they use best. Scent hounds usually hunt in packs, following scent trails and communicating with each other through deep, roaring barks until their prey is found.

Sight hounds, on the other hand, rely on a keen eyesight and natural speed to take their prey down. Like skilled assassins, they would stalk their prey quietly and kill them quickly. They usually work alone, too. Hounds are best for hunting furry animals like raccoons, and larger predators like coyotes.

Gun dogs do more hunting and less killing. They are used by hunters who prefer to shoot their preys with a shotgun. Gun dogs can either be a pointer, setter, or retriever. A pointer leads his hunter to the prey and leaves him to do the flushing and the killing.

Setters, on the other hand, will flush game at their hunter’s behest. Retrievers, as their name implies, are especially adept at locating downed preys and bringing these back to their hunters. Gun dogs are the best breeds of choice for bird hunters.

Feists, terriers and curs use quite similar hunting methods as hounds. They would hunt and locate prey, depending on their hunting capacities. Feists are primarily used to hunt squirrels and other small prey. Terriers and curs both have a nose for locating mammals, while dachshunds’ favorite preys are the ones that hide underground.

Whatever your hunting styles and purposes are, either one of the many dog breeds used for hunting can serve as a reliable companion for bringing you closer to a successful kill. Just make sure that you choose your hunting dog with care and consideration for what you want them to do. It also helps to find a reliable breeder to ensure the health, endurance and skills of your canine companions.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the best ways to choose hunting dog breeds for different hunting purposes.

The Breeds of the Bear Hunting Dogs

Tracking and pinning down bears is not an easy task as the bears are wild, huge and vicious which requires the assistance of bear hunting dogs. Bears are very dangerous animals that hunters alone may not be able to catch. With proper training, equipment and dogs, hunters can catch the wild bears.

Having dogs are not enough when a hunter goes out to track down bears since not all dog breeds can perform the tasks in catching bears. Selected dog breeds are capable for hunting which means a hunter must know which dogs can help him. The article will help any hunter to gain the knowledge on the breeds of bear hunters.

Bear Hunting Dogs

Three main types of dogs have the ability to hunt down bears:

Karelian Bear Dog
Sight hounds

Karelian Bear Dog

A Karelian Bear Dog may weigh about 50 pounds with a length of 23 inches. It’s distinguished from other dog breeds since it has outward protruding little ears. It also has short and dense fur. It doesn’t eat much which is not evident with its body size.

Usually, dogs should have large appetite if they have big bodies, but a Karelian Bear Dog is exceptional. This dog requires huge spaces as it loves to go out and play as its form of exercise.

This breed of dog stands out of among other breeds because of its white and black fur. It’s primarily black with white spots at its head, neck, chest and legs. It has little eyes and long tail with a massive body. Normal pet owners are not advised to get this kind of dog since it requires training before it can be handled with ease.

Despite of its training requirement, it still has the instinct of being loyal to its master which gives the hunters the ease of preparing the Karelian Bear Dog for a hunt. Without training, it may fight against other animals since it’s built for catching bears.


One of the best tracking dogs are the bloodhounds. They can easily memorize the scent and track down humans and animals alike. With their strong smelling ability, they’re able to find bears easily. They have been used by hunters for centuries in tracing the bears’ location.

Bloodhounds are slow, but their endurance compensate for their sluggishness. They’re also distinguishable from other breeds since their barks have very low pitch. Other hounds like foxhounds, coonhounds and deerhounds may also be used as bear hunters because they resemble the smelling ability of the bloodhounds.

They’re very aggressive when they see other animals which require training. They can behave properly and hunting would be very easy when the hounds are well-trained. For beginners, they should not get hounds as training them is a difficult task.

Sight Hound

Blood hounds have keen smelling ability while sight hounds have the sharp sighting skill. Sight hounds can detect huge mammals using their strong eyes. They match their sharp sight with great speed for catching prey. Sight hounds include saluki, greyhounds and whippets which are all smaller than bloodhounds though they are not little dogs compared to other breeds.

All of the breeds of bear hunting dogs are very useful in capturing bears, so be sure to pick the one that would fit the hunting needs. Don’t forget to have training first before going out to track bears since proper coordination with the hunting dogs is needed for a successful catch.

The Best Breeds of Bird Hunting Dogs

Bird hunting dogs help the hunters in tracking down the birds during the game, but proper training is necessary to be successful in capturing the birds. Raising the bird hunters also require some quality time with their masters to ensure a good hunting relationship between the hunting dogs and the hunters.

In looking for the best dog breed as bird hunters, there should be some traits that the hunters must look for in their prospective dog. The breeders keep the hunting skills of the dogs superior through breeding programs to ensure the purity of the traits being handed down to the next generation of dogs. With the following information, hunters must be able to find the best breed and breeder line that they need for their specific hunting situations.

Some of the best breeds for bird hunting are the following:

Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Boykin Spaniel


Brittany is a dog breed that has a natural ability for pointing out the direction of birds. It doesn’t have large body, but it’s so fast that it can capture its prey. It has durable skin that can protect the dog from physical bruises. It also has the ability to retrieve things easily.

Brittany may not be very small but it’s not even big. Its furry coat contains white and orange patterns. Some dogs of this breed may have variations like having orange marks on its tail, cheeks and even on muzzle. Its tail may be removed fully or partially while it’s still young. Then, its height is usually between 17 and 21 inches with a weight of about 30 to 40 pounds.

In general, Brittany shows superior alertness and active disposition that makes it a perfect partner in bird hunting. It may even act as a home guard when it undergoes enough training. Remember, it’s a hunting dog so proper handling is also needed before it can be used to guard your house.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever shows its durability through its great endurance and tough skin protecting it from very low temperature. It has a stable ranged retrieving ability with its big jaw for easy capturing of game birds.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s tail is left intact unlike Brittany that has a cut tail. A short thick coating protects this retriever from harsh weather conditions. Its fur color is within the light brown range with wavy hair.
This kind of retriever does love to play with water while keeping itself clean. It’s very agile and requires obedience training to control its dominating characteristics.

Boykin Spaniel

The breed Boykin Spaniel is not very agile but not sluggish as it maintains a close position with its master during the bird hunt. It has strong sense of smell and sight that makes it a versatile hunter assistant. In addition, it can swim across rivers that make it a good hunting companion.

Boykin Spaniel has a medium stature with thick brown fur. Its tail is usually cut off while it’s still a puppy. Its adult size is usually 18 inches with a weight of about 40 pounds.

The three mentioned bird hunting dogs are proven to be good hunter companions as they have unique abilities that can be handy during hunts.

Duck Hunting Dogs

A hunter must regularly train his duck hunting dogs especially during off season to prepare it for the hunting season. A local hunting association may help every individual hunter train his dog for duck hunting.

Various terrains must be incorporated in the duck hunt training. Dogs must be able to track down and capture the ducks during the simulations. Once those dogs display above average skills in hunting, they would be used to assist the hunters during the actual hunt.

During hunting season, the dogs must be able to guard the camp. They must be well-disciplined as to be able to guard their hunters effectively. They should also protect the base from intruders like carnivorous wild animals. They must be able to wake their masters up especially during the night when danger comes.

Wetlands are the good place to conduct duck hunts and the assisting dogs must be able to follow their master’s commands very well without too much whistling and loud comments.

Duck Hunting Dogs


The hunting party may be conducted by associations to help the hunters in capturing ducks and controlling their dogs at the same time. For less disciplined hunters, they’re guided by the experienced hunters especially in commanding their dogs.

After some training and hands-on experience on hunting, safety must also be considered in duck hunts. First, the dogs must not be placed within the shooting range as it might get struck by bullets from the hunter’s gun. Second, the weather pattern must be considered especially during winter since frozen pools are present.

These pools may vary in thickness and once they are thin, it’s possible that a hunter’s dog may crash into it. In addition to the aforementioned tips, the following steps may be useful to newbie duck hunters:

Look for the best water dog breed.

Find the best puppy of the chosen breed.

Make the puppy become familiar with water.

Train the puppy some basic skills like sit and stay.

Teach the puppy the difference between dummy and real duck.

Practice as often as possible.

Provide rewards for the puppy to enjoy when it does a good job.

Once it has grown-up, let the dog experience an actual hunting within a small enclosed area before bringing it out to the real hunting game.

The use of dummy allows dog training easier.

Enhance the retrieving skill of the dog especially using a boat loaded with stuffs.

Remember the dog’s training should be simple.

The following materials may prove to be useful in training the dog as a hunter:

Training place

Here are some reminders when anybody decides to become a hunter and gets duck hunting dogs to assist him:

Dog treats are not a wise option since the dogs might depend on it too much especially during the duck hunt. A smarter way of treating them is to give a pet or rub at the back or head while saying “good dog.” Use actual hunting scenarios as much as possible in the training phase.

During the training, shoot the gun away from the dog first and slowly adjust it until it’s near. It allows the dogs to be brave enough during the hunts.

Look for the best dog training program through books and the internet. If none is seen, better hire an expert trainer.

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