We love dogs: we love them as pets, and we certainly love them as hunting partners. And while not all breeds can serve terribly well as hunting dogs–if you can’t picture your chihuahua’s prey drive adding too much to your hunting success, then you aren’t alone–many different kinds of dogs can serve as wonderful hunting partners depending on what kind of game you’re pursuing.
1. Labrador Retriever
Most retriever breeds make wonderful water dogs, and the Labrador might just be the “ultimate” waterfowl dog. With bundles of energy, a cold-weather coat meant for long days outdoors and on big ranches, and the willingness to go to any lengths to retrieve your kill, the Labrador retriever is best for duck hunting, but can help you out with any type of small game.
2. American Foxhound
These dogs were bred for what else? Fox hunting. They are still very much up to that task. Deer hunters have also adopted their running skills for large game, but American foxhound are a great hunting breed because they are an energetic dog that will pretty much chase down anything you tell them to.
Perhaps seen as the “iconic” hunting dog, the Beagle is a small dog and is much like the American foxhound in its persistence, energy, and love of the chase. Its short legs handicap it somewhat in the pursuit of bigger game, but if you’re hunting smaller game and varmint like rabbits, beagles are great dogs to own.
The pointer’s thin coat disqualifies it a bit from effective big game hunting in the snowy north, but in the southern United States, where temperatures stay hot, this sporting breed is the perfect companion for finding and bagging upland game birds in an expansive field.
These scent hounds live up to that expectation with their strong noses and unparalleled tracking abilities making them great hunting dogs. This may be the best dog for tracking on this list. Just be aware of what you’re getting into. These dogs are huge, weighing anywhere from 80-120 pounds.
6. Golden Retriever
Often considered the quintessential “family dog,” golden retrievers, like their Labrador cousins, are also wonderful small-game hunters. These high energy dogs are perfect as a household breed for the kids which also doubles as a hunting companion for the parents. Not many people realize this breed has its origins as a hunting dog in Scotland’s highlands.
7. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Like its retriever brethren, this dog, bred for duck hunting on the shores of its namesake Chesapeake Bay, is an energetic, water-loving dog with the endurance and high intelligence to happily charge through a long day of hunting. Just like the name suggests, this dog has origins right here in America in the late 19th century.