Types of Hunting Dogs
There are many different breeds that make excellent hunting dogs, but not all are classified specifically as hunting dogs. Hounds hunt small game such as jackrabbits, raccoons, and other smaller animals that live in thickets and underbrush. Not all hounds hunt solely with scent, as some use their keen eyesight (sight hounds) too.
Gun dogs are another common category of hunting dog. Remember, not all hunting dogs are gun dogs. Gun dogs are primarily used by hunters who hunt with shotguns, mainly those hunting for various types of fowl. They encompass retrievers, pointers, setters, and spaniels usually. Terriers and feists are also types of gun dogs and have been known to squeeze into rabbit holes and other hideouts to chase out game. Curs are larger hunting dogs and are able to hunt bigger game, such as cougars.
There is a range of unique breeds of gun dogs. They are exceptional dogs when you are on the lookout for those to recover or even run after prey. Each one has distinctive skills and personalities. A condensed rundown of these skills and personalities:
Retrievers make excellent family pets and hunting dogs for a variety of reasons. They enjoy swimming, and can retrieve birds that have been shot and landed in water. They will have no trouble bringing back fowl, whether on land or in the water. Retrievers learn the popular command “fetch” easier than most other dogs, as it is literally in their blood to retrieve items.
A few spaniels like water, but their main gift lies in finding game that lives in thickets. They are similar to retrievers in that they then retrieve prey. Cocker spaniels are exceptionally good pets, but also extraordinary hunters. English springer spaniels and cocker spaniels are two of the most widespread spaniel breeds classified as hunting dogs, though field spaniels are also growing in prominence. Spaniels will chase game out of hiding and retrieve it on land and water in a similar way.
Pointers, such as the German shorthaired pointer, find the prey for the hunter and point at it, hence their name. This breed will cover a much larger region than spaniels, but rely on the hunter to draw out the prey.
Setters, like pointers, will find and point at prey, but will also sniff out the prey themselves on command. Setters, like the popular English setter, are brilliant at locating upland birds. As hunting dogs, they are more widely used in England and Ireland than in the United States.
Although we do not often think of the poodle as a type of hunting dog, they are a type of retriever and swim very well, therefore they can be classified as a hunting dog. The larger breeds of poodles (instead of the little lap dogs) are good dogs to use for hunting when around the water. It is important to remember that they are different from other dogs in that poodles have hair instead of fur that must be clipped on occasion. However, they are a very good choice for those who suffer from dog allergies for this same reason.
The kind of hunting you plan on doing will govern the category of hunting dog that is appropriate for you. Try to plan for this beforehand, so that when you seek out your quarry you have the right expectations for the dog. Knowing what your dog is able to do will lend a hand when you teach him to be the best hunting dog he knows how to be.