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Top 5 Hunting Dog Breeds

PetMD Editorial
Updated: October 14, 2020
Published: December 02, 2014
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Best Dog Breeds for Hunting

By A. Forrest Jones, III


Dogs have been hunting for thousands of years, but some breeds are especially fit for the sport of hunting. We sat down with Steven Howze of the Mississippi Hunting Dog Association to find out which are the best hunting dog breeds.

1. Labrador Retriever

For duck hunting retrievers such as the Labrador Retriever is one of the best choices. The Labrador retriever has bundles of energy and is an excellent swimmer, perfect for jumping out of the blind to snag a duck or goose. Labrador retrievers are also popular for smaller game such as dove or quail.

2. Boykin Spaniel

Spaniels, especially the Boykin Spaniel, are popular for hunting duck, dove, quail and other birds. "A lot of people use them on turkey hunts," says Howze.

3. Beagle

Beagles make good hunting dogs, especially when going for game besides birds. "That's what everyone uses for rabbits," says Howze. Beagles are also a good choice to hunt deer, in that they are very easy to handle.

4. Treeing Walker Coonhound

For raccoon and hog hunting, the Treeing Walker Coonhound is among the best. A descendent from the English and American Foxhounds, this dog breed has been dubbed "the people's choice" of the coonhound breeds. 

5. English Pointers

Pointers, especially the English Pointer, make great bird dogs for hunting dove, quail, grouse and other bird. "I think Pointers are the best bird dogs," says Howze. 

Hunting Safely

There are many dangers associated with hunting. Dogs can easily be mistaken for game or inadvertently roam into the path of other nearby hunters. Buy your dog a blaze orange vest (which will make him or her easier to see), reflective collar (breakaway style), and any other safety-related equipment necessary for the hunt. 

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