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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.