The Best Hunting Dog Breeds

Discover some of the most amazing hunting dog breeds and the traits that make them so special in the canine world.
Panting hunting dog
Panting hunting dog
Panting hunting dog

Thanks to their good stamina and amazing sense of smell, many dog breeds were once humankind’s best hunting buddies. While today they’re more commonly found snuggled up on sofas and chasing sticks around the park, these canines have retained their hunting instincts which is why they are known as hunting dogs. Their amazing skills and the characteristic boundless energy make them some of the best canine companions you could wish for. Here are some of the most well-known hunting dog breeds and the traits that make them favourites amongst dog owners.

Traits of the best hunting dogs

Although a hunting dog’s characteristics will differ with every breed, there are some general traits that most of them have in common.

Energetic

Hunting dogs were bred to have good stamina. It’s highly unlikely you will need to encourage a hunting pup to exercise or to discover them in the middle of a nap after a 5-minute game of fetch. Hunting dogs used to spend their days chasing prey or tracking it down, so don’t expect them to be happy sleeping the day away. Make sure you keep a regular walking regime and have plenty of dog toys and games up your sleeve to keep them entertained, otherwise they might turn to destructive behaviour.

hunting dog irish setter panting

Easy to be trained

Good hunting dogs are great at communicating with their owners, which is why one of their best skills is trainability. Learning to obey important commands such as ‘no’, ‘stay’ or ‘come’ might have kept them out of harm’s way on hunting trips back in the day. But today the same skill is crucial in establishing trust and a solid bond between you and your puppy.

Great sense of smell

A sensitive nose is a great advantage for a hunting dog. The impressive sniffing skills means that you’ll have trouble hiding the treats behind a scent hound’s back. You’ll need to make sure you choose out of reach high places for their stash of goodies!

Fearlessness

Being able to stay calm when facing all different types of wild game used to be essential for a good hunting dog. This is why you’ll often see them constantly exploring and ready to take on the world whenever you go out for a walk together. After all some of the bravest pugs are proud members of the hunting breeds.

Hunting dog breeds

These are five of the most popular hunting dog breeds.

1. Labrador Retriever

Their energy, great smarts and unrivalled swimming skills keep recommending Labrador Retrievers as one of the best hunting dog breeds. Naturally active dogs, they will be happy to impress you with their catching and chasing skills in the park, the same abilities that were once put to the task of chasing doves and snagging ducks. But perhaps even more impressive than their athletic abilities is something called the ‘soft bite’, which was useful for carrying the game without damaging it. With a bit of training they will learn to control their jaw strength so they can hold delicate objects in their mouths without breaking them. Have a look for videos of them holding eggs in their mouths without breaking the shells if you don’t believe us!

2. Beagle

The short-legged Beagle might not look like much of a hunting hero, but get to know them a bit better and you’ll discover why this bold hunting dog used to be known as the perfect companion for catching rabbits, foxes and even smaller deer. After all they’re a scent hound with an excellent sense of smell.

If you would love to have a hunting dog with a determined spirit that won’t say no to a good playful chase, a Beagle is definitely the dog you’ve been looking for. Their signature loud bark makes them good for security, and their boisterous nature will always tip you off to where they are so you won’t lose track of them while on their usual sniffing mission.

3. Pointer

Pointer dogs have a special place among the dog hunting breeds. Although their famous body stance pointing to the unsuspecting prey is where their moniker comes from, Pointer dogs have much more to show their lucky owners than their hunting skills. These are dogs that truly love the family life. They’ll get along with anyone, showing off their friendly and affectionate side to relatives and strangers alike. They’ll be equally happy playing fetch or attending family reunions, which makes Pointers excellent companions, well-deserving of all the praise coming their way.

hunting pointer dog in a field

4. Bloodhound

With tracking abilities that are more of a superpower than just one of the usual five senses, Bloodhounds are one of the most popular hunting dog breeds. With a name like that, there’s no wonder why law enforcement officers recruit trusted Bloodhounds for the precious tracking work their legendary nose is capable of. When they’re taking a break from their sniffing duties they make an excellent house pet and a loving family member.

5. Irish Setter

Irish Setters have somewhat unusual looks for a hunting dog, with luxurious chestnut fur and thin, delicate snout. But you can tell they’re active dogs as soon as there’s a ball to catch! If you add to this their affectionate and friendly nature, the Irish Setter is getting pretty close to the perfect hunting dog breed.

Once known as agile hard workers with a talent for retrieving birds, the Irish Setter might have left their hunting days behind, but they’re always ready to put the same effort into fun activities with their favourite human. So be ready for plenty of playful times at home.

If you love the amazing skills of these hunting dogs, explore the other dog breeds in our library for more equally impressive canines. But don’t forget that establishing a solid bond with your hunting dog is essential. So take your time to train your dog and learn to understand their body language and you’ll become best friends in no time.