When it comes to picking a dog to be your loyal companion on a hunt, choices can become overwhelming.
The topic of Best Hunting Dog is as old as time, and what might be right for one person might not be the case for the next.
We’ve pooled together our experience to help you navigate the task of picking your next pup.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The chessie ranks highly on our list due to its fierce determination and unwavering loyalty.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a perfect example of a duck dog, bred for that exact purpose. Originating from the Chesapeake Bay area, produced to face rough, choppy, cold water.
Chesapeakes are a solidly built dog with a thick oily double coat designed for water.
With eight colors according to the breed standard, the chessie blends into the surrounding vegetation seamlessly.
They are very smart dogs that can easily outwit novice owners. However, they will be a loyal companion that will go to extreme lengths to please their owner.
The chessie needs moderate stimulation, mostly in the form of thinking. It is very quick to work things out, and owners must get creative to keep this breed engaged.
While the Chessie is an exemplary duck dog, its talents don’t stop there. A chessie is a capable upland dog also. However, it does not tolerate the heat too well and tends to overheat on hot summer days.
When the hunt is over, the chessie is quite content to come home and be a family pet. But don’t be fooled by its placidness around the house. The chessie will lay down its life to protect its family, making it an excellent guard dog.
Labradors are one of the most popular dogs across the United States. However, not all labs are created equally. This breed is so popular that there are many different strains around.
When choosing your lab it’s important to look for one from a hunting line. Show lines can also be good but I would really recommend a working line.
If you do manage to secure a labrador retriever from a working line you are in for a real treat.
Labs are highly intelligent dogs, and one of the easiest breeds I have ever trained. They catch on fast and are eager to please.
One of the talents of the lab is their all around ability. There is nothing these dogs cannot do. They may not be the best in every department but they can handle many tasks exceptionally well.
They can hunt upland as well as any pointer or flusher, and they can do both pointing and flushing. They excel at ducks or any form of retrieving, on par with a chessie.
They can tree coons, or track deer like they were bred for it. Whatever you put to a lab it will do it without hesitation.
Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever
One dog I feel doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever.
These guys are adept retrievers and are as capable as any other retrieving breed.
What’s great about the nova scotia duck tolling retriever is their small size. Most retrievers tend to be on the larger size. This can make it difficult for canoes, or even to have around the house.
Tollers are great for jump shooting or small water hunting. They are capable upland hunters but not as good of an all-around dog as a lab.
They also are not as trainable as a lab and are more on par with the temperament of a chessie. They aren’t really suitable as a first dog, but with the right help and preparation, an eager hunter could make it work.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Germany is no stranger when it comes to dog breeds. Some of the most popular dogs in the world originated from there, and the German Shorthaired Pointer stands proudly amongst them.
GSPs were bred in the late 1800s to be versatile hunting dogs, and the breeders hit the mark perfectly.
Whether you’re upland looking for pheasants or on the water dropping ducks, maybe you are in the forest after elusive woodcock, or perhaps you are on a blood trail for that deer you got just before dark. The GSP can do it all.
It is an elegant dog with sleek looks, muscular but not too bulky.
The GSP is a highly energetic dog and needs constant stimulation. It is an easy dog to train, and he’s hunting ability comes naturally.
I recall when I took my current GSP out for the first time, she was 6 months old. She was quick to recognize scents and knew exactly what to do.
After picking up the scent of some pheasants (not planted), she slowly stalked into the bush and re-emerged with a pheasant in her mouth.
They really are a beauty to behold in the field. Watching them work is like watching art come alive, and the beautiful point gets you excited every time.
These dogs tend to range out a little far; however, they are bombproof once they get on a point.
The GSP is a very happy and excitable dog and wants to be everyone’s best friend, suitable as a family pet but needs a lot of exercise due to the abundance of energy that they have.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
The honest grouse dog. The wirehaired pointing griffon is an honest hunting dog that likes to get the job done.
The wirehaired pointing griffon is a great all-around dog but really shines in thick cover. They make a great grouse dog or any other thick cover birds.
What many people like about this breed is how close they work. This is down to personal preference but some people don’t like how far out a GSP works, and much prefer the closeness of the WPG.
They are also slower than the GSP, not by any means a slow dog, but a notch down from the hyper personality of the GSP.
WPG’s are not known for tolerating heat so well. On the flip side, they do great in cold weather. They can be a little slow to mature to birds, but once they get the hang of it there is no stopping them.
They make great house dogs and are hypoallergenic. If you are looking for a grouse dog, then look no further, get yourself a WPG, you won’t be disappointed.
The Pudelpointer is a very disciplined multipurpose hunting dog. Pudelpointers have plenty of drive and a quick wit making them a handful for novice owners.
However, at the end of the day, all these dogs want to do is hunt. Once they are hunting they know exactly what to do and are very easy to work. The trouble starts arising at home if you do not work them enough.
In the field, the Pudelpointer tends to stay close and listens well. They are extremely disciplined in the field and focus only on what you want them to.
Like most versatile dogs, the Pudelpointer is also adept at retrieving and can make an excellent duck dog. They have good coats and can handle cold water. I should also point out that they are also hypoallegenic.
English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel is a flusher like no other. Dating back to the 1500s, they were as popular back then as they are now.
This highly active breed is similar to the GSP in its versatility. Where they differ is their method of hunting.
While the GSP likes to stand off and point, the Springer likes to get in and beat the bush, “Springing” their prey. Hence the name Springer.
The Springer is a very capable retriever, but their small stature somewhat limits them on big water duck and goose hunting.
However, you shouldn’t let this put you off getting a Springer if you are looking for an exemplary all-around dog.
If your primary hunting is upland and you like the idea of a flusher, this spaniel is hard to beat. Their brush-resistant coat allows them to get into the thickest brush, and their eagerness to please drives them.
After the hunt, the Springer is happy to live outside; however, it makes a great family pet and would be thrilled to live inside.
The Springer is an energetic dog and likes to work. It is not a difficult breed to train but does benefit from the stimulation that training provides.
The diamond in the rough. Brittany’s flew under the radar for a long time and only recently have hunters come to realize the potential of this small breed.
Whatever you are hunting, the Brittany will happily get involved. They excel at birds but will happily chase rabbits or track deer.
The breed has somewhat divided into two, the American line, and the European line. Generally, the American Brits are further ranging compared to their European counterparts who prefer to work closer.
However, regardless of the line all Brittany’s have boundless energy and work itself to the point of exhaustion. Brittany’s work fast and hard and need to have a job.
If you wanted one dog for multiple jobs you would be hard-pressed to find a more versatile dog than the Brittany.
One thing worth noting here is the Brittany could have as easily gone on the pointer list, as they are capable of both pointing and flushing.
The Boykin Spaniel has an interesting background. Most upland dogs are breeds that started in Europe. However, the Boykin Spaniel originated in South Carolina as a turkey and swamp dog.
The Boykin is a small dog, with oodles of energy and eagerness to please. These small dogs are one of the easiest upland dogs to train due to their eagerness to impress their handlers.
As with the other flushers, Boykins are versatile. They make great duck dogs but due to their small stature can only handle small water, leave the big icy lakes to the chessies.
This breed makes for a great first hunting dog. This is a very limited list to be on and new hunters should really make note of that.
Not many breeds are so versatile and easy to train. However, the Boykin does require a rather gentle touch and don;’t respond well to harsh training.
Treeing Walker Coonhound
“The people’s choice.” There’s a reason why this breed has this nickname.
This breed is an American favorite, and for a good reason.
With an exceptional nose and powerful stride, there are few to rival this hound.
Descending from foxhounds and separating from the English hounds in 1945 has left us with the remarkable breed we have today.
This breed’s nose makes them a favorite for competition. However, where they stand apart from the rest is coon hunting. Bred specifically for this task, they do it well.
While they exert a lot of stamina in the field, they can be a little more laid back around the home. They are a friendly dog and a great companion both in the field and home.
The treeing Walker coonhound is a very intelligent dog and likes to be independent, making him challenging to a novice trainer.
Probably the most popular of all the rabbit hunting dogs, the beagle is one of the most entertaining dogs to hunt over.
The origins of this breed have been long debated, with many experts weighing in with different opinions.
This pint-sized breed packs a punch and is definitely a fan favorite when it comes to rabbits.
The beagle has a unique method of hunting. Unable to contain their excitement, beagles get very vocal when on a hunt. The beagle uses his keen sense of smell to find the rabbit, after which the chase is on.
The beagle gets on the trail of a rabbit, all the while pushing the rabbit further. The aim is to get the rabbit to circle back to the hunter.
The hunter knows hows the chase is progressing by listening to the sound of the hounds. The more vocal they get, the closer they are to the rabbit.
Beagles can be a little more difficult to train than other breeds. However, with a little patience and some treats, the beagle can become trainable.
This little bundle of joy is a delight to have around the home. They are outgoing and curious by nature and make a great family pet.
Though they are small in stature, they still need moderate exercise.
What makes a good hunting dog varies. A lot of factors have to be considered. Like what game you are after, how experienced you are at training, how much time you have to exercise your dog, and where the dog will live, in the house or outside.
We did our best to list just a small few of the most versatile and dedicated hunting breeds. An entire list of good hunting breeds would be much more vast than this.
Whichever breed you choose, remember hunting dogs are not like most other dogs. They were bred with a task in mind and thus are strong-willed and highly energetic.
For most, this adds to the excitement of owning a hunting dog. There’s something to be said about teaming up with a dog and having a successful hunt.