There are many hunting breeds, and they vary in size depending on the purpose and skill set they were bred for.
Although many people prefer a compact dog for family living, some hunters go with the notion that the bigger, the better.
There are plenty of large hunting breeds available, but some stand out more than others.
Large Hunting Breeds
- Curly-coated Retriever
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Pointer (English Pointer)
- Gordon Setter
- Black and Tan Coonhound
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Catahoula Leopard Dog
- Irish Wolfhound
- American Bulldog
- Dogo Argentino
The Curly-coated Retriever is the tallest in the retriever family. One can easily recognize it by the tight curls covering the majority of its body.
The size of a male Curly oscillates between 25 and 27 inches, and a female Curly is between 23 and 25 inches.
It is not a very heavy breed, considering their size, weighing between 60 and 95 lbs, with females taking the lower part of the scale and males taking the upper part.
The breed has a distinguishable tightly curled coat in solid black or solid liver. The coat is waterproof and very warm, protecting the dog from cold waters during waterfowl hunting and thick brush during upland hunting.
Despite its relatively large size, the Curly-coated Retriever is an excellent upland dog. It was bred in England to accompany all bird hunters and does the job with little help from the hunter.
Although the Curly is more a flusher than a pointer during upland hunting, a flash point is not uncommon.
The breed is also brilliant, and even though it is an excellent swimmer, it often picks the fastest route to the bird over the shortest one, even if it is on the land.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The second biggest in the retriever family, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, is a force to be reckoned with.
Standing at 23 to 26 inches for a male and 21 to 24 inches for a female and weighing 65 – 80 lbs and 55 – 70 lbs, male and female, respectively, the Chessie is like an icebreaker in the frozen waters during late season duck hunting.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is believed to come from Newfoundland dogs, which dominate many other breeds with their size.
Crossing with smaller but more gamy breeds resulted in a retrieving machine with a double curly, and waterproof coat in brown, deadgrass, or sage colors.
Although the Chessie is a retriever through and through, it can work the whole day, regardless of how cold it is outside. However, it is not a very suitable breed for work in hot weather.
As a very intelligent and skilled dog, it has the potential to work upland as a flusher and track wounded game following a blood trail.
After the hunting is done, the Chessie is content to lie down on the sofa for a long snooze, but it will stay vigilant. The always alert attitude and the imposing stature of the dog make Chessie an excellent watchdog.
The English Pointer, also referred to as simply Pointer, is one of the bigger pointing breeds.
Measuring between 25 and 28 inches for a male and between 23 and 26 inches for a female, it cuts a striking figure on the field.
However, despite its height, it is not the bulkiest of breeds, weighing between 45 – 75 lbs, with females on the bottom of the scale and males tipping the top.
The Pointer was bred in England for upland hunting, mainly partridge and pheasant. Unlike many pointing breeds from continental Europe, Pointer was not originally trained to retrieve shot birds, only to point and flush.
As a big breed, the Poiner has a long gait and can cover much ground during the hunt. It is often preferred over smaller breeds because of the speed with which its hunts and the pronounced point.
Pointers come in a variety of colors, but always with white, like lemon and white, orange and white, black and white, and liver and white. It makes them stand out in the field while hunting upland birds.
Another great large pointing breed is the Weimaraner, the Gray Ghost of Germany.
It stands at 25 – 27 inches for a male and 23 – 25 inches for a female. A male Weimaraner can weigh between 70 and 90 lbs and a female 55 – 75 lbs.
As a highly-strung breed, Weimaraner needs a lot of exercise to let out the energy, and it fares the best in the field, hunting.
The Weimaraner is a versatile hunter and can easily switch between jobs, from water retrieving to upland, large and small game hunting, and tracking wounded game.
The Weimaraner can run and swim for hours, making it a tireless hunting companion. Its easy-going attitude and eagerness to please suit a novice hunter or first-time dog owner.
The breed doesn’t do well in city apartments without a lot of space to roam outside, and the worst thing in its mind is to be left alone. Weimaraners love their owners and can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long.
The Gordon Setter, or Scottish Setter, is one of the biggest setters, comparing its height and weight with others in its family.
The first trait that distinguishes Gordon from other setters is its color – only black and tan.
A male Gordon can measure 24 – 27 inches and a female 23 – 26 inches. They weigh between 55 and 80 lbs and 45 and 70 lbs, male and female, respectively.
Originally bred in the UK, the Gordon Setter’s purpose was hunting game birds, like pheasant, partridge, snipe, and woodcock in their native country, and guinea fowl, grouse, quail, and other birds that sit to a dog abroad.
Although its better-known relatives, the Irish Red and English Setters, are now turning into show and pet breeds, Gordon Setter is still predominantly kept as a hunter.
Its large size doesn’t diminish its hunting capability, as Gordon is always lively and possesses great stamina for a day of upland hunting.
The hunting style of the Gordon Setter is very similar to that of a pointer, although some setters prefer to crouch or “sit” rather than point.
The Bloodhound is one of the bigger hounds and definitely one of the most popular and well-known worldwide.
A male Bloodhound can reach the size between 25 and 27 inches and weigh 90 – 120 lbs, and a female is 23 – 25 inches in withersand weighs 80 – 100 lbs.
A Bloodhound’s weight is in its unusually thick bones, which are thicker than in other large breeds.
The job the Bloodhound was bred for is hunting wild boar and deer. The Bloodhound is known for its superior sense of smell – it can easily discern human scent from great distances.
It has been used since the Middle Ages to track people as well as wounded game.
The Bloodhound is tireless with strong tracking instincts.
Although usually docile and even-tempered, it can pursue the scent to the point of disobedience, so a good training or a long leash is important when working with a Bloodhound outside a fenced area.
Many believe that Bloodhound’s long ears and extra skin around the neck and lips (the shawl) help it during scenting.
Black and Tan Coonhound
A Bloodhound descendant, the Black and Tan Coonhound, is another large hunting dog.
Build like its ancestor breed with long ears and a droopy face, Black and Tan inherited its color from the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound.
In size similar to the Bloodhound, a Black and Tan Coonhound male can reach the size of 25 – 27 inches, and a female can be 23 – 25 inches tall in withers.
However, it is not as heavy-boned as the Bloodhound. Taking its body built from its other ancestor, the Black and Tan Coonhound weighs between 65 and 110 lbs.
The color is only coal black with rich tan markings.
The breed was developed in the US for raccoon hunting, but it can also handle deer, bear, wild boar, and mountain lion hunting due to its bravery, diligence, and quick thinking.
Like the Bloodhound, the Black and Tan works with its nose to the ground, can catch a cold trail, and turn it hot with ease.
Known in its native Africa as a Lion Dog, The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an imposing scent and sighthound with distinguish ridge of hair on its back growing the opposite way.
It reaches the size of 25 – 27 inches for a male and 24 – 26 inches for a female, weighing between 77 and 100 lbs.
The Ridgeback was bred for hunting large game and guarding homesteads in Africa.
As a brave and ferocious hunter, Ridgeback can hunt big game, like boars, bears, or mountain lions, and keep it at bay until the hunter’s arrival without coming into contact with its quarry.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s character comes from its ancestor, the semi-wild dog of the Khoikhoi people, who often used it for hunting lions on the savannah. Hence the African Lion Dog nickname.
At present, the Rhodesian is mainly kept as a pet and not often hunted, although as a hunting breed, it still requires a lot of exercise.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is an American original with an unknown lineage.
A male Leopard Dog stands between 22 and 26 inches, and a female between 20 and 24 inches. The weight of the breed varies from 40 – 110 lbs, with females usually lighter than males.
The Catahoula is a tough and muscular dog, and although not the biggest of hounds, certainly on par with many due to its daring character and excellent nose.
Originally bred to hunt big game, herd livestock, and guard campsites, Leopard Dog, is still a popular hunting companion and farm hand.
As a versatile hunting dog, the Catahoula is used for hunting deer, bears, mountain lions, coons, squirrels, and wild boars as a bay or catch dog. It is also very successful at finding wounded game.
The curious thing about the breed is its color. It comes in a wide variety of colors, from solids to patched and ticked, including merle with blue eyes.
One of the biggest hunting breeds is the Borzoi or Russian Hunting Sighthound.
A male Borzoi can reach a size of 28 and up to 33 inches, and a female up from 26 to 31 inches. Although the breed is tall, it is of a rather slim build and can reach a weight of 75 – 105 lbs for a male and 60 – 85 lbs for a female.
The Borzoi was originally bred to hunt wolves in packs, and it was known in its native country as Russian Wolfhound.
Although not a popular hunting breed anymore, some coursing hunters still choose the Borzoi for coyote coursing or deer hunting in the southern states. The breed is sometimes used for hare, rabbit, and fox hunting.
As a hunting dog, the Borzoi needs to spend a lot of time running and exercising outdoors but kept as a pet, it can spend hours on the couch beside you without complaint.
The Irish Wolfhound is the biggest hunting breed there is. Although not used as much for hunting anymore, their astounding size still gets them enough popularity amongst dog owners.
The breed easily reaches the size of over 32 inches for a male and upwards of 30 inches for a female. It can weigh around 120 and 105 lbs for a male and a female, respectively.
Originally used for hunting fast running game, like boars, wolves, and deer, Irish Wolfhound, also fares great chasing foxes, hares, and other elusive small game.
Although the sighthounds are not as popular as other, more versatile breeds like hounds or retrievers, Irish Wolfhound, similar to Greyhounds and Borzoi, is sporadically used in coyote coursing and sometimes for deer hunting in southern states.
The American Bulldog is a well-known muscular dog that was bred in the US from the Old English Bulldog.
Although not as imposing as many other breeds, like hounds or sighthounds, the American Bulldog still stands at 20 to 25 inches and weighs between 75 – 120 lbs.
The first thing that makes the American Bulldog stand out is its large but short head and muscular build.
Bred to be a farm dog guarding livestock and farming equipment, and a catch dog for wild boar after hours, the American Bulldog is a confident and hard-working dog.
It is a popular breed for wild boar hunting, usually released to catch the quarry after bay dogs find it.
Despite the stereotype, the Bulldog is an affectionate, friendly, and easy-going dog with its family. The stereotype grew from the not-so-friendly attitude towards strangers.
However, the owner can control the dog’s temper with proper training and socialization.
The Dogo Argentino comes from a wide array of breeds mixed for big game hunting in Argentina.
The breed stands at 24 – 27 inches in withers and weighs between 80 and 100 lbs.
The breed’s trademark is its muscular build and short, pure white coat. The look of Dogo Argentino is similar to that of the American Bulldog, although they differ in height – Dogo is slightly bigger.
Although not many people realize it, Dogo was bred purposely for big game hunting.
It, therefore, has an excellent sense of smell and high prey drive, which, put together with its courage and endurance, makes it a perfect dog for wild boar, bear, and mountain lion hunter.
The Dogo Argentino is also used as a protection dog due to its natural instinct to protect its home and family and its ability to distinguish familiar people from strangers.