Top 5 Best Hunting Dog Breeds

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Hunting dog breeds come in many shapes and sizes and are very versatile dog breeds because of their ability to hunt and find game. Whether you are looking for a friend that stays by your side or a hunting companion, these hunting dogs will fulfill your expectations. Hunting dogs come in many different breeds which include deer hunting dog breeds, sporting dog breeds, bird hunting dog breeds, and even pig hunting dog breeds. Deciding which breed is right for you is dependent on what you are hunting and what your expectations are for your dog when hunting. The dogs listed below are the top 5 dog breeds that are ideal hunting dogs.


hound dog hunting


Hounds, the first hunting breed, are divided into two groups and are some of the largest hunting dog breeds. They are divided into sight hounds or scent hounds depending on their primary sense of either smell or vision. Sight hounds such as the Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Whippet, and many others have a keen sense of vision which allows them to detect motion quickly and overcome their prey. Those classified as sight hounds are especially fast and are used to hunt faster prey like deer. On the other hand, scent hounds like the bloodhound, beagle, foxhound, and other types primarily detect prey by scent. They have larger nasal cavities that allow for a strong sense of smell, which is thought to be the strongest among all of the canines. A scent hound is not as agile and fast as the sight hound because it does not have to rely on its own sight to capture prey, but instead scent hounds have a high endurance to keep track of the scent they are following. Hounds are usually used to hunt large prey such as jackrabbits, coyotes, and other predators. They are ideal for hunting larger prey because of their loose lips and strong stature. Hounds use their loud, echoing bark to help them detect prey and their booming barks also help the owner keep track of them when they are hunting in a pack.


retriever hunting


Retrievers such as the Labrador Retriever, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever are all dogs that have an ability to be great gun dogs. They are skilled in retrieving and returning whatever has been hunted or shot by the hunter, hence their name. Their large, gentle muzzles give them an advantage in picking up their prey without further damaging it. The mouth of the Labrador Retriever specifically are so gentle that if trained well, they are able to hold an egg in their mouth without cracking or marring it. This athletic, water-loving breed excel in hunting ducks and other kinds of birds. Retrievers are very versatile in hunting because of how they are able to easily learn commands like whistle, verbal, and hand signals. These bird hunting dog breeds are also among the smartest of all dog breeds ranked number four (Golden Retriever) by the American Kennel Club. Their intelligence contributes to their ability to spend hours being able to visually remember where the location of downed birds. At home, the retriever is known to be friendly and great family dogs.


feist hunting dog


This small, short-haired dog whose origins can date farther back than when George Washington wrote about them in his hunting journal as “a small foist looking yellow cur”. The Feist specializes in hunting small prey above ground such as squirrels (as seen above in the picture) and rabbits instead of drawing them out of the ground which the dachshund and most terriers do (see below). When hunting, the Feist stays silent until it locates its prey with its eyes, once it locates its prey, the Feist chases it until either the prey is caught or it escapes out of sight. They are even known to chase squirrels up trees in order to catch them. The Feist’s long legs allow it to be especially speedy in its pursuits which make this dog a good choice to have when hunting. Although they put forth a good chase when in pursuit of its prey, the Feist normally relies on its owner to shoot down the prey instead of catching it itself. These hunter dogs are considered a high energy dog when hunting but it also can make a great house pet by being able to calm down and become cuddly when at home. The transfer of energy makes this dog a good choice for a house pet. This dog breed has a high affinity to want to please its owner which makes it an easy pet to train and follow commands.



fox terrier

Image Source:

Jack Russell Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and Rat Terriers are all types of Terriers that make for a good hunting dog. This type of dog is able to find, track, and hunt pests and small animals. The name “Terrier” comes from the word “terra” which means “earth” in Latin. With a name like that, it is easy to see that these dogs were originally bred to kill vermin and pests. With this breeding history, the terrier has tendencies to dig holes in the yard and squeeze itself into tight places, which are helpful skills that are definitely useful when hunting small prey. The Fox Terrier is a more rare of a breed of Terrier that is highly desirable in the hunting community. As its name alludes to, the Fox Terrier is bred to chase foxes out of their hunting places. The Terrier is a desirable hunting dog breed to own because of their small frame, versatility, and ability to exterminate unwanted and/or wanted pests. Terriers make good guard dogs because of how territorial they are over what is “theirs”, aka their home and yard. They can also be a handful to train because they get bored easily and lack patience. Once you get through these rough spots, Terriers are great dogs that are known to entertain their owners by performing for them and acting silly because of their love of being the center of attention.



dachshund hunting


Although many people would originally be skeptical of the dachshunds ability to hunt because of its size and shape, the dachshund is an ideal hunting dog to own when on the hunt for animals like foxes, badgers, and rabbits. These spunky, curious German hunting dogs originate from Germany where they were specifically bred to hunt badgers which is where its name was inspired and comes from ( dachs – badgers, hund – dog).  Dachshunds are also commonly used by hunters to track wounded deer because of their great sense of smell. As a product of their hunting background, dachshunds display a ferocity when chasing things like tennis balls and are very well known for their tendency to chases animals around, whether that be when hunting or at home. Although dachshunds make great and versatile hunting dogs, they make iffy house pets having negative and positive attributes. Because of their stubborn personality, they are very difficult to house train. According to wikipedia, American writer E. B. White owned a dachshund and is known for saying:

Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can’t be trained and shouldn’t be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.

Despite this rough account of owning a dachshund, they also have positive traits. Dachshunds are most known for being incredibly affectionate and loyal to their owners. They are also easy to transport because of their small size.

When looking for a hunting dog to accompany you, it is important to first look at the type of prey you wish to hunt. This will determine whether you need a large breed hunting dog or a small breed hunting dog. If you are hunting large prey like deer, foxes and large birds, you will probably want a hound dog breed or even a sports breed hunting dog such as the Retriever or Hound. If you desire to hunt small prey like squirrels, ducks, or rabbits, a squirrel hunting dog breed or a duck hunting breed might be the right choice for you. Also when choosing your future companion, strongly consider their personalities. If their personality will not be compatible with yours, there is a strong probability that there will be future conflicts and misunderstandings. The personality of the dog might even be the most important thing you consider when choosing which hunting dog is right for you. Whichever dog hunting breed you choose, you are guaranteed to have a good gun dog that will help and assist with tracking down and pursue game.

Recent Posts