If hunting is a passion of yours then you know how much of an important role hunting dogs have played in this sport’s history. Nothing makes the sport of hunting more enjoyable than a loyal and smart companion by your side. So if you are still looking for that furry best friend with a strong prey drive, we have some recommendations for you!
We have made a list of excellent companions for all of you hunters out there, and most of the canines on this list might even surprise you. We don’t have the usual hunting dog breeds like the Bluetick Coonhound or Boykin Spaniel on this list. Instead of that, we made sure that these dog’s aren’t only amazing hunters, but also lovable family dogs.
These are the type of dogs that have sweet personalities, intelligent eyes, sharp minds, and other traits that make them excellent hunting dogs. So let’s take a closer look at the breeds we put on this list and see which one suits you the best.
Wire Fox Terrier
Both the smooth and wire kinds of Fox Terriers were developed in England in the late 18th century when Aristocrats enjoyed the pastime of fox hunting. In order for the hunters on horseback and the hounds on the ground to pursue the fox, the terrier’s task was to ‘bolt’ the fox out of hiding.
The Wire Fox Terrier is a happy and affectionate dog. They won’t be too sad if you leave it alone for a bit because it has a lot of energy and is capable of taking care of itself. It has a ferocious passion to hunt and will follow tiny wildlife in the yard without halting.
These dogs are attentive, active, and smart. They are charming but cunning, and they like to get into trouble. You might be outwitted by a Fox Terrier while simultaneously laughing at his practical jokes. They make excellent watchdogs because of their vigilant nature, but they also bark excessively. Fox Terriers are lively, inquisitive dogs that are friendly with humans but won’t back down from a dog fight. They are therefore not the best candidates for dog parks.
Beagles are sociable, energetic, and compact enough to be kept in any home. Few people are aware that Beagles were originally bred for a different use, though. They were mostly employed in the past to aid their hunters in locating and capturing animals.
Beagles were initially bred in Great Britain as hunting dogs. They were created with small legs, long ears, double coats, keen instincts, and a deep howl. They also have a keen sense of smell. All of which contribute to their exceptional talent and effectiveness in locating prey and announcing it to their hunters.
Besides that, Beagles are wonderful pets. Beagles are one of the greatest family dogs due to their playful attitude, kind nature, and low maintenance requirements, regardless of whether you live alone or have young children in the house. Despite their propensity for barking and occasional stubbornness, they make for excellent pets.
Beagles are quite challenging to teach when compared to other dog breeds. This is because they have a keen sense of smell, an inquisitive disposition, and a tendency to become quickly distracted. It can be challenging for them to concentrate because various smells constantly divert their attention.
Golden retrievers are good gun dogs, just like Labradors. They work well for pursuing small game like birds. Goldens are eager, devoted, and easy to train. They are renowned for getting along nicely with kids and are ideal family companions.
Although it is usual for them to be used as working dogs with hunters, Golden Retrievers are fairly self-assured but gentle dogs by nature and do not have a high prey drive. They are very outgoing, energetic canines who much like to get along with other animals they come across.
Due to their working heritage, Golden Retrievers are very energetic and need a lot of attention. For persons who are active and have a lot of free time, these dogs are perfect. For their benefit, a home where someone is always available to play with them is ideal. They struggle when left alone at home since they are too reliant on their owners to function.
Golden retrievers are widely employed as therapy dogs to comfort and calm people. Goldens seem to love unconditionally and with a lot of empathy. There is something about a Golden Retriever that can comfort and calm people of all ages, including little children.
The Harrier was created specifically to hunt hares. They have also been employed to hunt foxes, but as hares and rabbits are smaller than fox hunters like the English Foxhound, harriers are their preferred prey. The majority of people actually think that English Foxhounds were bred smaller and smaller to create the Harrier.
Since the Colonial era, Harriers have been employed for hunting, making them one of the scent-hound breeds with the longest history in the United States. The Harrier excels in the drag hunt, where his slower speed serves him well.
The Harrier is frequently described as a “Beagle on steroids.” These canines would struggle in a small city apartment since they are lively and energetic. They need room to move around and use all of their incredible energy. Despite this, they are very affectionate, especially toward kids and other canines.
These are dogs that are content to be in your company but don’t need your undivided attention. They are capable of amusing themselves. It’s your responsibility to ensure that getting into trouble isn’t part of their idea of fun!
German Longhaired Pointer
German hunters spent generations combining several dog breeds until the German Shorthaired Pointer appeared in the late 1800s as the ideal hunting partner. But because of their overwhelming success, GSPs are currently regarded as one of the breeds with the highest winning percentages in hunting competitions.
A GSP’s personality is a product of its ancestry. The best qualities (as well as some of the worst qualities) of all the breeds utilized to produce them were passed down to them. As working gundogs, they are intelligent, sociable, and devoted to their owners. These dogs are sharp, friendly, and eager.
Additionally, this dog may not be a good choice for flats and apartments. The GSP requires space to feel at ease because it is active. Despite having a potential personal favorite, he will adore every member of the family. Additionally, they make excellent pets and are highly intelligent!
The German Shorthaired Pointer is not the calmest breed. They need to be taught early on to refrain from barking because they have a reputation for enjoying the sound of their own voices. To reduce the amount of chatter you will hear, reward your puppy for being quiet and dismiss any vocalizations.
A possible explanation for the Basenji’s lack of barking is that he is one of the oldest dog breeds. It’s plausible that ancient civilizations preferred a silent dog for their hunts. They were and still are renowned for having excellent eyesight and a sharp sense of smell.
Due to their high levels of energy and intelligence, Basenjis need a lot of daily vigorous exercise and mental stimulation. They were bred to be attentive during long hunts through the African wilderness. Independent minds, Basenjis are famous for being intellectual, mischievous, and rebellious.
In a Basenji, independence should not be confused with a desire for solitude. Despite the fact that they won’t cuddle on your lap, these hunting dogs like to remain in view of their owners. When they require your attention, they will let you know. The greatest place for this energetic breed to live is in a house with a secure yard, where owners should keep a close check on them at all times.
Basenjis are a low-maintenance breed because they are self-conscious about their appearance and will spend hours grooming themselves, much like cats. As a result, your Basenji will require fewer washes and brushings—just once a week should be enough.
The Weimaraner, often known as the “Silver Ghost,” was a highly sought-after dog breed in its native Germany since it was developed as a gundog to handle large game like deer and bears. These beautiful yet demanding hounds are still seen on the hunting grounds today. They can also become terrific family pets if they get enough exercise.
Weimaraners are affectionate dogs that demand frequent interaction with their owners, which can be a bit too much for some. The Weimaraner, however, can make a great canine companion if you desire to always have a dog by your side and have plenty of time to go hiking, jogging, or hunting.
The Weimaraner is mostly a housedog. He has no business living in an apartment, nor does he have any business in a kennel or the backyard. This active dog needs both an active family to provide him with the exercise and mental stimulation he needs, as well as a large, securely enclosed yard to run in.
Weimaraners are wonderful companions, but because of their hunting history, they have a lot of energy and a high prey drive. But due to the dog’s requirement for consistent training and regular exercise, he isn’t for everyone.
The Saluki, commonly referred to as the Persian Greyhound or the Gazelle Hound, is one of the oldest canine breeds. Salukis were used by Egyptian pharaohs to hunt hares and gazelles. The dogs were typically mummified to honor them after death. Muslims who lived as nomads and thought of dogs as unclean creatures regarded Salukis as a blessing from Allah. They were called El Hor, which is Arabic for “The Noble.”
Salukis are sometimes compared to cats in terms of personality. They enjoy relaxing on the couch, taking naps, and spending time by themselves. Salukis are loyal to their owners and have a kind disposition, though they won’t always follow you around or answer when you call their name. They desire a life that is more independent.
Although Salukis aren’t extremely social, they do form strong bonds with their owners and hate being apart from them for extended periods of time. Consider a Saluki if you have the time to give to a devoted, graceful pet that can run like the wind.
The Saluki is charming but reserved, affectionate but not overly flashy. He will spend time with you in silence to demonstrate that he is a loyal friend. Not everyone receives the gift of a Saluki’s loyal company, but those who are fortunate enough to do so are delighted.
Despite being raised to hunt ducks, labradors are capable of hunting almost everything. They can now operate for long periods of time in a variety of environments, including waterfowl hunting and game hunting, and are great retrievers. In both the Retriever Field Trials and Retriever Hunting Tests, Labs consistently place highly.
The Labrador retriever has a well-deserved reputation for having one of the kindest temperaments among breeds. These animals are sociable and good with both people and other animals. They are friendly and eager to please.
The biggest benefit of a Labrador for hunters who want to train their own dog is their willingness to work hard while still being forgiving. With labs, you can live a homely and active lifestyle. They also improve with age, just like a quality wine.
The degree of activity in labs varies; some are more energetic than others, and some are more laid-back than others. However, they all flourish when they are actively involved. They enjoy having a task at hand. These dogs are excellent family pets and are likely to get along with every member of the family.
The Magyars, who first settled Hungary over a thousand years ago, are supposed to have utilized hunting dogs that eventually gave rise to the Vizsla, also known as the Hungarian Pointer. The dogs were probably used by nobles and warlords to hunt upland game like hares and birds. Eventually, the dogs were taught to point and retrieve.
Vizslas are intelligent canines with many skills who have performed a variety of jobs over the years. Many of them are employed by the TSA in K-9 units where they carry out investigative work and even serve as seeing-eye dogs. They are a fantastic choice for working as a therapy dog because of their exceptionally sensitive nature.
The AKC describes the Vizsla’s temperament as “lively, gentle-mannered, affectionate and sensitive.” They therefore make wonderful household pets. However, because of their high energy levels and attention requirements, they require more pampering than other breeds. They are therefore not the best choice for families with busy schedules.
Vizslas get along with other animals, particularly if they were raised with them as puppies. They might have an unhealthy obsession with pet birds, as it’s in their DNA to hunt these animals. Additionally, you shouldn’t trust them with tiny animals like gerbils, hamsters, or rabbits.
Borzoi dogs are huge hounds with deep chests, slender limbs, and long, silky hair that are native to Russia. Having been created as royal members of the Russian aristocracy, the Borzoi has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful breeds. Despite being kind and calm, these beautiful sighthounds were previously used to hunt wolves due to their remarkable speed.
Given that the lush, silky coat of a Borzoi contains Greyhound blood, it is not surprising that they can sprint at speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. Today’s devoted and caring family dogs, Borzois are strong and elegant.
The Borzoi, with his tall, lean frame, long, narrow head, and silky coat, is the picture of refinement and grace. The proud nature of Borzois makes it simple to picture them lounging in Tsar palaces in Russia or chasing a wolf in the Russian countryside.
The Borzoi is a wise, calm, and sensible companion. He doesn’t want to be left alone for long stretches of time. Generally speaking, he is trusting of people and is not shy. The Borzoi’s laid-back demeanor does not, however, automatically suggest that he is simple to train. He is an independent thinker who can be stubborn.
English Springer Spaniel
Because of the manner he “springs” at game to flush it for the hunter, the English Springer Spaniel has long been a favorite of sportsmen. However, this vivacious, attractive dog may also be a superb family pet if given the right training and exercise.
The breed of English Springer Spaniels is intelligent. They are good at reading clues because of this plus their innate desire to work and hunt. She would perform well in obedience, hunting, and agility training. English Springer Spaniels take pleasure in completing tasks. They will eagerly anticipate the daily planning and training these events demand.
Two English Springer Spaniels side by side could look very different from one another. This is so that they can distinguish between hunting dog breeds that are intended for the field and those that are largely bred for the show ring. Field dogs and show dogs were subsequently divided off into separate categories.
Hobby hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are the greatest candidates for the English Springer Spaniel dog breed. Consider adopting one of these puppies if you can provide them with enough playtime, training, and affection. Additionally, you have a choice between the two options. For hunters, the field dog would be a superior option. For folks who like to be active and have a family, the show dog might be a better choice.
Jack Russell Terrier
If you’re thinking about getting a Jack Russell Terrier, be prepared to put in the work necessary to keep this active dog happy and healthy. Although Jack Russell terrier puppies are almost too cute for words, they require a tremendous investment in terms of training, mental stimulation, and physical activity.
He is an escape artist, so a home with a yard and a solid fence that cannot be scaled, dug under, or jumped would be best for him. You must always keep the Jack on a leash while you are outside of fenced areas due to his strong prey drive. Give him 30 to 45 minutes of intense exercise each day in addition to plenty of off-leash activity in the backyard to keep him worn out and out of mischief.
Despite his friendliness toward people, he can be vicious with other dogs and any other animals, including cats, that he can mistake for prey. His bravery puts him in danger as he chooses to battle a larger dog.
He thrives on routines and structure, so training sessions should be brief and engaging to keep his interest. He gets weary of hearing the same thing repeatedly. When properly trained, Jacks are always outgoing and friendly.
Irish Setters come in two varieties: working dogs and show dogs. Field dogs are smaller, lighter, and have thinner coats than Irish Setter show dogs. However, they both adhere to the breed standards. Along with being excellent in the field, they excel in canine sports, obedience, rally, tracking, and agility events.
The Irish Setter still possesses the drive and vigor of his forebears, who were created to hunt birds. He enjoys exploring new locations and attempting new things, especially if they involve birds. He may not hunt as frequently as some other sporting breeds, but he still has a burning drive to do so.
Irish Setters are social animals who enjoy interacting with people. Although they aren’t actually guard dogs, they have aided in defending their owners when necessary. However, they make great watchdogs and will bark if someone approaches the door or tries to enter. Irish Setters are slow to mature and frequently retain their puppy energy for a number of years, if not their entire lives.
Never forget that these are hunting dogs, bred to run continuously all day on difficult terrain. Although they are simple to teach, they will start running on their own and may chew, bark, or dig if you don’t pay attention to them. The majority of Irish Setters are friendly and extroverted around people and other dogs. You should exercise caution when introducing them to smaller house pets, though, as they are hunters.
If you have space for an active animal in your home, the Podenco Canario can be the perfect companion for you. If you choose to adopt a Podenco into your household, you may need to take some precautions or dramatically adjust your lifestyle. But in return, you will get a loyal buddy who will cherish your company more than anything.
The Podenco Canario breed is loving and lively when given the proper care. They rarely bark and are serene and silent. However, they will bark if they notice a stranger or an intruder, making them an excellent watchdog. This intelligent dog may form close bonds with his family, but he requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation.
Podencos are loyal to the people who own them. They are kind and like being cuddled. Due to their high levels of energy and need for regular action, they are most suitable for families or energetic individuals. Spanish hunters have continued the myth that Podencos are untrainable. They are intelligent, even though they occasionally display stubbornness.
These dogs are active, so if you don’t give them the exercise they require, all of your training time will be lost. Podenco Canario must spend 1-2 hours per day exercising. These active dogs require more than just a regular stroll at the dog park. Podencos should go on walks and hikes outside. They excel at dog sports as well. Competitions in agility, racing, and obedience are the best forms of exercise for this dog.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoulas are 2 foot tall, slender dogs with strong muscles. The big, bright eyes and robust, broad muzzles of the Catahoula give them a watchful, alert appearance.
Catahoulas were initially used to drive and herd animals, therefore they are distrustful of strangers. They guard their families’ interests and are certain about whom they may and cannot trust. They have a good feel of people, according to those who live with them.
These canines are quite intelligent and not too challenging to teach. They do have an independent streak that can occasionally make them resistant, so it’s important to be firm and patient as well as fair and gentle with them. Be consistent and straightforward with your expectations if you want to win your Catahoula’s respect and devotion. These puppies are typically driven by praise and eager to please.
Catahoula Leopards do best in homes where they are the only pet, though they can be socialized as puppies to learn to tolerate other canines. Although they can be trained to get along with the cats they were reared with, it’s more probable that they will see the neighborhood cats and other small animals in the yard as entertaining targets to chase.
Now that you learned so much about all these different hunting dog breeds, it’s up to you which one you are going to choose. Will you go the safe route and choose the American Sweetheart, aka a Labrador Retriever, a loyal scent dog like the Beagle, or maybe you will choose a good hunting dog that is a bit more exotic, like the Borzoi.
The dog you choose should also depend on what your hunting prey is. Big game, smaller animals, duck hunting all require different types of qualities in dogs. Some hunting activities are better for dogs of a smaller size, while others require more of a muscular build.
Whatever dog you choose, make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder. You can check the American Kennel Club breeder list to keep it safe. If you didn’t like any of these breeds that we mentioned, you can take a look into breeds like the Norwegian Elkhound, Basset Hound, English Pointer.