OutdoorHub Editor: Keenan Crow 06.29.20
This is our list of the five best hunting dog breeds you can hunt over. Did your gun dog make the list?
I believe I speak for everyone here at OutdoorHub when I say we love dogs. They make excellent hunting companions, and in many cases, are a big part of our families as well. But if you’ve ever scoured a prairie for pheasants behind an English setter, or watched a German shorthair slam on point with a grouse tucked into some thick cover.. it will change your entire outlook on your four legged friend sitting there at your feet.
Studies have shown that humans and dogs have been hunting together for centuries, and in that time, we’ve developed a partnership that’s both intimate and mutually beneficial.
There’s also been studies that prove dogs have the unique ability to read our body language, and any dog owner who’s tried sneaking out of the house with their shotgun in hand knows they have mastered this.
Ultimately, that is the very reason why we load them up and take them hunting: because they don’t just love it, they LIVE for it. Just as we do.
In fact, you could argue dogs love it even more than we do.
After all, they’re the ones jumping into the ice cold water to retrieve fallen greenheads, and zipping through thorn bushes to point out the birds for us. And yet, they beg us to come along every. single. time.
Here, we tip our caps to the best hunting dogs you can hunt over:
1. Labrador Retriever
The name is sort of a giveaway, as retrieving is one of the most important traits for a hunting dog to key in on early in their development. They have a water-resistant coat meant for long days outdoors, and typically respond well to a lot of training.
Of course, the Labrador Retriever makes a great duck hunting dog, but can also serve as an excellent flusher in upland hunting as well. Therefore, Labs can be thought of as the Swiss-Army knife for hunting dog breeds.
2. German Shorthaired Pointer
Loyal and athletic, the German Shorthaired Pointer loves nothing more than to be outside where it can stretch its long (lanky) legs.
As a pointer, its job is to sniff out the game, point to it, and retrieve it to its owner.
3. English Setter
Perhaps the most iconic gun dog of all, there’s just something about the English setter that draws a hunter in. These dogs come with a style and flare unlike any other. There are setters that fly around like the wind, and others who take a more cautious approach.
There are setters that “run big” meaning they range farther during the hunt, and setters who tend to stick close to their owner. One thing that remains the same, and something those considering owning a setter should keep in mind, is this breed will test you.
But, when you see a setter put everything together – you’ll certainly see the wheels turning in their heads – you’ll find yourself in the presence of a true upland mastermind.
4. English Pointer
Like its German “cousin,” an English pointer’s duty is to point out the game for its owner, but this breed carries a much more serious demeanor in the field.
These dogs are the epitome of high performance – in comparison to other breeds, hunting over a pointer has been compared to driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini.
“When a good English pointer faces a bird, he does so with all but one foot on the coals of hell,” Guy de la Valdène states in “For a Handful of Feathers.”
Otherwise known as “the bunny buster.”
These hounds are notorious for sniffing out rabbits, even in the biggest country. They’re compact in size, making them a great family pet, but certainly they prefer to be in the woods hell-bent on chasing down bunnies.