If you love to hunt, chances are you’ve hunted with dogs before and have perhaps considered investing in your own as well. This is especially true if you love hunting waterfowl, wildboar, or squirrel. But you probably don’t want to have a dog that has to be kennelled at all times and is at high risk for running off on their own. Rather, you want a dog that makes a good pet as well, and is a constant companion.
Most dog breeds have hunting in their bloodline somewhere but not all dogs make good hunting dogs, and not all hunting dogs make good companion dogs. You want to look for a breed that is both loyal and willing to follow directions, as well as have a prey drive for usefulness in the field. Take a look below at some of the best breeds for this purpose.
When you are looking for a dog that you can use as both a great hunting dog and as a good house pet, you want to think about the purpose of a hunting dog first, and then look for those traits that provide the loyalty and love you are seeking in a pet.
First off, you need to provide professional training to your pet. The dog needs to know how to listen well and follow commands to help overcome their high prey and hunting skill drive. This training will also make them a calmer, more conducive pet for the home.
Most hunting dogs fall into one of four types of categories: scent hounds, pointers and setters, flushing dogs, and retrievers. All can make excellent pets as well as become expert at their jobs in the field. Your responsibility is to provide consistency through training to make it happen.
Humans have been fascinated with dogs for approximately 20,000 years, and have used them as domesticated companions for hunting and protection in a manner that has benefited both species. Today, there are more than 30 recognized hunting breeds out of almost 200 breeds overall, making up a huge part of why people still pick hunting dogs today.
Hunting dogs today can: Track and hunt animals; find wounded game; scent and flush (the dog searches your surrounding area, and is able to quickly get any animal, like birds, out of hiding and up into the air); and retrieve downed game from a variety of situations.
We’ve compiled the top seven hunting dog breeds that are also considered beloved house pets as well. These pups do require time and care for them to reach their full potential, but all are amazing companions.
1. Labrador Retriever
Bred for water retrieving, the Labrador Retriever has become a favourite household breed that exhibits a gentle, protective nature with children and showcases a high intelligence. Still popular in hunting trials, the Lab is a loyal option that will work by your side both day and night.
This crossbred, designed breed brings the best of the Standard Poodle and Golden Retriever together to create a hypoallergenic, non-shedding dog that excels both in the home with children and in the field working as a hunting dog. Incredibly affectionate, they are easy to train and make a great companion.
3. Golden Retriever
It’s quite possible there are more Golden Retrievers getting fat as family dogs than being hunted with, but this docile, gentle breed is incredibly loyal, intelligent, and bred for competitive retrieving. Because of this, they are an amazing choice for families with children.
4. German Shorthaired Pointer
Popular as a family pet, the German Shorthaired Pointer is an intelligent and playful breed that will work all day pointing and flushing, and curl up and protect your family all night. Their high energy is part of their genetics to help them keep going in the field, but it also allows them to be a wonderful running and walking companion.
5. Brittany Spaniel
Eager to please, the Brittany Spaniel is known for their excellent bird-hunting skills and is widely used in highly competitive shooting trials. This loyalty pays off in other arenas as well, and helps them be an amazing companion animal that is highly intelligent and always looking for ways to please their families. Just be aware they have a lot of energy and want to be by your side at all times.
Loyal, friendly, and great with children, this sleek, shorthaired dog is known for its goofy personality and silver grey coat. Perfect for all around hunting options, they are amazingly intelligent and have a ton of energy that you can focus through consistent training.
7. Jack Russell Terrier
Friendly, playful, and pint-sized, the Jack Russell Terrier is easy to train and work with, but does have a lot of energy that needs to be directed towards a purpose. Incredibly intelligent, they learn fast and are great for both tracking and varmint-hunting, and have made their mark in fox-hunting as well.
Choosing a dog breed for both hunting purposes and as a companion is not too hard to do when such awesome breeds exist. These are only a few of the best, but they are excellent companions and make amazing family dogs.
Curtis Lawson makes his home in Florida, the United States. Along with shooting sports, he and his family also participate in other outdoor activities, such as boating and fishing.