When it comes to hunting, no hunter ever feels complete without his trusted mutt. He may have the best hunting rifle in hand, but without the unparalleled hunting proficiency of his canine friend, downing a prey will be a lot more difficult. In this article, we’re sharing with you 5 of man’s best hunting dogs. If you’re a newbie to the field of hunting, then these are the pooches you’d want to have.
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The 5 Best Hunting Dogs
We’ve listed here the 5 best hunting dogs including what they are especially valued for. Take note that these are presented in no particular order.
Underneath the Irish Setter’s burnished mahogany coat is a feisty, athletic, obedient, stylish, and really tough bird hunter. As a matter of fact, this rugged all-purpose tracker and hunter is one of the best when it comes to hunting game fowls and other birds. While it does have an undeserved reputation for being a rattle-brain, the Irish Setter is nevertheless, endeared to those value its strengths in bird-finding.
No one takes the Golden Retriever seriously when it comes to hunting. This mutt, with its glamorous coat and photogenic stance, can hardly be called a serious hunter. But when it comes to almost any upland or water game, their tenacity is simply unparalleled. If you can look beyond its coat you’ll see an all-purpose hunter tempered only by its eager-to-please and very affectionate personality. It’s athletic and has an inner toughness that is belied by its smooth-flowing hair.
German Wirehaired Pointer
If you’re hunting for upland birds, tracking stags, or even preying on waterfowl, the German Wirehaired Pointer is the one to pick. A mixture of griffons, shorthairs, poodles, and foxhounds has given the German Wirehair an uncanny ability to run after a wing-tipped pheasant through the cattail marshes and come back to you with the bird firmly in its bearded mouth. These hunters don’t track birds on the ground. Rather, they point their noses straight up towards the sky like a radar dome in search of that characteristic bird scent in the air. They may not be as aggressive as other hunters, but they’re exceptional retrievers, too. They’re tough and are very protective of their human masters.
Looking more like a long-legged beagle, the American foxhound is a mix of Irish, English, and French foxhounds with a sweet temperament. As a hunter the American foxhound is relentless when it comes to tracking a scent. They could run for many hours at a time until they have tracked the scent to its source. The only other time they will stop is when they’ve lost track of the scent. Some foxes have learned to hide deep whenever an American foxhound is around. But for those that are stupid enough to make a run for it often find themselves in between the jaws of the hound. After all, they don’t call the American foxhound the master of hounds for nothing.
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It may be diminutive, but the beagle has the best noses in the dog world especially when it comes to tracking rabbits and bunnies. They’re full of vigor and have been extensively used in rabbit hunts for more than 2 centuries. It’s agile and can run at great speeds. If any, it is the beagle’s remarkable scenting abilities that make it a prized companion of rabbit hunters. Their propensity for barking and baying simply means you’ll never have to worry about their whereabouts.
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Qualities of a Hunting Dog
You might want to look for your own hunting dog other than the ones we’ve listed above. As such you may want to look at the characteristics that make these mutts highly valued for their skills. These characteristics or qualities are what make a hunting dog especially built for this kind of adventure.
- Good temperament – This is a given. You want a mutt that will follow your commands and can remain calm even in the direst of situations.
- Fearless – Some pooches are naturally afraid of certain wild animals. Some may even back off from the sight of a rodent. You need a mutt that is fearless, one that will never back away from almost anything, unless you need it to.
- Intelligence – You don’t need to tell a dog what it needs to do every single time. That is why natural intelligence is a big factor in choosing a hunting dog. You also want a pooch that is highly trainable, retains all the skills that you have taught it, and puts it into good use in the field.
- Stamina and endurance – Prey are fast and sneaky. Your 4-legged hunter must be just as fast and sneaky if not faster and sneakier. Additionally, you need a mutt with endurance as the chase can definitely sap the energy off of certain dogs.
- Jaw strength – If you’re into hunting birds or small prey, you need a pooch with soft jaws. However, if you’re hunting for rabbits or raccoons or other similar prey, then you need a pooch with significant jaw strength.
- Highly acute sense of smell – When it comes to scent tracking, nothing beats the bloodhound. However, they may not have the other characteristics of other hunting dogs so you might want to get a mutt that will be able to smell prey and flush it out so you can take the shot.
- Natural camouflage – Most hunters don’t consider the coat of dogs to be an important train for hunters. However, we decided to include this as you want a pooch that naturally blends with its hunting environment.
- Insensitivity to loud noises – While it is true that you can somehow eliminate sound sensitivity by training your pooch, it’s better to get a breed that is not naturally afraid of loud noises especially with the sound created by the firing of a hunting rifle.
There are many more hunting dogs, pooches with amazing sense of smell, lightning-quick speeds, and exceptional stamina. These dogs have been hunting with their human masters for many centuries so there really is no questioning their abilities.
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- Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, Hunting with Your Dog, VCA