The best hunting dogs bring a range of skills to the table, from flushing out prey to retrieving downed waterfowl. Many of the best dog breeds for hunting also make great companions and members of the family, for the best of both worlds.
1. German Shorthaired Pointer
Bred from a combination of several other hunting dogs, this diverse background makes the German Shorthaired Pointer a versatile hunting companion. The breed requires little training and is good on land and water. German Shorthaired Pointers are very active dogs, and while they are good with families, they do require a lot of room and frequent exercise to avoid problem behavior.
The Brittany is another breed that was designed for versatility, at home in a wide range of hunting situations. They are good-natured, intelligent, and cooperative dogs. Like many other sporting breeds, they love to be active, requiring regular exercise.
3. Boykin Spaniel
A profile on the breed in Game & Fish magazine described the Boykin Spaniel as having great flushing and retrieving skills, a good nose, and a sedate personality. The dog has many of the same abilities of a Labrador Retriever or other classic hunting dog, except in a small dog breed. The breed's small size makes it great for waterfowl hunting since it can do its job without disturbing the boat. The dog's size and temperament also make it a good family dog.
4. Labrador Retriever
Their hunting pedigree is right in the breed name, making Labrador Retrievers a natural choice for a list of the best hunting dogs. They have a very "soft" and gentle mouth from being bred to retrieve waterfowl. Easily trained and good-natured, the Labrador is also a popular family dog. They love attention and are always ready to play.
Game & Fish magazine featured the Beagle in "In Praise of Little Dogs", describing the dog's scent-based hunting, briar-resistant coat, and hardy nature. In addition to their hunting skills, Beagles are loyal companions and good dogs for kids.
7. Basset Hound
Basset Hounds are scent hounds with a strong nose and the endurance to track the scent as long as it takes to find their prey. The breed is calm, loyal, and sensitive, making them suitable as a hunting dog and a family pet. Their distinctive look makes them a favorite among many dog owners.
8. English Springer Spaniel
Alert and attentive, the English Springer Spaniel is a ready hunting companion, bred to flush out prey. They are also intelligent and playful. They are highly active dogs, requiring a substantial amount of exercise each day.
9. Irish Setter
Like other Setters, the Irish Setter hunts by scent, and when it finds its prey, freezes in place rather than flushing the animal out. It is known as a happy, playful, and friendly dog, making it another great choice as a combined hunting dog and family pet.
Coonhounds were bred to track on the ground and in trees, important for hunting animals like raccoons and opossums. They are able to work alone or in packs when tracking. In the home, they are gentle with children, and their loud barks can also make them good guard dogs.