Hunting dog

Hunting dog

For the species known as the African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, or painted hunting dog see African Wild Dog

A hunting dog refers to any dog who assists humans in hunting. There are several types of hunting dogs developed for the many tasks hunters require that they fulfill. The major categories of hunting dog include hounds, terriers, curs type dogs, and gun dogs. Among these categories further divisions can be made based upon the skill sets that the dogs possess.

Hunters may put a bell on the dog's collar so that they can keep track of the dog. When the bell stops ringing that means the dog is on the point.

For a list of breeds of each type, see the detailed articles for each category:

Main category Subcategory Example Summary
Hounds Hounds Hounds are further divided into sighthounds and scent hounds depending upon the primary sense used to locate quarry. Many fur bearing animals such as jackrabbit, raccoon, coyote, and large predators are hunted with hounds.
Sighthounds Whippet Sighthounds are well adapted for visual acuity and speed. Their method is known as "coursing" - prey is often sighted from a distance, stalked, pursued and neatly killed within moments. Sighthounds work quickly and silently, and are highly independent in nature.
Scent hounds Coonhound Scent hounds are hounds that primarily hunt by scent. Scenthounds are used to trail and sometimes to kill game. They hunt in packs leading the hunters on a chase which may end in the quarry being chased into a tree or killed. Some of these breeds have deep, booming voices and use them when following a scent trail.
Lurchers Lurcher, 3/4 Greyhound, 1/8 Scottish Deerhound, 1/8 Collie A Lurcher is a sighthound crossed with a working dog breed−usually a pastoral dog or Terrier−bred selectively for working purposes.
Gun dogs Gun dogs are used primarily by small game hunters using shotguns. Gun dogs are classified as retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds.
Retrievers Chesapeake Bay Retriever Once classified as a water spaniel, a retriever's primary role is to find and return shot game to the hunter. Retrievers can spend long hours in a duck blind and visually spot and remember the location of downed birds. At command, they retrieve the birds. They may be able to follow hand, verbal, and whistle commands to the downed bird. They typically have large, gentle muzzles.
Setters English Setter Setters in particular have a long history as upland gun dogs. They appear to have a native ability to locate and point at upland game birds. They flush the birds at the hunter's command.
Spaniels English Cocker Spaniel Spaniels have been used to hunt for hundreds of years. Flushing Spaniels are used to locate and flush game for a hunter.
Pointers German Shorthaired Pointer Pointers are dogs trained to locate and point at small game. Pointing breeds cover more range than Spaniels, pointing the game when located. This allows the hunter to approach and flush the game.
Water dogs Poodle Water dogs are a subclass of retrievers.
Feists Feist Feists are small dogs that hunt small game, especially squirrels, in a similar manner to the way large hounds hunt raccoons and large game. Feists may hunt in packs, and "bark up" on trees to alert the hunter. The feist was developed in the southern United States, reputedly from small Native American dogs and British fell terriers.
Terriers Lakeland Terrier Terriers are used to hunt mammals. Terriers locate the den or set of the target animal and then bolt, capture, or kill the animal. A "working terrier" may go underground to kill or drive out game. Hunters who use terriers are referred to as terriermen.
Curs Catahoula Cur Curs hunt similarly to terriers, though usually on larger game. Curs often hunt boars, raccoon, cougars, and other large mammals.

Details about some types

Flushing spaniels combine fine hunting, flushing, and retrieving skills. English Springer Spaniels are popular gundogs for a variety of cover but are closely followed in popularity by English Cocker Spaniels. Both breeds are adept at finding and flushing game out of thick cover, then retrieving fallen game to the hunter. Clumbers, Sussex, and Field Spaniels are also increasingly popular for their slower, methodical hunting pattern. And, while all flushing spaniel breeds are good retrievers, including water work, the American Water Spaniel and the Boykin Spaniel are especially noted for their water work.

When trained, Beagles are particularly adept at chasing through thick briars and brush after rabbits. However, spaniels are also excellent rabbit hunting dogs. In fact, spaniel field trials in the UK are ran on both game birds as well as rabbits as can be evidenced in Spaniel Journal Many hound breeds are excellent at treeing raccoons during hunting season.

Sighthounds are quite different from scenthounds in their methods and adaptations. The long lean head of the sighthound gives them a greater degree of binocular vision, a characteristic shared by wolves and other wild carnivores. Their great speed, agility and visual acuity are particularly adapted for coursing game on open meadows or steppes. They are highly independent in nature, and are worked either singly or in a "brace" of two or three dogs, rather than as a pack. Sighthounds do their work in silence and are quiet, placid dogs compared to other hunting breeds. Retrievers are good swimmers and love to get wet, they are good hunting dogs for retrieving game shot down into the water. Retrievers skin secretes an oily substance that sheds water. Retrievers are good at retrieving birds on land or in water.

Hounds have really sensitive noses that are usually used for hunting small animals like rabbits and squirrels. Bugles work well for hunting game bird instead of small animals. Hound breeds include the bluetick, red tick, walker, and redbone.

Flushers dogs like the springer are popular for pheasant hunting, they are trained to work within gun range. There are other breeds like the cocker, the Boykin and several types of spaniels. These type of dogs pursue game until it goes for cover.



  • American Spaniel Club
  • Deeley, Martin. "Working Gundogs: An Introduction to Training and Handling. (1990,reprinted 2002) The Crowood Press. ISBN 1-85223-764-3.
  • Fergus, Charles. Gun Dog Breeds, A Guide to Spaniels, Retrievers, and Pointing Dogs, The Lyons Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58574-618-5
  • Roettger, Anthony Z. and Schleider, Benjamin H. III. (2004) Urban Gun Dogs: Training flushing dogs for home and field. The Writer's Collective. ISBN 1594110506

See also

External links

  • Spaniel Journal Provides comprehensive information and articles on training, hunting, field events and other topics of interest to flushing spaniel owners.
  • American Spaniel ClubParent club in the United States for Cocker Spaniels.

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