When it comes to choosing the perfect hunting dog breed, there are a few factors to consider. Do you want a gun dog that will retrieve your game or do you need a scent hound to track down prey? What kind of terrain will you be hunting in? And finally, what is your budget?
This guide provides an overview of the 51 best hunting dog breeds and can help you make the right decision for your needs.
From the well-known Labrador Retriever to the lesser-known Spinone Italiano, there is sure to be a breed that fits your needs – and your personality!
When it comes to grace, agility, and power, a Pointer is second to none. These dogs are the undisputed top-rated breeds in the sporting dogdom, thanks to their swift and precise movement.
Pointers are bred for the field. Their muscular body and innate alertness make them excellent hunting dog that is always on the go. With their staying power and bold personality, having a Pointer by your side during your hunting sessions spells out success.
50. Labrador Retriever
This list of the most popular hunting breeds will never be complete without the Labrador Retriever. These pooches are lovable and friendly creatures that bond with their family members quickly. With shining eyes and an “otter” tail that wags with excitement, the Lab is a symbol of eagerness and devotion to its family.
Historically, Labs are excellent retrievers. They will retrieve fish and similar animals that jump out of a trawl net. Moreover, they love to swim and can handle even the coldest waters in the winter.
This hunting dog is a spitting image of a Greyhound, except a little smaller. Whippets have a long neck, lean head, slim waist, and strong legs. They can handle long hours of running around, so it thrives in an environment where they can play and roam freely.
Speaking of running, Whippets is one of the fastest dogs with a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. Thus, it can quickly chase after rabbits and make sure they bring your game right to you.
48. Rhodesian Ridgeback
A genuine hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a vision of strength and courageousness. They can weigh over 80 lbs, yet these dogs never lack in terms of vigor and agility. They have wheat-colored coats and either a black or brown nose.
Power and speed are the most appropriate words to describe a Ridgeback. These hounds are strong-willed and intelligent canines bred to catch your quick-footed target. They are also fearless creatures who will never hesitate to fend off dangerous creatures such as baboons and leopards.
This classic sighthound is a master at working on swift games such as gazelle, fox, hare, and jackal. Sloughis are lean canines with shades of mahogany red or light sand-colored coats. Their legs are moderately long with strong muscles allowing them to run at quick speeds.
In history, Sloughis are the preferred hunting companions of nomadic chieftains and Berber kings because of their graceful and surefooted movements. They can survive in the most intense terrains and maintain their stamina even after hours of chasing their prey.
46. Portuguese Podengo
The Portuguese Podengo is either medium or large canines with distinctive rustic traits. They have erect, large pointed ears, almond-shaped eyes, and a head shaped like a pyramid. Their coat may vary between wirehaired or smooth and short.
As a pet, these are watchful and protective. But with strangers and around smaller animals, they can be quite tough, unleashing their hunting nature. After all, Podengos were bred to hunt wild boar and deer, ready to exhaust their energy to detain their prey.
45. Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
When you translate this breed’s name in English, it literally means “Small, low, rough-coated creature from France’s Vendée region.” The PBGV may be diminutive, yet it is quick and agile. Its strong legs can outrun rabbits, which is this dog’s favorite game.
Another fascinating characteristic of this dog is its dense and rough coat. This serves as a protective cloak that shields this pooch from harsh climates and thick underbrush. They also have ample beard-like features that protect their face from sharp thickets and thorns while hunting.
44. Cesky Terrier
Just like a true Terrier, Ceskys has a long and silky coat and wavy facial hair. They have a slightly longer neck that lends an air of sophistication to their overall appearance. These are prey-driven pooches but with a milder temperament than your average Terrier.
Ceskys may have stubby legs but they are tireless hunters. These are hard-working terriers bred to dispatch rodents and bravely work on bigger games like a hound! Interestingly, this hunting dog breed is pretty scarce, with only around 600 roaming the grounds of America.
The Borzoi is a hunting legend with a history that dates back to the Russian Romanov rule. Thus, these dogs were once called “Russian Wolfhounds” because of their innate ability to hunt and capture quarry.
A classic sighthound, the Borzoi is able to chase and pin down the toughest lupine quarry in minutes. These dogs are swift and persistent creatures that will never stop until they catch their prey. This is why it is best to keep them in a fenced area due to their instincts to pursue any small animal that they see.
42. Plott Hound
With its streamlined body and light-footedness, the Plott Hound is a graceful and swift hunting dog. These canines have flashy brindle-stripe coat patterns that range from russet to orange, and gold. They have black lips, noses, and eyes, with an expression that appears rather inquisitive and curious.
This breed got its name from Johannes Plott, a German immigrant who introduced this canine to America. His son bred this dog – a large and powerful hound capable of hunting big games. True enough, the Plott Hound remains to be the persistent hunter it was trained to be.
41. Black And Tan Coonhound
Black and Tan Coonhounds have a keen sense of smell, enabling them to easily spot their game by tracing their scent. They are proficient in hunting big game including mountain lions, bears, and deer, as well as smaller animals like raccoons and squirrels.
When not in its hunting mode, the B&T would either be up for games and active play or lounge on the sofa. As they love to chase every small creature passing their way, a sturdy fence is a must-have to keep these dogs secure within your property.
40. English Foxhound
When it comes to balance, grace, and good looks, English Foxhounds fit the criteria perfectly well. But more than a gorgeous physique, these canines are serious hunters. They are hardwired for the chase each time, which is pretty much their primal instinct as hounds.
Often seen as a huntsman’s companion, the English Foxhound does best what it is bred to do – to pursue its game right away. Their sense of smell is impeccable that no prey can escape it. Just a whiff of an animal’s scent will get this hound on its feet in no time!
39. Afghan Hound
Looking into an Afghan Hound’s eyes is like glancing into ages past – after all, it is indeed an ancient dog breed. This canine predates thousands of years in history, and originally served as hunting companions of aristocrats and royalties in the vast remote locales of present-time Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
These dogs are powerful and agile, which allows them to pursue a day-long hunt. With their massive paw pads, no tough terrain can hurt them. Intelligent and confident, this athletic dog will please any owner – hunting enthusiasts or not.
38. Bluetick Coonhound
These nocturnal hunters are well-muscled with a sleek physique. Bluetick Coonhounds are scent hounds that can work the scent trails of a wild boar, cougar, lynx, bear, and the like – even if these are days old. These are high-endurance dogs that are always eager to accompany you on a hunting adventure.
To its owner, a Bluetick is greatly devoted and affectionate. But when neglected, they tend to develop certain behaviors including their loud and mournful barking.
37. Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
This sweet-faced canine exudes a charming Old World vibe, with its shaggy coat and a wild mustache and beard covering its face. The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, even with its stocky body, is rather light-footed and swift. It possesses stamina that Gallic hunting legends are made of.
These dogs are a hardy breed with impressive endurance and dense coats for protection. Historically, these hounds were hunting companions of France’s lower classes who roamed thick and rocky regions to capture their game and put food in their pots.
36. Treeing Walker Coonhound
The Treeing Walker Coonhound’s long and strong legs enable it to make those explosive movements – ready to pursue its quarry no matter how swift. These tricolored canines have a streamlined body and a keen sense of smell, which makes them fantastic hunters day in and day out.
Treeing Walkers are fast creatures covering maximum ground even with less effort. They can pick up the faintest scent and are capable of tracking their squirming prey. No wonder these canines are a popular choice by hunters.
35. American English Coonhound
These hunting dogs are moderately tall with a deep chest and an athletic frame. They have low-hung ears and large brown eyes with sweet and warm expressions. Sportsmen and hunters adore the American English Coonhound for its stamina and speed.
As these are energetic dogs, trainers require more patience to keep them in line. This is why they are not quite a good fit for first-time dog owners who need a mellow house pet. But give this canine ample sporting and hunting adventures, and you have a happy, houndy camper!
Just one glance at a Barbet, and it is indeed reminiscent of a Muppet with its thick curly dark coat that covers this pooch from head to foot. But beyond its wild appearance, this canine is a keen hunter – strong, persistent, and a relentless swimmer. They are also intelligent dogs that are easy to train.
This rustic dog breed is typically a water dog with a fancy for swimming. They can easily locate and retrieve fowls. Overall, this hunter is a calm and mellow creature… As long as you give it plenty of exercises, that is.
33. American Foxhound
In terms of appearance, both the American and English Foxhound seem a bit similar, with the exception of the former’s longer legs. American Foxhounds are sleek hunters with explosive speed and unwavering endurance.
They are easy pets, provided that you give them what they need the most – LOTS of exercises. Otherwise, they can be lonely and destructive. Housebreaking is also a challenging ordeal for novice owners.
32. Pharaoh Hound
Their names fit them well as these canines possess regal features – smooth tan coat, leather black nose, and amber eyes that glow with wisdom. Pharaoh Hounds are graceful and swift canines with a body designed with perfect aerodynamics, allowing them to ascend rocky terrains.
These dogs were originally bred to chase and capture rabbits. Indeed, they can successfully hunt their game with their powerful endurance and impressive speed.
31. Welsh Springer Spaniel
Handy and compact, the Welsh Springer Spaniel is a versatile hunting dog that can handle all types of terrains and climates. This is made possible by its weatherproof coat that’s not just functional but visually appealing at the same time.
This Spaniel has a body made for hunting. Its solid and stocky build is perfect for a hard day’s work of chasing after squirrels and other rodents – a job that requires a ton of endurance without a doubt.
This pooch has an eye-catching white coat with some red patches all around. Kooikerhondjes have those infamous black-tipped large ears and a feathered tail. The white plume on its tail is what attracts ducks and draws them into a cage – a brilliant lure for this avid hunting dog!
As for its other features, this canine has a springy and well-balanced gait. These “Decoy Dogs” work from enclosures in canals and wetlands to catch ducks, a task similar to what the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is similarly skilled in (more on that in a bit!)
29. Norwegian Elkhound
The Norwegian Elkhound is famous for its silver-gray dense coat and a short, curled tail. These pooches have dark eyes that give an impression of alertness and bravery.
Despite their short bodies, the Norwegian Elkhound is a highly talented hunter. They are always up for pursuing their age-old game, the moose or giant elk. These canines can easily track their quarry’s scent trail, no matter how faint. Once face to face with their bigger prey, Elkhounds hold it at bay and make sure it is ready for huntsmen to conquer.
28. Sussex Spaniel
A powerful bird dog, the Sussex Spaniel is a delightful companion of sportsmen who are keen at hunting any feathered game. With its body that hangs close to the ground, these canines are able to plow through thick hedgerows to retrieve a live fowl.
In addition to their characteristic feathery golden-liver coats and long ears, these dogs produce a unique bark. The Sussex Spaniel’s distinct bark enables human huntsmen to find them easily despite its body concealed in dense underbrush – along with a quarry pinned to the ground.
Bloodhounds are famous for their long face with loose and wrinkled skin. They also have drooping ears reminiscent of a Basset Hound’s, yet not as large. Their coats can come in different colors including red, liver, and tan, or black and tan.
These relatively easy-going canines adore their family members and other dogs. However, once their nose detects something, they are off to their hunting escapades! This is why Bloodhounds have a reputation for assisting police officers with tracking humans by following their scent. Best of all, a Bloodhound’s scenting device never fails.
A Dachshund is considered small in a canine kingdom but this does not prevent them from being an excellent hunter. They are always game to catch their game! Thus, they are a rightful member of the hound group.
These long-bodied and stubby-legged dogs may not be built for long hours of running, swimming, or leaping but they are best at one thing – hunting down their prey for hours on end! They are tireless canines with a dash of independence. Nothing can come in the way of this valiant dog and its quarry.
25. Irish Red And White Setter
Strong, sinewy, and bursting with stamina, Irish Red and White Setters are well-known for their stunning coat of red and white. This feature, along with their talent as a pointer, is what makes them popular companions of human huntsmen.
The handsome Red and White is a persistent hunting dog with a strong bird sense. As excellent team players to sportsmen, these canines sneak up on the feathered game and lay beside it motionless. Once in a set position, hunters can then capture their game by casting a net over it. A brilliant tactic that never fails!
24. Gordon Setter
Gordon Setters dominate the setters world in terms of size and hardiness. These majestic canines have glimmering black coats with scattered tan markings all around. Because of their build, stamina, and dense coats, these dogs can handle tough weather and terrain easily.
Their reputation as outstanding bird dogs started 200 years back. At present, they remain true to what they are born to do – to “set” after locating their feathered quarry, much to the satisfaction of their avid huntsmen companions!
23. Clumber Spaniel
These dogs may seem heavy, with their massive heads and solid bones. Yet, once in dense underbrush, Clumber Spaniels move with great ease and fluidity. They have powerful hindquarters that give them a steady flow of stamina for overcoming a scurrying quarry.
At home, Clumbers are sweet and mellow creatures. But when on a hunting adventure, they mean business. They push through thick shrubs and punishing terrains, making them a fine choice for sportsmen looking for a highly capable hunting dog.
22. Basset Hound
They may not be the fastest hunting dog around but Basset Hounds are gifted in two things – their uncanny scenting skill and impressive endurance.
Bassets have short, yet powerful tiny legs that allow them to move in a deliberate and precise manner. They also have massive paws that perfectly match their strong legs. As for their facial features, these hound dogs have a domed, large heads, very long ears, and loose skin on its face.
Built for speed, the Greyhound can run effortlessly to capture its prey. The narrow skull and lean body are the perfect combination of superb aerodynamics, which makes this dog one of the fastest.
This hunting dog has been around since about 5,000 years ago. In Ancient Egypt, Greyhounds were commissioned to track and dispatch wildlife – big or small – roaming the vastness of the desert. Their speed, power, and endurance are key ingredients to their success in hounding.
20. Field Spaniel
Similar to their spaniel cousins, the Field Spaniel possesses the infamous glossy coat and feathery ears. They make amazing family pets because of their docile temperament. These pooches thrive well when given ample backyard romp time.
As a hunting companion, Field Spaniels never disappoint. Their medium-size bodies are designed for endurance in the water and dense forests. They never shy away from pursuing a game when the situation calls for it.
19. English Setter
Elegant and classy, English Setters is a looker. Their coats have speckled patterns of various shades including orange, lemon yellow, and golden liver. They have an oval-shaped head and warm brown eyes that can easily captivate any canine lover.
But more than good looks, an English Setter is a remarkable bird dog. Their keen sense of smell and setting ability make them a favorite companion of sportsmen worldwide.
18. Irish Setter
A vision of balance and perfection, the Irish Setter is indeed a beautiful dog. They have a substantial physique, with long and powerful legs, and brilliant chestnut or mahogany-colored coats.
Their movements are precise and swift. In fact, Irish Setters are one of the fastest dogs. As hunting partners, these canines are bold and fearless. They are easy to train and loyal to their owners.
17. English Cocker Spaniel
Balance is the perfect word to describe an English Cocker Spaniel. This dog’s physique and build are in excellent symmetry, with a medium frame and compact body. Their eyes have a dignified expression while their lush ears are waiting to be caressed.
English Cocker Spaniels are a hunter’s helper. They are tireless canines with a knack for pursuing and retrieving game birds without fail.
Amiable and graceful, the Weimaraner adores its family members. This hunting dog has a solid silvery-gray-colored coat and blue-gray eyes. They are relatively tall canines with long, powerful legs.
Bred to capture big game, Weimaraners are courageous in the field. They can tirelessly pursue quarries including wolves, mountain lions, and bears. Additionally, these dogs can point and retrieve feathered games with great accuracy.
In terms of size, Brittanys stand in between spaniels and setters. They have a medium build with a soft glow on their faces. Most importantly, these bird-dog favorites possess lush coats in white, reddish-brown, and bright orange colors.
Hunting enthusiasts regard Brittany’s versatility, endurance, and zeal. These canines are trainable and do very well in the field whether while chasing after their prey or engaging in active dog sports.
14. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is well-known for its wavy, and rather oily coat of chocolate brown and other shades. They have yellow-amber eyes that glow with warmth and kindness.
Strong and powerful, a Chessie is a gundog to the core. They take training sessions seriously and are tenacious hunters. Thus, they are an exceptional hunting buddy and an affectionate companion to humans.
Beagles have adorable faces with houndy low-hung ears and big brown eyes. Their coats come in pleasant shades of red and white, lemon, or sometimes tricolor with shades of black.
These are energetic hounds with a need for fun and playtime. But most of all, they are great hunting partners, thanks to their impressive sense of smell and endurance.
12. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon gets its name from its bristly steel gray coat that gives it a rugged, no-fuss look. This pup has an abundance of facial hair that looks like a mustache. With their unkempt appearance, these canines are pretty much low-maintenance.
Griffs are originally bred as a pointer, as well as a retriever. They are swift creatures both on land and in the water, thanks to their webbed toes and powerful legs.
11. Boykin Spaniel
The distinctive trademark of Boykin Spaniels is their lush brown coat. The shade can go from dark chocolate brown to rich, rusty liver. They have feathery large ears and round dark eyes.
Boykins are excellent swimmers. In fact, they are always ready to retrieve wild turkey and other feathered game that land in swamps and lakes. When not hunting, this pup is a sweet and affectionate creature. But in the field, Boykins is like a courageous, vigilant tiger.
10. Irish Water Spaniel
If there is one dog that can withstand frigid cold waters, no one does it better than an Irish Water Spaniel. These medium to large dogs have a waterproof, curled dark coat and a bunch of loose curls on its head.
These dogs can swim fast and cover more grounds for hours. They are one of the most famous hunting and sporting breeds because of their impressive retrieving skills.
9. American Water Spaniel
They may be a little on the mediocre side when it comes to appearance, but they are outstanding hunters. The American Water Spaniel has a waterproof and dense coat, which may either be wavy or curly. This lends them an air of ruggedness and a devil-may-care attitude.
This hunting dog breed was originally developed to work the Great Lakes’ icy waters. With their small body, they are able to quickly hop out and into the boat without rocking it to pursue and retrieve the game in seconds.
An all-around athlete, Vizslas are a favorite companion of hunters. They have a sleek and smooth rust-colored coat and a lean body. These canines are also light-footed, allowing them to pursue and capture their prey.
As a family dog, they are a bundle of stamina. But other than being an eager sporting and hunting dog, Vizslas are intelligent creatures that can be trained easily. They adore their owners and remain devoted to them.
7. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Anyone in search of a dog that is game for camping, hiking, swimming, and hunting will fall in love with the unique charms of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. They are agile pups covered in crimson or dark copper coats and with an alert expression on their eyes.
However, do keep in mind that Tollers are not for novice owners who prefer docile pets. After all, the way to a Toller’s heart is plenty of activities and tasks that will put their boundless stamina to good use.
6. English Springer Spaniel
These small Springers are quick and spunky. They can sustain hours of work in the field and on various terrains. No wonder they are ideal companions for hunting aficionados.
English Springer Spaniels love humans. Their highly social personality makes them rather miserable when left alone. When you require a rugged partner in the woods or to track-down game, Springers will never disappoint.
5. Spinone Italiano
A true hunter, the Spinone Italiano has an enormous amount of stamina. They are muscular dogs with dense and unkempt-looking coats. Another famous characteristic of this pooch is the tufted beard that gives it an Old World appeal.
The Spinone Italiano possesses all the traits that hunters look for in a loyal companion. These are intelligent dogs with the impressive skills to retrieve both on land and in the water. No matter how many hours you spend hunting, this dog breed will stay by your side tirelessly.
4. German Wirehaired Pointer
Tall and heavy, the German Wirehaired Pointer is made for a long day of hard work. They are resilient and versatile dogs with a thick wire coat that shields them from fickle weather and thorny thickets.
If you are the type of person who loves to stay active and always on your feet, the GWP will eagerly join you. They are not exactly the type that lounge all day. Hunting enthusiasts can definitely find a companion in this pup that’s brimming with eagerness and agility.
3. German Shorthaired Pointer
Just like the GWP, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a lover of the great outdoors. This pooch has a solid white and reddish-brown coat that is short and smooth. They enjoy hours of romping in the field or swimming in the lake.
As a hunting partner, the GSP is an excellent team player. It will eagerly pursue a game and retrieve it for you. With a trainable, merry, eager personality, what’s not to love about this dog breed?
2. Redbone Coonhound
The Redbone Coonhound easily fits one’s criteria of a hunting dog – a lean and sleek body with long legs for enhanced agility. It also has a stunning mahogany red coat that adds to this canine’s effortlessly handsome looks.
This pooch has a determined and confident gait, certain of every step it takes. Coonhounds can take on all kinds of terrain – no matter how challenging and punishing it may be. From steep mountains to dense swamplands, this hunter is built to chase and catch prey in one fell swoop.
1. Norwegian Lundehund
One look at the Norwegian Lundehund, and you may think it is just like any spitz dog. It has the usual curving tail, triangular ears that stick out, and a thick coat. But there is more to this pooch than its typical characteristics.
A Lundehund possesses unique structural features that make it an excellent climber. It has flexible shoulders that are responsible for this canine’s rotary gait – an impressive ability allowing it to ascend steep cliffs and retrieve live game birds efficiently. A true hunting dog at the core!
Can Hunting Dogs Be Inside Dogs?
There is nothing wrong with keeping hunting dogs indoors and turning them into “inside dogs.” However, you need to make sure that you give your pooch ample exercise and playtime outdoors to prevent behavioral problems due to excessive energy.
Will A Deer Hurt A Dog?
Deers are only likely to attack hunting dogs when threatened or provoked. Otherwise, these graceful and docile animals are peaceful and only in search of food as they are merely scavengers by nature.
Do Outdoor Dogs Live Longer?
It depends. When outdoor dogs are given proper care by their owners and taken indoors once in a while when the weather is rough, they will continue to thrive. However, when left to stay outside for an extended period, these dogs may develop hostile or aggressive behavior.