A hunting dog is a canine that hunts with or for humans. There are several types of hunting dogs developed for various tasks and purposes. The major categories of hunting dogs include hounds, terriers, dachshunds, cur type dogs, and gun dogs. Further divisions can be made among these categories based upon the dogs' skillset and capabilities.
For a list of breeds of each type, see the detailed articles for each category:
|Hounds||Hounds are further divided into sighthounds and scenthounds depending upon the primary sense used to locate quarry. Many mammals such as jackrabbits, raccoons, coyotes, deer, and other large predators are hunted with hounds.|
|Sighthounds||Whippet||Sighthounds are tall and lean running hounds, adapted for visual acuity and speed. Their hunt method is called coursing, where prey is sighted from a distance, chased, and caught. :36, 102|
|Scenthounds||Redbone Coonhound||Scenthounds are hounds that primarily hunt by scent. Scenthounds are used to trail and sometimes 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 barks and use them when following a scent trail.|
|Lurchers||Lurcher||A Lurcher is a sighthound crossed with a working dog breed—usually a pastoral dog or Terrier bred selectively for working.|
|Gun dogs||Gun dogs are used primarily by small game hunters using shotguns. Gun dogs are classified as retrievers, 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 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 as hunting dogs for hundreds of years.[ citation needed ] 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 allowing the hunter to approach and flush the game. Pointing breeds have greater range than Spaniels.|
|Water dogs||Poodle||Water dogs are a subclass of retrievers. Typically, they are strong swimmers with a lot of endurance and are bred to hunt all manner of waterfowl.|
|Feists||Feist||Feists are small dogs that hunt small game, especially squirrels, in a similar manner to large hounds hunting 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.[ citation needed ]|
|Terriers||Lakeland Terrier||Terriers are used to hunt small 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. Larger members of this class, like those of the bull and terrier family, are sometimes used to hunt larger game, like razorbacks: the hunter will send in scenthounds to corner the pig and the much more heavily built catch dog will charge at it, bite it and hold it down until the hunter can come and kill it.|
|Curs||Catahoula Leopard Dog||Curs hunt similarly to terriers, though usually larger game. Curs are used to hunt raccoons, as well as feral pigs, cougars and other large mammals.|
|Dachshund||Dachshund||The Standard Dachshund was bred to scent, chase and flush out badgers, foxes and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the Miniature Dachshund was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the American West they have also been used to hunt prairie dogs. In Europe Dachshunds are widely used for hunting deer, boar and smaller game such as rabbits and hares. They are also excellent scent dogs and they are often used to track down wounded animals after car accidents for example. The Dachshund is also the only certifiable breed of dog used to hunt both above and below ground.|
The beagle is a breed of small hound that is similar in appearance to the much larger foxhound. The beagle is a scent hound, developed primarily for hunting hare (beagling). Possessing a great sense of smell and superior tracking instincts, the beagle is the primary breed used as detection dogs for prohibited agricultural imports and foodstuffs in quarantine around the world. The beagle is intelligent. It is a popular pet due to its size, good temper, and a lack of inherited health problems.
The Borzoi, also called the Russian Hunting Sighthound, is a sighthound hunting breed of domestic dog. They are descended from the working dogs of people who migrated from Central Asian countries to Russia prior to the 17th century.
The English Setter is a medium-size breed of dog. It is part of the setter group, which includes the red Irish Setters, Irish Red and White Setters, and black-and-tan Gordon Setters. The mainly white body coat is of medium length with long silky fringes on the back of the legs, under the belly and on the tail. The coat features flecks of colour, and the different colour varieties are referred to as belton.
The American Water Spaniel,, is a breed of spaniel which originated in the United States. It was developed in the state of Wisconsin during the 19th century from a number of other breeds, including the Irish and English Water Spaniels. The breed was saved by Dr. Fred J. Pfeifer, who set up the breed club and standard, and whose work led to recognition for the breed by the United Kennel Club, and later, the American Kennel Club. While they are the state dog of Wisconsin, they remain a rare breed.
A retriever is a type of gun dog that retrieves game for a hunter. Generally gun dogs are divided into three major classifications: retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds. Retrievers were bred primarily to retrieve birds or other prey and return them to the hunter without damage; retrievers are distinguished in that nonslip retrieval is their primary function. As a result, retriever breeds are bred for soft mouths and a great willingness to please, learn, and obey. A soft mouth refers to the willingness of the dog to carry game in its mouth without biting into it. "Hard mouth" is a serious fault in a hunting dog and is very difficult to correct. A hard-mouthed dog renders game unpresentable or at worst inedible.
The Poodle is a dog breed that comes in three varieties: Standard Poodle, Miniature Poodle, and Toy Poodle. The breed’s origin is disputed: whether it descends from Germany as a type of water dog, or from the French Barbet.
The German Wirehaired Pointer is a medium to large-sized griffon type breed of dog developed in the 19th century in Germany for hunting. It became a leading gun dog in Germany in the later part of the 20th century. It is the result of the careful mixing and crossing of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Roughhaired Pointer, and the hunting Pudelpointer in the late 19th century.
A spaniel is a type of gun dog. Spaniels were especially bred to flush game out of denser brush. By the late 17th century, spaniels had been specialized into water and land breeds. The extinct English Water Spaniel was used to retrieve water fowl shot down with arrows. Land spaniels were setting spaniels—those that crept forward and pointed their game, allowing hunters to ensnare them with nets, and springing spaniels—those that sprang pheasants and partridges for hunting with falcons, and rabbits for hunting with greyhounds. During the 17th century, the role of the spaniel dramatically changed as Englishmen began hunting with flintlocks for wing shooting. Charles Goodall and Julia Gasow (1984) write that spaniels were "transformed from untrained, wild beaters, to smooth, polished gun dogs."
Gun dogs, or bird dogs, are types of hunting dogs developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game, usually quail, dove, or duck. Gun dogs are divided into three primary types: retrievers, flushing dogs, and pointing breeds.
Pointing dogs, sometimes called bird dogs, are a type of gundog typically used in finding game. Gundogs are traditionally divided into three classes: retrievers, flushing dogs, and pointing breeds. The name pointer comes from the dog's instinct to point, by stopping and aiming its muzzle towards game. This demonstrates to the hunter the location of their quarry and allows them to move into gun range. Pointers were selectively bred from dogs who had abundant pointing and backing instinct. They typically start to acquire their hunting instincts at about 2 months of age.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a breed of gun dog. It is noteworthy for producing one of the most varied numbers of pups in a litter among all dog breeds. The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, good-natured, sporting dog standing well up at the withers and compactly built. There are "field" or "working" cockers and "house" cockers. It is one of several varieties of spaniel and is the foundation of its American cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker is closer to the working-dog form of the Field Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel.
The Drentsche Patrijshond is a versatile spaniel-type hunting dog from the Dutch province of Drenthe. Called the Dutch Partridge Dog in English, approximately 5,000 dogs are registered with the breed club in the Netherlands, and breed clubs operate in Belgium, Denmark, Scandinavia and North America. The Drentsche Patrijshond bears some resemblance to both spaniel and setter types of dog. An excellent pointer and retriever, this dog is often used to hunt fowl and adapts equally well to the field or marshes.
The Pointer, sometimes called the English Pointer, is a medium-sized breed of pointing dog developed in England. Pointers are used to find game for hunters, and are considered by gundog enthusiasts to be one of the finest breeds of its type; however, unlike most other pointing breeds, its purpose is to point, not retrieve game.
The Small Münsterländer is a versatile hunting-pointing-retrieving dog breed that reached its current form in the area around Münster, Germany. The Large Münsterländer is from the same area, but was developed from different breeding stock and is not related as the names would suggest. Small Münsterländers bear a resemblance to both spaniels and setters but are more versatile while hunting on land and water. The Small Münsterländer is recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale under Group 7, Section 1.2, Continental Pointing Dogs of Spaniel type, by the American Kennel Club as a Foundation Stock Service breed, and by The Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club as a gun dog. It is related to the Epagneul Français and the Drentsche Patrijshond.
The Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a breed of dog of the scenthound type, originating in France and used for hunting in packs. Today's breed is the descendant of a very old type of large hunting dog, and is an important breed in the ancestry of many other hounds.
A hunt test is an event at which the natural ability and training of gun dogs are evaluated against a written standard. Each dog that meets this standard earns a pass. This is unlike a field trial in which dog/handler teams compete against one another with only one dog being declared the winner.
A working terrier is a small type of dog which pursues its quarry into the earth. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name dates back to at least 1440, derived from French chien terrier 'digging dog', from Medieval Latin terrarius, ultimately from Latin terra (earth).
The German Spaniel, also known as the Deutscher Wachtelhund, is a breed of dog that was developed in Germany around 1890, and is used as a hunting dog. Descended from the old German breed, the Stoeberer, which became popular with commoners following the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, who required a versatile hunting dog. Stoeberer is now a type of hunting dog in Germany with the Wachtelhund being its sole member. The breed is not very well known outside of Germany, but was recognised by the United Kennel Club in 1996.
Dog types are broad categories of domestic dogs based on form, function or style of work, lineage, or appearance. Some may be locally adapted dog types that may have the visual characteristics of a modern purebred dog. In contrast, modern dog breeds strictly adhere to long established breed standards, that began with documented foundation breeding stock sharing a common set of inheritable characteristics, developed by long established, reputable kennel clubs that recognize the dog as a purebred.
Wolf hunting with dogs is a method of wolf hunting which relies on the use of hunting dogs. While any dog, especially a hound used for hunting wolves may be loosely termed a "wolfhound", several dog breeds have been specifically bred for the purpose, some of which, such as the Irish Wolfhound, have the word in their breed name.