10 Hunting Dog Breeds That Make Good Pets

If you’re into hunting, then you’ll definitely want a dog as your companion in the field.

In this article, we take a look at the best ten hunting dog breeds that also make great family pets.


What Makes A Good Hunting Dog?

Dogs are instinctual prey animals, so they naturally have the skills that every good hunter needs.

A good hunting dog has a strong prey drive, is highly trainable, and has excellent athletic and endurance qualities. Crucially, a hunting dog must be loyal and companionable so that you can work with each other as a closely bonded team.


What Are The Different Types Of Hunting Dogs?

You need a different firearm for different kinds of hunting, and the same rule applies to hunting dogs.

1. Scent Hounds

Scent hounds are used for tracking game animals.

The dog uses its incredibly keen sense of smell to follow the scent of the prey, typically making a whole lot of noise while doing so! That racket the dog makes tells the hunter where the prey is heading and enables the guns to continue following the animal even when it’s out of sight. Once the hunter has a clear shot, he can take the prey down, using a powerful, long-distance weapon.

Some breeds of scent hounds are pursuit dogs, whereas others are “treeing” dogs that chase the prey up into a tree, remaining underneath the prey until the hunters get there to take down the prey.

2. Gun Dogs

Gun dogs are sometimes called bird dogs since that’s their main prey, although they also hunt smaller creatures too, such as rabbits. Gun dogs generally flush out the birds from impenetrable undergrowth or reed beds onto the hunters’ guns.

Most gun dogs are also retrievers, fetching the shot bird or prey animal from water or dense undergrowth that’s inaccessible for the hunter.


10 Hunting Dog Breeds That Make Good Pets

Most hunting dogs are also much-loved family pets, such as those featured in this list.


1. Labrador Retriever

  • Height: 21 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 80 pounds
  • Group: Gun dogs

The Labrador retriever is the go-to choice of hunting dog for duck hunting.

These strong, energetic dogs are excellent swimmers and can tolerate working in chilly water with ease. Away from the hunting field, Labs are a wonderful family pet, being loyal, friendly, and excellent with kids.


2. Goldendoodle

  • Height: 14 to 21 inches or more
  • Weight: 25 to 50 pounds
  • Group: Crossbreed

The Goldendoodle is a friendly, athletic dog that makes a great hunting partner and family pet. These dogs are good swimmers and can work all day without tiring or falling behind.


3. Beagle

  • Height: 13 to 15 inches or more
  • Weight: 20 to 25 pounds
  • Group: Scent Hound

Beagles are scent hounds that have the most amazing sense of smell and an extremely loud voice!

The beagle is generally used for hunting rabbits and other small game. These dogs are also excellent pets, being loving, keen to please, and good with children.


4. English Springer Spaniel

  • Height: 19 to 20 inches or more
  • Weight: 40 to 53 pounds
  • Group: Gun dog

The English Springer Spaniel is a bird dog that’s primarily used for hunting and retrieving pheasants. At home, these dogs are energetic, slightly crazy characters that are a good fit for an active household.


5. Irish Setter

  • Height: 24 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 35 to 70 pounds
  • Group: Gun dog

The Irish Setter is renowned for its gorgeous deep red coat.

These affectionate bird dogs need lots of exercise to keep them happy, but they do make wonderful family pets.


6. Golden Retriever

  • Height: 21 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
  • Group: Gun dog

Golden retrievers are generally used as bird dogs. These dogs are excellent swimmers but are also well-known for their laid-back, chilled-out temperament and love of kids.


7. American Foxhound

  • Height: 21 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 60 to 70 pounds
  • Group: Scent hound

The American foxhound is a descendant of the English foxhound. Initially used for foxhunting, the breed was also involved in stag hunting, reveling in the chase and giving voice when in pursuit of prey.

Foxhounds can make loyal, affectionate pets, but they do need plenty of daily exercise to keep them happy.


8. Pointer

  • Height: 17 to 21 inches
  • Weight: 45 to 75 pounds
  • Group: Gun dog

The Pointer is a gun dog that’s primarily used for hunting birds, such as pheasant and quail.

These dogs have a very high prey drive, making them unsuitable for homes with other pets. However, the Pointer can make a wonderful family pet, provided you can give your dog the exercise he needs.


9. Bluetick Coonhound

  • Height: 21 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 45 to 80 pounds
  • Group: Scent hound

The Bluetick Coonhound is bred to pursue and tree pretty much any prey animal it finds. This feisty, fearless breed has even been known to chase mountain lions!

These dogs are energy-packed that can be very vocal, even when not in the hunting field! That can be a problem for apartment living, but these dogs are an excellent pet for a very active, outdoorsy family.


10. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

  • Height: 21 to 26 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 80 pounds
  • Group: Gun dog

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is an athletic gun dog that’s used for retrieving shot birds, typically from water.

Like the Lab, the Chesapeake Bay retriever is highly intelligent, devoted, and fiercely loyal to its human family. However, these dogs can be wary of strangers, which could be a problem if you have lots of visitors and friends calling at your home.


In Conclusion

A hunter’s best friend and companion in the field is often his dog. But at the end of a busy day in the Great Outdoors, you also want a dog that can be just as comfortable snuggling on the couch with the kids. Also, when your loyal four-legged friend retires from hunting with you, he needs to be happy relaxing with your family at home.

All the dog breeds we’ve featured in this guide are excellent hunting dogs that can also make loving, trustworthy family pets too.

Leave a Comment