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.
Some breeds are great with locating big or small game, some can flush it out for you, and others help retrieve it. Depending on your desired quarry, some four-legged hunting companions are better-suited breeds than others.
In general, the most common hunting dogs are scent hounds or gun dogs.
• Gun dogs: Often called bird dogs as that is their primary prey, these dogs also sometimes hunt smaller animals, such as rabbits. A gun dog is used to locate prey and flush it out for the hunter to shoot. The dog
usually retrieves the quarry for the hunter.
• Scent hounds: This dog follows prey trails with its nose, making a lot of noise while running after it. The dog’s calls enable the hunter to follow the trail even when the dog is out of sight. Some scent hounds focus on pursuing prey. Others are “treeing” dogs that chase the prey up a tree and wait at the base until hunters arrive.
The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular gun dogs. This enthusiastic, energetic, and loyal dog breed can withstand cold temperatures and easily swim through cold water.
Similar to Labradors, golden retrievers also are gun dogs. They are excellent for hunting birds and other small prey. Goldens are enthusiastic, loyal, and very trainable.
The beagle is a breed of small scent hound, similar in appearance to the much larger foxhound. The beagle was developed primarily for hunting hare (beagling). The breed possess a great sense of smell and superior tracking instincts.
The American foxhound is a scent hound full of determination. It was developed to hunt foxes but are now popular with deer hunters as well. This breed is extremely athletic, known for their incredible speed and willingness to hunt down any animal desired by hunters. They are even-tempered and low maintenance.
The English Springer Spaniel is a dog breed in the Spaniel family. It was developed as a gun dog to flush, or spring, game in the field, but they’re also popular companions.
The Pointer, sometimes called the English Pointer, is a medium-sized breed of pointing dog developed in England. The breed adapted to point for birds when the use of guns during hunting excursions became more popular – they’ve remained extremely common as bird dogs ever since.
The German short-haired pointer is known for its hunting ability as much as its beauty. Just as the name suggests, this breed of dog points to game birds, alerting hunters to their position. They are great retrievers of game birds as well.
Dogs and people have been living and working together for thousands of years. In fact, our canine companions were some of our earliest hunting partners. Over the years, we’ve developed many breeds to help us hunt, each of which have specific skills that can help us find and secure several types of game. These hardy pups are athletic, have coats made for hunting, and, most importantly, have a nose that helps them sniff out game.
There are ancient cave paintings depicting stories of dogs walking alongside man. The story goes back 20,000 years to the time of pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers. As far back as 12,000 years ago, there’s evidence of dogs used for hunting, guarding and hauling weight. In most every culture, dogs have played a longstanding and important role.
The ancient Chinese kept dogs as companions and for hunting. In Egypt, dogs held great cultural significance and were often mummified and buried with their owners. In the tomb of the ancient pharaoh Ramses, there are paintings of him with hunting dogs. The ancient Greeks also valued dogs. Socrates even claimed dogs to be true philosophers. Ancient Romans also kept dogs as hunting animals and guard animals.
According to research, dogs possibly date back 135,000 years. Just like humans, dogs had to make their way to the Americas from other lands. How did they do this? It is believed that dogs crossed the Bering Sea to what is now Alaska sometime before 9000 BC Looks like the United States has Eastern Asia to thank for its bountiful population of man’s best friend.