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Whatever your reasons for choosing to hunt, a dog can be your assistant, your partner, and your companion.
Gun dogs, or bird dogs, are types of hunting dogs developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game, usually birds. Some kennel clubs define a Gundog Group for gun dogs, while other kennel clubs include them in the Sporting Group. There are several types of gundogs, each type consisting of multiple breeds. Gun dogs are divided into three primary types:
Retrievers, Flushing dogs, and Pointing breeds.
Although classified according to method of work, gun dogs often have skills which extend beyond the tasks outlined for their classification. Depending upon how they are trained, dogs may be useful in a variety of hunting situations. The methods described here are analogous to human-canine hunting going back tens of thousands of years. Obviously, firearms were not the distance-weapon at that time, but a boomerang or other thrown weapon achieves the same result, with exactly the same canid behaviors.
Pointers and Setters Upon reaching the field, the handler often will cast or direct the dog in a wide circle. Experienced dogs will search the edges of the field knowing that birds are usually found there. This wide run helps to burn off the dog's initial exuberance and may help the dog establish its bearings and form a "background" upon which game smells will be processed. The dog then begins working back and forth, starting near the hunter and slowly ranging out. The dog repeats this process as the hunters move through the field. How far a handler allows the dog to range is a matter of personal preference. When a pair of dogs work as a team, one works close in while the other ranges out in larger circles. If either dog becomes birdy, the other dog works its way over to assist. Good bird dogs are alert to their handlers and to the disposition of other dogs in the field. They should readily comply if the handler casts them to an area of particular interest, such as a brush pile or shuck of corn.
When game is detected, a dog freezes, either pointing or crouching. If other dogs are present, they also freeze, "honoring" the first dog's point. The pointing dog remains motionless until the hunters are in position. Handlers give the command whoa, instructing the dog to remain still. What happens next depends on the dog's training. Some trainers train the dog to stay motionless while the hunter steps forward and flushes the game. Other trainers direct the dog to flush the game with a command such as get it! Pointing dogs excel on covey type birds such as bobwhite, quail, and grouse as these birds will hold in position well, allowing the hunter to approach and get into position. If a bird is downed, the dogs are instructed to search for and retrieve it with the command dead bird, or simply dead.
Flushing Dogs When hunting upland game flushing dogs (spaniels and retrievers) work much more closely with the hunter. Flushers will not cover the same amount of ground as a pointing dog as the flusher must be kept within shotgun distance. Flushing dogs are often used on birds that run from the hunter. On such birds as pheasant, an aggressive flush is necessary to spring the bird to wing. Flushing dogs excel on these types of bird because they do not point the birds, giving them little time for escape on the ground. Pointing breeds are used on such birds, but must be well trained to know when the bird pointed has moved.
Once a bird has been flushed, the dog will sit or "hup" to watch the flight of the bird and mark the fallen birds for retrieval. The dog which does this successfully is referred to as steady to wing and shot. Steadiness is the hallmark of the finished spaniel. When a bird is shot, the dog should mark where it fell and wait until given the command to retrieve. Once commanded, the dog will race to the point of fall, pick up the bird, and return it to the handler.
Retrievers Retrievers are typically used when waterfowl hunting, although they can also be employed in hunting upland birds as well. Since a majority of waterfowl hunting employs the use of small boats in winter conditions, retrievers are expected to remain sitting calmly and quietly until sent to retrieve. As birds move into range, a well-trained retriever will watch and follow the handler's gun as he shoots, marking, and remembering each bird that is downed. This is called "marking off the gun", and the downed birds are called "marks". Once the shooting has ceased, the handler commands the dog to retrieve each bird that has been downed.
If a dog did not see the bird fall, a retriever takes direction from the handler, who can use hand and whistle signals to guide the dog to the unseen downed bird. This is called a "blind" retrieve. During a typical day of shooting, additional birds are frequently downed while the dog is performing a retrieve. Retrievers are taught to ignore these "diversions" until the current retrieve has been completed. Also at times multiple dogs are used on a hunt, and retrievers are also taught to "honor" another dog's retrieve by remaining calm and quiet while the other dog is working.
Ancient peoples built symbiotic relationships with wolves, wolves protected and helped humans hunt, and humans fed wolves. Over time, dog breeds diversified to hunt different animals, protect herds and help humans survive. Hunting dogs now come in all different shapes and sizes and their physical features help them hunt in different ways. Hunting dogs were and still are our hunting companions for centuries. Consider these features to get the right breed of dog with the right disposition for your hunting trips.
Nose Dogs are best known for their keen sense of smell, their olfactory sense allows them to track their prey. Bloodhounds have more scent receptors than any other breed of dog and are 40 times more sensitive than a human's. With this ability, they can track scents that are days old. Hunters sent bloodhounds to help hunt deer, foxes and other animals. Today, bloodhounds and other canines detect drugs and track missing persons or suspects. Other notable breeds with notable noses are Beagles, German Shepherds and Bassett Hounds.
Ears Pointy to droopy and everything in between, a dog's ears give it personality. Dogs don't have a superior sense of hearing but all ear shapes serve a purpose. Some ears are bred for aesthetic purposes like Greyhounds and Bull Terriers, but others are used for hunting. Prick ears belong to breeds that are the closest related to wolves like Huskies and Samoyeds. These dogs have the best sense of hearing. Drop ears on Labrador Retrievers and Bloodhounds are present on dogs that track using scent. The floppy ears block out sound so they can focus on smelling and the flaps brush up scents from the ground. Button ears are those that stick up part way and fold over; these ears are designed to help small dogs fit through crawl spaces and tunnels.
Eyes Most dogs don't rely on sight as their strongest sense, with the exception of Sighthounds. Sighthounds specialise in keeping their prey in sight while chasing. Dogs like the Whippet, Greyhound, Deerhound and Afghan Hound have sharp eyesight. Sighthounds are the fastest dogs and hunt swift prey like hare and deer.
Snout The shape and length of the snout say a lot about how dogs hunt. Dogs with shorter snouts are muscular and have the ability to sink their teeth into large prey without letting go. Pit bulls, bull terriers and bull dogs are best known for their strong bites. In fact, Bulldogs have wrinkles to keep them from choking on blood while they bite!
Coat The dog's coat is bred for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Originally, dog coats evolved to protect them from snow or heat. Short coats are typically bred for warmer climates and long coats for colder climates. Dogs with a top coat and fuzzy undercoat are insulated from the cold, are waterproof, and are protected from the sun. Huskies have this coat to protect them from the elements. This is why you should never clip or shave a husky. Other coats are thinner but are still waterproof. Consider the coat of the dog if you plan to hunt in harsh weather conditions.
Behavior Some dogs are known for their bark, some by their bite and others by their behaviour. Dogs bark to signal that they have found prey, others bite to kill the prey and pointers point out the prey you have shot. Pointers are ideally suited for hunting fowl and small game. Duck hunters famously use pointers to find and fetch the duck once it falls from far away.
Severe Breeding Dog breeding is artificially selected by humans to create desired traits. Today, some dogs are so severely bred that they suffer severe medical conditions. American bulldogs, for example, have such short snouts that they suffer from breathing problems and congestion. Other dogs are treated at birth with cosmetic surgeries like cropped ears and docked tails. If you are going to buy or adopt a dog, consider whether the aesthetic is worth the treatment.
When Christians took their hounds to the Holy Land, they found that the Arabs were equally obsessed with hunting. So dogs were exchanged. Crossed and subsequently back-crossed with the Peat Dog thrown into the mix, they created a new type of dog designed for a more specialized form of hunting, called Fowling. This involved capturing birds in a net. Fowling gave rise to what we know today as Land Spaniels and Water Spaniels. From the Land Spaniels came the Setters.
HISTORY OF SPANIELS The Spaniel was a type of dog used for catching birds and small game. In the first Century BC. when the marshes and banks of the Nile abounded with water fowl, small birds and migratory quail were hunted with spears and by throwing sticks.Then small dogs were used to flush these birds out of the undergrowth into nets. Today these small dogs are called Spaniels and many different Land Spaniel and Water Spaniel breeds recognized. Fowling is the practice of capturing of game birds including geese and ducks, which could be used for food and clothing. Before the invention of guns, wild birds were captured by large birds or falcons in conjunction with Spaniels.
"The Master of the Game" was a work written by Edward, the Second Duke of York based on Gaston Phoebus's "Livre de Chasse" written in 1387 AD. He was the first to suggest that Spaniels come from Spain but not withstanding this, there are many in other countries. He went on to describe how the sportsmen hunted with nets, Spaniels and trained hawks up in the air. The game would not dare to move lest the hawk should see them. The Setting Spaniels, on scenting the game, would turn in the direction in which the game was hiding. So with the hawks keeping the game stationary on the ground, the Setting Spaniel could get very close to it. With the Setting Spaniel trained to then lie down or crouch perfectly still, the sportsmen could place the net over both the game and the dog. If the dog was moving or standing, it would make throwing the net over them more difficult.
Falconry Falconry is catching small birds using a bird of prey. Falconry was the sport developed from the fowling which was the more traditional use of Spaniels with nets. More often used by the aristocracy, falconry involves the use of a trained bird of prey like an eagle or a hawk, to snatch up smaller birds which were often in flight, and retrieve them to the handler who was called a falconer. Training birds of prey was similar to training a dog - the bird of prey was given a reward when it returned. Falconry is still practised to this day more as a sport than as a necessity as it was in days gone by.
But fowling was the necessity which created of two types of Spaniels, Land Spaniels and Water Spaniels. By the 1500's the Setting Spaniel had also been developed in Britain. All these Spaniels could be used in conjunction with either a trained hawk or falcon as illustrated with falconry, or for the historically earlier use for fowling with the net as described above.
THE ORIGIN OF SPANIELS In 1570, Dr. Johannes Caius gave the name Spaniel to the type of dog that was used for the type of hunting called Fowling. Dr. Caius' classification was originally written in Latin and translated into English by A Fleming in 1576. The original translation of this important work is in my opinion too difficult to read to be printed in its original form. So it appears here as my interpretation in modern English. Of gentle dogs serving the hawk and first the Spaniel - called in Latin, Hispaniolus.
Such dogs are used for Fowling are Spaniels of the gentle kind - meaning what is known today as "soft mouthed" or those dogs which would not puncture the skin of the game with their teeth. There is also the Spaniel Gentle which is purely a companion dog. But here we shall consider those which are used for Fowling of which there are two kinds:
Spaniels which find the game on land - Land Spaniels.
Spaniels which find the game on water - Water Spaniels.
Land Spaniels Most people call these dogs by one general word Spaniels, because this kind of dog came originally out of Spain. Some Spaniels which work on the land do so to be used with the hawk. By swiftness of foot, they cause the bird to take flight, so the hawk can swoop down on them and take them to their master. Alternatively, they quest backwards and forwards, searching out and springing the bird so betraying the place where they hide, so a net can be thrown over them.
Water Spaniels The ability of this kind of dog which hunts birds upon water is partly a natural instinct, and partly diligent teaching. This sort is somewhat big and heavy, having long, rough, and curled hair not obtained by extraordinary trades, but given by Nature's appointment. Yet nevertheless, I have described and set him out in this manner, namely knotted from the shoulders to the hind legs. The end of his tail is somewhat bare and naked, as if by shearing off such troublesome and needless hair, they might achieve more lightness and swiftness, and be less hindered in swimming.
This kind of dog is properly called a "Water Spaniel" because he frequents and has an affinity for water, where his game, principally ducks and drakes live. Hence he is often called "a Dog for the Duck." These dogs fetch fowl out of the water as if they were stung to death by a venomous worm. These dogs also bring the hunters their arrows out of the water that have missed their mark and otherwise would not be recovered. Often they will also bring lost shafts, which the hunters thought they would never see, touch or handle again. Under these circumstances they are called "Searchers," and "Finders". Although the duck and other water birds try to deceive both the dog and its master by diving under the water, these birds can also act subtlety in another way. If a man approaches the place where they build, breed, or sit on a nest, the hens offer themselves voluntarily to the hunter's hands by pretending they have a certain weakness of their wings or an infirmity of their feet.
So these water birds go so slowly and leisurely, enticing and alluring the men to follow them until they are long distance from their nests. By this provident cunning, or cunning providence, they avoid betraying the place, where the young ducklings are. Great therefore is their desire not only to protect their brood, but also to protect themselves. For when they have an inkling that they are seen, they hide under water weeds, whereby they cover themselves so closely and so craftily, that only the Water Spaniel, by quick smelling, may discover their deceit.
The Fisher Dog (Caius interpreted) There has been a report of a dog called a Fisher, which seeks fish by smelling among the rock and stone. I know of none in England but I have been diligent and busy in demanding the question of fishermen and huntsmen, being careful and earnest to learn and understand of them if there are any such dog. When fishermen and huntsmen have been diligently questioned, some believe that the Beaver or Otter as well as the Puffin bird act like some species of fish.
But there is a kind of dog which follows the fish to apprehend and take it, whether they do this for the game of hunting or for hunger like other dogs, which when they are famished for want of food, covert the carcasses of carrion and rotting flesh. I know that when fish are scarce, both the Beaver and Otter leave the water and range up and down the land, slaughtering a lamb until they have fed themselves with flesh - then return to the water from whence they came. The seal also hunts fish between rocks and banks. So it is logical to include a Fisher Dog which acts in this way is included in this classification.
HISTORY OF SETTERS The historical use of Setting Spaniels or Setters was first described in French in the 'Hunting Book of Gaston Phoebus' of France in 1387 AD and was translated into English by Edward, Duke of York into a book called "The Master of Game" between 1406 and 1413. Dame Juliana Berners also described them in her "Book of St Albans" published in 1486. Furthermore a distinguishable Setter appears in the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries (pictured) of around 1450's
Setting Spaniels Setting Spaniels or Setters first appeared in Britain in the late 1400's when a bond signed by a John Harris on October 7th, 1485 agrees to keep for six months to train a certain spaniel to set partridges, pheasants and other game for ten shillings of lawful English money. Though today's Setters are divided into four distinct varieties, there can be no doubt that all have a common origin. Most authorities agree that the Spaniel (Sporting) had definite influence and of all the theories put forward, the old Spanish Pointer seems to have somehow completed the mix. In the 1500's Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who was supposed to have been the first person to train setting dogs in the manner which has been commonly adopted by his successors. Being a contemporary of Dr Caius, it is believed he had an influence on the description below
In 1570, Dr. Johannes Caius first classified the Setting Spaniel. Dr. Caius' classification was originally written in Latin and translated into English by A Fleming in 1576: There is another sort of dog called a 'Setter' which is suitable for fowling partridge or quail because of the way in which he works. This dog makes no noise either with foot or tongue whilst it follows the game. These dogs diligently obey the direction of their master's voice or signal commands and gestures which bid the dog to go either go forward, draw backward, incline to the right, or yield toward the left.
When the dog finds the bird, he keeps silent. He stops and with a close, covert, watching eye, lays his belly to the ground, he creeps forward like a worm. When he approaches near to the place where the bird is, he lays down, and with a mark of his paws betrays the place of the bird's last abode. Once the fowler has observed his dog marking the spot where the bird is, he immediately opens and spreads his net, intending to take the bird. The dog is then signalled to rise up and draw nearer to the bird, despite probably being already ensnared and entangled in the net.
However catching hare with a net is a different matter and one to be marvelled at, remembering that these dogs are domestic creatures or household servants, brought up at home with offal and fragments of food. But hare is a wild and skittish beast and one has been seen ensnared in a net with a poor dog, nipping and pinching it with his teeth and claws, and cruelly thumping him with the force of his feet. This is no trumped up tale nor trifling story but it is worthy of being reported, that this poor dog was expected to suffer drowning in seas of silence.
A hunting dog is a canine that hunts with or for humans. There are several types of hunting dogs developed for various tasks. 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' skill sets.
The Origin of Hunting Dogs There is a lot of debate about which animal mankind domesticated first. Some believe that goats were the first domesticated animal, and this is possible. Others insist it was the horse, but with all due respect to horse people, they are wrong - horses were domesticated around 4,000 BC, whereas the origin of hunting dogs is known to date back approximately 20,000 years. We know this from ancient art that often depicts dogs as hunting along with their human companions.
When you think about it, it just makes sense. In ancient times, if you couldn't hunt, you'd die. So, you'd make sure that you had every possible advantage on the hunt. Dogs, being highly trainable and possessed of a healthy prey drive, were logical companions for hunters. Of course the role of the dog evolved to include other ways of assisting humans, including guarding livestock and herding. Today, dogs are mainly kept as pets, although working dogs are still common. And those who hunt with dogs will tell you that the bond between man and canine could not possibly be expressed more perfectly.
3 Categories Once you take the herding and guarding breeds out of the equation, hunting dogs are made up of three broad categories - scent hounds, gun dogs, and terriers. Of course these dogs aren't just used for hunting. Many are simply pets. Terriers in particular have begun to fall out of favor as hunting dogs, since their main purpose was to track wounded game. As hunters become more responsible and more focused on a clean kill, terriers were less used, and today are hardly ever used. So, for purposes of our discussion, we'll talk only about hounds and gun dogs. Is there a difference between hounds and gun dogs? Yes. The purpose of the hound is to chase running game. Gun dogs are employed to flush out hiding game.
The Hounds Like spaniels, hounds generally fall into two types: Sighthounds and scenthounds. Sighthounds are different from scenthounds in their methods and adaptations. The long, lean head of the sighthound gives it a greater degree of binocular vision, and the body is usually quite slender with an elongated lower spine, giving a double suspension gallop when it runs. In many cases this class is older than the scenthound group: the greyhound, the Scottish Deerhound, and the Saluki have origins going well back into the Middle Ages and earlier. Their speed, agility and visual acuity are particularly adapted for coursing game in open meadows or steppes, and all of them are adapted for running down prey rather than just sniffing for them until they catch up.
They are independent in nature, and are worked singly or in a "brace" of two or three dogs. Sighthounds are generally quiet and placid dogs compared to other hunting breeds, but are capable of explosive speed. The Irish Wolfhound, a member of this group, is noted for its very quiet demeanor and love of a good rest by the fireplace, but for hundreds of years it was used for coursing and killing wolves; its long legs would chase the wolf until it was worn out. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are one of the few hound breeds with both capabilities, and, though they are not the fastest runners, they are notable for having exceptionable endurance.
If you have ever heard the booming, distinctive voice that a hound belts out when on the scent, you will never forget it. In the context of a neighborhood, that loud voice can be a nuisance, but for hunters, it helps them to follow their dog when it's on the scent, even when the dog is not visible. Hounds are bred for endurance, and able to follow game over rough terrain and long distances.
There are two sub-categories of hound - the tree hound, and the running hound.
Tree Hounds, as you might expect, keep game animals in trees where they are seeking refuge until the hunter can arrive. So why, you ask, would an animal need to be "treed"? It's because some types of game are legal to hunt, whereas others are not. When the animal is treed, the hunter can identify the type of animal, as well as its gender. If a female of the species is not legal to hunt, for instance, the hunter can get a better look at the animal when it is immobile in a tree than he or she can when the animal is on the ground, and on the run.
Running hounds are useful when the species is easily identified, or when the gender or the animal being hunted does not matter. No one cares if a rabbit or squirrel is male or female, for instance, since these species are not in any way at risk.
Gun Dogs Gun dogs are typically used for hunting wetland game like geese and ducks, or for upland game like pheasants, partridge, woodcock and, occasionally, rabbits. The purpose of the gun dog is to flush out game that is within shooting distance, and then once the hunter has made the kill, to retrieve the game. Gun dogs differ from hounds in that they locate the scent of the animal in the air, as opposed to on the ground. They also work in a pattern to flush out the animal, as opposed to leading the hunter in a full-on chase.
The Breed... The breed of hunting dog you choose will depend on the type of game you want to hunt. If you want to simply get yourself a brace of pheasant rather than having to deal with dressing out a deer and then packing out the meat, you'd be better off with a gun dog than a hound. A gun dog will work in small areas to flush small game, whereas a hound could lead you on a chase for miles. Small game hunting is a morning out in the woods or field - larger game is a day-long commitment. So, choose the type of dog according to the type of hunting you are most likely to do on a regular basis.
With hounds, you might want a dog that is going to bark constantly when in pursuit of game, letting you know that he hasn't lost the scent. Or, you might prefer a quieter dog, who will bark only when the game has been found. A Beagle or Basset Hound will typically bark a lung up, whereas a Cur will be quiet until he locates the game.
Hunting has been a necessity of man since the dawn of our existence, we've relied on hunting to provide food, clothing, and tools for centuries in order to survive. A successful hunt could mean the difference between life and death, and generations of hunters have looked to their four-legged partners to ensure that chance at life. There are many successful hunters that rely completely on their own skills to hunt, but working with a hunting dog is a great way to combine your own skills with the advantages offered by a dog. Our ancestors better understood the balance of man and nature, and our ties to the earth. By working directly with a piece of nature, we can experience a more intense connection to the game we pursue, and increase our daily dose of manliness.
The best hunting dogs don't just hunt with their noses. They understand terrain. They check in with their human counterpart to see if he knows something about where the birds might be hunkered down. They listen for hustling pheasants trying to make foot bail through the briars. Spend enough time with good hunting dogs, and you'll see that they're not just gifted with speed and heightened senses. They get cagey. They learn tricks and employ them. They learn to work smart and hard. Here, we introduce you to some of our favorite breeds.
SPANIELS Spaniels definitively fall into two types: ones that seek prey in water and others that seek it on land. Spaniels are the oldest class of gundog in existence, going back at least to the late Renaissance. Flushing spaniels combine hunting, flushing, and retrieving skills. Flushing spaniels that are used in the modern field include the Brittany, the English Springer Spaniel, the slightly smaller Welsh Springer Spaniel, and the field bred American and English Cocker Spaniels. The larger two chiefly are used for retrieving and flushing game in thick grass or mild underbrush, with the Brittany having working habits closest to later developed pointers. Cocker Spaniels are generally used for thick prickly brush that they can duck, dive and dodge in pursuit of smaller game like rabbits, and Clumbers, Sussex, and Field Spaniels are preferred for their slower, methodical hunting pattern.
The American Water Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, Kooikerhondje, and the Boykin Spaniel are noted for their water work and do very well in temperate water, with the last being adapted to subtropical swamps. They fall into the water spaniel category. Many of these breeds vary their game according to the desires of the hunter: American Water Spaniels are known to be able to go after animals as big as a large goose in the water or the much smaller prairie chicken out of the water. Boykin Spaniels have a coat more closely adapted to the warmer temperatures of the American South whereas Irish Water Spaniels are adapted for cool, damp conditions, hence the curly coat and whiplike tail of the latter.
HOUNDS Like spaniels, hounds generally fall into two types: Sighthounds and scenthounds. The scenthounds are the younger of the two classes. Typical examples of the scenthound family include the Beagle, Bloodhound, members of the Coonhound family, and the Grand Bleu de Gascogne. There is great variety in how this group operates, but the one constant is having some of the strongest noses in dogdom: Bloodhounds have been used for hundreds of years to track both man and beast, sometimes on trails that have been sitting on the ground for days.
Members of the coonhound family were originally bred in the American South, a region with terrain that varies from mountains to forest to swamps, and thus require hounds with very versatile abilities. They are still used to this day to hunt many different kinds of beasts, ranging in size from the squirrel to the American black bear, so accordingly they are bred for great stamina in multiple terrain, on water and land - all are excellent swimmers, a loud booming bark that can carry for miles, an ability to defend themselves against animals that can fight back violently, an ability to work singly or in packs, and a short coat that pairs well with a humid subtropical climate.
Beagles have been bred in the British Isles since at least the 16th century as rabbit and fox hunters who will relentlessly pursue the scent of prey even when it goes to ground and were originally intended to work in large packs: they have a gregarious temperament. A Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a very large breed of scenthound that is also quite old: it was a common dog for noblemen to use in their hunting parties and also was a pack hunter; many scenthounds in France were kept by wealthy men to trail quarry on private estates and today it still sees use for slow, methodical hunts of medium-sized game.
SETTERS & POINTERS Setters and pointers hunt over long distances to find game birds like members of the pheasant and quail family, using their noses to find the prey and then sneaking up on them in the brush, showing the hunter exactly where the bird is hiding. Most of this family comes from Europe, and would include the Shorthaired, Wirehaired, Shorthaired German Pointers and Weimaraner from Germany, The Viszla from Hungary, Bracco Italiano from Italy, and field bred Irish Setters, Irish Red and White Setters, English Pointers, English Setters, and Gordon Setters from the British Isles. Many in this group share traits with spaniels in terms of the coat they have: it is easier to pick out bits of nettle from a long coat than a short one and the coat itself offers some protection from damp and thorny conditions.
WATER DOGS Water dogs fall into two categories for hunting: the retrievers and multi-purpose. Retrievers are excellent swimmers with characteristic webbed feet, and many derive from either Canadian, American, or British stock. Retrievers typically have oily coats that help repel icy water, and are noted for having high intelligence and being very strongly bonded to their masters. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is very unusual in the fact that it "tolls" plays around in the hopes of attracting the attention of waterfowl from above and then letting its master shoot the bird, whence it retrieves it and goes back in the blind. Its long silky double coat is ideal for brushy locations hunters hide in for waterfowl.
Golden Retrievers are originally from Scotland: their long, flowing, blonde double coats make them ideally suited to Scotland's rainy wet climate and their patience on land and in water is the stuff of legend, they shall wait for a bird for hours and will obey their master so long as master rewards him with fond affection. Curly Coated Retrievers were bred in England for both upland bird hunting and for still water retrieval, and are noted for being very stubborn even if the weather is wet, windy, and cold: they simply will not leave the field until they have found the goose and brought it back to master.
TERRIERS Terriers were bred to kill, and are one of the few hunting dogs that have worked in urban environments: many terriers of English, Scottish, and Irish extraction were extremely popular for killing vermin. Some weighed only 15-20 pounds and were easy to keep in small apartments. Unlike many other hunters, this group did not exclusively work in rural areas: rats were rampant in Victorian-era London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin, Birmingham, Belfast, and Glasgow, and poisons had marginal effects: the rats bred in the dirty conditions of these cities faster than traps could be laid.
It became very profitable for working-class men to have a profession where they trained small dogs to sniff out and kill as many rats as they could as fast as they could. They required dogs that had very fast reflexes, had a high tolerance for pain (rat bites are painful), and a ruthless never say die attitude. They also required dogs that had more than one type of coat depending on the work needed, but both had to be low maintenance: Cairn terriers, a breed from Scotland, have a waterproof coat with a harder outer layer and a softer inner layer that was ideal in cool and damp conditions.
It would have been an excellent breed for hunting rats in a laird's stable and only required a clipping once a month. Rat Terriers were originally farm dogs who were bred to rid barns of mice and rats in barns and grain silos of the Midwest.. Jack Russell Terrier comes in two coats, one long and wiry and the other short: the short coated variety spent more time underground doing battle with badgers and foxes and did not need the wiry hair as much as it would be taken out of the hunter's saddle bag at the last moment to seek its prey. In fox hunting, they are often paired with hounds should prey go to ground, since most breeds of terrier will pull the fox out of its hole and never back down until its master calls it off.
MOLOSSERS Some hunting dogs are used primarily to aid in the hunt for large members of the cat family (felids) such as lion in the Old World and cougar in the New World. A pack may be used either, to track the animal and keep it at bay, which combines both giving voice to the sound known as baying, and surrounding and confining the animal or, they may be expected to engage the animal in combat and seize it, in the manner of the catch dogs used in boar hunting, until the huntsmen have the opportunity to dispatch it. This dual function means that the dogs are of essentially molosser type and are among the largest of all hunting dogs.
BULL & TERRIER Members of the bull and terrier subfamily are used in the United States and Australia for the hunting of feral pigs, often paired with scenthounds - their job is to wait until the hounds have found the pig and thereafter to charge at it in an explosion of strength and stamina, throwing themselves at the pig and keeping it busy until the hunter comes to kill it. From their terrier ancestors they get great courage, lightning fast reflexes, and great stamina that enables them to run for miles without getting tired. They are bred to have a loyal heart that will protect their master and the other dogs from the razor-sharp tusks of an adult boar and the bulldog blood of their ancestors is considered to promote a bite that does not let go.
Unlike hounds and some other hunting breeds, these dogs do very poorly if left in a kennel by themselves and are normally kept in the home with the hunter's family. So long as they are loved, properly trained, and well cared for, they will reward their master or any of master's family by never backing down easily if they sense danger or if the boar is about to charge or hurt their beloved humans or other members of the pack, even if badly wounded. The Old English Bulldog itself is believed to be the descendant of the medieval Alaunt, a boarhound, and thus in the Southeastern United States it is very common to see its two descendants, the American Pitbull Terrier, and the American Bulldog, working side by side in Kevlar vests pursuing a furious boar for hours in a swamp.
LION HUNTERS It is thought that in ancient times Assyrian mastiffs were used to hunt Lions and in Roman times mastiffs from Britain were put into combat against them. The practice of lion-baiting also occurred as late as the 19th century in England, using Old English Bulldogs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The breed most associated with lion hunting is the Rhodesian Ridgeback, an African breed whose history began in the 18th century, when the first European settlers bred their own dogs with dogs domesticated by Khoisan tribes that had a ridge of hair along their backs. Though the resulting dogs were undoubtedly used to bay lions, the 2008 Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress took the view that in its early use, the Ridgeback was more a "hunter's & farmer's ox-wagon dog" than a "lion dog", and had a general guarding and hunting role, including the hunting of birds. They have also been used to hunt other felids such as cheetahs and leopards.
THE PANTHER DOG The "panther dog" was a Pennsylvanian crossbreed dog developed in the 19th century by Aaron Hall to hunt cougars, for which "panther" was a colloquial name. It was the only breed known to have been specifically bred for hunting cougars and is now extinct. Henry W. Shoemaker wrote of it in 1907:
Packs of panther dogs would soon spring up in the mountainous settlements, and the breeding of these animals would give an impetus to the canine industry in these regions. SMALL "game bred" bulldogs ARE SAID TO BE THE BEST for this purpose. Although many prefer the ordinary whippet or "fice".
Aaron Hall, the "Lion Hunter of the Juniata", slayer of fifty panthers in Pennsylvania between 1845 and 1869, bred a race of panther dogs. They were part bulldog, part bloodhound, part Newfoundland, and part mastiff. They were so large that people were able to ride on the back of one of them. They were trained to hunt in pairs, and when the quarry was overtaken, to seize it by the ears on either side, holding the monster until the hunter appeared. With Hall's death, in 1892, this interesting breed of dog was allowed to become extinct.
WORKING GUNDOGS DISCIPLINE This material proudly presented by SSAA.ORG.AU and Emma Marris
The Working Gundogs discipline was established to promote the use of trained gundogs in the field. Responsible hunters ensure that game is quickly despatched and retrieved over land or water. The gundog has been fulfilling this role for centuries. Working Gundogs is a shotgun discipline that promotes the use of trained gundogs for hunting and retrieving in the field. The discipline conducts training, trials and competitions at various levels to provide owners with a guide to improving the abilities of their dogs.
The four main Working Gundogs disciplines include Retrieving, Hunt, Point and Retrieve, Spaniel and Pointer and Setter, with the various breeds of Labradors, Brittanys, retrievers, pointers, setters, spaniels, munsterlanders, weimaraners and more all having their own skills and specialities. There are four subdisciplines within the Working Gundogs discipline:
Retrieving The Retrieving discipline encourages handlers to work closely with their dogs to ensure the dog will retrieve game on command. The dogs are trained to be steady to the shot and to the fall of game. All of the popular retrieving dogs are showcased in this discipline including the Labrador, golden retriever, German shorthaired pointer, weimaraner, munsterlander, wirehaired Pointer, Epagneul Breton (Brittany), Vizsla and English springer spaniel. However, don't be surprised to see any well-trained gundog breed do very well in this discipline.
As is the case with all gundog trial activities, retrieving trials are designed to cater for all levels of ability. As a dog gains more experience, the trial formats become more difficult. Retrieving trials are a popular gundog activity. Trial formats are designed so that novice dogs are expected to carry out easier retrieves, while experienced dogs are expected to be able to complete more testing runs. Retrieving is a basic requirement of gundog work and retrieving trials over both land and water are designed to assess and improve a dog's abilities in this area.
Hunt, Point and Retrieve The Hunt, Point and Retrieve (HPR) discipline caters for utility gundogs. Dogs in this discipline are expected to be versatile, and it is this fact that has led to their enormous popularity. Go to any duck swamp, rabbit patch or quail paddock and the odds are that you will see an HPR dog at work. Dogs seen in this discipline include the German shorthaired pointer, Epagneul Breton (Brittany), Vizsla, munsterlander, wirehaired pointer and weimaraner.
The aim of HPR field trials are, under conditions similar to a normal day's hunting, to test handlers and their dogs in competition against each other in order to determine the dog that best fulfils the role of an HPR gundog on the day of the trial. Some of the dogs that perform creditably in HPR events will often bob up and do well in retrieving.
Spaniel The working English springer spaniel is the most common spaniel breed used in the field in Australia. Springers are trained to be steady to shot and game, and are required to retrieve shot game on command. These little dogs are generally full of enthusiasm and are a pleasure to watch. Spaniel field trials are all action, with the trial being conducted under conditions that reflect a normal day's shooting. Hunting within range of the handler, the spaniel's job is to find and flush game. The competing spaniel is expected to retrieve shot game for its handler. Spaniel trials are normally conducted on rabbits. Before a spaniel can be awarded a field trial title, it must successfully complete a water test to demonstrate that it will swim and retrieve from water.
Pointer and Setter Dogs seen in this discipline include the pointer, Irish setter, English setter, Gordon setter and Irish red and white setter. The Pointer and Setter discipline includes dogs that have been bred for the task of working with speed and style in the quest for game birds. In Australia, they excel in the pointing of our great game bird, the stubble quail. The dogs are expected to work under their handler's instructions, to be steady to wing and shot, to back another dog on point and to retrieve or point shot game. Dogs may work at a distance from their handlers, but are expected to be under control at all times. The purpose of Pointer and Setter field trials is to find the best hunting dog in terms of the criteria that are seen in the class bird dog - finding ability, style, bidability and application to its task.
Dogs have been hunting wild animals and birds for centuries. In fact, we all know that originally, dogs were domesticated by humans primarily to help out with hunting, whether by becoming best hunting dogs on their own merit, or by assisting human hunters. Top Best Hunting Dogs for All Types of GameEven back in the medieval times, canines used to go alongside hunters on horseback to hunt wildlife, and there are many writings that point to dogs being original hunters. Today, hunting with dogs by your side is not as popular in many US states, but the practice didn't go away completely. Not by a long shot.
Hunting is still very popular, and hunters are always on the lookout for the best hunting dogs, which are often chosen and listed by other professional hunters who evaluate every gun dog's capabilities and assess which gun dog breed is most appropriate for certain types of hunts. When it comes to choosing only the best hunting dogs, that is a very hard pick to make. All dogs are unique in their own regard and are best for specific hunting tasks.
For example, some gun dog breeds are better at catching fast prey such as rabbits or foxes, while others will be pros at sniffing out hiding places of certain animals. The bottom line is that there's no one single best hunting gun dog. There are multiple breeds that are considered to be best hunting dogs by professional hunters, and here is the list of those for your below.
30 Best Hunting Dogs for All Types of Game
Boykin Spaniel A close relative of (or rather a mixture of) an American Water Spaniels, Pointers and Retrievers, Boykin Spaniel is a breed that has originated in South Carolina back in the beginning of 20th century. These rare best hunting dogs are especially loved by serious hunters and have gathered some decent, but not highest rankings on the hunting dogs charts across multiple dog hunting online resources. Boykin Spaniel is very energetic dog breed that loves to work hard. They are often used in hunts for mainly pheasants, grouses or quail upland. Occasionally, hunters will also take Boykins with them for hunting ducks and geese, although this is not their specialty.
Brittany Spaniel Brittany dog breed, which originated in France sometime in the 1800's, is a cross from different Spaniels and English Setters. Brittanies were bred for pointing and retrieving. They are a quick and curious breed and they do need a lot of exercise on a daily basis, as they can get quite destructive when they do not get enough of it. Aside from being simply cute, adorable and friendly family dogs, Brittany breed is different from other pointers because is closer to the ground, and will be able to outmaneuver most other pointers by deftly running through bushes and trees. Brittany is considered an all-around great hunting breed.
Wire Fox Terrier Energetic, lively and small, Wire Fox Terriers are one of the best hunting dogs because that is what they were bred to do back in England of 17th century. These dogs go up to only 20 lbs in size, and are fairly rare these days among hunters, but their powerful frame and fast speed makes them a very suitable chaser of foxes. Today, Wire Fox Terriers are home dogs that are great with kids. Back in the day, these dogs would chase foxes into their underground burrows, which is where hunters would finish the job, or vice versa - out of their dens and other hiding places. Because Fox Terriers, both smooth and wirehaired, have small bodies, they are able to get in most places foxes can. And their relatively long legs allow to keep up with foxes, too.
English Pointer Pointers are a popular breed, but because there several types of Pointers, the original one is often called English Pointer. Genetic makeup of Pointers includes some of the most talented breeds, such as Greyhounds, Foxhounds, Bloodhounds and setting spaniels. Pointers have originated in England sometime in the 1600's. As their name suggests, they were bred for pointing out prey during hunts. This is a very hard working breed who is especially fascinating by catching anything with feathers. Pointers can endure different types of climates and will be able to maintain high energy levels while searching for that prey in the tall grass. Today, they make great companions and are considered one of the best hunting dogs to ever exist. There are two other breeds in the Pointer family which are both covered on this best hunting dogs list.
Bluetick Coonhound Mostly popular because of certain cartoons, Bluetick Coonhound is actually one of the best hunting dogs one can wish for. This breed is mostly famous for being able to stand toe to toe with some of the most dangerous animals, such as mountain lions. Bluetick Coonhound are great mountain lion hunters and they have the power, stamina and sense of smell to keep up with an "enemy" of that level. Coonhound's ability to pick any trail and follow it to a letter is famous among avid hunters, and most of them know the true value of this breed. Originally, they were purposefully bred a slower version of foxhounds, but Bluetick Coonhounds evolved to have a lot of athleticism and pose threat to animals like cougars.
Irish Setter Most Setters were first bred for bird setting, retrieving, and pointing. Irish Setters originated in Ireland in the 1700's. They are a mixture of spaniels, pointers and other setters. This is one of the best hunting dogs due to them being fast workers and who are especially talented at bird setting and retrieving. It's a very lively breed that is willing to work hard for you. Irish Setters will be most often used in hunting small game, and occasionally for turkey hunts. This breed is not a hunter's first choice, especially with English Setter still out there, or Brittany who is considered to be much better at the same task. Nonetheless, Irish Setters are still great for hunting, and they are also a lively, beautiful and friendly dog for home and kids.
American Water Spaniel A close cousin of the already mentioned Boykin Spaniel, American Water Spaniels have originated in the United Stated around late 1800's. These dogs were bred for bird flushing and retrieving, and quite frankly, we all know they are great at it. In fact, AWS which is how they are often abbreviated, are rated much higher than Boykins by dog hunting professionals. Similarly to Boykin Spaniel, these best hunting dogs are adept at retrieving that small game in the tall grass, and they will work hard until the prey is found. AWS are not by any means lazy dogs, which makes them perfect for those multi day long hunts. On the flip-side, they do not require excessive exercise on a daily basis, just long walks.
Bloodhound Possessing quite possibly the coolest and scariest sounding name, Bloodhound dog breed is exactly what it sounds: they are ruthless hunters who are prepared to face whatever prey they are after. Bloodhounds are truly best hunting dogs that always consider themselves leaders of the pack, and they are prepared to take on any challenge with their amazing tracking skills and sense of smell. This large breed was originally bred for hunting big and potentially dangerous game, such as wild boar or deer. However, after people discovered how strong of a sense of smell these dogs have, they began using Bloodhounds for tracking people as well, which is the primary reason these dogs are still bred today.
Clumber Spaniel Originated from England in the 1700's and bred for bird flushing and retrieving, Clumber Spaniel dog breed is not a name of the breed you will hear too often. Nonetheless, this is still a Spaniel, and Clumber Spaniel shares a lot of the same traits with other Spaniels, all of whom are great dogs for hunting. Clumber Spaniels love their walks and may need more baths than other dogs to keep their beautiful white coats shining white. But in terms of hunting, this gundog is ideal for upland hunting in dense cover. They were originally bred for partridge and pheasant hunts, but their slower speed doesn't allow them for effective chases. However, Clumber Spaniels have a very fine sense of smell and they are great on stamina.
Beagle America's iconic hunting dog, Beagles are the breed of choice for hunting rabbits - one of the toughest assignments for a hunting dog. It's been over two hundred years that Beagles have been known as professionals of small game hunts, and they continue to maintain this name to this day, with most professionals considering them to be the absolute best hunting dogs. Beagle dog breed will usually have a strong nose, too, and they are often used for assignments as detection dogs. Fortunately or not, they love barking, which allows hunters to always keep track of where the Beagle is currently at when on a hunt. But on the other hand, this is not the type of dog your neighbors will appreciate you bringing home one day.
American Foxhound Speaking of America's iconic dogs, there are very few breeds with as rich of a history as American Foxhound. George Washington's dog of choice, this breed originated in the USA from a mixture of English foxhounds and other similar breeds. As the name suggests, their original purpose was to hunt foxes, but today, they will most often run deer during hunts. American Foxhounds are very energetic and stubborn with a good amount of stamina, which is what makes them best hunting dogs for many different types of hunts. They also have a good nose and are amazing at working in packs. This dog will love chasing rather than tracking, and needless to say, American Foxhounds have the tools for that.
Cocker Spaniel Another popular and famous "home" dog breed, Cocker Spaniel was first bred in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century or early 20th century, and the breed was used for bird flushing and retrieving. For those wondering, the name "Cocker" is derived from the fact that this breed was all about hunting Woodcocks. After Cocker Spaniels were brought to the United States, the breed was further improved and their hunting abilities expanded. Even though this gundog is used in hunts today mostly for small bird retrieving, and very often at that, Cocker Spaniels are a popular cute home dog. Their gorgeous coats will need extra attention to keep in good condition or can be cut short for easier grooming.
Labrador Retriever Easily the best hunting dog for any type of waterfowl, Labrador Retrievers are among the most beloved canines for all hunters around the world. These dogs are perfect for hunting around water, because their physical abilities and attributes is exactly what a small game bird dog needs: muscular and strong body, double coat and a thick tail for balance when maneuvering. In addition to all the hunting trains of Labrador Retrievers, another reason why this breed is considered to be best hunting dogs is their intelligence. These dogs are amazing at being trained, listening commands and simply grasping the essence of obedience training. Labrador Retrievers mature faster than most other dog breeds and can be easily trained as puppies, which is why not only are they often used for hunting but also as working, service and therapy dogs.
English Setter Those who do not consider an Irish Setter to be a good hunting companion, English Setter might be a better choice. This is a talented field hunting gun dog and one of the most popular for bird hunts. They are great at pointing and retrieving small game, and chances are that if you go see a bird hunt with dogs involved, there will most likely be an English Setter used for retrieving. Even though Brittany dog breed is often rated higher by professional hunters than English Setters, this highly celebrated breed is great at what they were bred to do. Aside from the popular shorthaired pointer, here are two other types of English Setters - wiredhaired and longhaired. All are aknowledged by AKC's registry and all are inborn hunters.
Appalachian Turkey Dog Appalachian Turkey Dogs are the type of canines which we learned more about from true hunters. There are many types of dogs that will be skilled enough to hunt turkeys, but no breed is better at this job than Appalachian Turkey dogs. These dogs are not yet recognized by AKC's registry and they are, essentially, still in the making. Appalachian Turkey dogs have been bred from a mixture of Plott hounds, setters and pointers. Even though the name suggest a canine that would be great at chasing turkeys, the focus with this breed was an all-around best hunting dog: good stamina, speed, desire to chase and skills for hunting waterfowl.
Golden Retriever It's not your regular family dog. Golden Retrievers are one of the most common and popular retrievers that are considered best hunting dogs for a specific type of assignments, right after Labrador Retrievers. Goldens are amazing small game hunters, and will be a good second choice. Aside from being ideal for hunting, these dogs are simply perfect companions anywhere else. Their loyalty, companionship and happy go lucky attitude is something every hunter will benefit from. Golden Retrievers are not simply your good looking family dogs, and majority of hunters respect this breed as a decent choice for certain types of hunts.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Originating from South Africa, and also known as African lion dog, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred around the late 19th century. Their primary purpose at first was to keep the lions at bay either while on hunts and waiting for the owner to make the kill, or as protectors at home. Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed have always been known for their ferocity and bravery, which is why they were often used not as hunting dogs but rather good guard dogs. Eventually, this breed became a hunter of big game. Rhodesian Ridgebacks were not only hunting lions, but also a lot of other wild African animals, such as baboons and wild pigs. Unlike with lions where they wait for the hunter to make the kill, Ridgebacks have been known to fight and kill smaller animals like baboons on their own without any intervention of the owner.
Treeing Walker Hound Known as one of the best all around hound dogs, Treeing Walker Hound is known to have a strong sense of smell and ability to chase after many different types of animals: cougars, racoons, coyotes, deer and bears. Just as you would expect from hounds that are best hunting dogs, they are also perfect on speed and prey drive - two things which hunters love these dogs the most for. Treeing Walker Hounds are descendants of Foxhounds, and are better for short and quick hunts where you expect to find the prey within a few hours rather than days. Their stamina will allow to keep up with some of the fastest animals, and other skills to catch up to them.
German Wirehaired Pointer Another amazing all around hunting breed is German Wirehaired Pointer, also known as Deutsch Drahthaar. These dogs are versatile best hunting dogs ideal for most animal prey. They are of medium to large size, have calm temperament and thick coats, and have been known as a leading gun dog in Germany since the middle of 20th century. Most professional hunters know this breed as the best all-arounder because of their ability to hunt any sort of game on any type of terrain. They have a strong nose, coat and great tracking skills, which makes them a perfect hunting dog for both land and water. Oftentimes, these dogs will work with groups of hunters, and they are particularly good at this task.
Field Spaniel Not a common choice mostly because of how rare these dogs are, Field Spaniels are definitely good small game retrieving dogs just like most of their Spaniel cousins. They have also originated from England and were first bred for bird flushing and retrieving. Field Spaniels might not be the absolute best hunting dogs mostly due to their temperament, but they have the skills and body for it. These dogs are also very affectionate and happy most of the time. Because of their ancestry, they do need to be used as working dogs and are expected to either hunt or do other physical labor - otherwise, if not given enough exercise and things to do, a Field Spaniel can turn into a destructive brat. Overall, these dogs make excellent family companions. They are very cautious with strangers though.
Plott Hound Those of you looking for a truly tough dog that will face the danger in the eyes should look no further than a Plott Hound. These dogs are some of the best hunting dogs one can ask for when on the quest for big game, such as bears. Plott Hounds are intelligent canines, who know how to track and approach the prey, stand their ground, threaten when needed. A purebred Plott Hound will have a muscular body and a strong frame; they are tenacious canines with a lot of athleticism in them. Understanding the principles of hunting is also what these dogs are good at, and a Plott Hound will make sure to constantly release short and sharp barks so that you can keep track of where the action is happening while on fast track of a prey. If you are after cougars, bears or wild boars – this is your breed.
Dogo Argentino Another great big game hunting dog is oddly sounding Dogo Argentino breed. If you think Pit Bulls are scary, wait till you see this big and muscular beast. Physical abilities of this breed are much more suitable for hunting than even Pit Bulls'. This catch dog will change places with your chase dog whenever the time comes and fight whoever he needs to fight - a hog, cougar or bear. They will sink in their teeth and hold onto the prey until the hunter catches up. This South American breed is much stronger, larger and more athletic than Pit Bulls. First, Dogo Argentino started hunting pumas and wild pigs, but afterwards, hunters realized the type of best hunting dogs these canines are, and soon, Dogo Argentino became the most popular choice for those hunts when you expect the dog to meet the prey face to face.
Jack Russel Jack Russells are bred primarily for pest control getting rid of badgers, foxes, or raccoons, but this is a very versatile dog. Big-game hunters use them for blood-trailing deer and elk. I once met a PH from South Africa who used JRTs almost exclusively for trailing lions because he said it was the only breed that was brave enough to go face-to-face with a lion, and agile and fast enough to get away if the lion came after it. There was a time when I used JRTs on pheasant hunts. They were good at running up the corn rows to flush the birds too good, actually. They'd run too far ahead and flush birds way, way out of range. For them, it was all just a tremendously fun game, so I stopped using them for that. In a strange way, pest-control work with these dogs is fun. It's certainly far from the traditional kind of hunting sport, but it's still an old style of hunting. It's quite satisfying to unlock the genetic code in the dog's brain and watch it do what it was bred to do.
Sussex Spaniel Naturally, Spaniels are inborn hunters, which is why we are seeing many different types of them on this list. Now it's the Sussex Spaniels' turn, another Spaniel originated from England that was bred for very specific hunting conditions and later almost became extinct. They are not a hunter's quintessential best choice, but are still considered to be some of the best hunting dogs for bird hunts. Sussex Spaniels are slow working dogs but have great noses for small game tracking and flushing. The biggest problem with Sussex Spaniels is their stubbornness, which makes them quite difficult to train. But once you get there, your dog will forever be your trusty hunting companion. This breed is the most laid back of all the spaniels, so they would be great for city life. They also have a tendency to howl and bark when left alone.
Mountain Cur Hunters who are looking to embark on a small game chases after animals such as squirrels or raccoons will not find a better hunting dog than Mountain cur. Remember the time you enjoyed chasing after pigeons and how fun that was? Well, Mountain cur still enjoys doing that for a living. After originating in Europe, Mountain curs were brought to the US in the 20th century specifically for hunting and protection from raccoons. It's a well known fact that Mountain curs will always dominate any type of squirrel hunt, as they are the most adept at it. The way their bodies are design, their athleticism, medium sized frame and speed, as well as their enthusiasm for small prey makes them some of the best hunting dogs out there.
German Shorthair Pointer Another famous looking canine is the German Shorthair Pointer. This breed has the nose and stamina to hunt even the most hard to catch birds in the wild. The problem with some of that small bird game is keeping up with their pace, and German Shorthair Pointers are quite possibly the only dog breed that can do that. Their intelligence will allow the dog to outwit the prey, and their stamina will let them to keep up with the bird for as long as is needed. German Shorthair Pointers are great for climbing steep and rugged hillsides as well as chase through even the most nastiest terrains. This breed is a combination of pointers and hounds, which is how the perfect hunting dog was born long time ago in Germany. Hunters looking for one of the best hunting dogs for bird hunts will never, ever go wrong with a German Shorthair Pointer.
Spinone Italiano Spinone Italiano is one of the earliest breeds which as used as pointing dogs. They originated in Italy as far back as the 1200's. Spino Italion is a very versatile gundog breed that mostly enjoys in helping with pointing and retrieving different types of game. Many years have went into perfecting this breed and the result is an intelligent, loyal and easily trained bird hunting dog. Although Spinone Italion is definitely one of the best hunting dogs, their primary disadvantage is their speed. Spinone Italiono is quite slow for an all-around best hunter, but their intelligence and stubbornness is what sells them. Additionally, these dogs are very devoted and loving canines that love to please the owner. They are a good breed to have around children and other dogs as they have calm temperaments.
Vizsla Hungarian dog Vizsla is a known and skilled hunter of fowl and upland game. These dogs were bred to work at pointing, falconry and trailing, and they are quite good at it, with hunters using Vizslas today as one of the best hunting dogs for turkeys, pheasants, grouse, woodcock and quail. As natural hunters, Vizslas are known to have strong noses and are one of the most easily trained dogs. Their fearlessness also adds a few solid points to hunting. Vizslas are gentle and very affectionate yet sensitive dogs. They originated from Hungary sometime in the middle ages, and have been great hunters since them. This dog breed has a tendency to be stubborn and excitable, and they make great companions for truly active pet owners.
Weimaraner This unique an interest looking breed originated in Germany in early 19th century, and have specialized in hunting large game, trailing and pointing. This dog was royalty's first choice for hunting boars, bears, deer and other game of that type and size. They love running and hunting and do not like being penned up, which is where their true attitude comes into play. This is an all-purpose gun dog breed, and all their origins point to them being one of the best hunting dogs that ever existed. Weimaraners have a very strong instinctive prey drive, and there are very few animals whom they can tolerate for a long period of time. Their urge to constantly hunt is undeniable. Weimaraner can also be too much for small children as they can be rambunctious due to their nature.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Wirehaired Pointing Griffon - another gundog breed known well from the old days. These canines are extremely skilled at what they do - mostly pointing and retrieving – and are most certainly one of the best hunting dogs around. They originated in France in the 19th century as dogs for hunting in and around water, as well as through thick undergrowth. Their coat is absolutely perfect for those types of hunting locations. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are an intelligent breed that are willing to go through a lot to please the owner. Even on the job, these dogs remain playful and have an upbeat, puppy-type of personality, which can be a good and a bad thing for serious hunters. The excitable temperament will often cause issues, but in the end, Wirehaired Pointing Griffons will do the job they have set out to do.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever Last on the list of best hunting dogs but definitely not least is the Chesapeake Bay retriever who has a fascinating story of how they originated. Back in the 19th century, there was a shipwrecked brig from England that was rescued by an American ship. On board, there were two Newfoundland puppies, one black and one red. They proved to be great water retrievers later on and they became so popular that people would bring their retrievers to be bred with them. The breed became very advanced in their water retrieving skills later on. Today, Chesapeake Bay Retriever are some of the best retrieving dogs. This is a hard working dog breed that is not afraid of water, dirt or brutal terrain. Compared to Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeaks have a more solid build and their coat is more suitable for hunting that involves a lot of water contact. Usually, these dogs absolutely love to swim and will do so eagerly, especially for the prey.
CHECK THESE SITES FOR FULL DETAILED INFORMATION ON ALL HUNTING DOG BREEDS
When it comes to dogs that excel at a particular skill, hunting dog breeds are undeniably accomplished. While any bird dog breed is excellent at tracking and receiving prey, there are a few breeds in particular that really stand out as the creme of the crop. If there's anything better than having a hunting partner in the field, it's having a four-legged hunting partner that's equally at home with your family. Here are some great dog breeds for bird hunting and playing around the house.
German Shorthaired Pointer Prized for its hunting ability and high intelligence, the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a versatile hunter that can trail, retrieve, and point many different types of game, including pheasant, waterfowl, and raccoons. Additionally their short coats make it easier to find parasites after being out in the field, but it may make them slightly less desirable for hunting in very cold conditions.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is known for its prowess in rough, icy waters, and is a strong, powerfully built gundog that was bred to retrieve local birds around the Chesapeake Bay. The breed also has webbed feet, which makes them great swimmers.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever An alert, determined hunter, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever originated in the beginning of the 19th century in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, where they were used for tolling and retrieving ducks. The Toller is the smallest of the Retrievers, sometimes mistaken for a small Golden Retriever, and has a strong desire to work and please. The breed is also very physically and mentally active.
Weimaraner Known for working with great speed, fearlessness, and endurance when on the hunt, the Weimaraner originally hunted big game like bears and wolves, but have since become an excellent all-purpose hunter that points and retrieves birds. They are also devoted to their families and have strong protective instincts.
Labrador Retriever The Lab is one of the most efficient retrievers of the game. These gentle, intelligent, easy to train dogs are the most popular breed in the United States. While Labs are versatile and do many jobs today, they still do field work. And Labrador Retrievers perform well in cold water, which makes them optimal duck or goose hunters.
Curly Coated Retriever The Curly Coated Retriever is a multi-purpose hunting dog, bred to work until the job is done and retrieve in extremely heavy cover and icy water. It has long been used for retrieving duck and quail. Its unique, curly coat is water resistant and protects it from harsh weather and cover. The breed originated in England. They are great athletes that are at their happiest when they are active.
English Springer Spaniel The English Springer Spaniel is know for its ability to keep going and going under adverse hunting conditions. They were bred to work long days alongside hunters springing birds from their cover, then pointing and retrieving the downed bird. They need daily exercise and make excellent house pets, while still being one of the best bird dogs out there. Keep in mind that English Springer Spaniels are not double coated and they can get cold, so they are not as suited for the water.
Irish Water Spaniel A strong working drive used for both upland game and waterfowl make the Irish Water Spaniel an expert hunting dog. The breed has tremendous endurance and tolerance for cold water, and the IWS continues to be a great hunting companion. The breed is also nonshedding, so they are good for allergy sufferers.
American Water Spaniel A working gundog prized for its top-notch retrieval ability, the American Water Spaniel was a favorite of waterfowl hunters in the Great Lakes region. It is still popular with hunters today, although the breed is very rare. Truly an "all American" dog, the breed was developed in the state of Wisconsin during the 19th century. Though they are versatile hunting dogs, they are also suitable for smaller homes and apartment life, if given adequate activity and exercise.
The Spinone Italiano With its wiry coat and big houndy ears, it's easy to mistake a Spinone Italiano for a living muppet. But don't let its sweet and goofy countenance turn you off from its hunting potential. The Spinone Italiano is an ancient Italian hunting breed long renowned for endurance, field savvy, and intelligence. The docile nature of this bigger bird dog also makes it an ideal family dog. This breed is quickly growing in popularity, and reputable breeders around the nation are working to keep its ancient legacy intact.
Flat-Coated Retriever With its black and liver coats, it's easy to distinguish the flat-coated retriever from its golden friends. And the good news with this breed is that it's regarded as one of the happiest and most elegant within the sporting group. A bit more energetic than your typical golden, this is a loving and sometimes mischievous pup that is a true workhorse in the field. The flat-coated retriever is passionate about water, exercise, and humans. These qualities combine to make it the perfect hunting addition to a high-energy household.
Bracco Italiano Another ancient Italian breed, the Bracco Italiano could easily be mistaken for a hound dog with its big jowls and long, broad ears. However, Braccos are versatile and athletic pointers that will outwork the two-leggeds among them in the field. A bit of a couch potato in the house, this affectionate and docile pup will be your kiddos' best friend as well as your reliable and smart hunting partner. This breed is known to be long-lived and sturdy. If you go with a Bracco, you might become a life-long aficionado of this big-hearted breed.
Wire-Haired Vizsla Smooth-coated vizslas have long held a dedicated following in the states. However, their wire-haired counterpart is an equally great hunting dog. The wire-haired vizsla is a bit bigger than the smooth-coated vizsla, standing at about 23-25 inches. And its thick red coat allows it a bit more climate flexibility as both a land and water bird dog. It has a bright and kind personality, with a bit of a calmer presence than your typical high-energy bird dog.
Boykin Spaniel Spaniels aren't to be overlooked in the field, and the boykin spaniel is a ridiculously adorable and adaptable bird dog. With webbed toes and a propensity for water, this medium-sized pup is a waterfowler's dream. Bred in the American South to work the lakes and swamps, duck hunting was the breed's initial intention. But these dogs are picking up popularity as a companion with their sweet and soulful nature. Described as a tiger in the field, the boykin does double duty effortlessly when transitioning from home to field.
Braque du Bourbonnais Minimal tail and maximum desire make the Braque du Bourbonnais a wonderful choice for hunters interested in an unusual breed of bird dog. Braque du Bourbonnais are described as insatiable in their desire to train and hunt. They are medium-distance, medium-paced gun dogs that can stretch out to 200 yards but will check in frequently, averaging the distance to a workable range. They are truly versatile in their ability to scent, point, retrieve, track and swim. On point, the Braque du Bourbonnais is strong and solid but lacks the elegance of English setters or the athletic "wow" power of German shorthairs. The combination of their stalky, busty, pit bullish build and boxy head, the fact that they have no tail and the way that they keep their butt really low while pointing makes them comically brutish. No setter-flair to be found. Very utilitarian. As a family dog, the Braque du Bourbonnais has a gentle disposition and ardent desire to please.
English Cocker Spaniel Feisty flushers and natural retrievers, the field bred English Cocker Spaniel is a great choice for upland hunters. English cockers are compact, solid, and well built for efficiently navigating low thick cover. They are energetic and willing to work. Trained to heel, they work in tandem with pointers who remain steady on a bird while the cockers flush and retrieve. In addition to this, they excel at working in gun range on their own to locate and flush game. As retrievers, English cockers are tenacious. They push through any kind of thick cover be it grouse woods, woodcock river edges, or dense quail fields. They are less likely to quarter than some of the other flushing breeds - more likely to penetrate seeking objectives. The breed is generally referred to as having a medium energy level, but most field cockers show an enthusiasm that pushes the energy meter a little higher. Above all, cockers work with what can be described as no less than pure happiness. Tails and legs a blur, perpetually exuberant.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon: solid and versatile gun dog on the inside, endearing buddy on the outside. In the field, the wirehaired pointing griffon is not known to range as far as many of the other popular pointing breeds. Most Griffons work at a medium pace and distance. On point, their tails are held level or slightly downward, backs straight. Griffons are well designed for grouse, woodcock, pheasant, and partridge. Griffons' nose and point are comparable to that of German wirehairs. Their temperament on the other hand is a bit softer and tends towards dependency. They are biddable in training and can excel in several arenas field trials, retriever trials, versatile hunting tests and agility trials all within the same lines. Griffons are easygoing, lovable, and people-oriented.
English Setters English setters define a tradition of elegance and field performance. English setters' intelligent response to the range and pattern required in a cover helped make them a classic choice for woodlands ruffed grouse hunters. They combine a joyful search with an exquisite point, heralded by a feathered tail pointing straight out or at twelve o'clock. They are graceful and agile and notably adaptable to their hunter's pace. With a head held high and a long lissome neck, their posture characterizes their air scenting. English setters are also affectionate family dogs, playful and sweet with both strangers and children. Like with any breed, you should use caution around toddlers. They do not make good kennel dogs and have some wanderlust in their nature.
Pudelpointers Pudelpointers come from hunting lines. These dogs have avoided the pitfalls of show breeding and companion dog popularity that often diminish solid hunting traits. They are strong runners working at a medium to fast pace - the pointer influence. They love the water and perform well in cold or harsh conditions - the pudel influence. Pudelpointers track wounded game. Some also display the German breeding influence of giving voice, which is barking while tracking. They take well to training and can handle a moderate amount of pressure. They have a remarkable desire to hunt with enthusiasm and focus. From woodcock to pheasants, rabbits to big game, pudelpointers are capable workers for a variety of hunting pursuits. Pudelpointers have an affectionate and people-oriented personality, complemented well by their shaggy haired, expressive faces. Many hunters have never even heard of this breed. Pudelpointers are faster than most Labs and just as indefatigable. A Pudelpointer is equally effective in uplands or wetlands. It nearly matches the Lab in water and comes close to the pointing breeds in the uplands. It hasn't the class and style of a setter or pointer, hasn't the flash of a springer, hasn't the power of a big Lab but comes close to all. It's intelligent, easily trained, affectionate and loyal. The right German wirehair could bump off the best Pudelpointer, but so could the right shorthair or Lab. It's a close call, but if versatility is your need, the Pudelpointer is your champion.
American Brittany Fun-loving, biddable bird dogs, some American Brittanys come with a hyperdrive speed mode acquired from field trial lines. Their range varies from medium to wide. Some refer to them as "pocket pointers" because they deliver the search, point, nose, and versatile skills of German and English pointing breeds but in a smaller package. American Brittanys have strong drive, a cooperative nature, and the desire to please. Some tend towards the "soft" side in their inability to take hard correction during training. They have been called the clowns of the sporting dog world for their playful, good-natured personality.
English Pointer Many consider the English pointer to be the quintessential upland pointing dog. Flat-out, hard running athleticism paints the word picture to describe a pointer's hunting style. Until the dog stops. When the dog is on point, elegance and arrogance take over, punctuated by the iconic staunch tail that seems to pierce the sky. Pointers are generally not natural retrievers, although they certainly can be taught to retrieve. In the horseback field trial world, where speed and distance determine the crown, pointers are royalty. As hunters, they can do it all but are best geared for big country and wide range hunting such as Idaho chukar, Alaska ptarmigan or Texas quail. They tolerate hot weather well. Pointers have a reputation for being aloof and independent, but those that are socialized with the family from an early age will snuggle like a pro. This is a very energetic breed that needs exercise. Their notable intelligence can make them stubborn and mischievous.
The Bloodhound While the bloodhound has received some flack over the years as being more of a nuisance than a help when it comes to hunting, he still has the best and most acute sense of smell out of all the hunting dogs. And with that awesome sense of smell comes the ability to be trained. So, if you are dead set on a Bloodhound to hunt duck with you, then get him from a puppy and take him through the rig moral of hunter training. Just keep everything you need in your hunting pack for consistency training. He will seek out that duck every time, and possibly bring back a friend or two. And if all else fails they are good in finding pretty much anything with a strong scent.
American Foxhound American Foxhounds are renowned for being used in hunting parties throughout the greater America as well as Europe. Primed generally for fox hunting, the American foxhound, like his closely related Beagle cousin, has a keen sense of smell and enthusiastic nature. Here are some interesting facts on the American foxhound. American Foxhounds were, back in the day, bred for hunting. They were originally descendant from the English Foxhound and over time have had a bit of a mixed breed coming through, when they were mated in the US. But in the death, are one of the most successfully trained hunting dogs around. They will keep searching until they find that elusive prey, which is a great trait when it comes to hunting ducks.
Deutsch Drahthaar Here is another breed that is not known to many. The Deutsch Drahthaar, often confused with German wirehairs are ideal for duck hunting. These dogs are highly robust and have been described as a breed that points like an English setter and retrieves like a Labrador. These dogs are tireless and capable of swimming a mile in freezing water with minimal effort. The Drahthaar has a thick waterproof coat which gives it an advantage while in the water and makes it possible to swim in freezing water. They are also very loyal and make excellent companions.
Beagle They have an exceptionally sharp sense of smell, which makes them useful not only in tracking down game but also drugs and illegal substances, which makes them useful for anti-narcotic squads as sniffer dogs. They are hardy dogs, so you don't need to be too concerned about health issues which is a major consideration while selecting a particular breed of dog for home or professional & recreational purposes. Although it is a small breed, a beagle is surprisingly fast and agile, which makes it an excellent choice for duck hunting.
The African hunting dog, also called Cape hunting dog or painted dog, typically roams the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. African hunting dogs live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.
African hunting dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey, such as wildebeests, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds. The dogs have sometimes developed a taste for livestock. Unfortunately, they are often hunted and killed by farmers who fear for their domestic animals.
No two hunting dogs are marked exactly the same, making them easy to identify. African hunting dogs are the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs. The African hunting dogs scientific name, Lycaon Pictus, means "painted wolf" referring to the animal's irregular marked coat which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. African hunting dogs are critically endangered, with only 5,000 left in the wild, sightings are rare outside of specific areas.
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. Accounts as to how wolves react to being attacked by dogs vary, though John James Audubon wrote that young wolves generally show submissive behaviour, while older wolves fight savagely.
As wolves are not as fast as smaller canids such as coyotes, they typically run to a low place and wait for the dogs to come over from the top and fight them. Theodore Roosevelt stressed the danger cornered wolves can pose to a pack of dogs! A wolf is a terrible fighter. He will decimate a pack of hounds by rapid snaps with his giant jaws while suffering little damage himself - nor are the ordinary big dogs, supposed to be fighting dogs, able to tackle him without special training. The fighting styles of wolves and dogs differ significantly - while dogs typically limit themselves to attacking the head, neck and shoulder, wolves will make greater use of body blocks, and attack the extremities of their opponents.
Irish Wolfhounds In Ireland, Irish wolfhounds were bred as far back as 3 BC. After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Oliver Cromwell imposed a ban on the exportation of Irish wolfhounds in order to tackle wolves.
France According to the Encyclopedie, wolf hunting squads in France typically consisted of 25-30 good sized dogs, usually grey in color with red around the eyes and jowls. The main pack would be supplemented with six or eight large sighthounds and a few dogues. It was preferable to have two teams of each kind, with each team consisting of 2-3 dogs. It is specified that one can never have enough bloodhounds in a wolf hunt, as the wolf is the most challenging quarry for the hounds to track, due to its light tread leaving scant debris, and thus very little scent. Once the wolf was apprehended, the dogs would be pulled back, and the hunters would place a wooden stick between the wolf's jaws in order to stop it injuring them or the dogs. The hunt master would then quickly dispatch the wolf by stabbing it between the shoulder blades with a dagger.
Russian Wolf hunting and the Borzoi Wolves were hunted in both Czarist and Soviet Russia with borzoi by landowners and Cossacks. Covers were drawn by sending mounted men through a wood with a number of dogs of various breeds, including deerhounds, staghounds and Siberian wolfhounds, as well as smaller greyhounds and foxhounds, as they made more noise than borzoi. A beater, holding up to six dogs by leash, would enter a wooded area where wolves would have been previously sighted. Other hunters on horseback would select a place in the open where the wolf or wolves may break. Each hunter held one or two borzois, which would be slipped the moment the wolf takes flight. Once the beater sighted a wolf, he would shout "Loup! Loup! Loup!" and slip the dogs. The idea was to trap the wolf between the pursuing dogs and the hunters on horseback outside the wood. The borzois would pursue the wolf along with the horsemen and yapping curs. Once the wolf was caught by the borzois, the foremost rider would dismount and quickly dispatch the wolf with a knife. Occasionally, wolves are captured alive in order to better train borzoi pups.
Afghan Hunting with Afghan Hounds The Afghan Royal Family and the Pashtun tribes would hunt Wolves using the ancient Afghan Hound, also known as Tazi. The Afghan Hound has a very thick, long and versatile coat. A pack of wolves would scatter in fear once they were aware of being hunted by the Afghan Hound. The Afghan's coat not only protects them from teeth, claws and harsh temperatures but also strike fear in large animals such as wolves because the long hair on the hounds, combined with high winds, cause the hounds to appear extremely large. The Tazi runs at speeds of 40 miles per hour.
Kazakhstani wolf hunting Unlike Russian wolf hunts with hounds, which occur usually in the summer period when wolves have less protective fur and the terrain is more favourable for the hounds to give chase, Kazakhstani wolf hunts with hounds depend on favourable snow conditions. The hunts take place either in the steppes regions of the country, or in semi-deserts. The hunters track wolves on horseback, with their dogs in sleds. Once a wolf is spotted, the dogs are released from the sled, and give chase.
North America In North America wolf hunting with hounds was done in the context of pest control rather than sport. George Armstrong Custer enjoyed wolf coursing with dogs, and favoured large greyhounds and staghounds. Purebred greyhounds were unnecessary, sometimes to the point of uselessness in a wolf hunt. Some bulldog blood in the dogs was considered helpful, though not essential. Roosevelt wrote that many ranchmen of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana in the final decade of the 19th century managed to breed greyhound or deerhound packs capable of killing wolves unassisted, if numbering in three or more. These greyhounds were usually thirty inches at the shoulder and weighed 90 lbs. These American greyhounds apparently outclassed imported Russian borzois in hunting wolves. Wolf hunting with dogs became a specialised pursuit in the 1920s, with well trained and pedigreed dogs being used. Several wolfhounds were killed in wolf hunts.
Training... Dogs are normally fearful of wolves. According to the Encyclopedie, dogs used in a wolf hunt are typically veteran animals, as younger hunting dogs would be intimidated by the wolf's scent. However, dogs can be taught to overcome their fear if habituated to it at an early age. As pups, Russian wolfhounds are sometimes introduced to captured live wolves, and are trained to grab them behind the ears in order to avoid being injured by the wolf's teeth. A similar practice was recorded in the USA by John James Audubon, who wrote how wolves caught in a pit trap would be hamstrung and given to a dog pack in order to condition the dogs into losing their fear. Dogs typically do not readily eat wolf entrails. The Encyclopedie specifies that the entrails had to be prepared in a special way in order for the dogs to accept it. The carcass would be skinned, gutted and decapitated, with the entrails placed in an oven. After roasting, the entrails would be mixed with breadcrumbs and placed in a cauldron of boiling water. In winter, they would then be mixed with 3-4 lbs of fat, while in summer, two or three bucketloads of milk and flour was applied. After soaking, the entrails would be placed on a sheet of cloth and taken to the dogs whilst still warm.
The number one priority when choosing a hunting dog is deciding on the desired game. If pheasant or quail sound tastier than rabbit or squirrel, then right away a hunter can focus on the gun dog group instead of the hounds. The end goal is to put food on the table and it is the hunter's responsibility to only harvest game he intends to utilize. It would be counterproductive to take a Coonhound that was bred to pursue game for miles while barking, and try to get it to silently locate birds within shotgun range. All dogs can be trained to be obedient in certain actions, but just as we have deeply rooted instincts in our manhood, so do animals in their approach to hunting. So, it is imperative to narrow down your desired game before refining your breed selection to a particular group.
Secondly, the desired hunting method will further narrow your breed selection to a subgroup. For upland hunting would you prefer a gun dog to locate birds and immediately force it to fly, or would you prefer him to locate the bird and wait for you to arrive and flush it? Spaniels excel at staying close to the hunter and flushing birds for immediate shooting. Pointers will range out further to locate game and stand still, "pointing" at game for the hunter to flush and shoot. For hounds you may prefer the dog to bark throughout the entire pursuit of your game, or you may prefer him to remain silent and only bark once the game is located. Coonhounds, and smaller hounds such as Beagles, Bassets, and Teckels, are all known for howling while following a track, while Curs are better known for remaining silent until the game is in sight.
Once a subgroup is selected, a specific breed is ready to be chosen. However, even though the criteria has been narrowed this far, a little more work needs to be done to acquire your perfect hunting companion. For example, if a pointing dog is desired, a new hunter may not understand the difference between a German Shorthaired Pointer and an English Pointer, or the difference between a Brittany and an English Setter. Their method of hunting may be the same, but breeds can differ in their energy level, versatility, desire to please, and hunting style.
Researching bloodlines, contacting breeders, and seeing different breeds hunt firsthand will help in finding your perfect dog. Research is incredibly important and finding breeders who are breeding only quality working animals will require time, so be prepared to spend a few months locating breeders and hunting with their dogs before buying from their stock. In the end, the one trait all dogs have in common is their devotion to man for thousands of years.
Choosing a gundog, training it and enjoying your time out with your four-legged companion in the field, is one of the joys of shooting. Having the right dog by your side will make for memorable days. This is why smart money always picks the litter, not the puppy. There shouldn't be any "tire-kicking." By the time you first lay eyes on a litter, you should have already committed to that litter.
In other words, you should have done your homework and concluded that this breed, and this particular sire and dam, make sense in terms of producing a dog that's right for the birds you like to hunt and the way you like to hunt them. 90% of your effort should be devoted to the beneath the surface stuff: researching bloodlines, kennels, and breeders and identifying the ones that have a proven track record of producing the kind of dog you have in mind. Ten percent of your effort should be devoted to selecting the individual pup.
I always advise prospective puppy buyers to step way back and ask themselves some pretty basic questions: Is this going to be a house dog or an "outside" dog? Do I want a small dog, a large dog, or something in-between? Do I intend to hunt waterfowl, upland birds, or a combination of both? Will I be better served by a pointing breed, a flushing breed, or a retrieving breed? Once you hsve determined the answers to these questions, you will be in position to zero in on the breed that makes the most sense for you. You should never forget that when you buy a puppy you are making a 10 to 12-year commitment, so you need to start out with a very clear idea of what you sre looking for.
How do you find the right litter? Well, if you have hunted over dogs you like, find out where they came from, and go there. Otherwise, you need to go into intelligence gathering mode, picking the brains of people in a position to provide useful information: professional trainers, shooting preserve operators, field trialers, other hunters. The Internet can help you locate kennels and breeders, but keep in mind that it's also the greatest boon ever invented for con artists. When it comes to actually picking your pup, try to spend as much time with the litter as possible. You want a pup that's friendly, outgoing, and neither significantly larger nor significantly smaller than its littermates. You also want a pup that's eager to make eye contact. A pup that won't look you in the eye is like a person who won't look you in the eye. You don't want anything to do with either of 'em.
The ideal "window" for bringing your new pup home is between 7 and 9 weeks of age. But as long as the pup's well-socialized, a week on the front side of that or 2-3 weeks on the back side is fine. It goes without saying, of course, that the breeder should provide some kind of health guarantee, the specifics of which are clearly spelled out and understood by both parties. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
DON'T feed your dog in the morning. Dogs with an empty colon have twice the endurance of dogs fed four hours before exercise.
DO feed your dog a performance diet - 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat are the benchmarks throughout the year.
DON'T give your dog other sugary snacks unless there's a veterinary reason for doing so. The energy these sources provide dissipates quickly, and the insulin spike can make your dog lethargic.
DO feed your dog far in advance of tomorrow's hunt. Zanghi suggests feeding as soon as your dog has cooled down at the end of the day, when the capacity for replenishing energy stores and repairing muscle is high.
Too much freedom Too much freedom before you have established basic control (recall, sit and stay) can result in a dog that is inclined to hunt without you, and do as it pleases. Example: Many owners exercise their dogs by walking in straight lines and allowing the dog to run on in front. If a gundog is allowed to do this often, it will think that it has to entertain itself every time it is let off the lead - i.e. pick up a scent and pursue it, with no regard for any command from its owner. And this desire will increase tenfold if it catches something. Instead: Base exercise around a fun training session. Start with sit, stays, heelwork and long recalls, and then, eventually, encourage your dog to hunt for tennis balls in thick grass around your feet, or retrieve in controlled, confined areas. Make yourself the centre of attention, so that the dog associates you with fun - it will pay more attention to you as a result.
Inconsistency Mixed messages confuse a dog and can damage the relationship between dog and owner. Example: One day out of four, if your dog moves a yard from where it was told to sit and stay, you let it do so with no correction. Which is right, which is wrong? Instead: Establish the rules from day one and ensure that anybody who has anything to do with the dog follows them, too. It is little good trying to teach your dog to stay while you throw a dummy, if somebody else in your family is throwing 30 balls a day for the dog to fetch as and when it wishes. Have the whole family attend training sessions occasionally. This way, everyone will be singing from the same hymn sheet.
Fools Rush In It is imperative that training is done in increments and very gradually. The dog should understand an exercise completely before moving on to the next. Take your time. Example: The owner has been practising heelwork on the lead in the garden, using a boundary fence to help keep the dog close. After a week, the lead comes off and the dog is expected to do the same in a new environment where distractions are rife. A huge leap in what is being asked of the dog, and a lack of success is the result. Instead: The steps made in training should not be noticeably different from one another. Small changes are easier for a dog to grasp. For heelwork, for example, ensure the dog is walking on the lead perfectly, before then dangling the lead in front of its face, and starting heelwork off the lead in a confined environment with minimal distractions. Gradually increase the distances walked and the distractions present once the dog has perfected the previous stage.
Treating Every Dog The Same Dogs are not robots. Like humans, they all have different personalities and characters, and learn things at different speeds. What works for one dog might not work for another. Example: For a very bold, outgoing dog with a lot of drive, steadiness will be a priority from an early age and will need to be ingrained before much retrieving and hunting is done. Take the same approach with a shy dog that is a little cautious and you might just discourage it from hunting altogether. Instead: Be flexible with your training approach and tailor it to the individual dog, constantly monitoring what is and isn't working. Focus more on a dog's weaknesses rather than its strengths.
Unclear Commands Your dog can't carry out what you are asking of it if it doesn't know what that command is. Right from the off, establish the commands - voice and whistle, that will be used, and stick to them. Example: How many times have you heard somebody on a shoot day ask their dog to "sit", "hup", or "come here and stay next to me a minute", all within the space of the same drive. The dog has no idea what any of these commands mean. Instead: Pick one command for "sit", one for "come" and one for "heel" and thread these through the rest of your training, including your whistle commands. Be aware of the tone of voice you use, too. Simple, short, easy to understand commands are key. And make sure the dog is looking at you before you give a hand signal of any sort.
Loud and Excessive Handling Dogs have very good hearing - you don't need to shout. Quiet, calm commands, that are not repeated or over-used, are often a sign of a good handler. Example: Dogs listen not only to words but also tone and volume when you give a command. If the dog is used to being told loudly to "sit" when just a yard away from you, voice or whistle - it will expect the same volume and tone of command when it is 30 yards away. Loud commands in the training paddock translate to bellowing in the shooting field. Instead: Stay calm, and use quiet but clear commands when in close proximity to your dog - from puppyhood. This way, the dog will notice when you change your tone. If you ask your dog to do something once and it has definitely heard you and chooses not to do it, then calmly take the dog back to where it was when you gave the command and issue the command again, ensuring that your dog obeys.
Getting Stressed If we don't find something enjoyable, where is the incentive to keep doing it? The same holds true for dogs. Training should be relaxed and enjoyable, both for you and for your dog. Example: Patience is key when training any dog. Losing your rag and shouting during a training session if things aren't going right will only make matters worse and weaken the bond between dog and handler. Dogs can sense if you are uptight and stressed and this will have a detrimental effect on training sessions. Instead: If you are stressed, do not even attempt to train your dog. Only commence a training session when you are relaxed, and make sure your dog is enjoying it! Each session should be planned so that weaker areas from the previous sessions are addressed.
Frequent Failure If a dog begins failing on a regular basis in its training, it will start to lose confidence. Example: Trying to direct a dog that is not yet confident at working in cover, to a blind retrieve in thick cover with unfavourable wind. The dog gets fed-up of not succeeding and quickly loses confidence in its own ability, and hence loses its enthusiasm to enter cover in the future. Instead: Always keep training fun and finish on a positive note. Set up situations in training which almost ensure that the dog will succeed. If the dog doesn't succeed, show it how to do what is being asked at a simpler level.
Too Much Repetition Whilst it is vital that a dog absolutely understands each lesson in its training, too much of the same thing in a short space of time can dampen enthusiasm. Example: A thrown, marked retrieve in an open area is a very straightforward exercise for most dogs once they have learned the basics. By throwing such retrieves too often, the exercise becomes boring, and the dog less enthusiastic. Instead: Keep things varied and interesting. This doesn't necessarily mean that the difficulty of the training must increase. Use different shaped and sized dummies for retrieving, pick dummies yourself most of the time and try calling your dog away from them. Work in different types of light cover.
Complacency Never rest on your laurels. Once a top sportsman reaches a certain level, do they stop training? Of course not. The same goes for your dog. Example: You have put in the hard work, and your dog is the perfect companion in the field. Steady, enthusiastic and efficient. Job done. Once the season is over, the training sessions become less and less frequent until they almost cease completely. Your consistency with your dog begins to slip. Before you know it, bad habits start creeping in. Instead: Continue with training and try some new exercises to keep things fresh. Work on weaknesses noted during the season, and plan your training sessions accordingly.
HUNTING DOG TRAINING: TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Socialization: Play with your Pup Play with your pup! The relationship you build will ensure hunting success for years to come. Forming a relationship with your puppy is important. A dog's drive to please its owner can be more powerful than any other form of reward or punishment. It's also critical to ensure your pup will get along well with other hunters, people, and pets. Socializing your puppy began the minute you met. Most people have no trouble with this phase of training. Puppies are simply fun to play with! Make sure you buy your dog some toys, as he needs to learn that he has things of his own. Using mom's kitchen towels can form bad habits and will get you both in trouble.
Once the initial socialization with your puppy has subsided, it is time to mortar the building blocks together with expanded socialization. Introducing your young puppy to other dogs is essential. It is best to introduce your puppy to dogs you own or know. Keep control at all times so that your puppy isn't roughed up. Playing with other dogs and family members is important for your puppy and more exposure is better. Make short trips to parks or other open areas to allow your puppy room to explore.
Let Them Run The countryside and hunting grounds can be scary for a young puppy. You are eventually going to do serious training and hunting in such areas. Let your pup get used to the areas slowly. Allow him to run free to explore and discover meadow larks, terrain features, and game birds. Lengthen these sessions as your puppy gains confidence. The fun enhances his predatory instincts, builds confidence and contributes to body strength. Every hunting dog will come across water at some point. Purposely introducing your puppy to water, especially waterfowl breeds, will pay big dividends later. Keep track of your puppy. He could easily become lost or get into trouble. These sessions are a good time to introduce locator collars. Eventually you will need to use a check cord during these jaunts in the field, too.
Keep Commands Basic Many puppy owners want to begin giving multiple commands immediately. It will only confuse the puppy. Incorporate commands into other training events. Begin with the simple stuff like sit, heel and no.
Introduce the First Bird Begin this exercise in an area away from distractions. Use a cold, dead pigeon for the first lesson. The dead bird will not flop around and scare the puppy. Allow him to hold it, but do not let him shake or bite it. Calmly stop him if he starts those behaviors. Allowing bad behavior to continue will result in hardmouth and roughly handled game. As training advances, you will want to invest in dummies, training wings, check cords, whistles, and an assortment of other dog training supplies.
Plan and Critique Your Training Regimens A hunting puppy is a work in progress. Have a plan each time you make a short trip or begin a training session. Make notes of your puppy's successes and failures. Remember that each is a reflection of the owner's abilities to train. If frustration sets in, seek help from a professional trainer. Otherwise, study your notes at the end of the day and make necessary changes in your training agenda. Training a hunting dog should be fun process for both puppy and owner. Relax, be consistent, and speak softly. Years of fun are in your future. Have a training plan and outline the goals you'd like to reach with your dog, so you can research the best ways to get there. By the time the season opens, your dog should know all the basic commands - like sit, stay, come, heel and have had some work with retrieving and have been exposed to the sound of gunfire. Introduce the dog to decoys and calls long before the season starts. You may also want to have the dog work with live pen birds.
Go solo Try not to take a dog new to hunting out with other hunters and dogs at first - let the attention be on your dog so that you can give him or her lots of praise and time to work out the kinks.
Get in the field a lot. The best learning for a hunting dog is by doing. Get your new dog on as many birds as possible their first season. Expose new dogs - in a comfortable setting to as many sights, sounds, and smells as possible for the first few months, so they won't be scared of those situations in the future.
Think about timing. Consider what seasons you will want to hunt with your dog and what age you'd like the dog to be at its first hunt. For example, puppies born in the spring are about six to eight months old when pheasant season opens. It also gives plenty of time for basic training before the season starts.
Be consistent but not harsh! When you give your dog a command, give praise when they follow through. If not, make them follow the command - too much leeway will only make training harder, but don't be too harsh. Be patient but persistent.
Keep it real and interesting Make training scenarios as close to hunting in the field as you can. Don't wait for opening day to take your pup on the duck boat for the first time, for example. But make sure it's not just the same thing every time. Keep your dog guessing with different types of hunting training sessions so they don't get bored.
Get Your Pup Used to Guns A gunshot is very loud. To get your pup ready for it you need to start making noise from the day you bring him home. When he is within earshot, run the vacuum or clap your hands. If he is unfazed, gradually increase the noise level by banging some pots while he is eating. If the pup reacts, don't coddle it. When training, have a friend fire a cap pistol from 50 yards just after you toss the bumper in the air. Eventually move the gunner closer and closer.
Take the Control! Don't Force It: Take your dog to a park and clip a 30-foot rope to his collar. With both hands on your end of the rope, start walking. Let your dog go wherever he wants, but when you see that he's distracted, make a hard, 180-degree turn. Don't say anything to the pup - just give the rope a firm tug to get your dog going in the same direction as you. Take Five: Keep this up. After five minutes, he will learn to ignore the distractions and lock onto you like a laser. Give him three or four days of these five-minute sessions, and he'll advance to the next level of training.
Give Your Pup a Hand A retriever that delivers a duck from water to hand is a pleasure to hunt with, so start the lesson early. It's only natural for a dog to step up to dry land, drop the dummy, and shake. Help a puppy out: As your dog swims back to shore, move to the very edge of the water. Reach out and take the dummy just as the pup's paws hit bottom. Repeat this drill often, moving back from the water's edge gradually - a foot or two at a time, so the dog learns that the dummy goes in the hand and not on the ground.
Place Command One place. With the dog on a leash and a treat in your non-leash hand, lead the dog to the "place?" stand. Using the hand with the treat, point with your finger to the stand, say "place," and use the treat to guide the dog up to the stand. Give the treat the instant the dog sits. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Two places. Once the dog knows "place," set up a route with multiple stations for the "place" command. Use another tire, a few cinder blocks, and other items that provide a well-defined place to sit. Once your pooch is solid on the command, add stations with no elevation, such as carpet squares.
Tough places. Add "place" stations that have a degree of difficulty or instability to your training route. Minnie works an obstacle course around the yard. There are log rounds, a cooler, and my favorite: an overturned canoe. It's a bit slippery and wobbly, so she really has to watch her balance. On walks, give the "place" command at park benches, retaining walls, and other similar structures.
Whistle Recall Command There are several ways to teach that. If he's collar conditioned, you can say "here," nick him, then say "here" again. Give the command, give the correction, and then repeat the command. You can also use the traditional method of putting your dog on a lead. Put a cord on them and let them walk around and sniff over here and over there, and then give him your command and jerk on the lead to encourage him to come in. As with all commands, once the dog is reliably performing at one level, you move him incrementally to the next. Let's say you are beginning with your pup on a lead. Perform the command enough times, over enough days, that the dog starts to anticipate it and moves toward you after the command. Next, use a longer lead. If you have been using a 25-foot lead, switch to a 50-footer. Finally, remove the leash and switch to an electronic collar. Give him the command with the command/nick/command sequence outlined above, and when he's obeying that every time, start adding distractions - other dogs, a different training area, whatever. When he's good with that, he's good to go.
Whistle Sit You can tell him to sit and then praise him or give him a treat for a reward. Another thing you can do with a young dog is to simply pull up on his leash. Give him the command (the whistle), pull up on his leash, and to get away from the pulling he will sit. As with the whistle recall, once your dog is sitting on command, you should progress to reinforcing the command with a nick from the collar, giving him the whistle-sit command at a gradually increasing distance, and finally adding distractions. However you approach your dog's training, the main thing is to be consistent - The long sit: In obedience training, this is known as "stay." You can teach your pup the long sit by first teaching it to sit on a whistle or voice command, then making the dog stay sitting until you release it. As with all training sequences, make it easy for your dog at first and then gradually increase the difficulty.
Know your dog Be sure to keep things fun, as dogs can easily key in on your emotions. If you are tired, frustrated and had a rough day, it's not a good time to train your dog. Be ready to be patient and enthusiastic for an effective training session. Just as your dog can read your emotions, be able to know how your pup is feeling. If you see signs that your dog is scared, frustrated or bored, it's time to wrap up training and try again another time.
As you and your Labrador retriever, German shorthaired pointer, or Irish setter prepare for hunting season, it's important to make sure that you are keeping your dog out of harm's way. Be aware of potential hazards to your hunting dog to help ensure a safe, enjoyable and bountiful hunt. Hunting dogs encounter risks that backyard pets don't. Here are some toxins you should know about. The best thing any hunter can do is to be educated about the common hazards or toxins which predominantly effect hunting dogs.
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria): Each year, hunting dogs in the US die as a result of drinking from water contaminated with blue-green algae. Toxic blue-green algae contain liver and/or neurotoxins and often occur during hot, dry weather and give the water a "pea soup" appearance. Signs of poisoning show up immediately, and include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, collapse, tremors, seizures, and jaundice - yellow skin and gums. Death from the neurotoxin can occur within minutes while death from the liver toxin may take several days. Because treatment is often unsuccessful, prevention is key. Providing fresh water for your dog is imperative.
Lead Shot/Bullets: Aside from the trauma caused by gun shot wounds, the lead found in pellets and bullets may lead to lead poisoning if left in the body. If your dog is shot, seek veterinary care immediately. If the bullet fragments or pellets cannot be removed, check blood lead levels to ensure that chronic lead poisoning doesn't occur. Signs of lead toxicity include behavioral changes, gastrointestinal signs - vomiting, diarrhea), and neurologic problems (including walking drunk, seizuring, and blindness.
Clay Pigeons: These contain coal tar and heavy metals such as lead, zinc, copper, and nickel, and can result in toxicity if ingested. If you have a "mouthy" hunting dog known to ingest toys or rocks, beware. Make sure they're not eating scattered pieces of clay pigeons, as poisoning can result in liver, brain and kidney damage.
Mushrooms: Being that hunting dogs are exposed to the great outdoors, they're more likely to ingest a mushroom in the field than a couch potato dog. While most mushrooms are generally non-toxic, certain types can be very dangerous. One of the most dangerous is the plain looking Amanita phalloides or death cap mushroom, found throughout the United States. Because proper identification of mushrooms is extremely difficult and often only done by experts, consider all ingestions of unidentified mushrooms as toxic until proven otherwise. Depending on the type of mushroom ingested, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression, tremors, and seizures, with ingestion usually leading to liver and kidney damage.
Safety Tips As hunting dogs are more likely to run through barbed wire or lacerate themselves by running through dense brush, it's important to keep your dog in a blaze orange chest protector vest. Not only does this protect vital organs from injury, but it saves on expensive vet bills.
For dogs that don't have an electronic shock collar on, the excited hunting dog can take off after a scent, resulting in hours of searching for your companion. Make sure identification tags are well secured onto your dog's collar to ensure a happy reunion.
Rarely, a genetic abnormality in Labrador retrievers called "hunting dog hypoglycemia" can result in an acute drop in blood sugar, resulting in the collapse of a normally active dog. Making time for frequent water and snack breaks throughout the day is important.
Heat stroke is always a big risk early in the hunting season - dogs are excited and combined with the higher air temperatures, this can increase chances of heat exhaustion. Keeping a canine first aid kit handy, along with a thermometer, is important in case of emergency. If you notice your dog constantly panting, make sure to take frequent water breaks and water dips in ponds without blue-green algae. When in doubt, always play it safe and give your dog a break to cool off.
Make sure to scope out the area where you are hunting and have the phone number for a local veterinarian, emergency veterinarian programmed into your phone in the event of an emergency.
Hunting with dogs has become such a controversial issue. Some of the controversies center around the game that is being hunted, but much comes from animal rights advocates attempting to put a stop to what they consider inhumane treatment of the hunting dogs. The stereotypical hunter is seen as having no care or compassion when it comes to their dogs. Opponents claim that hunters rarely treat their dogs any better than the animals they take pleasure in killing. And while we may not want to admit it, we too are sometimes guilty of subconsciously presuming neglect, mistreatment, and even cruelty when we hear a dog referred to as a "hunting" dog.
The Hunting Dog Cliche Years ago, it was common for hunting dogs to be kept outside with little human contact. Many hunters believed that treating a hunting dog with comfort and kindness would make the dog physically and mentally weak, as well as diminish his desire to "work" once he got a taste of the easy life. Oftentimes a hunting dog was withheld affection to "toughen him up". Depriving a dog of food or similar basic necessity after a poor hunt was sometimes used as punishment. Cuts and injuries from a hunt were left untreated. Some hunters felt that in order to make a dog a good hunting dog, tactics must be used to "force" that behavior.
Training methods which may have involved inflicting bodily discomfort were used to teach the dog his sport. These things are inconceivable to those of us who have 4-legged family members that we adore. Just as not everyone is a good owner to a family dog, there are, sadly, hunters who exist that truly are guilty of mistreatment or neglect of their dogs. This is evidenced by the number of hounds let go or left in the woods to fend for themselves after hunting season, often in poor health with signs of malnourishment or disease.
Today's Hunter The hunter himself has undergone a metamorphosis over the past hundreds of years... from a noble gentleman to the more provincial stereotype, to today's more affluent, ethical sportsman. Today's hunter is scrupulous about the sport and his dogs. Frequently he too is a passionate animal advocate. Often, an avid conservationist. The appeal of hunting is more than ever being realized by well-educated professionals as a means of getting out the office and enjoying the great outdoors. The icing on the cake is sharing that time with his dog.
Today's "norm" finds less and less hunting dogs being kept outside, but rather living with the family in their home, usually doubling as a family pet. Hunters know that living with their dog increases the bond between them as admiration, familiarity, and respect between the two is enhanced with a closer, daily relationship. As confidence comes from a dog knowing his place in the pack, it is only by living with his pack that he learns pack structure. A more confident, well-balanced dog certainly makes a better hunting dog.
Today's contemporary hunter knows that a hunting dog doesn't lose his instinct for hunting, regardless of his environment and care. With a little encouragement, positive reinforcement and reward, hunting breeds will quickly catch on. Harsh training tactics are shunned upon by a majority of the hunting population and not nearly as prevalent as in years past. In fact, hunting dogs have been shown to be much better at their sport when professionally trained in obedience and commands, and well socialized with people and other dogs.
Are Hunting Dogs Happy? Hunting breeds instinctively and genuinely want to hunt. They live for it and they love it. Beagles, for example, are happy living their life on the couch or lying on the back porch, but turn them out into the woods and the real fun begins! Most hunting dogs have an eager-to-please personality and are proud to share their successes in the field with their owners. These dogs love the excitement of the chase and the joy of the finding. There is no greater thrill than observing a hunting dog pursuing his prey, caught-up in the moment, tail high, eyes alive and ablaze. It's exhilarating! Look online and you'll find a slew of articles written by hunters revealing great sentiment for their dogs. It is offensive to them that people assume their dog is treated less well than a beloved family pet. The truth is, the bond between a hunter and his dog is great. They're partners. There are few things more gratifying to an outdoorsman than developing that connection with their animal. Never a more devoted friendship is had between a man and his dog than that of a hunter and his 4-legged hunting buddy.
How to Care for your Gun Dog All of the regular steps to care for your hunting dog at home before the hunting season include things such as:
Maintain a regular and balanced nutritional diet.
Ensure your gun dog has regular checkups with the vet as they are exposed to the elements much more than regular house dogs.
Get your hunting dog into good shape.
Exercise is vitally important especially 6-8 weeks before hunting season.
Aerobic workouts with lots of swimming will ensure that your dog doesn't become out of breath on the hunt and thus unable to use his scent well.
Training to obey commands.
Last of all: Grooming.
How to Care For Gun Dogs in Cold Weather Gun dogs should always have an appropriate jacket to guard from icy cold winds or wet and frosty weather when on a hunt so that maximum performance on your hunt together can be achieved. Apart from ensuring they start their day with a high calorie meal, if the weather is cold, sleeting or snowy, a decent dog jacket such as the WetDog Hunter is necessary hunting equipment. The Siccaro WetDog Hunter has been designed, used and tested by hunters and features a water absorbent inner layer to keep moisture absorbed which is great for short haired dogs.
It's great to use it after they have been in the water to retrieve for you. It will also keep your flushing dogs dry as they run through wet underbrush or damp low lying bushes it will help to keep them dry and free from excess moisture which in frosty conditions is rather unpleasant for them. The WetDog Hunter should always be removed prior to swimming however, as the moisture absorbent fabric will get heavy and weigh the dog down in the water imposing a drowing risk. Similarly, if it's a freezing day out, then ensuring your dog is warm and dry in the car is also important at the end of the day. Many hunters use copious amounts of towels to dry and protect their cars from dirty paws, wet dog smell or shedding ending up all over the car but this isn't necessary with a WetDog Hunter.
How to Avoid Your Gun Dog Overheating There is nothing more satisfying for both you and your dog once he has intensely tracked, chased and caught your prey. As you can tell from their exhaustion, thirst and hunger, they have worked hard for you and your hard work training them has paid off. Most great gundogs love to work hard and will do so until the job is done however, in extremely hot conditions they sometimes don't know their own limits. What happens though when or if a dog gets overheated? Unfortunately overheating and even heat stroke can be common issues that a hunting dog faces in warmer climates and especially in summer months. Even after swimming, a dog's temperature may not reduce back down to a safe level.
Firstly, be aware of the signs of overheating such as vomiting, diahorrea, excess salivation, bad coordination, glassed over eyes or panting and hyperventilation. It's also a good idea to pack a thermometer and know their regular temperature after exercise so that if it's above this then you can bring it back down. If your dog is overheated make sure you cool it down fast – keep your submerged dog in cool water making sure you keep hold of his head above the water in case she faints or use an ice pack on the belly or arm pits. Soak your dog clothes to make the body temperature lower for your pooch. This creates a cool pocket of air around the dog. Dogs staying cool between trials.
HOW TO TAKE THE INCREDIBLE PHOTOS OF HUNTING DOGS This material proudly presented by WWW.THEMONO CULAR.COM and Nancy Anisfield and Becky Harding and Nick Anderson and Mark Lord
Your dog may be an important part of the hunt, but they aren't always the easiest creatures to photograph. So, we spoke to five professional photographers who shared their top tips on how you can take the best pictures of your gundog when you are out in the field. Here's how to improve on working with your dog, your camera and your location:
Put yourself on their eye level Sit or kneel, so your photo will be straight on. Taken from a standing position, dog photos end up all head and tiny feet, something like a Mr. Potato Head of the bird dog world. If you're photographing pointers, be sure you can move around the dog to get your pointing shots from the front or side - images of dog butts just don't convey the intensity and excitement of a staunch point.
Photo the eyes, paws and tail In dogs and puppies this conveys the most expression, so keep them in mind as you compose and capture. Also think outside the box when it comes to props and locations and avoid cliched trophy shots like a pile of dead birds next to the dog and hunter. Instead help tell the story of your dog's drive for game by snapping him lunging off the tailgate into the field. Or show your dog's dedication to the hunting partnership by zooming in on the hunter accepting a retrieved bird, hand out, dog's head lifted upwards.
Photograph black dogs in full sunlight Otherwise you can overexpose the image as their coats often confuse the camera meter.
Practise retrieving shots with a dummy Throwing a dummy is often a good way to get lots of opportunities of your gundog running. I prefer to shoot them with nothing in their mouth as I don't find dummies that attractive in pictures however, once you have mastered photographing the dog retrieving, move onto a real dead bird which is a lot more photogenic.
Long retrieves are your friend When you send dog for a retrieve, make it a long one to give you more time to get the shot! By knowing your dog, you will have a good idea of the line it's likely to take. Then you can set up and get the shot you want, as even be ready to receive the dummy or bird when they get back to you.
Make silly noises If you are taking portrait shots you want your dog to look at you in that interested, ears pricked sort of way. This might involve making some really stupid noises but your dog won't mind and it will help you get their attention to get that shot!
Use aperture control to control depth of field and separate the subject from the surroundings This gives your image real impact as it concentrates on the substance of your photo and eliminates distractions. Set your camera to Aperture mode and use a small number, say f4 or less if your lens allows. Try to use a telephoto lens and make sure you focus sharply on your subject. The resulting image should show your gundogs in sharp relief against a softly blurred background.
Try out your phone camera Your phone is quite capable of producing good images. However, because it's not often possible to change the settings and the lens covers a large area, you must get close enough for your dog to fill the frame. Focus on the dog's face, or better still, the eyes by tapping on the screen if you can. Chose a nice contrasting background and aim so your dog is a little off centre.
Try shooting in the continuous mode Start shooting just before the dog charges forward and keep the shutter button down as you move the camera with the subject. Odds are you'll get lots of blurry shots in the sequence as the autofocus works to keep up, but there will be some frames that grab the subject sharply. A dog jumping into the water, for example, might require seven or eight frames from take-off to landing while you hold the shutter down and only two or three of which will be clear. But that's the beauty of digital - you can just delete the blurry ones without wasting time or film.
Use a fast shutter speed Dogs can be fast and you do not want a blurred subject matter. Ideally for a dog running you will need a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second or faster to freeze the action. On a bright day this is not a problem and its quite easy to use a shutter speed of 1/1000th or a second or faster. On an overcast day you may need to increase your film sensitivity or ISO in order to maintain a faster shutter speed.
Blur the background Panning will often help before taking the image. Some photographers slow the shutter speed and pan their camera at the same speed as the dog to give movement / blur in the background. This does take a lot of practice but it's worth it when you get a top shot!
Wait for your dog to run into shot It's a good idea to start out by photographing your dog running from one side to in front of you, as your camera's autofocus will struggle to keep up with a dog running towards you. Instead, prefocus on an area and wait for the dog to run into that area. The use of motordrive - rapid succession of frames will often help capture the perfect moment.
Apply a rule of thirds When you set up your shot make sure you pay attention to where the dog is in your viewfinder. Most cameras will have a grid so make sure that your dog is placed in a third, and ideally not always central! It will help make your photos look more interesting.
Autumn is a great time to shoot The best time for bird dog photography is when the leaves are down in October and November. November is my personal favourite because of the quality of the light - in the morning you will get gorgeous frost that can create a sparkling quality to your photos, and in the late afternoon the golden light creates warm images right in the camera - no editing needed.
A water shot is always good Either a dog crashing into the water with a big splash, or swimming in the water. Get down as close as you dare to the water surface and you may even get a beautiful reflection in the water. A dog swimming is much slower than running so you will not need such a fast shutter speed. Try 1/250th of a second or faster.
Try silhouettes Silhouettes against a skyline can be a good opportunity for a more unusual shot. Expose for the sky and the subject matter will appear even darker giving a silhouette effect.
Aim for a clean background There are plenty of photos where the dogs have posts or trees coming out from their heads so look for a background that isn't too "busy". If this isn't possible then then move your dog away from the background as this will help make your dog pop out more.
The type of gun dog you have determines, in part, the hunting dog products you will need for your hunts. There are also items that are universally necessary regardless of whether you have a pointing dog, a flushing dog, or a retrieving dog breed. Browse through the list to see which tools may be helpful to you, your Fido or your work together. Alternatively, you can also look into getting some of the more popular hunting dog training kits to save yourself some money and have all the tools in one place. Now let's dig into the meat and potatoes of these tools, and discuss why, where and how you need all this gun dog supply for the best hunting experience with your pet hunter.
Dummy prey The first thing a hunter should start training their dogs is the prey. Your hunting canine must understand what you as a hunter expect of him, things he should and should not do. This part of training is also the most fun for majority of hunters and their dogs. Buying dummy kits shaped like ducks or other birds and having your gun dog practice with them will teach your Fido not to maul the carcass when he retrieves it for you. Game bird looking dummies are also used for training waterfowl dogs and are more popular among hunters. These are more fun and effective for training hunting dogs, but they also cost an extra buck for the owner. DT Systems Super Pro Dummy Launcher with DummyHunters who are going to be using the above hunting dummies for dogs may need to buy a dummy launcher as well. These devices propel the dummy bird farther than you could throw it and also simulate an actual flying bird circumstance. However, this isn't the most essential tool since you still can throw these dummies yourself.
Gunfire The next set of best gun dog supplies for game hunters to train hunting dogs are things like test pistols and blanks to go with those pistols. These are especially useful for training a pointing dog not to be afraid of the sound of a gun going off. Be aware though that the American Kennel Club has published certain regulations and restrictions on using these blanks so that your dog's hearing isn't damaged. Read all this documentation before using any pistols around your hunting canine. Remember that there's a very particular way of training your dog for the sound of gunfire. This must be done carefully not for safety reasons alone, but also to ensure that your dog doesn't remain scared of firearms for the rest of his life.
Dog GPS Collars It's very common for hunting dogs to get lost and when you are in such a vast setting as the outdoors, you want to be able to track and precisely know your dog's location at all times. A GPS collar may be the most essential item on your gun dog supplies list, regardless of the type of hunt you're going for. If you are going to use a dog GPS tracker, then make sure to always have a set of extra batteries on hand. Some of these devices are known for discharging pretty fast. High quality and accurate GPS dog collar allows hunters to track their dog's movements and always keep an eye on the dog's location. It's not uncommon for canines to become completely focused on the prey and run miles ahead of the owner, which is not something you may wish for you pup to do, especially if he's still new to hunting.
Dog Command Collar Another example of a good hunting collar that helps you recall your dog is a command collar. A command collar is NOT to be confused with a dog shock collar, which is a completely different tool albeit also very useful at training dogs as long as you know exactly how to safely train dogs using shock collars. Dog command collar emits a soft tone that only the dog can hear. This tone, operated by you, can go off when you want to praise the dog, warn them, or communicate some other command. It's an effective way of teaching dogs to respond to different commands. Along those same lines, another useful gun dog supply tool to consider is a dog whistle that you can use to interact with your dog and recall him or make him sit and stay. You can never be too careful while hunting with your dog. Dog GPS trackers and command collars for dogs are great pieces of equipment, but in case they fail it, is always smart to have a dog whistle for back up to recall your dog. Just make sure you know how to use a whistle for dogs to achieve the desired effect.
Dog ID Tags In case your dog does get lost, ensure that your pet's collar is equipped with a pet ID tag with his name, your address and your phone number on it. It's a simple precautionary measure but definitely one of the most essential gun dog supplies you need to consider. Having a pet ID tag on your canine will help anyone who finds your pooch to identify him. Finally, consider getting your dog's collar and tags that are completely waterproof and durable so that they will stand up to the elements that your dog will be exposed to.
Gun Dog Clothing You might need to look into obtaining dog boots and possibly a dog harness or vest. If going in winter, there are specifically designed winter dog boots as well as other winter dog gear, which you can find on most online retailers' websites. When it comes to dog boots, canines are susceptible to rugged terrain so be sure to purchase dog boots that are water resistant and impervious to any type of terrain including rocks, snow, ice, heat, and other elements that may be common in your region. Some dog boots are only good for winter, some for summer and some are designed to be all-around protective footwear for dogs. As for the dog vest or dog harness, these are useful not only for gun dogs but for any dog owner, period. Getting a high quality dog harness will you in keeping your dog in many different ways. For example, the Ruffwear dog harness is currently the most popular choice among pet owners, hunters and working dog owners. It's been rated as one of the top best dog harnesses currently available. There are also many different kinds of dog vests available, both for everyday use and in the gun dog supplies section. Some are protective and others are camouflaged and designed to blend in with the outdoors. Protective dog vests are usually a bright neon color and allow you to easily identify your dog and avoid any deadly mishaps. Be certain to choose one that is flexible and moves easily with your pet. If you are going to be near water, consider purchasing a flotation vest as well.
First Aid Kit for Dogs As with humans, a first aid kit always comes in handy no matter what you are doing. You can purchase a dog first aid kit at most pet stores, and your local sporting goods store may carry one that features items specifically for hunting dogs as part of their gun dog supplies offering, which would be better. You can also put together your own first aid kit for dogs - here's how to do it. Most of these first aid kids contain paw cream for dogs. This cream should be applied twice weekly to the pads of your dog's paws to help toughen his feet. Make sure to use it for a few weeks before you go hunting with him. The cream can also serve as a light antiseptic. There are also paw care creams that you will need to use after the hunt that will help keep your dog's paws in good condition and soothe any injuries.