Deer Hunting with Dogs

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Hunting for deer with dogs is one of the most controversial hunting topics today. If you are a hunter like me who thinks the relationship and teamwork between dog and master is even more important than the actual kill, this huge discussion going on regarding hunting dogs is quite sad. This is a fantastic way of hunting and is in no way “too effective” or puts too much stress on the animal. Of course, if you hunt deer with dogs every day of the week you won’t have any deer on your land, that’s for sure.

But keeping all of this aside, how do you find the right hunting dog to help you in your deer hunt? Today we’re gonna look at a few characteristics that are important when looking for a deer hunting dog and we will also be suggesting a few breeds for you to look more in-depth on. It is very important to keep in mind that there are different lines in each dog breed so you need to make sure that the parents of the litter you are looking into buying a puppy from have deer hunting parents.

How Do You Hunt Deer With Hunting Dogs?

A classic way of hunting deer with dogs is to set up shooters on escape routes out of your hunting grounds, or a geographically big enough area to hold a few deer within it. Remember to also put a couple of shooters behind the person in charge of the dogs as the deer often tend to sneak backward behind the dogs.

The person in charge of the dogs will then release the dogs into the beat (the area of the hunting ground that you are hunting right now) which will force the deer to move and they will try to escape the dogs by running out on their escape routes. This is where the shooters are located. In this type of hunting the shooting is often fast paced and the distance to the target is often short so shotguns are a good option.

That is option #1 and the fastest option and often the most attractive option from a shooter standpoint as there is alot of action going on and its super intense.

Option 2 is hunting deer with a Harrier or other short-legged dogs like Dachshund. This is in my opinion the most fun for you as the dog master. Here you can hunt all by yourself or with one or two friends. You just release the dog or dogs into the hunting ground and wait until the dogs have found deer.

The dogs will then force the deer to stand up and move around as they think the dogs are a bit uncomfortable and annoying. They will not move fast, they usually just start walking around to get away from the dogs. This is because the dogs are so slow-moving that the deer can easily move away just by walking. This gives you and your friends an excellent opportunity for good shots at slow-moving or even standing deer.

As with all types of hunting with dogs, the experience and results will be so much better if you well-trained dogs and a GPS-collar on the dogs so you can see what’s going on and follow the dogs at all times.

What Are The Characteristics of a Good Hunting Dog for Deer?

If we look at the bigger picture, not all dog hunting breeds are sufficient enough if you don’t carry out their proper training. However, some breeds are born athletic which makes it less challenging to train your hunt buddies.

Here are some of the characteristics that you should consider before getting a hunting dog.

Work Ethic

Some dogs are naturally best suited to be hunting dogs. Conspicuously, hunting dogs must be disciplined, and if trained properly, will completely get indulged in the act of hunting. While this aspect can be taken to a higher level with a proper exercise regime, if a dog is well-disciplined and more naturally adapted to hard work, the effort of training from your side will be much easier.

High Stamina

Hunting requires a tremendous amount of endurance and stamina for hunters as well as for dogs. Good hunting dogs should be able to be flexible and to withstand physical activity for hours in each training and hunting session as well as be able to endure different weather conditions. Although many dog breeds possess these two characteristics, it can also be something that a deer dog can learn from training by a professional dog trainer.

Right Temperament Needed for Hunting

Temperament is not a quality that can be learned, but it can be a quality you look out for when looking for the right dog breed to be your eventual permanent hunting partner. A good hunting dog should be able to remain calm and learn from a young pup to their maturity, as well as becoming a good companion at home.

Healthy Bones

Ok, let’s be real, having great stamina is something that can be learned throughout years, but having a dog that possesses healthy bones and joints is something you need to make sure before adopting. Along with that, you can incorporate proper training, diet, and nutrition to maintain healthy bones and joints. You can do this by making them take the right dietary supplements and keeping them active.

Smelling & Tracking Ability

A great nose undoubtedly is the most essential factor to consider when it comes to good hunting dogs. The dog will have to track and find prey in rough environments, and during harsh weather, potentially for long distances. Knowing the breed and genetic smelling skills of the dog is helpful to know a dog’s respective smelling and tracking ability in advance. Some dog breeds are meant to be bred for this reason.


Before you get distracted with their furious qualities, make sure they have the right foundations. A dog can be a frustrating hunt buddy for the hunters if they run off and devour prey on its own, or worse – bark loudly scaring off the deers. Therefore, a good hunting dog should be willing to do anything for its owner and be obedient to the orders. A loyal and friendly dog that listens to your commands, will be easier to train for hunting sessions.

In short, the best hunting dogs are those who seem very lively, alert, quickly spot objects in movement. Additionally, to make the most of these qualities they have to be trained in ways that go hand in hand with their special traits.

What Dog Breeds are Good for Hunting Deer?
Numerous dog breeds are highly energetic and dominant to make an epitome of a hunting dog. Here are the top 5 dog breeds that are ideal for specifically hunting deers.

German Shorthaired Pointer

As the name suggests, the German shorthair pointer is a large-sized German breed. This breed’s tradition starts with the dogs which were used to hunting feathered games. It is considered a breed of both fierce and noble appearance. They weigh 20-32 pounds depending on the gender which guarantees speed, endurance, and stamina. The dog is considered to be a versatile hunter skilled with hunting in harsh weather.

They are known for having a trainable, bold, friendly, intelligent, and loyal temperament. Since they are highly energetic they make excellent dogs for hunting. The animal is a fast and intuitive learner and surely not to mention, they excel hunting on land as well as in water. The breed is extraordinarily athletic and hence requires intense workout in abundance. This breed, without a doubt can execute any role of a gundog that a hunter may need.


Coming from the hounds family this Bloodhound breed originates from Belgium and the United Kingdom. This is a large dog that stands 23-27 inches tall and weighs approximately 36-50 kgs. Bloodhounds have a special tendency of trailing a scent over long distances for many days – which must assure their strong sense of smell to you. The formidability of the dog is due to its ability to detect a scent in the air, in comparison to a scent on the ground. The exceptional sense of smell of the breed has seen them being used in many things other than hunting, which includes searching for people.
As far as the personality is concerned, this dog is known for being even-tempered, stubborn, noble and patient. But their persistent and independent approach makes them one of the best choices for hunting companions. They are highly intelligent when it comes to tracking the scent of their prey.

Basset Hound

Basset hounds are 11-14 inches tall with 20-29 kg in weight. Although this is a short-legged dog, it isn’t the ideal dominant one, but with its incredibly heavy bones, powerful legs, and gigantic paws, they possess strength and stamina just like the big dogs. It has a strong sense of smell just like the ever-famous – Bloodhound. The low-key charm that they often show makes it difficult to determine if it can be independent and stubborn. According to American Kennel Club they are bred for endurance than speed, however, with adequate discipline and consistent training anything is possible. When compared to other breeds, bassets are comparatively good-tempered, and easy-going.

These loyal dogs can trail scent effectively without any trouble whatsoever. Basset Hounds are reputable to pick scents to an extent that they get overly obsessed and ignore commands to heel. The hounding instinct of the Bassets makes training a little difficult but thanks to their remarkable sense of smell they can spot deer from some distance.

Labrador Retriever

These Labrador Retrievers that stand a height of 21 to 24 inches make their way to one of the most popular gun dogs. This enthusiastic, energetic, and loyal dog breed can withstand cold temperatures and easily swim through cold water. They weigh 55 to 80 pounds and are often considered the ultimate dog breed for deer hunting. When we keep all of that aside, Labs make a loyal companion and an ideal family dog. The breed is one of the most popular dog breeds today.

We speak of temperament, then these athletics labs are intelligent and outgoing. With their powerful jaws and water-resistant coats you can confidently take them off to your hunting field.

American Foxhound

The American foxhound is a scent hound full of utmost resilience and determination. With a height of around 21 to 28 inches long and 60 to 70 pounds in weight, they can effortlessly dominate any deer you would want. This running hound is born to chase the trail of deers’ scent. Bred from English foxhounds these friendly yet furious dogs make your perfect companion in the field as well as at home with your kids.


All in all, dog hunting comes with countless perks that can motivate you to try this. One of the main reasons hunters run dogs on deer is that it offers chances to kill deer which are otherwise incredibly hard to get a shot on. Not just that, Some dog racing happens in highly bushy and swampy areas where it’s impossible to walk in or out without the deer spooking. And that’s exactly where your dog buddies come into the picture.

There are a lot of pros of hunting with dogs but you need to keep in mind some of the drawbacks. At the very least, if your dogs are too wild and untrained they might end up ruining things for a day and certainly blow out an area for the coming weeks.

And keep in mind that its really not popular to have your dogs running over someone else’s land, even though dogs doesn’t know property lines it’s very important to keep track of this as this is what is driving legislators towards banning hunting with dogs even more.

All in all, killing the deer is a minor part of the actual hunting. Usually, dog owners are happy simply by having a good time and seeing a tough challenge for the dogs they have raised. So don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, it’s really fun!

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