Hunting Dogs with Spots

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Did you know it is estimated that there are over 350 dogs breeds worldwide? When not following strict guidelines of organizations like The American Kennel Club, Europe’s Continental Kennel Club, and Federation Cynologique International, this is a general number other sources have come up with.

Each of these different organizations have different guidelines for breeds and therefore, different total numbers of overall breeds worldwide. The AKC (American Kennel Club) currently recognizes 195 different breeds and is in the process of approving 79 more. Of these breeds, whichever number you choose to go with, there are 7 distinct primary types, or classes, of dogs.

These 7 include Sporting, Working, Herding, Hounds, Terriers, Non- Sporting and Toy. Of these 7 groups, breeds of hunting dogs are found among most.

What Breeds of Hunting Dogs Have Spots?

There are several breeds of hunting dogs that sport spotted coats. These include Sight and Scent Hounds, Setters, Spaniels, Curs, and Gun Dogs or Bird Dogs, Of these, specific breeds include but are not limited to; German Shorthaired and English Pointers, Bluetick, Redtick, and English Coonhounds, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Branco Italianos, Russel, Fox, Hairless, and Staffordshire Terriers, Cocker, English Springer, and Brittany Spaniels, Dalmatians, and Dachshunds, and Whippets.

I’m sure there are more that I’m not listing here, but these are the breeds with spots that are most commonly found in the hunting community.

Why Do They Have Spots?

Spots occur in a couple of different ways. This is because most coats we view as being spotted are referred to as ticking or roaning. Here’s the difference. Spots or patches, large areas of a single color surrounded by white, originate during the embryonic state of the puppy. Pigment cells are dispersed from the spinal cord and distributed to the rest of the body. From there, the single cells clone or duplicate themselves in specific areas creating a group of cells that will pigment the skin and fur in that specific area. The pigment cells space themselves equally and divide and grow to fill in the gaps creating a fully colored dog. The white parts of a spotted dog are caused by either pigment cells never developing or are due to the division of the cells happening too slowly. Puppies are born with their spots fully formed and will have them their entire life span.
Ticking, on the other hand, is caused by the T or ticking gene, “spots” that appear to be several colors that happen due to ticking density. Ticking occurs after the birth of a dog and is only noticeable in the white areas of a dog’s skin and fur. Scientists believe this genetic phenomenon to be associated with chromosome 38.

What Kind of Hunting are They Good for?

Like I mentioned above, hunting dogs fall into many dog groups, and which group they are in determines which attributes they’ll have for different types of hunting. Perhaps the most obvious group, Hounds, is comprised completely of hunting dogs, and they are generally divided into two subgroups, Sight, and Scent hounds. Then you have dogs in the terrier group, sporting, and working groups. Let’s take a closer look.

Sight Hounds

Sight Hounds have a beautifully skinny frame and are known for their agility and speed. Within this subgroup you will find Whippets and Greyhounds with spotted, or ticked coats. Whippets, being the smallest of this group, were bred for hunting rabbits but do well with other small animals. Greyhounds on the other hand, being larger, are better with deer or wild boar.

Scent Hounds

This subgroup has a bit more range in body type and color than the latter. Encompassing breeds such as the Bluetick, Redtick, Treeing Walker, and American English Coonhound, known for, you guessed it, Racoon hunting, to the Dachshund and Beagle. Dachshunds are great scent hounds for burrow- dwelling animals such as badgers and foxes, while Beagles are commonly used for hare or rabbits, and other small animals.


Terriers like hounds were all bred for hunting. What they hunt, however depends on their size though most hung some form of vermin or small animals. Among the most common spotted, ticked, or roan Terriers are the Fox Terrier, known for hunting fox, Staffordshire Terrier, Russell (formerly Jack Russel) Terrier, and the Hairless Terrier.


This is another group with a wide range of breeds. Breeds that fall under this category are typically referred to as Gun Dogs or Bird Dogs. These dogs are known for helping humans hunt wild birds, grouse, and partridge by scanning scents, pointing out where their prey is, getting the gunman in range, and retrieving. This subgroup contains the English and Irish setter, known for hunting Grouse, as well as the English, Brittany, and Cocker Spaniels all with potential for spots, ticking, or roan coats. Pointers also fall into this category, specifically in terms of spots, the German shorthair, and English. Dalmatians are also considered Bird Dogs and have the most unique spots of all, unlike any other breed. Scientists are still a little puzzled by it


This is the exception to the rule and includes 1 Cur that I know of. It is the beautiful Catahoula Leopard Dog. This breed was originally bred for hunting but it is now used for herding as well. These dogs are native to Louisiana and will track and kill most any wildlife. Originally used for hunting and herding wild hog, the Catahoula can also hunt small animals such as raccoons and squirrels, as well as larger animals like deer, mountain lion, and even black bear!


In conclusion, there are tons of hunting dogs, and within them, several breeds that have spots, ticking, or roan in their coats. With a couple breeds in each dog group you have a real variety when choosing the right spotted hunting dog for you.

All of these breeds, with proper training, are wonderful companion dogs as well, but most need frequent exercise when not on the hunt. I hope this article helped guide you to hunting dogs with spots!

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