What Types of Hunting Dogs Are There?

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  • Sighthounds
  • Scenthounds
  • Lurchers
  • Retrievers
  • Setters
  • Spaniels
  • Pointers
  • Waterdogs
  • Feists
  • Terriers
  • Curs

We are in this post trying to explain the different types of hunting dogs, so it’s easier for you to pick what suits you best!

Imagine the pleasant smell of the fields and the scenic views of the wild. These irresistible yet fertile imaginations could effortlessly push you to hunt, and you will not regret it. With the hunting season relatively nigh, you might want to have fun in the wild. It will be fascinating to have suitable companions during such trips. That is where hunting dogs come in.

With hunting dogs by your side, you will be confident of a memorable experience while hunting. The ease of their training, obedience, and loyalty make them the best partners while in the fields. Interestingly, you have a wide array of breeds to choose from.

Ideally, each type of hunting dog has distinct traits and hunting approaches. Sadly, not much information about their distinction is out there. It is in this light that we explore some of the common types of hunting dogs and their most predominant traits. They include the following. 

But first, we should take a look at the basics. 

What Type of Hunting Can You Do With Dogs?

Mostly, the type of hunting will be dependent on the breed of your dog. However, you will generally rely on these dogs for both wetland and upland game hunting.

During this hunting, you will utilize the hunting dog in locating and flushing game, retrieving game birds, capturing small prey, including rabbits and hares. A trained hunting dog will come in handy in detecting as well as flushing out prey before shooting.

In light of pursuing different game, ensure that you choose the right dog to hunt your preferred prey. Some dogs excel in upland hunting better than others. You will also find that some of these dogs have a higher endurance level than others.

Ideally, you will be sure of three main categories of hunting dogs. Usually, you will get hound dogs, gun dogs, and terriers.

Further, hound dogs are divided into sighthounds and scenthounds. On the other hand, we have different categories of gun dogs. They include retrievers, water dogs, spaniels, setters, and pointers. These gun dogs vary in size, endurance, shape, and agility. Terriers are the most independent hunters, and you are most likely going to fall in love with them.

The big question, therefore, becomes which dog suits you? Here is an analysis of the different options that you have. 


You could also call them gazehounds. These hunting dogs usually rely on sight as well as speed when going after their prey. Additionally, they pride themselves on enhanced agility. You will hardly ignore their sensitive nose and sharp eyes. Interestingly, they come with a calm, indoor demeanor too.

In most cases, they tend to be between 1.2 and 2 meters in length. They are not only long-legged and sleek but also relatively muscular. Some of the common sighthounds that you will get include the Italian Greyhounds, Salukis, greyhounds, and whippets. You could also choose afghan hounds, the Ibizan hounds, or the Basenji.

You will find sighthounds more reliable when hunting in the open fields or plains. Usually, they come in handy in hunting foxes, wolves, and hares. Ideally, these dogs will be suited for hunting in rugged terrains, thickets, and forests.

In most cases, they excel in long runs as well as retrieval abilities. These dogs will also come in handy in hunting birds of prey. While at it, you will witness that most sighthounds tend to be relatively calm and obedient after catching prey. They will wait for the hunter to arrive before they finally tear any game. 


Scenthounds come with a relatively impressive scenting ability and a characteristic baying voice. They tend to rely on their booming voices alongside the scent while hunting their prey. Well, they pride themselves on having the most sensitive noses among dogs.

One of the distinctive features that these dogs come with is their enhanced tenacity. Besides, they are not only full of endurance but also highlight a sense of determination. They will always ensure that they track down prey before they can finally rest.

Often, these scenthounds will hunt either injured prey or those on trees. Once they capture the game, they alert the hunter through their baying voices.

Where do scenthounds thrive? In most cases, you will witness that these dogs excel in thickets and dense places. You will also rely on them if your hunting ground is near water bodies or in challenging terrains.

Some of the most common scenthounds that you could consider will include the German Shorthaired Pointer, Dachshund, Beagle, Black and Tan Coonhound, English Springer Spaniel, and Bloodhound. The Bluetick Coonhound and Harrier will also come in handy for you. 


Did you know that lurchers are a cross-breed of sighthounds and terriers, large scenthounds, or herding breeds? While they were initially the best companions to poachers, they have since become the best dogs for both hunting and racing. They are less aggressive, amiable, and relatively so gentle that you could use them as pets.

Their hunting ability, endurance, and tenacity are unmatched. You will also appreciate these dogs’ agility as well as the graceful movement. These dogs come with various shapes and even sizes, and their types of coats are also distinct. Ideally, their temperament depends on which cross-breeding took place.

More than often, lurchers will come in handy as the right herding dogs for you. They will ensure that all your sheep are in one place. While at it, they tend to rely on their scenting abilities to find any lost herd. Naturally, they hunt while quiet, and will, therefore, catch the prey unawares.

Feel free to rely on lurchers if you are hunting in the open fields. Here, they are more likely to utilize their intelligence, agile movement, and speed in tracking down the game. 

Read more about lurchers here on wikipedia.


Ideally, retrievers are gun dogs that help in retrieving prey for the hunters—more like collecting the kill. These dogs are usually mild-tempered, relatively affectionate, and intelligent. They will hardly be suitable watchdogs as they do not feature any guard instincts.

The appearance of these retrievers will often vary from one to another, depending on which breed it is. However, they are generally robust, medium-sized, and have floppy ears. You will also appreciate how quickly they tend to learn and their ability to perform tough tasks.

In essence, you cannot rely on this dog to help you in hunting. Instead, it will play the role of collecting whatever you have killed. On top of that, you could use it as a rescue as well as a sniffer dog.

Usually, you will be sure of up to six predominant types of retrievers. You might want to consider the Labrador retriever, golden retriever, the flat-coated retriever, and the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever. The curly-coated and the Chesapeake Bay retrievers will also come in handy for you. 


Setters are gun dogs originated from Ireland. These dogs pride themselves in a luxurious mahogany coat as well as their sense of determination. Did you also know that their level of energy is relatively unmatched?

Usually, setters will be relatively adaptable to different environments, including tolerating cold weather. Their sensitivity level is also reasonably high. While at it, you will fall in love with how playful, trainable, intense, and intelligent they tend to be. Remember, you should not leave these dogs alone as they could be destructive.

You will find setters in four types. Usually, you will be sure of getting the Irish, English, and the Gordon setters. You could also opt for the Irish Red and White setter. Their traits are moderately similar.

These dogs will be your best match when hunting in cold areas or seasons. Usually, they tend to lie low whenever they find birds of prey, which allows the hunter to take out the game. Their energetic nature will enable them to hunt for longer distances and even periods. 


Spaniels are gun dogs, which play an integral role in flushing prey from dense bushes. Initially, you would get the land and water breeds, with either breed functioning best in open fields and waters, respectively. However, some water breeds have since gone extinct. You will also get springing spaniels too.

Spaniels will often be essential in hunting birds of prey. Usually, the land spaniels will come in handy in setting the victim. Here, they will creep forward and then point towards the prey, which allows the hunter to trap them using nets. On the other hand, springing spaniels are central to springing partridges when hunting with falcons. Well, did you know that these dogs were initially specialized for hunting the American woodcock?

We have various spaniel breeds at your disposal. Some of the most common ones include Papillon, Field Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Clumber Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, and American Cocker Spaniels. The Blue Picardy Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, German Spaniel, and King Charles Spaniel have also become relatively common. 


Here is yet another gun dog again. You could also call it the English Poiner, and it comes with a reasonably even temper. Usually, this dog’s amiable, affectionate, and playful traits distinguish it from the other hunting dogs. You will also appreciate their agility, obedience, and energy. In short, their natural athleticism and hunting instincts will often accentuate themselves right from the onset.

Remarkably, pointers tend to excel in many areas since their versatility is matchless. It will be vital for you to rely on this dog when hunting small game, including birds, rabbits, and hares. While at it, you might want to use them during hot seasons or in regions with high temperatures. Their tolerance for such weather is remarkable.

Usually, the pointer will be essential in locating birds and then allowing the hunter to trap them using a reliable net. While at it, it will always stop and stand still until the hunter fires their gun. It is through this that their safety will hardly get compromised.

Some of the standard pointers will often include the Spanish Water Dog, Boykin Spaniel, German Shorthead Pointer, and the English Pointer. 

What is a Gun dog? We have written an article on the subject.


It would be unfair not to mention one of the most popular gun dogs, the waterdog. It will often play a significant role in flushing as well as retrieving prey from the waters. It is one of those modern retriever dogs considered to be progenitors.

In light of the type of prey these dogs focus on, you will rely on them only when hunting in swampy areas or near rivers. While at it, these dogs will be essential in retrieving your lost fishing gear and herding the fish or game that you have captured.

More than often, people will fall in love with the dog’s sense of adaptability and intelligence. They are not only affectionate but also relatively easy to train. You will also find their energy levels as well as intensity to be remarkable.

Various breeds fall into this category. Some of them include the Portuguese water dog, the Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Spanish Water Dog, American Water Spaniel, and the Curly-coated retriever. 

We have a written guide here for how to teach your Labrador Retriever to hunt.


Feists are relatively small hunting dogs, which descended from the terriers. Most likely, they are a cross-breed of the Manchester Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier, which came into the Us through English immigrants. This dog is a natural hunter, and whose hunting instincts appear when it is still young.

In most cases, these dogs play a vital role in locating or tracking but not retrieving small prey. Usually, you will find them reliable in hunting rodents and perhaps rabbits and hares. They thrive in open fields and less dense places. Ideally, they will follow the prey until they are barricaded by trees, allowing the hunter to shoot without too much hassle.

Did you know that these dogs come with the best personality? You will find them dependable, amiable, and friendly. Besides, they are not only bred to hunt but also prove to be fearless and energetic. They will often be ready to face any challenge that comes their way, thanks to their bold nature and agility.

Well, always keep in mind that there are two types of fests—the mountain feists and the treeing feists. However, there are no physical differences between these two. Some of the common types of feists include the Denmark Feist and the Rat Terrier. 


You will hardly talk of hunting dogs without mentioning Terriers, which are some of the most common hunting breeds. Initially, this breed of dogs was bred to hunt vermin. While these dogs are relatively small and wiry, you will laud how fearless they tend to be. Their intelligence, tenacity, and obedience are unparalleled.

Usually, terriers will hardly get along well with other pets. However, this is not to say that they are neither playful nor cheerful. If you are looking for friendly and active dogs, this would be the right option for you. They display a variety of temperaments as well as mood dispositions, which you will have to adjust to.

Some of the dogs that you would consider in this category include the Jack Russel Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Irish Terrier, and the Australian Terrier. The Scottish Terrier, Welsh Terrier, the Yorkshire Terrier, and the Miniature Schnauzer Terriers are also relatively common.

Terriers are bred to hunt reasonably small prey, and always solo. For instance, if you are looking for a solution to rodents, Terriers will be worth your time. These dogs excel best in outdoor spaces, preferably in the open. While at it, positive reinforcement will be a suitable form of their training. 


Lastly, we take a look at curs. They take up the lowest class of the nameless or pariah dogs. In most cases, they are mixed-breed dogs. These dogs come in handy as both working and hunting dogs, with each of their breed showcasing distinct abilities.

These dogs pride themselves on relatively large and long legs and impressive working instincts. Even so, they still tend to be reasonably short. While at it, you will take not of their large ears and sharp noses. You could rely on them as hog dogs or as treeing ones.

In most cases, these dogs thrive in tracking and scaring their prey, and consequently hounding them to trees. Once they do this, they will keep barking until their owner arrives or hunts the given targets down. Typically, their barking helps in ensuring that the hunter finds the target with ease. Some of their prey include rodents, rabbits, and hares.

You will be sure of various dogs under this breed. Common curs include the American Leopard Hound, Black Mouth Cur, Canadian Cur, and Blue Lacy. You might also want to consider the Mountain View cur, the Mountain cur, Camus cur, Stephens Cur, and the Treeing Tennessee Brindle. 

Well, with all that info, are you now looking forward to getting yourself the best hunting dog? Indeed, you can hardly ignore the role of these dogs in defining your experience in the fields. As long as you have the right one, no prey will escape your shot. Now is the time to make a new friend—find a hunting dog!

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