11 Best Hunting Dog Breeds for All Types of Games

We may receive commissions when you buy through links on our site. Read here.

Humans and dogs have been working together for thousands of years. Whether it’s to provide us with companionship, protection, or hunting assistance, they have always been an essential part of our lives.

And when it comes to hunting, dogs are an invaluable asset. With highly developed senses of sight, smell, and hearing, they can help us track, flush out, and retrieve games, making them essential hunting companions.

While there’s no doubt that many canines like Vislasz are excellent hunters, some are better suited at hunting specific types of games than others. In fact, some breeds are bred explicitly to hunt a particular type of quarry, whether it be deer, boar, birds, ducks, coons, or rabbits, and perform certain tasks while out in the field.

And whether you’re gearing up for a hunting trip and need some help choosing the right dog, or you just want to learn more about the best breeds for different types of hunting, read on for a rundown of 11 of the best hunting dog breeds for all kinds of games.

You May Also Like: Tips to Train Your Puppy to Become Your Hunting Partner

Labrador Retriever - The Duck Hunter

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds globally and is known for being an excellent hunting dog. They are especially well-suited for duck hunting, as they are powerful swimmers and have a natural affinity for water.

With webbed feet and a thick otter-like tail that helps them maneuver in the water and a short double coat that makes them practically waterproof, Labs can stay warm while retrieving fallen waterfowl from ponds, lakes, rivers, and any other body of water.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Height: 22 – 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 – 80 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, Gentle, Outgoing
  • Specialty: Waterfowl hunting

Golden Retriever - A Tenacious Waterfowl & Upland Bird Hunter

Golden Retriever

Being one of the most famous dogs in the United States and known for their friendly demeanor, work well with people, and good with kids, most people will think of the Golden Retrievers as family pets than hunting dogs.

But the truth is that they are also one of the best dog breeds for hunting. In fact, they were originally bred to retrieve shot upland games like grouse and partridge and have the ability to bring the downed birds back to hunters undamaged.

Golden Retrievers share many similarities with Labs. They have a gentle disposition, the intelligence to learn quickly, and a long, water-repellent outer coat and a dense inner coat that insulates them from the cold, making them an ideal breed for duck, geese, and upland bird hunting.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Height: 20 – 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 – 75 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, Loving, Trustworthy
  • Specialty: Waterfowl and upland bird hunting

German Shorthaired Pointer - A Versatile All-Purpose Gundog

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers, the upland bird hunters’ breed of choice of all time, are known for their athleticism, endurance, and determination and have an exceptional nose to scent and point out games.

GSP is a highly versatile gundog that can hunt various games, from small quarry including rabbits and raccoons to large game like deer. They have boundless stamina, energy, a high-level work drive and are undoubtedly one of the top hunting dog breeds.

What makes them stand out from the rest is that they are an all-around gundog and multitasker. Not only are GSPs excel at pointing, allowing hunters to take a more accurate shot, but they are equally skilled at hunting and retrieving games.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 14 years
  • Height: 20 – 25 inches
  • Weight: 45 – 70 pounds
  • Temperament: Athletic, Energetic, Outgoing
  • Specialty: Upland bird hunting

English Springer Spaniel - For Pheasant Hunting

English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels, the classic bird dog, is a popular choice of first-time bird dog owners, and for a good reason.

Obedient, desire to work with hunters, and keen to learn, English Springers make excellent hunting companions. They are well-suited for upland bird hunting and are regarded as one of the best flushing breeds thanks to their hunting style, in which they would, without any hesitation, chase and spring the birds into flight and allow hunters to take the shot.

So if you plan to hunt chukar, partridge, and especially pheasant that requires an aggressive flush, the English Springer Spaniel is a prime choice.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 14 years
  • Height: 18 – 22 inches
  • Weight: 40 – 55 pounds
  • Temperament: Obedient, Eager to Please, Attentive
  • Specialty: Upland bird hunting

English Setter - The Perfect Grouse Dog

Perhaps the most popular grouse dog in North America, English Setters are a breed that almost every hunter can recognize and acknowledge their skills. They can search for quarry silently and have the ability to do that systematically and methodically. And when they spot one, they will crouch down, signaling to hunters their find.

While these feathered dogs love getting into mischief sometimes, they are energetic, hardworking, and are one of the woodlands ruffed grouse hunters’ favorite breeds thanks to their keen nose and sharp eyesight that allow them to spot the slightest movement. English Setters are biddable and, more importantly, have the right balance of drive and cautiousness that won’t scare the spooky grouse away.

One thing though, there are two lineages of English Setters, conformation and field. The former has a larger frame and longer feathers, specifically bred for the show ring. On the other hand, the field line has a smaller frame, is lightly feathered, and is more suitable for hunting.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Height: 23 – 27 inches
  • Weight: 45 – 80 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, Energetic, Mischievous
  • Specialty: Upland bird hunting

Beagle - The Rabbit & Hare Specialist

Beagle

Small in size but big in determination and energy, Beagles are among the most famous rabbits and hares hunting dog breeds.

Not only do they have endless energy that allows them to trail bunnies for hours, but they also have an acute sense of smell and are incredibly determined to pursue their prey. They will tirelessly venture through the roughest terrain possible with steely determination and vigor, following any rabbit or hare that might be out there.

These merry little hounds are also known for their trademark howling and baying, which will surely let the hunter know where they are and when they’ve got quarry in sight. They work excellent in a pack for hunting, and six to eight Beagles make a good pack.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years
  • Height: 13 – 15 inches
  • Weight: 20 – 24 pounds
  • Temperament: Energetic, Determined, Excitable
  • Specialty: Rabbit, hare, and other small game hunting

Treeing Walker Coonhound - The Ultimate Coon Dog

Treeing Walker Coonhound

The infamous coonhound breed, Treeing Walker Coonhound, is, without a doubt, an exceptional choice for coon hunting and is, in fact, the preferred coon dog of many experienced coon hunters.

Walkers can easily maneuver through any location and environment and are very good at what they do, thanks to their keen nose, innate high prey drive, and superior speed. These traits allow them to quickly and effectively locate a raccoon, and when they spot one, they will relentlessly pursue it until they chase it up to trees.

And from their name, you probably have already guessed that these hounds excel at treeing quarry, a task that they perform flawlessly and one that they take great pride in. Once, say, for instance, a raccoon is treed, these hounds will let out distinctive barking until hunters arrive.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 13 years
  • Height: 20 – 27 inches
  • Weight: 50 – 70 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, Confident, Friendly
  • Specialty: Coon hunting

American Foxhound - The Deer Driver

While American Foxhounds were originally bred to hunt foxes and represent one of the most famous breeds for fox hunting, they are particularly popular with deer hunting nowadays.

Deer driving requires fast, agile hounds with a powerful nose, superior stamina to keep up, and have the endurance and a love for singing, so hunters know where they are. And American Foxhounds fit that bill perfectly. They are incredibly fast, can run all day without tiring, and have an excellent sense of smell that allows them to pick up the slightest scent of deer.

However, what’s impressive about American Foxhounds is not only their talents but also the sheer enthusiasm they have for hunting. It really doesn’t take much to motivate them, and once they are let loose on an open field chasing white-tailed deer, nothing will stop them.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Height: 21 – 25 inches
  • Weight: 45 – 75 pounds
  • Temperament: Energetic, Independent, Willful
  • Specialty: Fox and deer hunting

Rhodesian Ridgeback - A Strong, Powerful Big Game Hunter

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a famous big-game hunting dog breed originally bred in Africa to hunt lions, hence also known as the African lion dog. And, as you might have guessed, they are very good at it.

Hunting lions back in the days when they roamed the African plains wasn’t easy, but Ridgebacks were up for the challenge, and that makes hunting other big game, like hogs and wild boars, comparatively simple. As a matter of fact, they do just as well with other large quarry, thanks to their size, strength, speed, intelligence, and determination.

And of course, it was also their toughness and fearlessness that made them great big-game hunting dogs, as they are unafraid of any big game quarry and can take on any challenge.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Height: 24 – 27 inches
  • Weight: 65 – 90 pounds
  • Temperament: Dignified, Strong-Willed, Fearless
  • Specialty: Large game hunting

Bluetick Coonhound - A Trustworthy Hound to Track & Hunt Cougars

Bluetick Coonhound

Mountain lions are undoubtedly one of the most challenging games to hunt. Not only because they are dangerous, but they can also be very elusive at times and are superb at hiding. Meaning if you want to bag a cougar, you will need hounds that have a powerful nose to find one.

There are, of course, many breeds that are all capable of hunting mountain lions, for instance, Cur, Black and Tan, Plott, Redbone, and Walker. However, Bluetick Coonhounds are perhaps the best breed for this job. Although they aren’t as fast as other scenthounds, they make up for it with their cold nose.

What that means is that they can pick up the faintest trace of the game, allowing them to piece together a trail left by the big cat even hours after it passed by. This alone makes them excellent hunters of cougars. And once they do get a whiff of it, they will tirelessly track it down until they catch up to it, no matter how far into the wilderness it might have gone. 

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 11 – 12 years
  • Height: 21 – 27 inches
  • Weight: 45 – 80 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, Energetic, Tenacious
  • Specialty: Mountain lion hunting

Karelian Bear Dog - The Bear Hunter

Karelian Bear Dog

Bears are formidable predators and can be especially dangerous when threatened. So you will need a dog that is fearless and can stand its ground against one, and that’s exactly what the Karelian Bear Dog (KBD) is. In fact, when it comes to hunting bears, there is no better dog breed out there than KBDs.

Also called Karjalankarhukoira, the Karelian Bear Dog is a Finnish breed originally bred to hunt brown bears, which certainly says a lot about how tough and powerful this breed is. And today, they are employed to hunt various types of bears, whether it be black bears, grizzlies, or even polar bears in some cases, or to herd these bears away from humans and livestock.

They possess all the qualities you would want in a bear hunter, strength, speed, and determination. But, more importantly, they have unparalleled bravery, never backing down from a bear, no matter how big and ferocious it might be.

Breed Overview

  • Life Expectancy: 11 – 13 years
  • Height: 19 – 24 inches
  • Weight: 44 – 51 pounds
  • Temperament: Loyal, Tenacious, Courageous
  • Specialty: Bear hunting

You May Also Like: What to Do When Encountering a Bear While Hiking With Your Dog