hunting dog breeds

Hunting dogs have hunted since the dawn of man, and there’s no question why. Hunting dogs are unendingly loyal, love their owners, and are so eager to please that they will hunt down anything, or anyone, their owners want. Some of the best-hunting dogs include iconic breeds like Beagles or Golden Retrievers but there are also many other options to consider depending on the type of prey and environment.

The question of which breeds make the best hunting dogs is a challenge to answer since each breed has it's own strengths and weaknesses. Many hunters prefer a general all around great dog that will be an excellent companion regardless if you are hunting deer, fox, and ducks but the reality can be much more complex.

For instance, Labrador and Golden Retrievers are both excellent dogs for well ... retrieving. This makes them good options when it comes to duck hunting though while some people prefer the personality of a Golden Retriever for companionship, the thicker fur will require more grooming and can be an issue chasing waterfowl through wetlands for instance.

When considering your needs in a hunting dog, it is also critical that you understand what you are looking for. Where someone out pheasant hunting would need a dog to retrieve their downed game, someone hunting hogs or other larger species might simply need a dog to locate their injured game, as it may have fled before going down. With that being said,  Hunting dogs generally fall into one of two categories - Gun Dogs and Scent Hounds. 

Gun Dogs are more commonly known as bird dogs but are also good at tracking down small prey on the ground as well. Their strength is in finding prey and flushing it out so the hunter can shoot it as well as being able to retrieve the target.

Scent Hounds on the other hand are more talented at following the trail left by the prey while also making loud calls that help the hunter locate the dog and follow it as it chases down the lead.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular breeds of hunting dogs and hopefully find one that is the right fit for your needs.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are a classic dog breed but can be a little goofy. These devoted dogs serve well as gun dogs and will be eager to follow your every command. They can easily be trained without a professional, making them perfect hunting companions. While they do require grooming, they make excellent bird dogs since they tend to love the water.

While most people tend to look at these dogs simply as personal companions for families, there are plenty of breeders with intelligent Golden Retrievers for sale who can help you find one that will be a great hunting dog as well.



Beagles are small to medium-sized dogs that will be perfect for going on adventures. These dogs are playful and adore spending time with children and other dogs, making them rightfully protective. Raising a Beagle may be challenging since they’re so curious, but the reward for their company is worth any struggle.

Beagles are excellent scent hounds and a great choice if you are hunting gophers, rabbits, and other small game such as foxes that tend to seek shelter in tight hiding areas.



Greyhounds may not be overly affectionate like retrievers, but they have an independent streak and are very fast. While most Americans associate greyhounds with racing, they can make great pets and historically have served as hunting dogs as far back as Ancient Egypt.

This very fast breed is very well suited to chasing game that is also fast. This especially includes rabbits as well as coyotes. Greyhounds have excellent vision and will instinctively chase rapids across a field with minimal training.

labrador retriever hunting dog with duck

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are one of the most famous dog breeds and remain devoted to their owners. Like goldens they make great gun dogs and are also easily trainable with excellent temperament. As such, it is no surprise that these dogs are ideal for families who love to go hunting or go on adventures. While they are naturally full of energy and enthusiasm as well as loyalty they do need to be trained to hone that innate ability into a fine hunting dog.

Like Golden Retrievers, Labs are a great option when hunting ducks and other waterfowl though they are also good companions in the woods as well.


Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick Coonhounds have a hunting instinct and will gladly get down in the dirt to chase rabbits, raccoons, and other pests. They have a reputation for being fearless and sometimes will chase larger more dangerous animals such as bears if not properly trained to obey your commands. These dogs are perfect nighttime guardians and will be perfect companions during a hunt as well.

They were purpose bred as hunting dogs and have extraordinarily good olfactory abilities that serve well when tracking prey even days later.

German Shepherd

German shepherds are famously reliable and devoted to their families. These dogs will listen to your every command and do anything to receive your love, praise, and affection. A German Shepherd can cuddle at its owner’s feet at the end of a long hunting trip. 

While German Shepherds are rarely considered a good hunting dog, they can be trained to be hunting companions and are a good option for those looking more for a companion that can track and defend, rather than chase prey and bring it back to you.



Dachshunds are small dogs and unlikely candidates for some of the best hunters, but these dogs have an instinct for digging rabbits out of caves and were originally bred by Germans to chase badgers. This dog breed has no problem chasing down pests and rodents and bringing them back, alive or dead. Despite their small size, dachshunds can be excellent hunting dogs in the right situation due to their compact size, bravery, and fierce personality.

 american foxhound hunting foxes

American Foxhound

American foxhounds are a dog breed famous for being George Washington’s preferred breed for fox hunting. This dog breed is a scent hound and possesses excellent olfactory abilities but can be quite aggressive. While perfect for hunting foxes, it is also a good option for deer hunting due to their strength and stamina.


Final thoughts

Hunting dog breeds are not only loyal but deeply loving and willing to do anything to make their owners happy. These dogs are perfect for family homes because they will have no issue protecting their loved ones from any perceived threat.

These dog breeds may require some care and attention, but most of them will be happy to be in your presence on your chosen hunting grounds.