Duck hunting was a profession that foxes taught the Native Americans in the United States. In turn, they taught the art of duck hunting to French and Spanish settlers, who proceeded to go home and start breeding dogs with red fur that resembled foxes. Now, we see dogs of many colors and breeds effectively hunting ducks alongside their human masters. Instead of relying on the coat color and certain physical characteristics that the fox has, hunters in today’s world use techniques like hiding their dogs to capture ducks.
There are quite a few different dog breeds that are awesome at duck hunting, and they don’t all look or act the same. Proper duck hunting dog training is crucial no matter what breed you’re working with on the field. But what’s more important is making sure that you are working with a breed that has the physical attributes and natural instincts to want to hunt ducks. We’ve put together a list of the top duck hunting dogs that are sure to optimize your hunting success and satisfy your companionship needs while on hunting expeditions. Here are the dogs that you should consider accompanying you on your duck hunting trips.
The 11 Best Dog Breeds for Duck Hunting
1. The Labrador Retriever
First on our list of best duck hunting dog breeds is the Labrador Retriever. The Labrador Retriever is considered an excellent family dog that is happy to live inside the house if they also have plenty of opportunities to exercise and play outside. But this breed is just as good (if not better!) at being a duck hunter as a family pet. They’re one of the most popular and effective duck hunters in the United States because they’re fast, focused, and agile and they love the water. They have excellent obedience behavior and retrieval skills, making every hunting trip with them a pleasurable and less laborious experience.
2. The Deutsch Drahthaar
These dogs look like the German Wirehair, but they’re a completely different breed, with high intelligence and energy levels. They’re skilled duck hunting dogs both on land and on water. This breed has a waterproof coat, making them perfect for hunting over waterways where swimming is necessary. When they aren’t hunting, they are loyal and fun-loving, which is something families of all shapes and sizes can appreciate. Their natural hunting instincts make them easy to train, and they are easy to groom throughout the year.
3. The English Cocker Spaniel
Next on our list of best duck hunting dog breeds is the English Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker Spaniel was originally bred to hunt small land animals such as rabbits in England. They possess remarkable swimming skills, which is why they are now known as impressive duck and bird hunters. As skilled as they are as waterfowl hunters, they are also talented when it comes to tracking ducks through trails and woods while on land. These dogs should go through both field and water training to become their best hunter selves.
4. The Poodle
Bred for sporting, the Poodle is good for more than just being a show dog. Poodles are efficient water retrievers and are extremely intelligent, so they tend to take training on easily. This makes them exceptionally capable of becoming great duck hunting dogs. They are loyal, and they can go home after a long day of hunting to enjoy snuggle and playtime with their human family members. But be sure to adopt a standard size Poodle if you expect them to help you bring duck meat home. Miniature Poodles are bred as family pets and don’t have nearly the same hunting skills that standard Poodles do.
5. The Beagle
Beagles are well-known hunting dogs in general. They’ve been featured in countless movies, comic strips, and cartoons. They know how to pick up on the duck scent and hunt them down wherever they might be on land. They are on the small side, but they have great agility and powerful hind legs that help them travel quickly, which makes them excellent duck hunting dogs. They can also perform as retrievers quite well.
6. German Shorthaired Pointer
Although this breed is used for inland hunting to catch birds and other small prey, they can perform excellently when it comes to hunting ducks. They are patient, intelligent, and agile enough to keep up with the pace of a duck, no matter the situation. However, the German Shorthaired Pointer has a short, thin coat that can’t stand long hours in frigid water. This duck hunting dog should land hunt or go on shorter water hunts whenever possible.
7. The Brittany Springer
Typically thought of as land hunters, Brittany Springers are also efficient in the water and aren’t afraid to help on duck hunts. They are considered avid sports dogs and are awesome swimmers and quick learners, which makes them a great duck hunting companion. But these dogs are more than just hunters. They love giving and receiving attention and affection, and they can serve as efficient watchdogs while spending time at home.
8. The Golden Retriever
Next on our list of best duck hunting dog breeds is the Golden Retriever. Like most retrievers, these dogs are avid hunters and can provide duck hunters with the speed and agility that they are missing on their expeditions. They can perform both blind and force retrieving, as well as field trialing. They love participating in hunting competitions, and they always enjoy a hunting challenge. It helps that they enjoy spending time in the water and that they’re strong swimmers. These dogs also make great family dogs, so they’re suitable for farm and community life experiences.
9. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was initially bred to work on the farm, but it wasn’t long before breeders realized the true duck hunting potential of these dogs. They went hunting for ducks on their own and started bringing them back to their human masters. Ever since, these duck hunting dogs have been utilized as duck hunters both in the water and out. They’re highly disciplined and intelligent, so they don’t need extensive training to become excellent duck hunting partners.
10. The Italian Spinone
As reliable and trustworthy dogs, Italian Spinones happen to enjoy swimming and retrieving items from the water, which makes them desirable duck hunting dogs. They come in a tight little package, and they aren’t as fast as Retrievers. However, they have an excellent sniffer and they are extremely brave, so you can rely on them to provide efficient hunting help on a long hot day.
11. The Weimaraner
Last on our list of best duck hunting dog breeds is the Weimaraner. Weimaraners are large, lean, and effective hunting machines. These sleek dogs understand how to be patient, quiet, and fearless whenever necessary. These dogs are extremely fast and have magnificent retrieving skills, which makes them perfect duck hunting companions. They always seem to be up for a swim, and they don’t mind sitting around waiting for ducks while they are wet. That said, they have short coats, so they shouldn’t be exposed to cold water for more than just a few minutes at a time.
All the dog breeds that we’ve featured here are excellent duck hunters. None of them will let you down. They all have their own unique traits and habits that cater to different aspects of hunting ducks. Even the smaller dogs on our list are sure to surpass your expectations on the hunting field.
You should be sure about exactly what kind of hunting help you are looking for before choosing a new duck hunting dog to call your own. Have you had any experiences with duck hunting dogs? If so, what breeds were they and how did they perform for you? We’re interested in reading your feedback in our comments section below.
Featured Image Credit: Skitterphoto, Pixabay