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12 Best Hunting Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher


Dogs were bred to be man’s best friend, and they proved invaluable for all sorts of tasks: military, law enforcement, herding, and, of course, hunting! There are countless breeds out there with a long history of tracking, pointing, retrieving, and a fearless loyalty that makes them ideal household pets today. Join us down below as we recount some of the best dog breeds suited for hunting in the field with you and what makes them so special.

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Top 12 Hunting Dog Breeds

1. Labrador Retriever

Black Labrador Retriever in the grass
Image Credit: Bru-nO, Pixabay
Weight: 60–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–14 years
Best suited for: Retrieving, tracking, trailing, swimming

The Lab was the most popular dog breed in the world for over 30 years for very good reason: The breed is exceptionally intelligent, good-natured, and very intelligent. They have a versatile physique and keen sense of smell that makes them one of the best hunting dogs for all sorts of game, from retrieving quail to tracking deer and even swimming to retrieve waterfowl.

2. Weimaraner

male silver weimaraner
Image Credit: Dmitry Veryovkin, Shutterstock
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Best suited for: Flushing, pointing, tracking, retrieving

Also called the Gray Ghost for their signature blue-gray coat, the Weimaraner was bred in the dark forests of Germany to hunt big game like bears, deer, and smaller dangerous animals like boar. They proved to excel at various hunting jobs in the field, from flushing birds in underbrush to carefully retrieving small game and tracking all sorts of forest critters. There are lots of working lines of Weimaraners out there perfectly suited to a life of hunting with you, and they work very well with other dogs too.

3. Golden Retriever

golden retriever playing fetch with ball throw toy
Image Credit: Katrin B., Pixabay
Weight: 55–75 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Best suited for: Retrieving, swimming, tracking, pointing

The beloved Golden Retriever is best known today as a family pet and their basketball skills, but they were originally bred to be the ultimate retriever in 19th-century Scotland. Their luscious golden coat, happy-go-lucky attitude, and high intelligence made them a big hit. Goldens were especially good at tracking waterfowl in the water and, of course, gently retrieving game for hunters. So, yes, you might be able to turn your house dog Golden Retriever into a bonafide gun dog with enough patience and training!

4. Vizsla

Vizsla dog laying on a rock
Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock
Weight: 45–65 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Best suited for: Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking

The Vizsla is one of the best dog breeds for hunting, but not many people know about them because they nearly went extinct—only 12 are thought to have been alive after WWI. Today, they’ve made a comeback, and many hunters are finding out that this Hungarian hunting hound can serve many purposes in the field. They’re adept at flushing birds in reeds or cattails, can sniff out game anywhere, and are great at deftly retrieving downed prey without damaging it.

5. English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniel standing in field
Image Credit: Martin Christopher Parker, Shutterstock
Weight: 40–50 pounds
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Best suited for: Flushing, retrieving, tracking, swimming

The spry English Springer Spaniel is a natural bird dog, and they’ll gladly track and retrieve birds on land or water. At home, they’re sweet, amiable dogs that get along well with cats and other dog breeds. Springers are thought to come from England, where smaller dogs were famous for hunting woodcock. They’re a smaller, more long-lived hunting dog that can fulfill most needs you could have on the hunt.

6. American Foxhound

american foxhound
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock
Weight: 60–70 pounds
Lifespan: 11–13 years
Best suited for: Tracking, trailing, baying

American Foxhounds made their bones as pack scent hounds, particularly skilled at tracking elusive foxes and flighty deer. They’re a docile yet social breed that does best with a pack, and they need a lot of training early on to control that powerful nose. If left to their own devices, they’ll gladly bolt off at the first interesting smell.

Foxhounds sometimes have a stubborn streak, but it’s usually accompanied by good humor and not at all to be mean. Foxhounds are one of just a few breeds used to bay at prey, and they’re not shy about mouthing off in other situations either.

7. Beagle

beagle smiling
Image Credit: Milli, Unsplash
Weight: 15–30 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Best suited for: Tracking and baying

Beagles are one of the classic hunting breeds, and it’s easy to see why. They have seemingly inexhaustible endurance, a loud baying bark, and a laser-focused nose. They’re very social dogs that do best in packs, which is sometimes called “beagling.” They’re agile, small-game dogs best suited for hunting hares, rabbits, and foxes. Beagles are sweet towards kids and generally get along with other dogs too, so they adapt to a home life very well.

8. German Shorthaired Pointers

Image Credit: EvaHeaven2018, Shutterstock
Weight: 55–70 pounds
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Best suited for: Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking

Sometimes called GSPs for the sake of brevity, German Shorthaired Pointers are spectacular gun dogs that naturally point toward prey to help you get a cleaner shot. They’re flexible, though, and will gladly track down prey through dense brush or retrieve small game for you like birds or hares. GSPs are exceptionally driven dogs that need tons of exercise when the hunting season is over to prevent destructive digging or chewing up all your shoes.

9. Basset Hound

Basset Hound walking across bridge
Image Credit: The Dog Photographer, Shutterstock
Weight: 45–65 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Best suited for: Tracking, retrieving

Basset Hounds are a heftier answer to the Beagle with a slow, inexorable pace that makes them great partners for new hunters. They’re fine pack hunters too, and groups of Bassets love nothing more than to run down rabbits, deer, or other wounded game in the woods. They’re super friendly dogs that are consistently ranked as one of the worst guard dogs out there because they just love people so darn much.

10. Bloodhound

Image Credit: Huckleberry14, Shutterstock
Weight: 80–130 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Best suited for: Tracking, man trailing

Bloodhounds are all-star scent hounds used to hunt large game like boar and deer, but they’re also fantastic at tracking people, also called man trailing. Bloodhounds are some of the best partners for law enforcement or search and rescue teams looking for missing persons, escaped prisoners, and human remains in the wilderness.

Bloodhounds have very low-maintenance coats that are easy to take care of, so you won’t spend much time with the brush. Unfortunately, Bloodhounds are very vulnerable to stomach problems.

11. Brittany

brittany dog close up
Image Credit: Annette Shaff, Shutterstock
Weight: 30–40 pounds
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Best suited for: Pointing, flushing, retrieving, tracking

Commonly called Brittany Spaniels even though they’re not related to Spaniels at all, the Brittany is a bright, lively gun dog born to point at game. They’re smart enough to perform a number of other hunting roles like flushing and retrieving, and they’re a joy around children or other pets. They were originally something of a trend in France, where hunters selected the most stylish, capable, and friendly hunting dog possible.

12. Bluetick Coonhound

bluetick coonhound in the grass
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Best suited for: Tracking, baying, treeing, retrieving

Best known as raccoon hunters, the aptly named Bluetick Coonhound is great at cornering animals with its threatening bay and treeing raccoons for hunters to shoot. Because they were literally bred to bay, Blueticks are very vocal by nature and will need some training to temper that even if they don’t become hunting dogs. Blueticks are driven on the hunt but mellow enough to socialize with children at home as well.

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Dogs are splendid hunting partners, from the rare but versatile Vizsla to the iconic Beagle and Golden Retriever. All the dogs on this list adapt wonderfully to the house when hunting season ends, so don’t be afraid to get attached to a few of your favorites and maybe add a new member to the family!

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