Some dogs are specifically skilled trackers who can pick up obscure scents in the most challenging of conditions. Others are excellent retrievers who can swim in icy waters, or silently tread alongside their master for hours at a time. There are many sight hounds and scent hounds that were bred primarily for the purpose of being an ideal hunting companion, but of all the dog breeds which truly make the best pet to take on game hunting excursions? According to Steven Howze, and authority from the Mississippi Hunting Dog Associations, these five breeds are the most reliable companions for hunters.
Labrador Retriever: First in the hearts of American pet-owners, it is no surprise that the Labrador Retriever would rank first in the list of the most valued hunting dogs. They are even-keeled and docile while maintaining solid focus, possessing a powerful combination of abundant energy and patience. Most commonly used for water fowl, Labs are superb swimmers who help retrieve ducks, geese, doves, quail, and pheasants, etc.
Boykin Spaniel: Not many people are familiar with this breed, though it is a well-recommended dog to bring along on a hunt. Their stocky bodies are low to the ground, making it easy to traverse terrain without being taller than long grass. Like the Labrador, Boykin Spaniels are often used for bird hunting, and have proven to be resourceful and intelligent dogs whether they are going after doves, ducks, or wild turkeys.
English Pointers: While listing the best bird hounds, we would be remiss not to include this breed. English Pointers (or often simply referred to as “Pointers” or “bird dogs”) are loyal pets that naturally have a low level of aggression. They are patient, obedient and adept, making them a necessary hunting partner. These dogs point (identifying the location/direction of the bird), honor (wait within a few feet of the creature) so as not to scare them or inhibit the hunter in anyway, and lastly they retriever the prey once it has been shot.
Beagles: Most people who own Beagles are not aware of the jackpot they have when it comes to a hunting partner. These charming pups are endearingly dedicated to eating frequently, and romping around playfully with their families. But though they are not as widely known for the hunting skill as other breeds, the Beagle was originally bred to be a hunter. They are perfectly suited for catching rabbits and other burrowing species, and they can hold their own on big-game hunting adventures, like that of deer hunting.
Treeing Walker Coonhound: The name of this dog not only describes the natural skill set these animals possess, but also the prey they pursue, and their method of catching them! The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a blend of both American and English Foxhounds, making them a persistent and determined breed. An all-around favorite, these dogs are considered one of the best dog breeds an avid hunter can own.