|Hunting Dogs - Photo: Wikimedia|
Since each breed of hunting dog has unique skills and attributes, we shall look at each general type of hunting dog separately. It is important to remember that hunting dogs are not aggressive by nature and are actually some of the best natured and calm mannered of all the breeds of dogs.
Hounds, used as hunting dogs, can be subdivided into two types: scent or sight hunting dogs. They are used to hunt many types of mammals such as raccoons, coyotes, and other larger mammals. As you might imagine, sighthounds hunt by visual contact with the game. They are very fast and tend to be relatively smaller than scent hounds - although this does not mean that all of the breeds of sight hunting hounds are small dogs. Sighthounds include:
· Whippets· Greyhounds· Rhodesian Ridgebacks· Saluki· Afghan hound· Basenji· Irish Wolfhound
Scent hounds tend to be heavier-set, deeper-chested hunting dogs that excel for their endurance rather than their speed. Their voices tend to be deep and baying and in this way, hunters can follow them to where they have tried or cornered the game. Scent hounds include:
· Bloodhounds· Bassets· Beagles· Coonhounds (all varieties)· Foxhounds· Scottish Deerhound
Some hounds are versatile and can track using both sight and scent.
The name "water dogs" is the original name for a large group of hunting dog breeds that are now often referred to as gun dogs. These dogs were bred to go into the water and retrieve or bring back game, to flush and point, and to show where waterfowl may be located on the shore areas in rushes and weeds. Some of them are also used for on-land game bird shooting, a type of hunting in which setters and pointers have become specialized. These dog breeds are very patient and will wait, without moving, for long periods of time until they are finally told to do so by the hunter. They are also used to swimming great distances into the water and back to retrieve a duck or goose without damaging the bird or even piercing the skin with their teeth.
Dog breeds included in the group of gun or water dogs are:
· Retrievers - Labradors, Golden, Chesapeake Bay· Spaniels - English, Cocker, Water, Brittany· Setters - English, Irish, Gordon· Pointers - Pudelpointer, German Short Haired, English
It is interesting to note that the standard Poodle is an excellent gun and hunting dog, although nowadays it is rarely used as a hunting dog anymore.
Terriers are a group of hunting dogs, mostly developed during the industrial revolution, in the United Kingdom and Europe, to kill the vermin in houses, factories, and farms. These small- to medium-sized dogs are energetic, lively and very independent. These dogs are a little different, in that they are actually trained to kill their prey, unlike the hounds or water dogs listed above. For that reason, they tend to be a bit more aggressive towards other animals if not socialized properly. The most common terrier breeds include:
· Jack Russell· Cairn· West Highland White· Skye· Boston· Yorkshire· Fox· Airedale· Scottish
However, there are many other types of terriers, all with unique coat colors and characteristics.
If you are looking for a hunting dog, you need to bear in mind, first, exactly which breed is best suited to your requirements. As a hunter, be sure to research each breed and talk to dog owners to find which will most closely match your needs. However, remember that you needn't be a hunter to own one of these dogs - hunting dogs can make excellent, good-natured companions. If that is the case, simply make sure that the breed you choose fits in with your present - and projected lifestyle.