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Old January 31, 2014, 12:51 PM   #1
Mainah
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What's the Best All-Purpose Hunting Dog?

I'm an experienced dog owner. I've owned a Dobie, a Shepherd, a Border Collie, a Bull-Terrier, two Rotts, and a couple of mutts. Currently we've got two Boston Terriers. We are involved in dog rescue, so we often end up with older dogs with bad backgrounds. I don't want or need an expensive pup, or even a puppy- an older dog would be fine.

But I've never had a hunting dog. What breed (or mix) would be most versatile? By that I mean what dog could I use to hunt as many critters as possible in Maine. And I'd also like a dog that will let me know if there's someone on the property. Not a guard dog, but a good watch dog.

I guess I'm looking for a dog that serves as many roles as my 870. Any thoughts? Thanks.
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Old January 31, 2014, 12:57 PM   #2
Geo_Erudite
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American Water Spaniel, as good in the water as it is in the field!
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Old January 31, 2014, 01:57 PM   #3
eldermike
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Hunting dogs are specialist. For birds I have alwasy owned (have one now) the Vizsla. They are considered the gentlemans bird dog because they don't range like most other pointers. I have found that to be true. Most spaniel's will hunt but they are best as retrievers (which is not hunting but instead is "finding and bringing back") But even that is specalized to the extent that some are better water retrievers. Labs make great duck hunting dogs. hounds are trackers.

Overall? You need to decide what you want to hunt.
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Old January 31, 2014, 02:06 PM   #4
AllenJ
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In my area we hunt a lot of ducks, pheasants, some quail and chuckers up north. Most people around here favor the lab for it's versatility.
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Old January 31, 2014, 02:35 PM   #5
fdf
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"Hunting dogs are specialist."

Need to define what you want the dog to do: warn if intruders are about, return dead birds, trail running animals, bay critters in trees, catch dog and hold , etc.

Kind of like asking what is the best athlete without knowing the sport: football, basket ball, tennis, swimming, etc.

Lab will get killed as a catch dog on wild hogs.
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Old January 31, 2014, 02:45 PM   #6
buck460XVR
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In the opinion of many, the most versatile hunting dogs are the Continental Breeds. There is a organization dedicated solely to dogs that are exceptional at all facets of hunting. It is known as NAVHDA or the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association. According to them, the organization defines versatile dogs as "the dog that is bred and trained to dependably hunt and point game, to retrieve on both land and water, and to track wounded game on both land and water." The group asserts that "The versatile breeds, as we know them today, are products of Europe. No distinctive versatile hunting breed has been developed in North America."

Take that anyway you want. The breeds they associate with versatility tho, are all exceptional hunting breeds. My choice for the last 35 years has been German Wirehair Pointers. Not only are they exceptional hunting dogs, they are exceptional family pets and companions.

http://www.navhda.org/

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Old January 31, 2014, 02:52 PM   #7
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Wiener dog of course. Its nature's perfect hunter.
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Old January 31, 2014, 03:04 PM   #8
Mainah
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Thanks, and I'll clarify. I'd like to hunt birds and rabbits, that could include waterfowl (doesn't have to). No pigs in Maine, yet. And while bear is legal with hounds in Maine I have no desire for that.

In terms of a watchdog I don't ask a lot. My Shepherd and Dobie barked if someone was walking down the road 150 yards from the house, I ended up ignoring them most of the time. When the Rotts or the Border Collie barked I knew I had to get up. A happy medium would be great, although pretty much anything would beat the Bostons I have now (though I do love them).
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Old January 31, 2014, 03:09 PM   #9
Strafer Gott
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The Beagle should be a pretty good fit for you. Bunnies and a pheasant or two is right up their alley.
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Old January 31, 2014, 03:47 PM   #10
fisherman66
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Vote for German Shorthair Pointer
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Old January 31, 2014, 04:31 PM   #11
DennisCA
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Beagle!

I agree with Strafer Gott; A beagle is damn good dog!

I had one years ago and she was equally good with rabbits and birds.

That damn dog had a sixth sense - I would start to get stuff together in the house (she was outside) and would start getting ansty! By the time I had the stuff together and loaded in the veh, she was would be (almost) busting the gate fence gate down!

I truely miss that dog....
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Old January 31, 2014, 04:49 PM   #12
markj
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The shorthair is a hard dog to beat. It will hunt birds, fur, feather, track blood trails from wounded animals and bay when it finds the game. Mine will also keep the kids safe, people come around, that dog lets me know, hair up on the back ready to do whatever needs to be done.

Kills varmints, and lays at my feet at night. A pleasure to have inside and a beast out in teh fields.
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Old January 31, 2014, 05:32 PM   #13
eldermike
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A retriving bird dog that chases rabbits would be a hound of some sort. Short legs, smart and a barker is a beagle.
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Old January 31, 2014, 06:09 PM   #14
Old Stony
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A shorthair is hard to beat, but I'd opt for a Lab for an all around dog. They can hunt all day, and you will never have a better friend.
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Old January 31, 2014, 06:36 PM   #15
Mainah
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My young Boston Terrier is a year old, and he fears nothing. He ran a herd of deer off the property a few minutes ago. I'm gonna' gun test him.

I love Beagles, my mom had one. But I live within a half a mile of busy two-lane road and I need a dog who with recall that exceeds scent.
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Old January 31, 2014, 06:47 PM   #16
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It's not the most popular breed, but the little Jagdterrier is a fearless little hunter. They will pursue any animal on 4 legs from squirrel to bear. For such a small dog, the germans created a dog that is a versatile hunter. People use them on wild boar, squirrel, rabbit, bear, mountain lion, raccoon, and pretty much anything else that walks on 4 legs in North America.

Search google images for "jagdterrier hunting" and you will see the huge variety of animals this breed is capable of being an effective hunting companion for. Truly an all purpose hunting breed.

Last edited by alex0535; January 31, 2014 at 06:59 PM.
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:16 PM   #17
tahunua001
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not all dogs are specialists. now if we are talking a dog that can hunt pheasants, geese, hogs, cats, and bear then you're not likely to find one but for a general bird dog Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Chocolate Labradors are good dogs. we used to have a Chocolate that would turn back and glare at you whenever you missed a bird... liked to try and run down deer too but she never caught them.
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:20 PM   #18
Mainah
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Alex, funny you should mention that breed. I saw my first Jag the other day at a local gunshop. Just a pup, but an impressive attitude. The guys who own the store know hunting, they've got a beautiful pair of GSPs. I was surprised to see such a small dog in there.
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:28 PM   #19
alex0535
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It's a small dog, but a lot of dog in that 20lb body.
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:31 PM   #20
Mainah
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Not the dog in the fight...
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:36 PM   #21
eldermike
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I like labs also but the good ones are not as large as the average one you see today. My wife and I showed dogs for 25 years and she owns a boarding and grooming kennel. What we see today that is called a Lab is way to large. IMHO
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:37 PM   #22
fisherman66
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The GSPs I've hunted behind were more like 40 lbs. Amazing nose for retrieving dove, pointing quail. Fearless around cornered hogs. One took a rattle snake strike to the sinus cavity and survived. Great with kids.
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:41 PM   #23
alex0535
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I would get a puppy, whatever breed you choose. Training should start early in their lives. You adopt a bird dog breed that has never been bird hunting, and it might chase birds but you will find it difficult to train it to be a useful hunting companion. A puppy that you have been working with since you got it home has potential with the proper guidance.

You can teach an old dog new tricks if it has been learning new tricks it's entire life. An old dog that knows little will continue to know little.
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:27 PM   #24
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I had a German Shorthaired Pointer for 16 years, and will have to agree they are very good for upland game. He was a large male, around 75 lbs. Great hungting dogs, but I've also heard them used for duck, and other game.
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Old January 31, 2014, 10:19 PM   #25
L_Killkenny
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I have a Jagd laying right beside my chair and I can tell you that they bring a whole bunch of issues with them. Don't get me wrong, they'll tackle anything and have a great nose. But they are not a dog for an inexperienced hunting dogman.

I've had many, many hunting dogs. A dozen or so hounds, handful of Mt. Curs, couple terriers/fiests and a some retrievers and pointers thrown in for good measure. The best bird and fur dog I had was a Golden Retriever. Pheasant, coon squirrel and rabbit. But even so the only thing it was good at was pheasant. On anything else it was so far behind a dog intended for fur it wasn't even funny. Yes it would bust out a rabbit but no way in hell wasit gonna keep up on a chase, wouldn't tree worth a spit but good enough to let you know something was "up there" in daytime hunting, etc, etc. That is pretty much the best you can expect from bird breeds (although you'll always here stories like "Uncle Jimmy knew a guy that had retriever that was the best dang tree dog in the county". It wasn't)

There are versatile breeds. As mentioned the Jagd is in there. Traditionally the Airedale Terrier was it and with good breeding still one of the best. The Drahthaar is probably the best going but rare in the U.S. Some use Pointing Griffons and wirehaired pointers as poormans versatile hunting dogs.

Personally I'd only look at a few of the common breeds for a versatile hunting dog. Retrievers and Wirehaired Pointer(2 place) if birds are the main coarse but you want to throw some fur in for fun. A Mt.Cur from good solid breeding for fur and maybe some birds. With the common breeds you try to make em something they're not and you end up with a Jack of all trades, master of none. Maybe not even fair at anything.

That brings us to Mutts. Now not all mutts are created equal. Many of today's breeds have had the nose/hunt completely breed outta of them and a mutt from these breeds ain't gonna be any better. But retriever, heeler, cur, pointer, terrier, poodle, etc mixes can sometimes make better versatile dogs that a more specialized breed.

No matter what I'm all for letting a dog have it's head and hunt whatever when in the field. I used to try to have a dog specialized for certain things but anymore meat in the bag is meat in the bag and I don't care what I bring home for supper. As long as it's under control I have more fun, less stress.
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