View Full Version : Which hunting dog?

February 2, 2005, 09:21 PM
My son and I are getting interested in small game hunting, up to and including Turkey for now (maybe deer and larger game down the road). Primary targets will be rabbit and squirrel, dove, quail, grouse, pheasant, chukar, duck.

What's the best dog to be a GREAT companion that will ALSO be an asset to hunting the aforementioned game?


February 4, 2005, 06:05 PM
Well, I'm no expert, but just learning myself. However, there are some 7-10 breeds that are considered "all purpose" hunting breeds, I've just discovered. Read my posts and links carefully in this thread:


February 4, 2005, 11:14 PM
Thanks First Freedom!

...did you ever get a viszla?

While surfing today I came across a site where some folks are actually trying to reintroduce Airedales as hunting dogs, and having some success. Those have always interested me, but I'm very unsure as to whether I could handle such a hard-headed dog.

I'm still kind of leaning toward Brittany Spaniels, but no firm decision. I guess they're small enough that I keep envisioning some big dobie or rott eating one for dinner--which would be unlikely to happen with an Airedale or Lab. Labs are still pretty high on the list, too.

Anyway...thanks and keep the suggestions coming!

February 5, 2005, 12:08 PM
we have a lab who has never been trained but he is a great dog if you dont mind that hes wussy. he has the hunting dog instinct and loves nothing more than to chase birds or run after a shoe. hes super friendly and loves almost anyone who will take the time to pet him. he's caught ducks before when they were old enough to fly but not very long distances. he has held them gently enough that a couple have gotten away with only some bruises and a lot of mental anguish. labs are good dogs for waterfowl hunting because they love the water

February 6, 2005, 11:29 AM
Oh no, it will be a few years before I get the Vizsla; I just want to begin the search for the best breeders now. I have 4 dogs, and my "limit" is 3, so I'll have to wait until a couple of my current ones are no longer in this world before I can handle another family member, and make sure I have the time to HUNT TRAIN and EXERCISE a great dog like a Vizsla. But I'm thinking that is the best breed for me, with Weimaraners a close second. Being slightly smaller and longer-lived than the Weimaraner is what makes the Vizsla a little more appealing as a breed, to me. Brittanys are great dogs, too, though!

Airedale terriers were originally bred SPECIFICALLY for the purpose of hunting river otters in England. So I'm not sure how adaptable otter hunting skills are to other types - i.e. would they point, etc.

February 6, 2005, 03:28 PM
Re: Airedales...according to the source I read here (http://www.airedale.org/index.html), they are a generalist hunter, not a specialist like pointers, setters and retrievers.

I like 'em if they get to go home with somebody else at the end of the day. ;)

Smokey Joe
February 6, 2005, 05:39 PM
You'll never go wrong with a Lab. Why do you think they are the most popular breed? Kinda like a .30-'06; does everything pretty well, most things darn well.

February 7, 2005, 06:37 AM
Depending on how serious you are about the squirrels and rabbits, you might wanna look into Mountain Curs and feists. Also, German Short/Wire hair pointers are known for being great all-rounder hunters....plus protective of the house to boot.


March 7, 2005, 09:16 PM
I would also recommend looking into a Mountain Cur. We have one that is great on squirrels and coon - but is just as much at home around the yard when not hunting.

March 7, 2005, 11:18 PM
I've gotta recommend the Brittany Spaniels.

First, they love to be outdoors and hunt. Untrained they'll wander about until their nose picks up something then home in on it. A well trained one is a delight to watch.

Most of the ones I've seen have had good tempermants and were really good in family homes. They're big enough not to trip over and small enough not to knock you down. These are dogs that love to be active but can also handle some quiet time as long as they've been allowed outdoors for an hour or so.

March 7, 2005, 11:46 PM
my buddie's just had puppies and i will be getting one in about 4 weeks:


March 9, 2005, 03:59 PM
I have Heidi, she is a springer spaniel, 5 years old. She came to us from the top canadian hunting springer kennel. She is a natural hunter, we use her only for upland game but she can be trained to hunt almost anything. She does tend to range a bit far for me, I'm an old farth and can't walk as fast as the breeder.
There is a distinct difference between the hunting breed and the show style. If you want to hunt stay away from the show stock.

March 9, 2005, 08:39 PM
German Shorthair Pointer. It will hunt any bird, it will chase rabbits, it will bark at tree rats, it will blood trail and retreive. They are bread to be indoor pets and are very well mannered with kids. They are protective of their family also.

March 11, 2005, 08:54 PM
Whiskey I agree however the German short hair pointer is a very hyper dog and needs much excersise. Much to much for an old farth like me. Don't get me wrong I love them but they are just to much dog for me.

Ancient Mariner
March 11, 2005, 09:26 PM
I've raised and trained a few Golden Retreivers and found them very adept at being cross trained. They would retreive rabbits that were jump shot, they would sit beside me in a squirrel woods and then retreive them when I shot them, they would stay with in gun range when hunting pheasants and grouse, they would sit quietly in the duck blind, and they were a great family dog. They have an even temper that makes them great with kids.

March 11, 2005, 11:24 PM
German Short hair does have a lot of energy, but I think between the GSP and the Pudel Pointer, they are the most versatile dogs there are. I spent a fair amount of time researching both, and I bought a GSP last fall, and am definitely going to have a Pudel Pointer as well.

I think the benefit of the PP over the GSP is that you don't have to worry about him as much in the colder climates.

For the Pudel Pointer, one of the better breeders I've found is Cedarwood Gun Dogs: http://www.cedarwoodgundogs.com This guy knows his stuff and produces some "very" fine animals.

My GSP (http://darby.ida.net/ulis_page.htm)

March 11, 2005, 11:30 PM
i have a akc registered yellow lab who hunts field and water with me. great instinct. he some how knew what to do on a hunt without any training, and after training his talent is wasted hunting with me. (he's also a better shot than me, but if i let him carry the gun i'll have nothing to do.) i (he) gotten rabitts without firing a shot. also very protective and makes a good burglar alarm.

March 13, 2005, 12:53 PM
I had one which did good work. A good nose and would go after anything. Used to chase and hold elk in place for the hunter in Scandanavia. Great with kids. Generally will protect but not attack. Consequently were used as guard but not attack dogs in WWII. Biggest drawback if they are going to be family dogs is HAIR. Man do they have a lot of hair. In the winter though they love to be outside and they swim well. (We lived at a lake). Great all around dog but we don't do much sight hound hunting here.

Dixie Slugs
March 13, 2005, 01:15 PM
Consider any of the small Terriers......Fox or Jack Russell. I even hunted with a group that used them for hogs.
Years ago, when turkey hunting was legal with dogs, I had a Fox Terrier that was the best.
They are also good for small game! Very good indoor family dog!.......James

December 14, 2005, 01:31 AM
For upland birds

Brittany Spaniels, Pointers and some retrievers
(They musn't range very far ahead and should hold over the birds until you are ready to flush and shoot.)

For rabbits and squirrels

Hounds, Smaller Terriers,
(Rabbits are easier to hunt without dog, and the dog would have to be very well trained... Not to run the rabbit off.

For deer

Beagles, Large Terriers,
(Not fast dogs that run the deer down. But fast enough to keep the deer moving. Sit down and wait and the deer will come back around by you with the dogs not far behind.) :D

For Pigs, Lions, Bears

Pit-bulls, Wire hairs, and dogs you don't care much about. :D
Must wear heavy vests for light armor against the tusks etc. :eek:

Warning: Shepherds make lousy hunters.

Some dogs are kinda "all arounders" like retrievers for water birds and upland birds...

But, don't mix the game (i.e., Birds with mammals) it'll permanently screw up the dog for you... as in unsalvageable.

December 15, 2005, 08:38 PM
I've had a pointer and english setter. I currently hunt (quail & pheasant) with my weimareiner. The pointer had a good nose and was big enough to crash through the brush. The setter had an excellent nose, but she was the runt of the litter and had a tough time in heavy cover. My current dog is a 4 year old weimareiner. Her nose has not come up to par with the other dogs, but to some extent I blame myself. Any hunting dog must be given the opportunity to hone her instincts. Get your dog out there even if it is not hunting but just for a walk in the country.

I got my weimareiner for three reasons, in order of importance: she is a short hair and very easy to clean up, no burrs etc.., my uncle had a weimareiner. On one trip we had lost contact with her for about 45 min. We crested a hill we saw her near a hedgerow. she appeared to be taking a dump, but as we got closer we determined that she had been on point for so long that she could no longer hold up her hind end. Queeny was a great dog. Thirdly, she is a large breed and does well in heavy brush.

I believe that any dog makes a great companion if you treat her like a member of the family and show her the love. Good luck.

December 15, 2005, 09:24 PM
GSP without a doubt. Brilliant dogs.

I'd get one with black pads if possible. Find a reputable breeder, no matter with breed you go with. It's worth every penny a good breeder with a documented history of performing dogs.

m-g willy
December 16, 2005, 07:48 AM
I can't believe EVERYONE didn't recomend the beagle.
When it comes to rabbit hunting.
NOTHING --I mean NOTHING --compares to a beagle!!!
The only thing better than a beagle for rabbits is -------


December 17, 2005, 10:34 AM
(maybe deer and larger game down the road). Primary targets will be rabbit and squirrel, dove, quail, grouse, pheasant, chukar, duck.

I can't believe EVERYONE didn't recomend the beagle.
When it comes to rabbit hunting.
NOTHING --I mean NOTHING --compares to a beagle!!!

It's not just rabbits. Some of the work is scent work. Some is pure retrieve. Some is active.."BANG" immediate retrieve, some is passive..."BANG"...let it lay down and die for a few hours then retrieve. Beagles (at least mine) are thick headed. Too thick headed to learn all the different methods.

IMHO [and it really is humble, because my experience is limited to bird dogs primarily; but sometimes do other hunts (tracking)], the GSP is the best multi-purpose dog. They were carefully choosen though. You don't buy a hunting dog from the Walmart parking lot. The GSP's I am thinking about have a field trial champ in their blood line (direct, Dixie Land: grandfather/granddaughter=offspring.)

December 17, 2005, 01:45 PM
Most the GSP ive come across just lose the plot and run about clearing game from a 5 sq mile area, ( I know there are some good ones but not many). Labrador every time, great companion, good nose, retreive when you want them to and just an all round great dog. I have trained over twenty of these and a similar number of Springer Spaniels and although I have a very soft spot for the spaniels, the Lab comes in front. Buy from a reputable breeder of hunting dogs, ask to see the parents and see them work.
Then resist trying to teach it anything more than sit and come here until it is six months old ( they are only ever like a 2 year old child when mature) then gently build on those basics, like sit and stay and then sit stay come here when called etc etc. If you havent done it before buy one of the books by a top trainer and follow that. The biggest thing is not to treat it like a human and talk its ears off! more than one word is too many for any command and more than two words it will not understand, it will just pick the most familiar word out and do that. Whistle commands are best as they travel a long way and do not disturb all the game around you. I and most others use one sharp peep for stop and a double peep for come here. I could write a load moe but here isn't the place, just buy a good book.

December 17, 2005, 05:13 PM
Oh Boy!!!!
Rabbits? Beagles. Ringnecks? Beagles, Grouse, Beagles.
Home Companion? Beagles
When I was growing up, we ALWAYS had a beagle as a house pet BUT, it was a pet one day and a rabbit machine the next.
Fed ONLY bagged dog food the "pet" was spoiled but not by food inducements.
We lived in an area where numerous upland game species thrived and the beagles produced.
I also trained English Pointers which I truly love for bird hunting.
Classic Bird Hunting over points?
A WELLTRAINED pointing breed.
If filling your game bag is of utmost importance, the beagle is your dog, BUT you must spend time afield with your dog in the off- season , both to toughen the rascal and to intune you of your dogs habits.
Beagles are the Greatest tho I really love English Pointers Too!!!!!

December 18, 2005, 11:09 AM
growing up, we always had brittany spaniels. i cannot tell you how many brids they would bring up to the house with them when it was time to come inside. this was just in our suburban backyard too, they would grab the low flying birds from the air sometimes too. it was pretty incredable. one thing with them though is they get separation anxiety fairly bad if you are gone alot, or at least ours did. course, they were house dogs, not outside dogs. We did some hunting with them, but not too much. i will say this though, our boy brittany actually jumped through a screen to get a squirrel that was on a tree. he forgot he was on the second floor though, and fell down and luckily landed on our hot tub hard cover. he was fine though, but as determined as ever to get that squirrel out of the tree. by the way, they are high energy dogs and need to be excercised quite a bit.

As i have gotten older though, my wife and i have chosen to work with beagles. they are great dogs, and have excellent dispositons IMHO. They can be a bit hyper though, so it is best to work with them as much as possible. i like the 15" beagles the best for running game like deer. the 13" is nice for rabbit.

Anyway, many dogs will work for you, and any 2 dogs are better than none, well most of the time. so try out a couple pups. :D

December 18, 2005, 11:57 PM
I have a beagle and I use him for all varmints and duck and dove.


December 19, 2005, 11:26 PM
I have had 3 labs that I raised and trained and sold they would pick any thing up and were great companions they love their masters and will protect them to any cost I just got my fourth lab and he is here to stay you can never go worng with a lab as far as getting a all prourpse dog I just dont think there is one I have hunted many of diffrent breeds of dog and there are cretian types of dogs for cretian game I dont think you can make a pointer or setter out of a lab or you can not make a coon dog out of a pointer so with that a lab will do most but not all :D :D :D

December 20, 2005, 12:37 AM
http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/1843/tobycollins7lv.th.jpg (http://img520.imageshack.us/my.php?image=tobycollins7lv.jpg)

http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/4653/tobytreeing6mf.th.jpg (http://img520.imageshack.us/my.php?image=tobytreeing6mf.jpg)

December 20, 2005, 01:45 AM
Thats just like my dog

December 20, 2005, 08:29 AM
BFF it seams like he might act like yours too He's willing to hunt anything I'm after! He even retrieves my dove He will hunt quail but I have to stay close he wont point and wait! He loves to run hogs just sit and wait and he will soon run them by you! and squirrels whew! he wears me out. when coming up on a snake he goes wild and stays his distance he has found 3 rattlesnake dens so far. and as far as a friend he goes everywhere with me even to work I work at a Yamaha shop and he loves pwc's- seadoos but hates water!

December 21, 2005, 01:22 AM
See, mine will only go for squirrel, dove, duck and rabbits, he isn't to good at duck when it comes to deeper water but he can get the job done. I never tried using my dog for hogs or anything though, maybe i will have to one day, well im goin hog huntin on the 27.


December 21, 2005, 11:13 AM
whatever you pick remember that for 2 months a year it's a hunter.
The other 10 months it's your house dog.
I like Labs.


December 23, 2005, 11:46 AM
Most the GSP ive come across just lose the plot and run about clearing game from a 5 sq mile area, ( I know there are some good ones but not many).
Interesting statement, given your sig line. I do absolutely agree with the rest of your comments.

Warning: Shepherds make lousy hunters.

Depends on what you're hunting. If the quarry has two legs they'll just about track, kill, gut and retrieve for you.
United Schutzhund Clubs of America

December 23, 2005, 12:42 PM
Most the GSP ive come across just lose the plot and run about clearing game from a 5 sq mile area, ( I know there are some good ones but not many).

That says more about the trainer/hunter than the dog in most cases. The 2 GSP I know will out hunt every other dog in camp (15 in camp is not uncommon.) They are not my dogs, so I have no ego on the line here. I'll conceed that the hard work is front loaded, and the trainer/owner spent an obsene amount of time and patience preparing the dogs. I've seen some good English Setters (by the same trainer/owner), but they can't hold a candle to the GPS.