View Full Version : Can you make a mutt a hunter?

April 10, 2008, 07:54 PM
I would like to get a pup to train as a bird dog. For many reasons I would like to get a mixed breed dog (or mutt), but I want to train it to hunt. Is this a common practice or is it rare? I am going to look for something small, hopefully with some beagle in it (which I know are natural hunters). But I am just looking for some advice.

April 10, 2008, 07:55 PM
Depending on what you want to hunt I think it would be next to impossible to make a mutt a good hunting dog. Of course, it would also depend on the cross.

April 10, 2008, 08:00 PM
well, im gonna be new ot hunting this coming season. so i'm not sure all the things i'll be hunting, but im gonna try to hunt anything and everything. wanting to use the dog for bird hunting. Doves, Quail, Pheasant, etc...

April 10, 2008, 08:06 PM
I would stick with a proven breed (lab, retriever, brittany, etc... for bird hunting) if starting out from scratch. There are different techniques for training different breeds, as well as proven bloodlines. A "mutt" may or may not be trained to hunt, just like a blooded lab or retriever. Buying a pup out of proven lines does not guarantee a good hunting dog, but it increases the odds that with proper training it will be a good hunting dog. You may get lucky and get a trainable "mutt", but chances are better with a proven hunting line. Good luck with whatever you decide and happy hunting.

April 10, 2008, 08:50 PM
For hog hunting, some of the greats are mixed. But for bird hunting I would stick with a pure bred dog from known proven performance breeders or for a mix I would stick with a blend of bird hunting breeds. It is hard to find the ideal bird dog. Non of my hunting dogs can find, point, flush than retrieve. Some may find and flush or retrieve but in general my dogs would stop half way back and say "SCREW THIS SOFT MOUTH CRAP... I am hungry NOW!":D I do know of a pit bull american bulldog cross that is soft mouth enough to retrieve ducks and snipe but is a freight train on the shutzund sleeve...;) So I reckon no one better try to steal her master's game bag...

April 11, 2008, 12:53 AM
of buying a breed dog, because of all of the abandoned animals out there, then good on 'ya.

However, I would strongly suggest that you stick with proven breeds for the game and terrain you want to hunt. I'd recommend finding some hunting partners with dogs for your first couple of seasons. Your local chapter of Quail. unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, or whatever conservation organization exists for your target game would be an ideal place to start. You'll not only meet potential hunting partners, but the habitat work that these organizations do will get you out in the fields where the game is, and will therefore produce some good hunting spots as well.

Hunt with some old hands, and watch their dogs. Try hunting those same areas without a dog. After a couple of seasons, you'll know how YOU like to hunt, and will have seen some dog work. That will allow you to make an informed choice as to what kind of dog you want.

Then, if you're still committed to adopting, (and again, good on 'ya if you are,) contact the breed rescue organization for that breed and they'll match you up with a dog that will fit your needs.

Your odds of getting a good hunting dog at the local shelter aren't good, although you may very well get a great dog... that won't hunt worth a darn. Finding and retrieving game is work for a dog, and you need a dog designed for that work.


April 11, 2008, 12:54 AM
lived the first 30 odd years [some very odd}] of my life in Pa had many good dogs never had a purebred if you can work with the dogs individual traits many breeds make very good hunters , most that i had were part terrier or part beagle while none pointed they were good flushers ,and found dead birds like prows ,while some might find a dog that likes rabbits as well as birds unacceptable ,I took what the good lord provided and was thankful. Alex

April 11, 2008, 12:57 AM
Beagles aren't bird dogs. They were bred for pursuing small furred game, finding the animal and chasing it out for the guns.

Me, I've never hunted rabbits that way... I'd be terrified of shooting the dog.

But lots of folks do it, and they don't shoot their dogs, so that's just my lack of experience with that style of hunting.


April 11, 2008, 04:01 AM
dogs are natural hunters, they are desendants from wolves ya know:eek:.....you can train any dog to hunt if you want to spend the time on it

my rottweiller went on point last summer in the backyard, i threw a football into the bush he was looking at and a pheasant flew out of it......

if you start talking to old-timers you will find that most of them will agree that the best hunting dog they ever had was a mutt...

April 11, 2008, 05:56 AM
I've dropped a lot of pheasants over what I would definitely call mutts. Some dogs just plain like to hunt.

April 11, 2008, 07:27 AM
Awesome advice! And there are many reasons why my thoughts are to go with a mutt instead of a purebred. One of the primary reasons is definitely the fact that I would love to give an orphaned dog a home. Another reason is that I have owned both purebred dogs and mutts in the past, and all the mutts seemed to be a lot healthier in the long run. Many of the purebreds I've owned ended up dying because of some shared genetic problem or disease. Another reason is purely the cost of the animal. Depending on the breed, I would be looking at $500+ for a dog, and though I can easily afford to own, feed, and maintain any animal I get, I am not sure I want to drop that kind of cash on a dog that still isn't guaranteed to be a good hunter. This dog will also be a family pet, so it's primary purpose isn't to hunt. However, I do want a dog to hunt with, so I'm probably gonna have to do some long thinking before I make my decision.

April 11, 2008, 07:54 AM
Brock, If you buy a dog from a reputable breeder the health issues are greatly reduced. It is them dang show dog breeders breeding out the performance to have a calm ring dog and breeding for looks that imparts those dreaded health problems. Also a truly ethical redneck breeder of performance dogs only breeds for himself and gives away or sells the rest for a nominal fee to close friends... ANOTHER REASON TO HUNT BEHIND ANOTHER GUY'S DOGS FOR AWHILE...;) My best 2 catch dogs are prime examples, You could easily pay 500 bucks for lesser dogs and mine were 100 bucks each and I never looked back since!

April 11, 2008, 09:17 AM
A few years back I got a dog from the pound it was an Airedale-Lab-Collie-Poodle the only thing it didn't have in it was a Chihuahua.He was a fair bird dog,a good rabbit dog,a great coon hound.He would retrive if he felt like it and he would eat the first the first rabbit of the day and as soon as the coon hit the ground he would pee on it.If there was a teaspoon of water he would try to swim in it but he had more class and style than any purbred I have owned before or since but most of all he was the best hunting companion I have ever had,so yes a mutt can be a hunter and hopfully when I get to my final reward Fred will be there with his stupid grin,wringing wet wanting to go hunting with me ELMOUSMC

April 11, 2008, 05:07 PM
tube ee, while yes beagles aren't bird dogs I've had three over the years that would hit with yips when they came on grouse scent, just circle and yip till they found it or found where it flew, they were still great rabbitt dogs, only had one bad pup with bad bird "manners" it would hit on turkey tracks and be off in a flash till it ran out of trail or flushed turkeys, all dogs never bayed on birds mostly just yips, still bayed on rabbitts, never could break the turkey dog, other two I would just call off the grouse trail if they didn't find it in a short while, and go on rabbitt hunting.

April 12, 2008, 07:52 AM
The Cur Dog in it's various breeds are all mixed breed dogs. They are used for hunting bears, bob cats, hogs, deer, coons and squirrels.

April 12, 2008, 02:01 PM
Can you make a mutt a hunter? Yes, and you can also make very fine silk purses out of sows' ears.:rolleyes:

While I have seen some good hunting dogs over the years that were of questionable lineage, you would be amazed at how well a good dog hunts. Notice I didn't say purebred, because a lot of purebred dogs are worthless, too. If the dog's sire and dam have good hunting line in their background, the offspring will also likely be good hunters. Most of a dog's hunting is instinctive, not learned. You have to teach them, but you teach them to act the way you want them to. If they don't want to hunt, you can't teach it.

April 12, 2008, 05:57 PM
The short reply is yes.

The long reply is not every dog can be trained to do everything or much of anything. They are as varied as you and I in aptitude, drive and smarts.

AND this included whatever pure breed anything anyone fails to mention. Were it not the case there would not be flunk outs from the seeing eye who have been selective breeding for 35 years or so or from any number of programs that breed patrol, detector, protection, gun, hearding or whatever other kind of working dog you want to discuss. Anyone who asserts otherwise is either plain old full of it or has never done much.

So with that out of the way here is the position you are in... no matter how you get a dog you have to have some basis for determining his or her aptitude for the task at hand.... this does not all come in a book or can... you need to get your feet wet by working with a trainer in your given field so you have some aptitude for assessing potential dogs be they at a shelter or in a litter of pups. NO matter if this is a pet or a working dog this CAN NOT be an emotional decesion, you need the dog who's drive and personality fits with yours, the temptation is to take the first dog you meet, dating analogies aside this rarely works out well and along with unchecked and irresponsible breeding is why we have so many dogs in shelters.

Good on you for looking for a shelter dog, keep in mind once you get some experiance looking for a dog in a shelter has some advantages.... you will in general be looking at an older dog (i.e. not 8-12 weeks), you may have less "puppy issues" and more of the dogs true personality may be evident. Also keep in mind letting a shelter know what you are looking for may be very beneficial.... if I were to have a high drive hunting breed in the shelter I'd feel much better placing it in the hands of someone who was going to utialize that drive then sending it to a pet home where it my get frustrated, be destructive and end up returned. Furthermore you may get some health information, for example if someone was worried about hips on a dog at some shelters they might do x-rays (if they have the capacity) for free, others might charge 20-50 dollars for this however in an adult dog this will be better information than one gets with a puppy and cheaper to as pelvvic rads usually run 150-250 at a family vet practice.

Lastly consider breed rescues, there are many out there, google them and see, for the sporting dogs offten they have trained or high drive dogs in their systems because they take them from shelters simply because they are not easily placed with folks who have "pet" expectations of a dog.

April 12, 2008, 05:59 PM
think scorch just hit it on head,dog doesn't have to be purebred, but does need to be from good stock, one other note I've allways had better luck getting pup and doing the training myself, its long time consuming task but it is then your dog trained the way you want, not someone elses mistake you have to keep breaking. My only experience with dogs has been beagles as rabbitt dogs, and not to offend rsqvet, most beagles in pounds around here are deer dogs that are next to impossible to break from running deer. just my 2 cents may not be everywhere.

45Marlin carbine
April 12, 2008, 06:25 PM
a spaniel mix would do better for birds IMO, wetland birds too. and small game. beagles are ground dogs, rabbit and fox.

April 12, 2008, 07:41 PM
Can you make a mutt a hunter?

Marriage is full of compromise....I wanted bird dogs, Mrs Rembrandt wanted house dogs...guess dogs don't know the difference. Have taken these miniature Schnauzers pheasant and rabbit hunting, not great on pointing, but good trackers. Schnauzers and the terrier breeds are wonderful small game hunters, and they don't shed.



April 12, 2008, 08:27 PM
Long, long ago in a different galaxy...No, that;s a different story. :D

Back in the 60s, I used to train Standard Poodles for hunting. Great dogs, bred to be both hound and bird dogs. My lead, the one from which the new pups took coaching and advice, was a Cocker/Brittny. She wasn't very good with the 'yotes, but the poodles didn't need any coaching on that. I still miss Cyrano, my 90 pound stud.


April 12, 2008, 09:19 PM
Back in the 60s, I used to train Standard Poodles for hunting.

:) Now that would make a great Kodak moment...

April 12, 2008, 09:27 PM
It's hard enough to train a pointer, setter or retriever that has some bred in natural instinct for it.

April 12, 2008, 11:30 PM
The best small game dog I ever owned was a dachshund/jack russell mix. That little guy was a fireball on flushing birds and squirrels.
While I do not believe that every dog that you pick up will be a hunter some dogs have the grit and fire to be great hunters. I have seen a dalmation run deer just like a deer hound. Even among pure bloodlines you may have a dog that is not up to standard.
I have two puppies now that I would like to use as squirrel dogs they are mountain feist and treeing walker mix. Both parents were from hunting bloodlines. Above all get your dog to socialize with you and your family make training fun and take your time don't push too hard and get him to the woods every chance you get.

April 13, 2008, 08:53 AM
All dogs shed. Some more, some less.

April 13, 2008, 09:06 AM
Marriage is full of compromise....I wanted bird dogs, Mrs Rembrandt wanted house dogs...guess dogs don't know the difference.

Many bird dog breeds are also excellent house and family pets. I have a German Shorthaired Pointer that is an excellent bird dog breed was well as family pet. They do require daily exercise, but if you have a back yard or can go for walks then that is easily remedied. Its difficult and time consuming enough to train a bird dog breed to be an effective pointer and retriever.

April 13, 2008, 10:49 AM
All dogs shed. Some more, some less.

Not true, maybe this will help.


April 13, 2008, 01:30 PM
Not true, maybe this will help.

Definitely true, maybe this will help.



April 13, 2008, 01:47 PM
I think we're splitting hairs.....:p

April 13, 2008, 04:32 PM
I agree, the problem is that we both read it on the internet, which means we are both correct. :p

Hmmm...what does wikipedia say?

That is the final authority on all matters. :barf:

April 14, 2008, 12:30 AM
All dogs shed, it's a matter of degree and seasonality.

My shepherds do not shed much, but twice a year they shed very heavily.

Many of the non-shedders require more grooming, that takes skill or money

All dogs will benefit from a bath every 4-8 weeks, frankly around my place the shedding is not as bad as the fact that the dogs are so active it's a chore to keep them clean.