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Hunting dogs – all the different types

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Learning more about all the different types of hunting dogs something that should interest every dog owner and not just hunters. That’s because most hunting dogs actually make for excellent pets. In fact, the majority of the most popular pet dog breeds today are former hunting dogs or hunting breeds that are simply happy to be raised as pets.

Understanding that your pet is a hunting dog and what that entails is important to further knowing how their mind works, how they are different from other dogs, and how you should train them better.
So, without further ado, here’s a quick breakdown of all hunting dog breeds:


Hounds are what most people think when talking about hunting dogs. They locate, chase and pinpoint the prey for the hunter to finish off. They have a very strong prey drive, they have key physical characteristics, and they are exceptionally intelligent.


Sighthounds like the Saluki, the Greyhound, the Afghan, the Irish Wolfhound are among the fastest dogs on the planet. They need a lot of running every day and rely heavily on their sight to catch prey.


These dogs are not runners but slow chasers. They rely on their nose, they have good endurance, they are very smart, they love digging, and they are quite stubborn.


Lurchers are often ignored because they are similar to sighthounds. That’s because they are similar to them, but they also do great as work dogs as they are usually crossed with terriers or pastoral dogs.


Gundogs (or “net dogs”, before guns were invented) don’t so much “hunt” the prey, as they just assist the hunter. They can locate and protect the gunned down prey, they can retrieve it back to the hunter, or they can chase it out in the open for the hunter to kill. Either way, they are highly intelligent and very obedient – great qualities for a home pet.


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As their name suggests, retrievers help by bringing the killed prey back to the hunter. They love water, they love their owners, and they are among the most intelligent dogs on the planet.


Setters help the hunter by “setting” for the hunt – they find the prey and flush it out in the open where it’s easily shot down.


Spaniels are similar to setters but have a different history and physical attributes. A lot of spaniels are also water dogs, similar to retrievers.


Like setters, pointers are used to locate the prey, but they don’t flush it out. They just point toward it and the hunter does the rest.

Water dogs

Water dogs like poodles and newfoundlands are generally classified as retrievers but are their own subcategory. They specialize in water retrieving, have amazing endurance, and are champions in all water-based disciplines.


Dachshunds are scenthounds but deserve their own mention because of their physique. It seems silly at first but is actually amazing for “going to gound”, which means going into fox and badger holes and getting them above ground for the hunter to kill. Some other scenthounds are also good at “going to ground” but none come close to the dachshund.


Terriers are amazing hunters for small prey in particular. Because of that and because of their good working dog abilities, they are often used in farms to get rid of rodents. They are still awesome as just dedicated hunting dogs, however.


These hunting dogs are essentially “big terriers”, but they deserve their own mention, because, well – size matters. Curs are excellent at hunting down bears, wildcats, boars and other dangerous prey. They were instrumental during the settling of the American West as they are also great working and guard dogs.


Feists are another variation of the scenthound, but they are smaller than most. They are used in packs and hunt rabbits, rats, and squirrels. They corner and trap the prey and bark to alert the hunter of their location.

From these quick descriptions, you can easily see how some of our pets get their unique personalities and habits. Dachshunds love to dig, Retrievers love playing fetch, Salukis or Greyhounds should never ever be walked without a leash, just to name a few examples.

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