Hunting dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years. They are loyal, intelligent, and have been bred for specific tasks and purposes. There are several different types of hunting dogs, each with their own unique characteristics and abilities.
The major categories of hunting dogs include hounds, terriers, dachshunds, cur type dogs, and gun dogs. Further distinctions within these categories can be made based on the dog’s skills and capabilities.
In this article, we will explore the seven types of hunting dogs and their characteristics, including their history, what they were bred for, and what pet owners can expect when taking one of these four-legged friends home.
Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just looking for a loyal companion, understanding the different types of hunting dogs can help you find the perfect match for your needs.
7 Types Of Hunting Dogs
Hounds are a type of hunting dog that is further divided into sighthounds and scenthounds depending upon the primary sense used to locate quarry.
Hounds are known for their excellent sense of smell and their ability to track prey over long distances. Sighthounds are tall and lean running hounds, adapted for visual acuity and speed. Their method of hunting is called coursing, where prey is sighted from a distance, chased, and caught.
Scenthounds, on the other hand, primarily hunt by scent. They are used to trail and sometimes kill game. They hunt in packs, leading the hunters on a chase that may end in the quarry being chased into a tree or killed.
Some of these breeds have deep, booming barks and use them when following a scent trail. Hounds are used to hunt many mammals such as jackrabbits, raccoons, coyotes, deer, and other large predators.
Some of the popular hound breeds include the Beagle, Bloodhound, Dachshund, Greyhound, and Afghan Hound.
Terriers are a specific group and type of dog that were originally bred to hunt vermin. They are typically small, wiry, game, and fearless dogs that vary greatly in size from just 1 kg to over 25 kg.
Terriers are highly intelligent, trainable, and are suited for people with patience and a great sense of humor. They were bred to hunt, kill vermin, and to guard their families’ homes or barns.
Terriers are known for their feisty, mischievous personality, and energetic nature. There are many sizes and shapes of breeds in the terrier group, but they typically have in common their spirited personalities, energy, and tenacity.
Terriers are divided into two groups: long-legged and short-legged. Long-legged terriers are used to hunt larger game, while short-legged terriers are used to hunt smaller game.
Some of the popular terrier breeds include the Airedale Terrier, Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier. In summary, terriers are a diverse group of small to medium-sized dogs known for their spirited personalities, energy, and tenacity, bred to hunt vermin and guard their families’ homes or barns.
Retrievers are a type of gun dog that were bred to retrieve game for hunters. They are known for their soft mouths, which allow them to carry game without damaging it, and their excellent swimming abilities.
Retrievers are divided into six breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC): Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Retrievers are incredibly popular for their sweet demeanor, energetic personalities, and their ability to be excellent family pets. They are hunting or gun dogs that retrieve game by spotting it in the air and retrieving it.
Retrievers have webbed paws that enable better swimming ability and soft mouths, which means when they grab a bird with their mouth, they don’t bite down on it, which could render it inedible for their human companions.
Retrievers are great at following directions and are eager to please their people. They are patient, intelligent dogs that learn quickly.
Retrievers are also versatile in competitive events, excelling at obedience, agility, tracking, retriever field trials, and dock diving.
In summary, retrievers are a group of six breeds of gun dogs that were bred to retrieve game for hunters. They are known for their soft mouths, excellent swimming abilities, and sweet demeanor, making them excellent family pets.
Pointers are a type of gun dog that were bred to locate game and point it out to hunters. They are known for their excellent sense of smell and their ability to remain motionless for long periods of time.
Pointers are often used to hunt upland game birds such as quail and pheasant. Pointers are typically medium to large-sized dogs with a lean, muscular build and a distinctive stance when they locate game.
They are intelligent, trainable, and make excellent family pets. Some of the popular pointer breeds include the English Pointer, German Shorthaired Pointer, and the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
In summary, pointers are a type of gun dog that were bred to locate game and point it out to hunters. They are known for their excellent sense of smell, distinctive stance, and make excellent family pets.
Sighthounds are a type of dog that hunt primarily by sight and speed, rather than by scent and endurance as scent hounds do. They are known for their keen vision, speed, and agility, which allows them to pursue prey, keep it in sight, and overpower it.
Sighthounds must be able to capture fast, agile prey such as deer and hares, so they have a very flexible back and long legs for a long stride, a deep chest to support an unusually large heart, very efficient lungs for both anaerobic and aerobic sprints, and a lean, wiry body to keep their weight at a minimum.
Sighthounds are divided into two groups: those that hunt by sight and those that hunt by sight and scent. Some of the popular sighthound breeds include the Greyhound, Whippet, Saluki, Afghan Hound, and Borzoi.
Sighthounds are independent dogs, as the breed was taught to hunt and chase down game with little guidance from their humans, whereas other sporting dog breeds were trained to work alongside their masters and rely on cues or signals for their actions.
Sighthounds make great family pets and have massive hearts with lots of love to give. They are affectionate, laidback, and low maintenance pooches that fit in well with family life.
Cur type dogs
Cur type dogs are a group of purebred dogs and their crosses specialized as multipurpose working/hunting dogs from the southern USA.
Each cur breed or type is unique, and they are usually not recognized as show dogs but developed solely for their hunting ability. As a result, most of the cur breeds are types rather than breeds, meaning that one of these dogs can be recognized as a certain type of cur, but the appearance standard is extremely flexible, enough so that a complete breed appearance standard is difficult to create.
The name “Cur” means a mongrel dog, and since Curs were developed from a large variety of dogs, that is how they got their name.
Cur dogs are not the result of random crossbreeding, and you cannot “make” a Cur dog. Curs are specialized working dogs bred for ability by breeding the best to the best, based on individual performance and usually regardless of the actual breed.
Several cur breeds have been standardized within the United States, and some have been recognized by the United Kennel Club, including the Black Mouth Cur, the Blue Lacy, the Catahoula Leopard dog, the Mountain Cur, the Stephens Cur, the Treeing Cur, and the Treeing Tennessee Brindle.
Cur dogs are exceptional at tracking prey, and they scare them into the trees and bark until their owners can catch up. They are also used for herding livestock, trailing and locating lost livestock in thick scrubland, and hunting a variety of game, including squirrels, opossums, raccoons, feral pigs, cougars, and American black bears.
Cur dogs are tough, affectionate, intelligent, and devoted dogs that need wide-open spaces, room to run and chase, and time to sniff out trails, inspect, and explore.
Feists are a type of small hunting dog that were developed in the southeastern United States from old-time hunting dogs brought over by German and Irish immigrants. They are small to medium-sized dogs, typically 10 to 18 inches tall and weighing 15 to 30 pounds.
Feists are short-coated dogs with long legs, and their ears are set high on the head and are button, erect, or short hang. The tail can be natural, bobtail, or docked. As feists are bred for hunting, not as show dogs, little to no consistency is seen in appearance (breed type), and they may be purebred, crossbred, or mixed-breed dogs.
They are identified more by the way they hunt and their size than by their appearance. Feists are known for their extreme drive to chase rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents. They are used to hunt small prey, especially squirrels, and work above ground to chase them.
This contrasts with terriers or Dachshunds, earth dogs that go to ground to kill or drive out the prey, usually rodents, rabbits, foxes, or badgers.
Feists are tough, muscular, and compact dogs with slightly rounded heads, tapered muzzles, black noses, and ears that stick up. They have strong necks and are known for their high energy levels.
The Treeing Feist is the only feist breed that has been recognized as an identifiable breed by the United Kennel Club in 1998.
Other types of feist dogs include the American Treeing Feist, Barger Stock Feist, Bench-legged Feist, Buckley Mountain Feist, Charlie Feist, Decker Hunting Terrier, Denmark Feist, Kemmer Feist, Kemmer Stock Hybrid Squirrel Dogs, Mountain Feist, Mullins Feist, Pencil-tail Feist, Rat Terrier, Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, Thornburg Feist, and Treeing Feist.
In summary, feists are small hunting dogs that are bred for their hunting ability and are identified more by the way they hunt and their size than by their appearance. They are used to hunt small prey, especially squirrels, and are known for their high energy levels.
1. What are the seven types of hunting dogs?
The seven types of hunting dogs are hounds, terriers, retrievers, pointers, sighthounds, cur type dogs, and feists.
2. What is the difference between sighthounds and scent hounds?
Sighthounds hunt primarily by sight and speed, while scent hounds hunt primarily by scent. Sighthounds are tall and lean running hounds, adapted for visual acuity and speed, while scent hounds have a keen sense of smell and are used to track prey over long distances.
3. What are retrievers used for?
Retrievers are gun dogs that were bred to retrieve game that has been shot down by hunters. They are known for their soft mouths, which allow them to carry game without damaging it, and their excellent swimming abilities.
4. What are terriers used for?
Terriers were originally bred to hunt vermin and small game. They are tenacious and fearless, and their small size allows them to fit into tight spaces where larger dogs cannot go.
5. What are cur type dogs?
Cur type dogs are versatile hunting dogs that were bred to hunt a variety of game. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and courage. Cur type dogs are often used to hunt large game such as bears and wild boar.
6. What are feists?
Feists are small hunting dogs that were bred to hunt small game such as squirrels and rabbits. They are known for their high energy levels and their ability to climb trees.
7. What are pointers used for?
Pointers are gun dogs that were bred to locate game and point it out to hunters. They are known for their excellent sense of smell and their ability to remain motionless for long periods of time. Pointers are often used to hunt upland game birds such as quail and pheasant.