If you’ve ever watched old television shows like The Beverly Hillbillies or The Andy Griffith Show, you’ve probably seen stereotypical old hounds portrayed as the companion hunting dogs. In reality, there are many dog breeds that are suitable companions for hunters and different dogs specialize in hunting different animals.
Hound dogs are divided into classes as sight hounds or scent hounds. Sight hounds such as whippets are used because they can see really well and are lightning fast, spotting their prey from a long distance away and stalking them until they are caught. Sight hounds have long lean heads, giving them some kind of binocular vision. They are much more quiet and calm than other hounds. Scent hounds obviously hunt based on their ability to smell and are used to track animals by their scent trails. A coonhound is one of those scent hounds that barks really loudly when he’s on the trail and has its pretty cornered or trapped. Hound breeds include the blue tick, the red tick, the walker, and the redbone.
Small game hunters who use shotguns work with that they call “gun dogs.” Falling into the gun dog category are retrievers, spaniels, and pointers. The retriever’s job is to find the animal that the hunter shot down and bring it back to the hunter. During duck hunting, for example, retrievers spend hours upon hours in a duck blind with the hunters to watch where the birds go down so that they can retrieve them. Retrievers are good swimmers, so they also retrieve stuff that lands in the water. Setters, spaniels, and pointers are used to find and flush out animals for the hunter to shoot. There are dog breeders that specialize in breeding gun dogs and they list the seven most popular gun dog breeds as Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Brittany Spaniels, English Pointers, English Setters, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and German Wirehaired Pointers.
Then, some dogs are used to hunt specific game. A Feist is a small dog that is especially good a hunting squirrels. They hunt in packs and stop at the tree where the squirrel has run and bark to alert their human hunter counterpart. Terriers are used to hunt mammals because they can locate the den of an animal and capture it or drive it out for their hunters. Curs are dogs that hunt bigger mammals such as boars, cougars, and raccoons. Deer hunting is very popular in the U.S. and the Scottish Deerhound is said to be the best dog for this type of hunting. Want to hunt a fox? You’ll need a Foxhound, of course! Looking for a wild turkey? Get yourself a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Can you believe there’s even a dog for black bear hunting? It’s the American Bulldog or the Karelian Bear Dog. Both have very powerful jaws and are stocky built.
Hunters and their dogs have a great bond and the hunters have to take great care of their dogs in order to keep them safe while hunting. Just like hunters wear those obnoxiously loud orange safety vests, so too do their dogs. It’s important that the hunter can see where his dog ran and also for other hunters to be able to see the dog. The vests also protect the dog, to some degree, if he runs through a jagged or barbed wire fence so that he doesn’t get stuck or it doesn’t grab his fur and cause injury.
There are game bird hunting preserves specifically welcoming hunters with gun dogs and there are directories of them by state if you browse a search engine.