Choosing The Right Gun Dog

Published on 29 October 2015
Author: Hélène
For centuries man has always fared better in his pursuit of game when aided by a canine. But which breed suits you? Our choices range from the likes of Retrievers to Pointers, Bloodhounds to Terriers. But with hundreds of different sporting breeds to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. To obtain a winning combination, find the canine that best describes you… Before you buy your perfect pup, be it part or fully trained, it must be stressed that taking on this responsibility should never be taken lightly. A dog will need the utmost of attention, training, commitment, veterinary treatment and care for the next 10–15 years of your daily life. Scary huh? Of course not, let’s take a look…


Their job?

Retrievers  are commonly used when waterfowl shooting although they can also be worked in hunting upland birds as well. Since the art to successful waterfowl hunting/shooting demands the ability to disguise when sat in a hide, retrievers are expected to remain sitting calmly and quietly until sent to retrieve. As birds move into range a well trained retriever will watch and follow the handler’s gun as he shoots, marking and remembering each bird that is downed.

What’s popular?

Brittany Spaniels are the smallest of retrievers bred primarily for bird hunting, but are among the most talented. They can hunt small game across different terrains. They remain exclusive and family dogs that need attention and affection.

However, the Labrador might just be the ultimate, clear-cut favourite of all retrievers. Widely known for having bundles of playful energy, “Labs” are the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in the UK, Denmark, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US (since 1991) – They’re best for retrieving those ducks that fall out of sight!


Their job?

Pointers are even-tempered, jovial dogs, despite their large size.

They make good house pets so long as they get sufficient exercise due to their exceptionally high energy levels. Pointers are intelligent, affectionate, clean and intensely loyal.

Pointers are used to find upland game (Woodcock, Snipe, Pheasant & Grouse), upon this task they are expected to carry out the following:

  • Point – The dog finds and points out the location of birds.
  • Honour – The dog should stop immediately or within a few meters usually in a pointing stance whilst observing
  • Retrieve – Pointers are not typically natural retrievers, but can often be trained and expected to find dead or wounded game birds.

What’s popular?

English Pointers and German wirehairs are fast and strong dogs. Their fine nose allows them to address defects after almost two hours. From a gentle and docile nature, they need to work and live in packs and be in regular contact with their trainer.

Flushing Spaniels

Their job?

Not surprisingly, these dogs are commonly used to flush small game from within brush (dense thicket) to take flight and leaving you to take control. Spaniels work within gun range, are steady to shot, are able to mark the fall and retrieve shot game to hand with a soft mouth. Spaniels will obviously suit those looking to do rough shooting and beating,

What’s popular?

Cocker and Springer Spaniels have a very good nose and great intelligence. These are lively dogs that love delving into the undergrowth and stop at no bramble. However, their hyperactive, and sometimes stubborn character might give headache to many.


Their job?

Flush out pests and other game underground. They rush fearlessly into dens to make out their prey. They are versatile and can hunt game birds,  and even wild boar for the more adventurous of them/

What’s popular?

Working terriers are used to find, track, or trail quarry, especially underground. The most common working terriers include the Jack Russell, Fox Terrier and the Patterdale Terrier. There are also the short legged terriers – the Cairn Terrier and Scottish Terrier, which were used to kill small vermin.


Their job?

Their extraordinarily keen sense of smell is combined with a strong and tenacious tracking instinct, producing the ideal scent hound. They are primarily used by hunters with the sole purpose of tracking wounded game following a blood trail over great distances

What’s popular?

Hanoverians and Bavarian Mountain Hounds are both robust dogs with a calm and balanced temperament. They have great flair and determination, which is useful during long hunts.

This hunting dog knows how to stay close to his master and family.

Wait! What about…?

Yes we know we’ve probably missed your favourite breed…we could be here for days talking about them all!

But, take solace in the fact that without these furry companions we’d certainly be a lot worse off. Remember, each working breed has both positives and negatives with both certain characteristics and temperaments, so it is important to choose the right breed for your particular environment

Now that you know more about a handful of popular hunting dogs, please visit to learn more.