Hunting for sport is widely popular in the United States and also in many other countries across the world. After all, nothing can beat the pleasant silence of the outdoors, the fresh air, and of course, the winning feeling when taking down a prey successfully. But what can make this feeling even better for avid hunters is the accompaniment of a bird dog or hunting dog. The history of dogs as hunting companions dates back to ancient times. Over the years, dogs were bred for different purposes in hunting and several different breeds came to serve the purpose. At present, the intelligent canines are specially trained to provide hunters with the best hunting experience of their life.
There are many ways a bird dog can benefit your hunting. Here is a few of those benefits:
- Sniffing: With a bird hunting dog by your side, tracking birds becomes much easier as the canine would perform an excellent job sniffing them out. Your chances of catching birds improve to a great extent with the help of these dogs. No bird variety is too difficult to track when you have a bird dog with sharp senses accompanying you.
- Terrain expansion: When hunting outdoors, you would come across circumstances where the track is too rugged to access, or finding prey becomes difficult due to different factors. In such cases, a bird dog will help expand your hunting terrain, as it can sense preys in any type of track.
- In addition, with a well-trained hunting dog, you don’t have to be worried about where your prey has fallen or about having to pick them up. This is because a bird dog that is trained as a pointer and retriever will do this for you.
Besides these benefits, one other major advantage of taking a bird dog with you is the companionship you get to enjoy. While on some days you would want to enjoy the joy of hunting in the quite landscapes on your own, on other days you would like to enjoy it with a group of friends sharing the same interest. However, nothing matches the joy and pride of having a silent canine companion, who is capable of understanding each of your commands and adding a whole new level of adventure to your hunting.
There are some dog breeds that are naturally better at hunting than others. When it comes to hunting traits in dogs, they usually vary from one breed to another: while some dogs are known for their excellent stamina, others have outstanding scenting ability to track down preys. Every bird dog would have a specific character of its own and therefore hunting with these dogs will improve your efficiency to another level. However, it is vital to choose the right bird dog for your hunting adventure. Here are the 5 best bird dogs you can take with you on your hunting trip.
Labrador retriever is one dog breed that can probably be seen on every dog-related list. This is one of the most loved breeds across the world and happens to be all-around dogs, bred specifically for retrieving, as their name suggests. These dogs have webbed feet and moisture-repellent coat, everything for a reason. Labs love water and are excellent swimmers; hence, they happen to be the best companion for duck hunting. As they have double coat, they can swim even in cold waters to retrieve ducks and their thick tail and muscled body give them the perfect balance even when in water.
Labrador retrievers stand out from the other hunting breeds in terms of intelligence. More specifically, these dogs are known to mature relatively quicker, and hence are capable of understanding and practicing training at a very young age, including the most complex field trials. Also, the mouths of labs have a gentle grip which certainly enables them to retrieve a prey without causing any sort of damage to it. They are also good pointers and trackers, and can adapt to different environments quickly.
English Springer Spaniel
Spaniels are not always the first breed that comes to our mind when we think about bird dogs or hunting dogs; however, the English springer spaniel has all the best characteristics of a best bird dog. Despite their small and compact size, these dogs are famous for their excellent stamina that makes them suitable for long hunting routines. They can also adapt to different terrain environments and their gentle grip makes them ideal for retrieving birds.
Also known as gundogs, the springer spaniels can easily flush out birds from their hiding for you to shoot. Typically, these dogs weight around 40 to 50 pounds. Their strong legs make it easy for them to run on varied terrains and their double coat makes them endure different climatic and weather conditions.
Initially trained as bird dogs in the UK, the English setters carry the hunting characteristics of pointers and spaniels combined. Their outstanding ability to smell helps them track down prey, and these dogs usually crouch down and wait for their master’s hunting approach rather than causing an ambush.
Similar to many other bird dog breeds, English setters can also be trained easily and they have immense energy to move around vast terrains all day long. Their strong legs make movement easy and quick and they don’t get tired easily. If you are looking for an excellent pointer dog to accompany you during hunting, then an English setter would be your perfect companion.
If pointing is the most crucial aspect of your hunting routine, then Pointer is the perfect dog for you. Having been used for hunting since the 1600s, pointers happen to be one of the oldest bird hunting dog breeds that make excellent companions. Their obsession to birds makes them work even in the harshest of terrains. Their thin coat makes it easy for them to work in hot climates. These dogs are capable of working both in water and on land. The name comes from their ability to point at prey, without disturbing their presence until you move forward with your approach.
Similar to Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers also make excellent family dogs in addition to being great companions for bird hunting. Despite their double role, these dogs serve surprisingly well in both contexts. Commonly considered as one of the smartest hunting dogs, golden retrievers are naturally very intelligent and can be trained easily. They are energetic and active, which makes them suitable for bird hunting. Besides helping hunters with catching prey, these dogs are also used as sniffers, guides, and search and rescue dogs.
No matter which of these bird dog breeds you choose, you should have a deeper understanding of the dog’s nature and traits, which is extremely important for the dog’s development and success as a bird hunter.