A hunting dog is any dog who helps humans in hunting. There are several types of hunting dogs. The major categories of hunting dog include hounds, terriers, cur type dogs, and gun dogs. These categories have smaller groups in them that are based on different things the dogs are good at doing.
Types of hunting dogs
There are two types of hounds, sight hounds and scent hounds. The difference between them is if they use sight or smell to find what they are hunting for. They are often used to hunt animals with fur. In America, raccoon, coyote, and large predators are hunted with hounds, and traditionally in Britain hounds were used to hunt the fox.
These dogs are also called bird dogs. They are used by hunters who carry shotguns to hunt small animals. Gun dogs come in three main classes. The classes are retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds.
Flushing spaniels are used when birds being hunted are found in areas where they can hide, for example high grass. The spaniel will run through the grass. This makes the birds fly into the air so the hunter can shoot them. Spaniels stay close to the hunter so when the birds start to fly, the hunter is close enough to shoot them.
Pointers find birds then stand still and point at where the bird is. They often are farther away from the hunter than a spaniel would be. By pointing instead of flushing the bird out, they give the hunter time to get close enough to shoot the bird.
These dogs are almost always used to hunt mammals. Terriers are used to find the den or living space of the animal. They will go into where the animal lives and either force it to run out or they will kill it. Many of the animals hunted with terriers are animals that cause damage, for example, ground hogs, fox and badger.
Breeds and capabilities used in hunting
For a list of breeds of each type, see the detailed articles for each category:
|Hounds||Hounds are further divided into sighthounds and scent hounds depending upon the primary sense used to locate quarry. Many mammals such as jackrabbits, raccoons, coyotes, and large predators are hunted with hounds.|
|Sighthounds||Sighthounds are well adapted for visual acuity and speed. Their method is known as "coursing" - prey is often sighted from a distance, stalked, pursued and neatly killed. Sighthounds work quickly and quietly, and are by nature independent.|
|Scent hounds||Scent hounds are hounds that primarily hunt by scent. Scenthounds are used to trail and sometimes kill game. They hunt in packs, leading the hunters on a chase which 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.|
|Lurchers||A Lurcher is a sighthound crossed with a working dog breed—usually a pastoral dog or Terrier bred selectively for working.|
|Gun dogs||Gun dogs are used primarily by small game hunters using shotguns. Gun dogs are classified as retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds.|
|Retrievers||Once classified as a water spaniel, a retriever's primary role is to find and return shot game to the hunter. Retrievers can spend long hours in a duck blind and visually spot and remember the location of downed birds. At command, they retrieve the birds. They may be able to follow hand, verbal, and whistle commands to the downed bird. They typically have large, gentle muzzles.|
|Setters||Setters have a long history as upland gun dogs. They appear to have a native ability to locate and point at upland game birds. They flush the birds at the hunter's command.|
|Spaniels||English Cocker Spaniel||Spaniels have been used as hunting dogs for hundreds of years. Flushing Spaniels are used to locate and flush game for a hunter.|
|Pointers||Pointers are dogs trained to locate and point at small game allowing the hunter to approach and flush the game. Pointing breeds have greater range than Spaniels.|
|Water dogs||Poodle||Water dogs are a subclass of retrievers. Typically they are strong swimmers with a lot of endurance and are bred to hunt all manner of waterfowl.|
|Feists||Feists are small dogs that hunt small game, especially squirrels, in a similar manner to large hounds hunting raccoons and large game. Feists may hunt in packs, and "bark up" on trees to alert the hunter. The feist was developed in the southern United States, reputedly from small Native American dogs and British fell terriers.|
|Terriers||Terriers are used to hunt small mammals. Terriers locate the den or set of the target animal and then bolt, capture, or kill the animal. A working terrier may go underground to kill or drive out game. Hunters who use terriers are referred to as terriermen. Larger members of this class, like those of the bull and terrier family, are sometimes used to hunt larger game, like razorbacks: the hunter will send in scenthounds to corner the pig and the much more heavily built dog will charge at it and bite and hold it down until the hunter can come.|
|Curs||Catahoula Cur||Curs hunt similarly to terriers, though usually larger game. Curs are used to hunt boars, raccoon, cougars, and other large mammals.|
|Dachshund||Dachshund||Dachshund was bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers, foxes and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the American West they have also been used to hunt prairie dogs. In Europe dachshunds are widely used for hunting deer, boar and smaller game such as rabbits and hares. They are also excellent scent dogs and they are often used to track down wounded animals after car accidents for example. Dachshund is also the only certifiable breed of dog to hunt both above and below ground.|
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