Lab Partners

What's the most popular breed of dog in the United States? Turns out that Labrador Retrievers' gentle, outgoing and friendly personalities make them perfect for both families and hunting. It's estimated that more than 150,000 families have brought this breed into their household [source: So You Wanna Know].

Types of Hunting Dogs

Wh­ile any dog could prove successful to a hunt, there are five types that seem most popular among sportsmen.

  • Retrievers are easy to train because they have long attention spans and are considered very obedient and intelligent. Most often, retrievers are used in waterfowl - usually duck -- hunting. Their soft mouths are a great tool here, allowing them to delicately handle the game. These athletic dogs love the water and have webbed toes that enhance their swimming abilities.
  • Pointers are best known for the stance they take when they approach prey. This dedicated dog will go ahead of the hunting party, using its strong sense of smell to track the game. Eventually, it will lead the hunter to the animal by using its body to point toward the prey. Pointers are known for athleticism, intelligence and dedication. They're especially beneficial because of their versatility, often able to master many different techniques of hunting.
  • Setters received their name from their patient method of hunting. They instinctually follow the scent of the game and, instead of attacking, simply get close and crouch (or set), keeping the prey trapped for the hunter. Setters were bred to carry the best characteristics of pointers and retrievers, so, like their canine ancestors, they're athletic and motivated. When hunting for long periods of time or covering vast ground, setters have the stamina to keep up.
  • Spaniels are the smallest hunting dogs. Their size, combined with their thick coats, makes them great companions when game may have fallen or taken cover in thick brush. They possess intelligence, versatility and obedience, making them ideal hunting candidates. Their soft mouths, like retrievers, allow them to retrieve prey without causing any damage.
  • Hounds, which are more commonly used by police and investigation agencies, have especially keen senses of sight and smell. They are extremely handy in tracking game.

You've read about the different kinds of dogs, so check out the next page to see what role each dog plays in a hunt.