If you’re intrigued by the sport of hunting, considering it as a hobby or as a fun pastime, then you should consider a canine partner as it can make the experience more fruitful and fun.
Dogs have been bred as an integral part of hunting since the very domestication of canines about 14000-29000 years ago and even before the age of agriculture.
Dogs now share an inherent sensitivity to humans and still maintain a strong prey drive common to their wild cousins (wolves, foxes etc.) making them excellent and effective hunting partners.
Nevertheless, some dogs are far more suited to the hunting life than others, depending on several characteristics. Generally, the most common hunting dogs are the hounds, gun dogs, terriers, pointers and retrievers among others.
Important Skills Hunting Dogs Should Have
There are important skills a good hunting dog should possess;
A Strong Prey Drive
I’m sure you would have seen your dog chase squirrels and lizards around the house, become extra chaotic on outings or even pop up occasionally with a dead animal in its mouth, that is as a result of the dog’s prey drive.
While dogs have evolved away from being predators in the same way that wolves are, most have retained the ability and desire to hunt.
The prey drive involves primarily the ability to search, stalk, chase, bite to grab and bite to kill, but these characteristics manifest differently according to their breed.
Of course, not all dogs have a strong prey drive, and many dogs are content to express whatever mild predatory instincts remain through play, such as chasing a ball or shaking the stuffing out of a toy.
This should not be mistaken for aggression as aggression is fuelled by strong emotions such as fear, but prey drive is positive and instinctive.
Receptiveness to Training
Hunting dogs are open to new things, aren’t afraid of strange objects, and are the most receptive to training techniques. These dogs are intelligent and sociable, making them easier to train and easy to control on hunting grounds.
You do not want your dog running off and not responding to your instructions.
Their strong prey drive rather than aggression drive means they are easier to control since there isn’t an emotional component to overcome. Prey drive is often easier to manage than emotion-based aggression.
A good hunting dog has a lot of endurance and has the ability to pace itself once it understands what it is facing.
Stamina, physical and mental toughness, gait, and tough feet as factors that are important when considering a hunting dog. They are full of energy and can sustain their physical and mental efforts for long periods of time with little fatigue.
Hence, they need lots of exercises even when they are not hunting due to their high energy drive.
Hunting dogs possess immense athletic qualities like speed, strength and agility. They can hunt in rough terrains, mountains and even in water as a lot of them are good swimmers.
Their cardiovascular system has adapted over time to support their athleticism, and their physical bodies have also adapted to their hunting activities.
Some of the most common hunting dogs include
Below are some common hunting dogs to know;
From the majestic Afghan Hound to the miniature stance of the Beagle, the hounds have been bred for their excellent hunting prowess for a long time. Either using their keen eyesight or their outstanding sense of smell, they are very good hunting dogs.
There are Scent hounds who love to follow scent trails and depend more on their sense of smell than their sight.
Examples include the Bloodhound, the Bassett Hound, American Leopard Hound and the Alpine Dachsbracke.
Sighthounds are high-speed sprinters that primarily depend more on their sight, as the name suggests. They are constantly looking out for moving targets to chase. The Afghan hound and the Greyhound are good examples of sighthounds.
Like the hounds, gundogs have been bred for centuries as hunting dogs. But the gundogs have been bred specifically to work in close co-operation with a human partner, and hence are less independent than the hounds.
They assist hunters to get their game, particularly birds. There are three main types of gun dogs which include retrievers, flushing dogs and pointing breeds.
Retrievers are typically used to retrieve birds gunned by the hunter. A well-trained retriever will watch and follow the handler’s gun as he shoots, marking, and remembering each bird that is downed.
Examples of retrievers are the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever.
Flushing dogs are bird-dogs trained to locate and flush game birds by provoking them into flight. Flushing dogs use noise or movement to cause the game to become nervous and leave cover.
They are particularly useful in hunting pheasants. Some examples are the English Springer Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel and the Clumber Spaniel.
The breeds track the scent of a prey item, then instinctually freeze once it has located its quarry. The typical pointing position shows the dog’s body stiffening, holding one paw up in the air, the tail pointing upwards, and the nose signals toward the scent.
They tend to be active, enthusiastic, intelligent, and eager to please. Examples are the Bracco Italian, the English Pointer and the Brittany.
The word terrier means ‘of the earth’. And our terrier breeds were selectively bred by man to hunt prey that hides underground, especially rodents and foxes. Terriers are small but mighty, and full of personality.
They come in all shapes and sizes, though they’re often little from the jolly wee West Highland White Terrier, to the strong but soft-hearted Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Feisty and energetic are two of the primary traits that come to mind for those who have experience with Terriers.
In fact, many describe their distinct personalities as “eager for a spirited argument. Other examples include the Miniature Schnauzer and the West Highland White Terrier. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Bull Terrier.
If you are looking for a hunting dog, you may be drawn to one particular group or another, as there are a lot of options to choose from.
This article discussed everything you needed to know about hunting dogs.
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