Gun dog breeds

Gun dog breeds refers to hunting dogs who are trained to retrieve or flesh a prey. A few breeds can be gathered in the gun dog group such as:

Pointers: the most patient hunting dogs


Pointers are good in spotting preys such as pheasants or other birds. The hunter walks against the wind so that his dog can track more easily a prey. At first, the dog will walk sideways, trying to catch a scent. Once he has found the scent of the animal, the pointer will move more rapidly towards the prey, stopping at times. This, will give to the hunter the opportunity to get closer to the prey while his dog keeps watching the bird. When ready, the hunter will command his dog to get closer to the prey, moving slowly towards it. The dog will abruptly stop, in a fixed position, to notify his owner of the exact location of the bird. The hunter will then be able to adjust his position to get a clearer shot of the animal. Most pointers will carefully retrieve the prey for their owners.

In the 17th century, Pointers were already used by hunters who would throw a net to capture the prey before it escapes.

Terriers: the smallest of the hunting dogs

The shape of Terriers is very important as they are bred to flush out rodent and other preys from their burrows. Therefore, Terriers are generally small dogs. Their chest should not be too wide so that they can enter in other animals den. Endowed with a sharp sense of smell and a strong hunting instinct, it is not unusual to see them digging burrows. Terriers are very courageous and adventurous dogs. They do not seem conscious of their size when hunting. As a result, some Terriers, such as the Jack Russell, are also used for hunting bigger preys such as foxes. To locate them in burrows, hunter generally place a tracking collar onto the dog's neck.

In this group, only two Terriers were bred to take part in animal fights: the Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. In 1835, animal fights became forbidden in the UK. These dogs have now become loyal companions.

Dogs of the Terrier group:

Hound dogs: hunting dogs with a sharp sense of smell

hound dog

Hound dogs are very adaptable to tracking prey due to their very sharp nose and strong stamina. They are built to hunt in packs where every single dog has a proper task to perform. Hound dogs have a strong stamina, allowing them to track small and bigger prey for a few miles. Beagles, for example, can track a prey for 20 miles without runing out of breath.

In the past, hound dogs were bred to follow their hunter, riding his horse, or simply walking. Hound dogs could be used to tracking wild preys such as deer, wild boar or rabbit. Also, hunting games could be organized by aristocrats. Preys would be released and a pack of dogs would be sent to track them. Sometimes, the hunter will have another pack and will release him once the prey had been surrendered. A pack could generally count 20 and up to 100 dogs. It would generally not take long for the dogs to track a prey and they will howl to notify their owners. In 2004, legislation was passed forbidding hounds dogs in the UK as chasing a prey until its last breath was considered to be animal cruelty.

Dogs of the Hound group

Retrievers: hunting dogs with a great passion of water

Retrievers are athletic and courageous dogs, who can run long distances to retrieve a prey. They are normally not bothered of water or to go through bushes or brambles. These characteristics make them excel in retrieving preys on the fields but also in rivers. The hunter will generally walk in the marsh or next to small rivers with his dog to flush out waterfowl such as ducks from the bushes. The hunter can also dispose decoy birds to attract birds. The hunter will then be able to adjust his position and shoot. On the command of the hunter, the retriever will carefully retrieve the prey. The particular dentition of retrievers allows them to retrieve a prey without inflicting too much damage to the animal. It is said that the most careful dogs will not leave any mark on a retrieved bird.

Dogs of the Retriever group