If there’s anything better than having a hunting partner in the field, it’s having a four-legged hunting partner that’s equally at home with your family. Here are some great dog breeds for bird hunting and playing around the house.
[Top photo, a Bracco Italiano in the field; photo by Ron Boehme of Dancing Duke Kennels]
Hunting dogs are not only great in the field — they can also be best buds everywhere else. Living in Montana, German shorthairs and labradors take up a ton of the hunting pup landscape. And for good reason: They’re great dogs! But there’s a whole world of hunting breeds out there that offer various levels of talent and kindness.
In this article, we examine some of the rarer breeds that are equally compatible with your kids as they are at work in the field. Before buying a puppy, consult your veterinarian about options and vet every breeder as extensively as you can. And, of course, consider a rescue if you can find one that fits your needs!
The Spinone Italiano
With its wiry coat and big houndy ears, it’s easy to mistake a Spinone Italiano (pictured above, photo by Camera Eye Photography) for a living muppet. But don’t let its sweet and goofy countenance turn you off from its hunting potential.
The Spinone Italiano is an ancient Italian hunting breed long renowned for endurance, field savvy, and intelligence. The docile nature of this bigger bird dog also makes it an ideal family dog. This breed is quickly growing in popularity, and reputable breeders around the nation are working to keep its ancient legacy intact.
With its black and liver coats, it’s easy to distinguish the flat-coated retriever from its golden friends. And the good news with this breed is that it’s regarded as one of the happiest and most elegant within the sporting group.
A bit more energetic than your typical golden, this is a loving and sometimes mischievous pup that is a true workhorse in the field. The flat-coated retriever is passionate about water, exercise, and humans. These qualities combine to make it the perfect hunting addition to a high-energy household.
Another ancient Italian breed, the Bracco Italiano could easily be mistaken for a hound dog with its big jowls and long, broad ears. However, Braccos are versatile and athletic pointers that will outwork the two-leggeds among them in the field.
A bit of a couch potato in the house, this affectionate and docile pup will be your kiddos’ best friend as well as your reliable and smart hunting partner. This breed is known to be long-lived and sturdy. If you go with a Bracco, you might become a life-long aficionado of this big-hearted breed.
Smooth-coated vizslas have long held a dedicated following in the states. However, their wire-haired counterpart is an equally great hunting dog. The wire-haired vizsla is a bit bigger than the smooth-coated vizsla, standing at about 23-25 inches.
And its thick red coat allows it a bit more climate flexibility as both a land and water bird dog. It has a bright and kind personality, with a bit of a calmer presence than your typical high-energy bird dog.
Spaniels aren’t to be overlooked in the field, and the boykin spaniel is a ridiculously adorable and adaptable bird dog. With webbed toes and a propensity for water, this medium-sized pup is a waterfowler’s dream.
Bred in the American South to work the lakes and swamps, duck hunting was the breed’s initial intention. But these dogs are picking up popularity as a companion with their sweet and soulful nature. Described as a tiger in the field, the boykin does double duty effortlessly when transitioning from home to field.