English foxhound hunting dog

ENGLISH foxhound – Scent hound – hunting DOG specialist

English foxhound hunting dog

English foxhound hunting dog

The ENGLISH Fox hound is the original SCENT HOUND

The English Foxhound is an athletic hunting dog developed by crossing hounds with the Bulldog, Greyhound and the Fox Terrier hence the name being a combination of the founding dog breeds.

I originally thought the English Foxhound breed was an old breed however it only started being standardized in the mid 1800’s. Their skill set includes hunting, tracking, watchdog and agility, though due to their large size their lifespan is less than 10 years, and around 7 for reasonable working ability. This is less than the American Fox Hound derivative.

While relatively new, the English foxhound has not been substantially developed from its early days. I personally find this very refreshing. Rather than hone, adapt and continually fidget with a great hunting dog, the dogs hunting ability remains essentially pure.

That means it is as much up to the hunter to get the best out of this breed, rather than buying one per-packaged that has little need for training .. (though with any great hunting dog, training is always required).

This non meddling with the breed, has meant that the English Foxhound is not considered as easy to train as other dogs or specifically hunting dogs, so if patience and ability to work with intense dogs is not your style, you may consider other dogs like the American Foxhound.

The English Foxhound and its level of socialization

These hounds are considered friendly with people children, and most other dogs (because of their strong pack hunting abilities) they should not be left alone with any other family pets.

Their specialty is their ability to run at a good speed for up to six hours without stopping. Amazingly some websites state that a detraction is that this breed can become destructive without appropriate exercise.

This is a raw hunting dog and should not be kept in an apartment, in the city or for any purpose other than hunting, unless you are willing to do a lot of training and Long runs EVERY day.

There are two main English Foxhound types: field lines and show lines . The Field lines are bred for hunting and field trial work while the bench style is bred for conformation shows.

The main difference that most text give between the English Foxhound and the American is that the English is stockier and slower and a slightly less developed sense of smell for tracking.

Please consider the needs of this dog before adopting them from shelters or trying to conform them to an urban lifestyle.

red coonhound hunting hound dog

The coonhound breed evolution and specialist types

red coonhound  hunting hound dog

The coon hound, one of the major American specialist hunting dogs

The coon hound is very much an American invention. When we talk about the coonhound as a hunting dog, a lot of emotion gets thrown around. I have know a few of these dogs, but know that I will never know them as much, or forge such an amazing bond as the hunter owners of these dogs.

While there are many other great hunting dogs out there, the coonhound takes it pride of place in American folklore by being one of the few major hunting dogs developed exclusively in America.

The three main coonhounds found in America are the Black and Tan Coonhound, treeing walker coonhound, redbone coonhound. Noting that there are various sub categories of these breeds around too.

The best way to summarise this parochial breed is to start with the oldest and first of the coonhounds. The Black and Tan Coonhound is a large, determined hunting hound. It was created by crossing the Talbot Hound (extinct), Bloodhound and black and tan  Foxhound.

The foxhound are the base for all the coonhounds and the black and tan was teh first to be recognised by the AKC (1946) as a separate breed.

Its initial use and hence its name was for trailing and treeing (forcing into trees for protection) raccoon, then howling at his quarry to alert the hunter as to where the prey was located. Like most hunting dogs it has since expanded its prey, being a large prey specialist for such animals as: stag, bear, opossum, deer and mountain lion. This hunting dog is very robust across all terrains and handling well all ranges of temperature from deep winter to extreme summer heat. Clearly they are made to be a high performance dog in almost any condition.

The original ‘coonhund’ has been breed and trained to expand its skills to: hunting, tracking, watchdog and agility.

The evolution of the treeing walker coonhound starts out fairly simply. The Treeing Walker is a descendant of an English Foxhound Thomas Walker imported to Virginia, USA in 1742. A few years/ decades later a dog of ‘unknown’ origin (big with speed, drive and good hunting sense) was crossed with the foxhound.

The current treeing walker coonhound is the closest coonhound in resemblance to the original foxhound.

The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a very proficient hunter of raccoons, squirrels, opossums. The hound “trees” its prey, and if trained can easily ‘climb’ trees to get at the prey.

The foundation dogs of the current Redbone coonhound came from George F.L. Birdsong of Georgia in 1840. He was a famous fox hunter and breeder. However the Redbone Coonhound was only AKC recognised in 2009. A big part of this delay was that historically in America’s south, any dog that was red with great treeing and tracking abilities was called ‘redbone’ after Peter Redbone of Tennessee.

The reason that the redbone was created at all was due to the diligence of a multitude of hunting breeders in Tennessee and Georgia that decided to make a super coonhound over the last 100 years or so. This desire lead to a campaign of selective breeding to standardise the ‘redbone’ coon dog breed. The first attempt at this created ‘saddle-backs’ which were basically foxhound based dogs that were red in colour but had a black saddle marking over their back.

Only once the black colour was bred out to create a solid red colour was the breed considered stabilised. Occasionally a throwback white chest and foot markings occur suggesting that there is also some bloodhound in the lineage

While all coonhounds are based on the foxhound these are the three main varieties. The appearance varies somewhat but the high stamina, treeing and braying at the tree prey are common across the breeds. Their ability to hunt large game also shows a high degree of fearlessness, considering that they are not meant or designed to hold these large prey.

Pointer dogs are great hunting dogs, whether they are English, German, Italian …

8_english pointer

The English Pointer GUN DOG- endurance & social dog

This is the dog with the classic hound look. When hunters say pointer they are often referring to the ” English Pointer”. Though there are German, Italian and a whole host of sub pointer categories, each with a slight tweak in abilities. The English pointers are known back to the early 1700’s

Like many other dog breeds, the origins of this breed are many. That is it is believed to have been created by breeding of the following breeds: Italian Pointer, Spanish Pointers, Foxhound, Greyhound, Bloodhound, Newfoundland, Bulldog, Setting spaniel.

The places that these dogs were most prevalent in are: Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, and UK. Originally they were used to ‘trace’ hares, bird pointing and the sport of wing-shooting (popular in the 1700s).

The pointers abilities are remarkable and show a very specific characteristic taht breeders chose to create in the dogs. Everyone knows that pointers ‘point’ with a raised leg and knee showing a vector towards the prey, but few know that this was trained into the dog to act as a guide to show Greyhounds where the hare were hiding.

It is remarkable that the pointer fulfilled this action considering that the greyhound relies strongly on its vision (rather than scent like most dogs). Thus used in conjunction the pointer and the greyhound created a formidable hunting aid (well at least before high powered and long distance guns were created).

Since the advent of guns in hunting the pointers have been used to cover large amounts of ground very quickly  and flush out birds.

The apparent limitation of this breed is that unlike Labradors and golden retrievers, English Pointers are not typically water dogs. They can run into water, and swim somewhat, but they are never as comfortable as dogs bred to be constantly in water.

The pointers are rarely trained to retrieve the kill. Of course a hunter can train a dog to perform all parts of the hunt, its just that they are not a specialist at the final aspects of hunting.

It should also be noted that the English Pointer is a warm weather dog and due to its thin coat and low fat content they do not perform well in cold climates or cold water.

I have met many pointers out on hunts and like many hounds of a similar size and look they are often quite sociable with pleasant dispositions. On the job they are as focused as any hunting dog, but this ability to switch into home mode has made them quite a favored domestic dog.

The caveat with this is of course like all hunting dogs, a large amount of exercise is required to burn their energy, otherwise they can become quite ‘edgy’ bored and ‘non compliant’.

Beagle, not just the best dog nose on earth, a mighty tracker/ hunter


Beagles – the original scent hound

I am looking at this breed because they made the top ten on the three lists of best dog breeds I was able to research on the net. The information here will be part internet history based, in the field based, and information about them when used as family pets.

Origins of the Beagle

The beagle is known to exists at least back into the 1500s in the UK and 2000 years ago in Ancient Greece. In the UK they were run in packs to hunt & tracking rabbits, hare, pheasant, quail and other small animals.

The breed is thought to be a cross between a Harrier and other English hounds. If you research the harrier hound you will see that they look quite similar to the general shape of the beagle.  The harrier itself is breed down in size from the English Foxhound.

Note the American foxhound and fox terrier dogs are listed on quite a few ‘best hunting dog’ list but not the English foxhound.

How the beagles hunt

Beagles were bred to hunt regularly and for long periods of time on each hunt. For this reason over centuries they were bred to have VERY high level of stamina and if not used for hunting (ie as a family pet, they need regular exercise.

There are many varieties of dogs that hunt. The beagle is known to be the king of the scent hounds. This means that their nose and ability to smell scents very faintly over long distances is extremely good. And once a scent is obtained, they will only focus on this, to the exclusion of almost all other senses. Some inexperienced hunters will see this as a problem, because once activated, a beagle will do everything to get to the source of the scent.

Beagles can be trained, as can any dog, but they need a more dedicated trainer/ owner than many other hunting dogs often require.

A beagle as a family pet

You may find it strange that I should include a section on beagles used as companinon animals, however as beagles age, not all of them will be kept on the hunt. And of course not all beagles are used for hunting in the first place.

It should be obvious from the characteristics described above that beagles can prove very challenging for most domestic situations.  An hours yard must be incredibly escape proof, and if a beagle senses something it wants to pursue and cant, it may also provide the kind of bark or braying that everyone in the neighborhood will soon recognize.

Due to their extreme stamina, they require regular long walks. And due to their dedication to tracking and finding the source of the prey, very few owners are confident to allow their dogs off lead, even  in fenced dog parks.

A beautiful very old breed, bred for a single purpose,  no wonder many hunters give them such praise.

labrador retriever hunting dog

The Labrador Retriever, crowned the greatest bird dog/ retriever on earth

labrador retriever hunting dogLabrador Hunting dog retriever, why they are just so good

While not to every hunters needs, the Labrador retriever still remains strongly at the top of many hunters lists as the best gun dog and retrieving dog that exists.

And we are talking about now, in real time, not theoretical studies. To underhand why this has come about it is worth remembering the labs origins.

Newfoundland / Labrador in CANADA is the birth place of the breed. Cold boggy environments and surrounds make this a perfect hunting place for much of the hunting year. Based on the coastline, these cities/ areas boast a ‘temperate’ marine climate.

If you are wondering why they were originally known as the St John’s dog, well that happens to be the capital city.

” The island of Newfoundland covers (43,008 square miles) – an area that rivals the size of the three maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island combined. With the addition of the vast territory of Labrador, the province covers a total area of (156,453 square miles), and has more than (18,000 miles) of unspoiled coastline.”

Refining the Labrador breed / ORIGINAL USES of Labradors

The Labrador was exported from Labrador (Canada) to England in the 1800s to be used for similar fishing retrieving purposes.

They worked alongside fishermen catching fish (in icy waters) that came loose from the lines and were trained to jump helping with the nets..

What a lot of snobby purists fail to understand is that this original ‘breed; was then  crossed with setters, spaniels and other retrievers to “improve” its instincts as a hunter and to extend its preferred quarry and the environment it could retrieve in.

Like most breeds there is much conjecture as to which specific breeds were bred into the Labrador and for how long by who. Perhaps it is only by luck that what they did use seems to have worked out to be one of the greatest universal retrievers of all time.

For those people who use Labrador retrievers in hunting situations involving boggy marshes for retrieval of downed birds, you should be aware of several things. The big reason they perform so well is that they were originally a water retrieving dog (even though it was of fish rather than birds). The second thing is that when hunting seasons vary so much as do climates Labrador dogs are used in, it can be difficult to get their nutrition correct.

The Labrador retriever diet

Because Labradors were used in icy waters, it was important for them to have a good solid layer of fat to insulate them from the cold. Breeding this into the dog seems to have also enhanced their appetite. Anyone who has owned a lab will soon find out that there isn’t much that a lab won’t eat. Which with a strong food drive and intelligence makes them an extremely trainable dog.

That said, if you take too long ‘off season’ and don’t reduce your food schedule considerably, you will soon find your lab putting on too much weight and having more chance of leg and hip injuries in the field. Not enough nutrition (protein and good fats) and your dog will not have enough of these building blocks left over for recovery and stamina.

The final thing that a novice to the hunting industry quickly learns is that there are two main breeds of lab. The English bred Lab comes from English bred stock and its hunting ability and appearance is very different than the American bred Lab.

The English bred Labs are heavier and thicker and often considered much better suited to most hunting tasks. The American labs are leaner and taller, but are considered too ‘light weight’ when it comes to the serious business of retrieving bird in hard condition fields. Of course every hunter will have a preference, but this very likeable and now highly sort after family pet still appears to have the crown for best hunting dog all round of any dog breed on earth !

The best hunting dog diet – How to use Omega oils & feed MEAT in the field.

nova scotia and retired labThe best hunting dog diet is always meat based.

This post is a continuation from the previous article on best hunting dog diets. It fills in some of the dots and gives practical methods of field feeding your dog the best food for performance.

IAM       Some trainers have tried just buying some fish oil capsules for administration to the dog, but this is not a practical method of providing the ideal fatty acid ratio for several reasons. First, it is difficult to give a pill every day to every dog in a typical bird dog kennel. Second, it is difficult if not impossible to get the total dietary fatty acid ratio of between 5:1 and 10:1 using capsules. Third, supplying additional Vitamin E in the diet is necessary with omega-3 supplementation. Vitamin E levels are already enhanced in dog foods with corrected omega-6: omega-3 ratios. And, fourth, omega-3 supplements are expensive.

A             This is where the IAMs story completely breaks down. Can you read how desperate they are to sell you propaganda? Don’t worry its the same story all dog food manufacturers wont you to buy, literally.

Point by point analysis:

” difficult to give a pill every day to every dog”  I would say if you cant be bothered about dog nutrition, you shouldn’t have a dog. Just because it is “difficult” shouldn’t stop you from doing what is right by your dog.

“.. difficult if not impossible to get the total dietary fatty acid ratio of between 5:1 and 10:1 using capsules.”

Wow rocket science here we come !  BE VERY AWARE that most pet food companies use flax seed oil as the source of omega 3 for your dog. That many papers suggest that Flax seed omega 3 only has a 5% conversion ratio into the ALA chemical that is then utilised by the dog. That’s right, only about 5% of the ALA chemical gets converted to the EPA and DHA chemicals that are required by the body to do any good. Research this for yourself.

You will notice that Omega 3 fish oils state their active ingredients as EPA and DHA already – dogs, rice is an excellent carbohydrate source for this reason.”

A   There are plenty of reasons why carbs are bad. Firstly dogs did not evolve to eat grains. This means that manufacturers have to pulverise and cook the grains to try and unlock any nutrition.

Second, grains are just filler to make people think they are getting a bag of food. Grains provide some vitamins and minerals, but usually both of these are inadequate amounts. They provide poor fats and very poor proteins.   The only real value of them is their insoluble fibre helping intestine health (if it is the right type of fibre).

IAM     ‘In one research project completed by Iams scientists, racing sled dogs were fed diets of 16, 24, 32, and 40% protein. None of the dogs on the 16% protein food made it though the training season without at least one injury serious enough to remove them from training. Dogs fed the 32% and 40% protein foods had no injuries. Having increased levels of protein in the diet makes sense for the competitive bird dog.”

A             Grains typically have a low percentage of protein in them, and not the quality protein supplied by meats.

Protein is composed of 22 amino acids – 12 the body can make the other ten are called ‘essential amino’ acids as they need to be supplied external to the body. All grains and most vegetables have low quality and low quantity of the amino acids a dog requires.

If you get the exact ratio of quality grains (not chaff) and legumes you can just about achieve the aafco min requirements of the ten amino acids, maybe. Alternatively you can grab just about any red meat and achieve the minimum requirements.

IAM  “Soybeans and corn gluten have been used for decades as a protein source in dog food because of their lower cost. The protein in plants can be quite digestible but high-quality animal source proteins provide superior amino acid balances when compared to vegetable based proteins like soybeans. Animal-based protein can also vary in quality and characteristics like digestibility and amino acid availability. But, in my experience appear to be more beneficial for hunting dogs. Protein quality cannot be conveyed though information presented on a dog food label.”

A             If you are out hunting, I am sure that you can stock up at a local supermarket on meat and offal and bones to keep feeding your dog a true meat raw diet. Keep it in a chiller box in your car or your motel room.

NOTE while raw meats might only be 27% protein, when dehydrated it will multiple the wet value by up to three times, meaning around 75% protein in quality jerkies.


Like all pet food manufacturer press releases (often disguised as crafty science papers) there is much information based on fact  mixed with very misleading comments to get you to buy their products.

Many bird hunting dog owner’s feed their dog’s a balanced raw diet.

For those that don’t, using a high animal fat, and high protein diet (whether that be via pellets or the raw diet is critical to great performance.

Omega 6 and Omega 3 amounts and ratios are also vital to great performances. Even if you use a manufactured dog food, note that the flax seed is unlikely to add the required amount of Omega 3 and you can supplement with fish oil capsules.

REF http://www.wec.ufl.edu     (just search using the text strings in the quotes.


The best hunting dog diet, meat, fat & carbs required

 Nova Scotia Duck Tolling RetrieverThe best hunting dog diet

A paper written by IAMS rates very highly on Google for the search term “hunting dog diet food”

This should not be surprising, as they have plenty of money to “promote” the article. What should be of concern is that the article turns up on the wec.ufl dot edu website  (university of Florida) giving it much more credibility to Google), and higher ranking.

Rather than tell you what I think about the best hunting dog food diet in isolation, I would like to use quotes from the IAMS paper and comment on my belief (and other science papers) about their claims.

Please note that IAMS is owned by Proctor and Gamble, one of the largest manufactured dog food companies in the world, and that I am a raw feeder (meat based, with a small amount of kibble for stool formation).

IAM       ” The primary nutritional need of hard hunting bird dogs is for energy, which translates to calories. Tired dogs cannot perform to the best of their ability. The best way to provide this is with a high-fat product. Fat is the ideal source of energy for the bird dog because it has over twice the calories of carbohydrates or protein per gram. A dog can eat a small amount of high-fat food and get a lot of calories. …Dogs under the stress of travel, cold, dampness, and competition often fail to eat a normal or even adequate amount of food.”

A             Of course taste, nutritional value, palatability and digestibility have a lot to do with the quality of a dog food.

It has been found that most grain based dog foods (ie pretty much all manufactured dog foods) have zero palatability for dogs without the injection of animal fats and sugars into the mix.

IAM  ” This has led trainers to prefer a “nutrient-dense” dog food, i.e., one that has a lot of nutrition in a small amount of food. This can only be achieved with a high-fat, performance- type food. A 20% fat level is a sound recommendation for the heavily worked bird dog. A lower amount of fat, say 10%, requires the dog to eat almost 20% more food than with the 20% fat diet to keep in the same condition.”

A   They go on to explain a who bunch of other reasons about why fat is so good, but the most interesting case is where they tell you what type of fat to use.

Of course it is the type they put into their dog pellets ..

IAM “Why is fat better than carbohydrates? … with dogs, using carbohydrates, such as starches and grains as a primary energy source for performance does not work so easily. For one thing, the dog has to eat about twice as much food if we try to use grain as the energy source because, again, fat has over twice as many calories per bite as carbohydrates. Secondly, research conducted years ago documented that many dogs using high-carbohydrate foods for energy developed excess lactic acid in their muscles, and some even had stiffened gaits as a result.

A             Curiously very few dog food manufacturers enter into the fat V carbohydrate amount debate.

The reason is that most dog food is about 70-80% carbohydrates in the form of grains, because grains are cheap and grains are a great filler. You would feel ripped off if they gave you a one pound pack of dehydrated meat rather than an impressive big 9 pounds bag of grains.

It looks a lot more impressive to put a few cups of same shaped tan pellets into a bowl night after night than icky red meat.

IAM “dogs on high-fat diets were better able to burn oxygen, even without extra conditioning. Even sedate dogs.”

Q  But of course if you feed a sedentary dog too much fat they can easily become obese. There are saturated and non saturated fats and fats of all different length molecules, and unlike humans dogs done have issues with cholesterol thickening the arteries.

HOWEVER because fats are so energy dense if you put too much in, you have to decrease the amount of grains leading to smaller packets and consumer shock.  Heaven forbid you put more meat in the packet and make it smaller still!

IAM   “Different fat types provide different levels of the various fatty acids used by the dog. The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids have received the most attention by researchers because they have different inflammatory properties in the dog’s tissues.”

What fatty acids (the Omega series) are best for hunting dogs?

“Fatty acids produce substances called eicosanoids These play an important part in injury repair and inflammation. As a result, dogs that have an inflammatory response going on, a red, irritated skin for example, will have high levels of omega-6 eicosanoids in the affected tissues. This can also be true following muscle pulls, joint ailments, and lacerations.”

“Examples of fat sources that are high in omega-6 fatty acids are soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish oils, flaxseed oil, and canola oil. On first examination, one might think that since omega-6 fatty acids are more inflammatory, we should exclude them from the diet. But inflammation in moderation is an important part of the dog’s immune system and some omega-6 fatty acids are essential for good health and a normal response to injury.”

A             Omega 3, 6, 9, 12 and so on are called essential fatty acids because they are not produced in the body and are essential for health.

If you look at nutrition data tables for meat and plants you will notice that meats (red meat and white) have very few Omega’s in them. However the saturated fats have many other natural uses in a dog’s body besides energy, and its not only about Omega 3 and 5. BUT manufacturers want you to concentrate on this because that is what they are putting cheaply into their dog foods. The bulk of the fat is often chicken fat (nice and cheap).

They are right about Omega 6 and 9 promoting inflammation and Omega 3 reducing inflammation but any science (non dog food sponsored) article will tell you a lot more of the story.

It is hard to know where wolves or the original dogs would have gotten their Omega 6 sources. If you feed your dog manufactured dog food it is likely to come from the grains and the oil (corn or sunflower etc). I use sunflower oil for my own dog.

It is actually possible to feed a dog on a raw meat, offal and bone diet (with one strong vitamin and mineral tablet, and add your own Omega 6 and Omega 3. You just have to forgo the desire to pay multi-nationals for cereals for your dogs, and spend a little time preparing meals rather than dipping a cup into a chaff bag.

The next article provides more information on a hunting dogs ideal diet.


Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Are the AKC hunting dog test valid?

Forums are full of one hunter’s bragging rights of their dog over another. And I am sure that in different situations, almost all dog breeds that a hunter uses, will excel over another breed.

But of course there is no uniformity in field work. There is no measured testing or anything besides one persons word over another. I am not saying that there are not a great deal of good dogs out there, but if a person new to hunting was thinking of getting a dog breed, who would you go about it?

In fact dog breed info site lists 50 or so breeds capable of being called  hunters, or being used for bird dog hunting, but that would not be specific to America, nor the various conditions in many parts of the American countryside.

In my previous post I mentioned ten dog breeds as listed on three independent sites that claimed these breeds were the top ten at hunting small game. That was pretty subjective, but a good starting point.

The following list you might consider even more subjective, but if you love America, are American, and believe that your organisations are out there working for you, then you might have to give some credit to what your MAIN dog organisations considers acceptable dog retr4ieving breeds – or at least what can be tested.

Yep, I was left scratching my head at some of the dogs included or excluded from the list, but before I get into that perhaps you should see what the list includes:

AKC Retriever Hunting Tests – Eligible Breeds

All dogs six months of age or older from the following breeds are eligible to participate in Retriever Hunting Tests:

AKC Recognized and FSS Breeds

American Water Spaniels (effective 4/1/11)

Barbet (effective 9/1/12)

Boykin Spaniels (effective 12/1/11)

Chesapeake Retrievers

Curly-Coated Retrievers

Drentsche Patrijshond (Drent) (effective 9/1/12)

Flat-Coated Retrievers

German Shorthaired Pointer (effective 9/1/11)

German Wirehaired Pointer (effective 9/1/11)

Golden Retrievers

Irish Water Spaniels

Labrador Retrievers

Miniature Poodles (effective 1/1/14)

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Spinone Italiano (effective 7/1/11)

Standard Poodles

Vizsla (effective 9/1/11)

Weimaraner (effective 9/1/11)

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (effective 7/1/11)

Completeness of the Retriever dog lists

Of course this does not mean that these are the best or only retrievers in the world But the AKC, the governing body of America (and the world) who decides what dog is allowed to become a recognized breed in the first place, is putting a stake in the ground to decide what dogs can actually be tested for their retrieving abilities.

And surely if our dog breed is not on the list, how can you have bragging rights about it being the ‘best retriever’ (well as far as they are concerned) ?? In fact how can you objectively test and compare dogs that are not on the list?

I imagine that this has probably been a hotbed topic around the clubs for a while, I know it is around my club, but who can change it, unless you are on the AKC committee that chooses the breeds for inclusion in the first place?

Does it matter? Probably not … but I thought for those of you not aware of this fact, that you should at least see what the ‘authorities’ deem to be acceptable retriever dogs for judging !


Reference:  https://classic.akc.org/events/hunting_tests/retrievers/eligible_breeds.cfm

TEN Best hunting dogs in the USA & most popular hunting dogs

black labrador

The TEN Best hunting dogs in AMERICA

Firstly let me be clear, these are not the lists I have created or would necessarily choose.

And the sources are not necessarily USA based. I have read on many other forums and posts that people complain that many popular breeds are left of the list like: Pudel pointer, Vizsla, Deutsch Drahthaar, Gordon Setter, Cocker spaniel, Standard poodle.

And in fact if you look up dogbreedinfo for hunting dogs they will give you a list of 50 plus breeds. However quite a few of them are either very specific hunters (Treeing Tennessee Brindle), moderately rare dogs in the USA (Thornburg Feist, Slovakian Hound ) or dogs that were once used very widely but have now fallen out of favour (like the welsh corgi).

The thing about these lists are that I have collated them from three very popular source on Google and you will see quite a good correlation between them, meaning that there is some level of consensus.

The source of the lists are shown at the top of the columns below:

wide opens paces she knows how stuff works
Labrador Retriever Labrador retriever Labrador Retriever
American Foxhound Coonhound German Shorthaired Pointer
Beagle German short-haired pointer English Setter
Pointer Brittany Coonhound
Bloodhound: Beagle Brittany spaniel
Golden Retriever Spanish water dog English Springer Spaniel
Chesapeake Bay Retriever Golden Retriever English Beagle
Weimaraner Pointer (orgin: foxhounds, greyhounds and coonhounds) Spanish Water Dog
Coonhound English springer spaniel Fox Terrier
Irish Setter Fox terrier Dachshund

It does not make the list right or exhaustive and indeed may not include your favourite hunting dog at all.

Then again it doesn’t even discriminate between pointers, flushers or retrievers let alone which territory or climates these dogs work best in.

I think one of the more amazing things about this dog list, is that they carry so many dogs that are used as major companion breeds throughout the world as well as in America.

Some of the best hunting dogs are companion dogs too

That suggests an amazing adaption and utility for these dogs, though a breed can have very many varying characteristics within it.

For instance any show dog version of a breed such as the American cocker spaniel (versus true working dog the English cocker spaniel) are miles apart as far as their desire to retrieve goes.

You will also find breeders that specifically look for retriever skills or temperament stability that can really enhance a dogs about to be a retriever.

I know when anyone flashes a ten best dogs list up, there will be major detractors. I am humbly surprised though at how universal hunters liking of the humble Labrador still remains. In future articles I intend on discussing each of the more popular and not so popular hunting breeds of dogs and their specific pros and cons as I know them, and as other experts talk about.

Stay tuned USA !

Dog training, what it is, what it isn’t

Germman Shepherd

Dog Training and Hunting dogs

This article isn’t about that. This article is about what kind of training all dogs need, in urban environments, and that includes hunting dogs used as domestic or companion dogs.

Most people get a dog, it does something they consider to be ‘bad’ and someone tells them they ought to get their dog ‘trained.’

Sound familiar?

But have you ever thought of what dog training really means to the dog and to you and what methods you should choose?

Dogs are pack animals. They would much prefer to be with their own kind, but humans domesticated them, and we buy them to be a companion, so they don’t really have much of a choice.


The strongest dog connection bond you will make is when you use minimal intrusion on the dogs life and make learning and their life as natural as you can in your own environment.

That may sound very general, and it has to be, because man (used as generic term here) has developed many breeds for specific reasons and the resulting dogs all have different desires from the original wolves they were created from.

The original wolves were pack animals that spent a few hours hunting at night time for their food and then ate it together as a pack, and slept much of the day. How different is that world from what you are expecting your dog to fit into?

The reality is of course in modern people’s lives the need to earn money and be entertained is high and dogs don’t often get considered in that equation. They may do when they are first acquired, but once out of the puppy stage there is a lot of neglect going on.

If you read the home page and the about (US) sections on this site, you will see that I am a strong advocate for dogs being exercised off lead at least once per day, for as long as possible. They get amazing physical and mental benefits from this as well as having their energy drained. If you have a dog that is size appropriate for your apartment or yard, then this practice will go a long way to having a dog fit into your world. They will learn much about what being social is from other dogs, and won’t want to do all those bored destructive things in your home when they get to stay at home without anyone all day.

Well that is the eventual goal.

I could tell you all the great things that I do to train my own dog, but I think it is worthwhile for me to review some practices of someone I highly respect, Cesar Milan.

You can roll your eyes because he is a celebrity dog rehabilitator shown globally on many TV screens but he just seems to know instinctually what makes dogs tick, and how to best correct their behavior. That said, there are also things he does that I don’t fully agree with, and I will also go through those points here in the next post.