Dogs are man’s best friend, and one of the biggest reasons for that is how helpful they can be during a hunt. Personally, I have a beagle that’s been with me for four years now. There are several options to choose from, much of which is decided by individual preference. Waterfowl hunters, inland bird hunters, and more generic game hunters can all help step your hunting game up significantly. Here are the top five duck hunting breeds to have by your side in the blind.
5 Duck Hunting Dog Breeds You Need To Know
If you hunt upland, a Brittany Springer is the best hunting breed you can have. Not only are they great swimmers and incredibly loyal, the icing on the cake is that they are also great listeners.
They are big enough that retrieving a larger duck is no problem, and agile enough that they move around an area quickly and discreetly.
Training a springer is as simple as bringing them on a few hunts and thoroughly walking them through the routine of what they need to do. This breed is particularly strong when compared to others that aren’t as agile in and around water.
Let’s start with Golden Retrievers. This breed is masterful at both force and blind retrieving, and is smart enough to perform well under pressure (in a competition, or in time-sensitive or crowd-sensitive areas). Golden retrievers are impeccable swimmers, runners, and might be the most loyal dog you’ll ever encounter. If I didn’t have my beagle, I’d have one of these. Other retrievers, such as Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, are honorary mentions here. Here is a video that goes into detail on this:
Next, let’s talk about Labrador retrievers. The distant cousin of golden retrievers, these dogs are also incredibly versatile in the field. It often seems like they prefer water over land, which is perfect for duck hunting. It’s important to begin training retrievers early in life, because they have immense amounts of energy and need the discipline to be engrained from a young age in order to be effective. But once they’re trained, you won’t find a better hunting dog than a retriever. Here are more top retrievers to consider.
Now, I don’t want to sound biased here, but Beagles have a connection with humans that is incomparable. Their scent-tracking abilities on the hunt are second to none. They are so fast and can dart around through bushes and shrubbery in a way that larger dogs can’t. I’ve never seen a duck retrieved so fast as what a Beagle will do every time. I also advise starting training when the Beagle is young. The earlier that they get the scents down, and are used to retrieving ducks, the better they will be as adult hunting dogs.
Here is one of the best duck hunting dog breeds, simply because they were bred to hunt from the beginning. With quick movements and a keen eye (and nose!) for fallen fowl, it’s no wonder Cocker Spaniels are such commonplace in hunting fields across the world. These dogs necessitate less training than other breeds that have a more difficult time paying attention. A few runs through of the routine, and Cocker Spaniels will be begging you to take them out hunting nearly day. It is more effective when using with best duck call for beginners.
Far beyond the showrooms of dog competitions are the poodles actually doing what they are best at.
These dogs are fiercely loyal, incredibly smart, and not afraid of anything.
Send your poodle into the water, across a field, through a bush- as long as it will feel valued and rewarded upon returning with the bird, the dog will outperform any other. Just remember, toy poodles and other smaller breeds aren’t going to cut it. You must have a full-size poodle and be willing to put in the training time to get it up to speed. Because they are so smart, poodles are more alert than most other top duck hunting dog breeds and therefore will pick up on smells and abstract hints that the others would miss.
Don’t believe me? Watch this video:
While there are a number of great breeds, these are the top 5 duck hunting dog breeds you can have in terms of training, memory, agility, and overall enthusiasm for hunting.
Do you use a breed that I didn’t discuss here? Share a photo and a story here in the comments and let’s get a discussion going.
I hope you found this article helpful, if so please share on social media. Hunting is such a powerful activity, and having a great dog along not only makes it more fun and efficient, it helps with conservation and with promoting the sport as a great way to bond with your best friend.