Duck hunting serves a lot of distinct purposes, from being a recreational sport to putting food on your table. While the hunters can go duck hunting on their own, most of them prefer having a four-legged friend to retrieve their prize.
There are a lot of dog breeds that are ideal for hunting in general or are bred specifically for a purpose. Quite a few different dog breeds do a great job when it comes to duck hunting, those breeds do not all look or act the same.
However, those duck hunting dog breeds combine trainability, obedience, intelligence, and energy with which you can successfully retrieve your prey. They should also love water and have water-repellent coats.
But, you should keep in mind that no matter what breed you are working with on the field, proper duck hunting dog training is a crucial thing.
In this article, we will mention the 12 best duck hunting dogs to help you make a good choice. These dog breeds will be a great companion while hunting and are sure to optimize your hunting success.
12 Best Duck Hunting Dogs
1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever, also called Lab, is a popular dog breed that is considered one of the best choices for duck hunting, and for a good reason. They have a double fur coat that keeps them warm while also acting as a water-repellent layer.
They can easily maneuver through the water thanks to their webbed feet and muscular frame. Also, they have a thick rudder-like tail that gives them extra balance. All of this makes them excellent swimmers.
Labradors are highly intelligent dogs that will respond to commands reliably and consistently, they are highly trainable and are hard workers whether on land or in the water.
These dogs will mark, retrieve, and deliver waterfowl directly to your hands. They are quick learners, and they seldom have a problem remembering the location of downed birds. Due to their friendly nature and calm demeanour, they are perfect not only for hunting but also as family pets as well.
2. German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers or GSPs were bred in Germany in the mid-19th century for the express purpose of hunting. They were used initially for inland hunting to catch birds and other small game.
GSPs also do an excellent job when it comes to duck hunting. Due to their water-resistant coat and webbed feet, this dog breed is highly suited to water. They are able to retrieve and hunt on both water and land.
Due to their speed, power, agility, and long-standing endurance, they are capable of every activity you throw at them. This bird dog is a good fit for both hunting and at home.
German Shorthaired Pointer is a handsome breed that is a good companion for any avid hunter who spends a lot of time outdoors, whether hiking or hunting.
Their name indicates their ability to point at game birds, alerting hunters of the direction of a good shot. However, they are agile and active, so a lot of exercise and engagement is necessary to stay happy and healthy.
GSP embodies everything you could want out of a sporting dog, such as intelligence, loyalty, athleticism, determination, and obedience. If you love the outdoors and spend as much time there, whether hiking, hunting or just swimming, this will be a great companion for you.
3. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever, also called Chessie, is known to be among one of the best Retrievers. These dogs are excellent at hunting in the water, thanks to their waterproof coats. They make an ideal choice for duck hunters or waterfowl hunters.
These dogs are tireless pooches that are ideal for long hunting days. They are energetic and enduring as well. The classic traits of a retriever are evident in these dogs. They are affectionate, polite, dependable, friendly, loyal, and very protective of their owners. They also make great companion dogs, which is an added bonus.
However, this breed has an independent nature and requires a lot of structure and discipline or they may be aggressive, but when trained properly, they will be both loyal and protective, which makes them perfect duck dogs. A well-trained Chessie could be a great hunting companion on your hunting trips.
4. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, commonly referred to as Tollers, is among the smallest dogs of the retriever breed. As indicated by its name, this breed is known for its duck hunting abilities.
They are outgoing, affectionate, and intelligent dogs that were bred in the early 19th century in Nova Scotia, where they were known as the Little River Duck Dog.
Tollers have a water-repellent double coat that helps them to swim. They are able to lure ducks during hunting. They draw ducks to the shoreline by playing and fluttering their tails until the prey becomes within their owner’s gun range. Besides being great duck decoys, these dogs can make excellent retrievers as well.
Tollers have an almost infinitely high energy level, which means they can last through the longest hunting trips, and also, they require minimal training due to their natural hunting instincts. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a great companion on and off the field.
5. Golden Retriever
The name retriever refers to the ability of this breed to retrieve games quickly. This breed offers many of the same qualities as the Labrador retriever.
But they have long, beautiful coats that do require grooming and are surely a lot harder to dry compared with the short coat of the Labrador retriever. This long double coat is also water resistant.
Goldies are a great breed to have as a hunting partner, not just because they’re always eager to please their master, but they are also affectionate, with a great sense of smell and have a sound temperament.
The best thing about these dogs is that they have soft mouths. This means golden retrievers are unlikely to damage any of your ducks when retrieving them.
They are also so energetic that they will be up to fetch anything you shoot down throughout the entire day. This breed has popularity of being great for children and families.
So if you are searching for the ideal family dog that might also occasionally accompany you on your hunting trips, the golden retriever could be the perfect gun dog for you. The beauty, agility, strength, and brains of golden retrievers can make them one of the best waterfowl dogs around.
6. Boykin Spaniel
They Hail from South Carolina, which makes these dogs suited well to heavy brush and wetlands. This makes them a great choice for waterfowl hunting, such as turkey and duck. And also perfectly suited to hunting in any terrain type and any condition.
A Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized dog with a beautiful brown double coat that does require some grooming. This breed is highly intelligent and trainable, they are known for their skilled hunting abilities and super-affectionate personality. So besides being a skilled hunting dog breed, the Boykin Spaniel is just as amazing as family pets as well.
But notice that they have an energetic spirit, so to keep the Boykin Spaniel happy and healthy, you have to practice a lot of fun activities together.
7. English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniels get their name from their adept skill in flushing and springing out game and fowl. They flush out the game before later retrieving it and bringing it back to their owners.
This breed is small in size, but their high-energy, accurate instincts and thick water-resistant coats make up for their size. Due to their small and gentle mouths, the English springer spaniel can retrieve the games without damaging them.
This breed has all the desired traits of good hunting dogs. They possess all the needed endurance, high energy, enthusiasm, and stamina to spend the whole day hunting ducks with their owners.
Due to their thick double coats, they are suitable for splashing into cold water. Both the overcoat and an undercoat come in 3 various colour combinations and require regular brushing.
They are loving and sweet family pets, but they do require a lot of maintenance and attention. The family must give the English Springer Spaniel a great deal of time throughout the day since they do not like to be left alone for long periods. So this breed may not be the right choice for you if your family is out from early morning to late at night.
8. Irish Water Spaniel
It is one of the largest and oldest dog breeds of the Spaniel group. Irish Water Spaniels have a long history of working and hunting they are intelligent, strong swimmers, quick learners, and masterful hunters with an innate instinct to please.
It is an active and energetic breed that can be trained easily these dogs are more than willing to obey commands, with high intellect and naturally inquisitive nature.
The Irish Water Spaniel is not an aggressive dog, therefore, it is a great dog to have in busy homes and around children. This versatile dog is a retriever and masterful hunter on the weekend and a great family pet during the week.
Poodles were originally bred to be hunting dogs. Although it may be famous for its pampered and fancy looks, the poodle actually loves getting dirty.
These dogs are incredibly intelligent, alert, loyal, and brave, which makes them beloved companion dogs in many households.
They are also eager to please and highly trainable, which makes them the ideal hunting companions. The poodle is an efficient water retriever and is a remarkably skilled duck hunting dog.
10. American water spaniels
Similar to Brittany, American water spaniels were originally bred to hunt in the 19th century. They are well known for doing a great job on both water and land.
These dogs are also known for having a knack for retrieving that can easily match a Labrador and being less high-strung than English springer spaniels. It is often considered one of the most popular duck hunting breeds.
This curly, dark-haired dog has a water-repellent coat and a love for being in the water. It is a friendly, loyal, gentle, and eager-to-please dog, making for an excellent family pet.
11. The Beagle
Beagles have a curious and playful temperament that is ideal for households with kids. This breed has wormed its way into the hearts of families everywhere.
But the fact that these dogs were bred for hunting is something you should remember. A Beagle has great-scent tracking skills, allowing them to pick up on the ducks’ scent and hunt them down at any place on the land.
It is a small-sized hunting dog, but it has remarkable agility and powerful hind legs that make it a great duck hunter and also enable it to travel quickly.
Beagles are a breed that is extremely easy to train. They can pick up commands relatively quickly, which is a great thing when you teach them to hunt beside you, whatever your prey may be.
12. English Cocker Spaniel
The breeders bred the English Cocker Spaniel to hunt small land animals such as rabbits in England. They are known as impressive duck and bird hunters due to their remarkable swimming skills and their ability to retrieve the game.
Besides being great waterfowl hunters, this breed also does an excellent job on land when tracking ducks through woods and trails. However, to become their best hunter selves, they should have both water and field training.
English Cocker Spaniels are amazing with other dogs and kids. Since this dog has a smaller size, it can be a lap dog without any issue and also a good playmate for kids of different ages without any worries of the pup being rough around the children.