"Wanted: Dog that loves people, especially children. Must like taking neighborhood walks and playing catch in the yard; flushing game from the forest and driving deer are OK."
The qualities desired in this classified ad don't exactly mesh, but these are what you could expect if you chose a hunting dog for your family pet. Of course, this begs this question "Why would you choose a hunting dog for your family?"
Well, the characteristics of a good hunting dog often match those that families look for in pets. These dogs tend to be obedient, easily trained, loyal and healthy, as well as good with people and other animals since they often run in packs. So, whether you handle a rifle or not, there are some hunting breeds that might make great dogs for your family.
Dogs have long helped hunters, stalk and find prey, whether it was to fulfill basic needs or just for sport. There are several different categories of hunting dogs:
- Hounds and trackers use their noses, trailing scents from all types of game.
- Pointers and setters identify prey with their body language, pointing or "setting" by their quarry.
- Retrievers recover the shot animals.
- Spaniels do it all -- flushing out the prey and then retrieving it for their hunters.
[sources: The Hunting Dog, Hawkins].
All of these can potentially make great family dogs. Let's take a closer look at five of these fine canines.