|Gordon Setter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
For certain types of hunting, a well-trained dog is considered indispensable. For centuries, dogs have hunted alongside humans, often helping humans survive. While hunting with dogs is often just for sport, many hunters provide for their families through their hunting, making the dog an important companion in the field.
There are several types of hunting that involve dogs.
* Stalking is done when the prey is out of shooting range, and the hunter sneaks up into range while remaining undetected. Dogs can help catch the scent of prey that is out of sight or range.
* Driving means the prey is driven out of hiding and into shooting range.
There is an extensive number of hunting breeds, all fine-tuned to meet specific hunting needs. Here are a few of the more common hunting breeds, and what they are used for.
Golden, Labrador, Chesapeake Bay, and Flat-Coated are the main retrievers used in hunting. Like a lot of hunting dogs, retrievers do well as family pets, too. Retrievers are bred for work in the water, and have webbing between their toes to help them swim. They tend to have good personalities and are quite trainable, and tend to stick with a task. Retrievers retrieve fallen game like waterfowl, carrying it back to the hunter without damaging it.
Cocker, Irish Water, and English Springer spaniels are some of the spaniels used in hunting. Their role is to flush out game like birds and rabbits, and thanks to their thick coats, they can get into the underbrush to do so. They do not kill game; their job is to get the prey out of hiding so the hunter can shoot it. They also have a "soft mouth," meaning they can carry fallen game without doing damage. Spaniels make good family pets, too.
The dedicated pointer identifies prey for the hunter, seeking out prey and freezing into the pointing position that earned them their name. They track down prey efficiently, and are a very intelligent breed. They are an enthusiastic and dedicated type of dog, and can track and identify a variety of game. Pointing breeds include the American Brittany, Weimaraners, Griffons, and the German Shorthair.
This group of breeds combines the best of the spaniel and the pointer, and they have been around since the 14th century. They flush out game such as quail, and they "set" or crouch down when they find prey, freezing into position. Setter breeds include the English, Irish, and Gordon Setter.