4 All-American Hunting Dogs
Humans and dogs have been partners in numerous activities for centuries. Some dogs were bred to protect property, while others were unleashed to carry out innate activities guided by instinct. That is particularly true when it comes to gun dogs.
Beagles have an uncanny sense of smell, the primary attribute that makes them great hunting dogs. Labradors are great hunting companions because of their natural retrieving and swimming abilities. But both breeds originated in Europe. The following are four of the best hunting companions in the world that were born right here in the USA.
The ancestors of coonhounds can be traced back to dogs imported from England. President George Washington loved fox hunting, so he had hounds imported from England to assist him on his trips. But raccoons were also a popular target for hunters at the time. Foxhounds had a tendency to lose the scent of a raccoon when they ran up trees to escape, according to the United Kennel Club. A decade of careful breeding and adaptation to America’s rugged terrain produced what is today the American Coonhound.
Rookie hunters particularly like older coonhounds who have already been on several hunts. They’ll do all the hard work for you so all that’s left to execute is an accurate shot. Once you’ve been on a few hunts with your old partner, bring a puppy coonhound along so it can learn from the veteran. Coonhound pups are trainable without a mentor, but it will require a lot of patience and bonding to ensure a fruitful partnership months later.
Coonhounds are such an American staple that Alabama hunter Key Underwood established his Coon Dog memorial graveyard in 1937 for his hunting pal Troop. Today it is the resting place of nearly 300 deceased coonhounds.
The hunter education course required for a license in North Carolina doesn’t mandate hunters use Plott hounds as their gun dog. But you wouldn’t know it by the state’s unabashed admiration for the breed, for good reason.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized Plott hounds as a distinct breed in 2006. They were first bred by German settlers who hunted wild boars in the Appalachian Mountains. They’re a favorite of hunters because of their tracking and fighting abilities. The latter comes in particularly handy for bear hunting.
Plott hounds are highly intelligent and easy to train, as long as you start to train them fairly young.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The state dog of Maryland is not only named after one of the most important battles of the American Revolution, but happens to be one of thebest water retrievers ever bred.
The first Chesapeakes were born when two Newfoundlands were rescued from a wrecked British cargo ship in 1807, and bred with Otter hounds and other local Maryland breeds, according to the American Kennel Club. They quickly became the preferred dog for waterfowl hunters in the area. Chesapeakes are particularly adept to swimming in icy waters, and have the ability to retrieve up to 200 fowl in a day if given the opportunity.
American Water Spaniel
The origins of these highly-skilled swimmers will differ depending on who you ask. But it’s generally accepted that American Water Spaniels were first bred in Wisconsin sometime in the mid-1800s. They are also Wisconsin’s official state dog.
Water Spaniels are great gun dogs because they’re always ready and eager for the next hunting trip. They are particularly good flushing dogs and have muzzles long enough to retrieving the largest of fowl. The American Kennel club reports that Water Spaniels were also the first dogs bred to retrieve from boats in America.
Their intelligence, enthusiasm, and willingness to please makes them a no-brainer choice for duck and goose hunters.