Many outdoorsmen know the benefits of having man’s best friend as a hunting partner. Whether you’re a duck hunter, pursue small game or want to find sheds after hunting season ends, it all starts with a quality dog breed. While most canines can be trained to track down antlers, here are a few shed hunting dog breeds you can’t go wrong with.
Labs are ranked by the American Kennel Club as the most popular breed of canine in the United States, and for good reason. Not only do they make some of the finest hunting dogs around, but they quickly fit in as another member of the family. A lab’s nose, temperament and intelligence make it perfect to retrieve game, but perhaps most importantly, these dogs will do just about anything to please their owners. These qualities make the lab one of the best shed hunting dog breeds.
Hardworking and loyal are characteristics that have come to define the Pointer, a favorite of upland hunters dating back to 16th century England. Having been bred specifically for long days afield, a pointer possesses the stamina and desire to keep up with you no matter the pursuit. This breed will quickly learn to use its powerful nose and innate hunting sense to track down antler sheds.
The American Foxhound is born with the instinct to hunt. That’s the easy part. This breed can be stubborn and difficult to train because it’s full of energy. However, its desire to track game will never be quelled. So, start this pup early by introducing him to sheds and you’ll have a capable partner while afield.
The Beagle has the appearance of a miniature American Foxhound, and it shares that breed’s desire for tracking game. Often, due to its natural curiosity, a Beagle will follow its nose and not quit until satisfied. With ample exercise and socialization, this determined breed will prove to be fearless in the field, yet just as comfortable relaxing with your kids on a lazy Sunday.
German Shorthaired Pointer
This breed can perform virtually all gun dog duties with skill, including serving as a pointer or retriever. It’ll bring back a duck, pinpoint a quail and sniff out the antlers from a trophy buck without skipping a beat. While it can be a rambunctious, it’s intelligent and fits in well with a family. With regular exercise, a German Shorthaired Pointer would love to curl up near you on the couch.
The Bloodhound is the quintessential tracking dog, able to even pick up human scents. This rare quality in canines has made the breed a favorite of law enforcement in criminal searches. It also makes them one of the most capable shed hunting dogs. A Bloodhound will follow a scent trail for miles without tiring or losing focus. When you’re not finding sheds, the bloodhound will perfectly fit in with your family due to a kind and patient temperament.
Long viewed as the perfect family pet, which it certainly is, a Golden Retriever was initially bred for retrieving waterfowl and tracking. That’s still what it does best. This canine will use its powerful nose and retrieving instinct to help you track down any sheds. Just don’t expect to use it as a guard dog. It’ll likely lick any strangers to death.
The Weimaraner was bred as a sporting dog and contains a strong prey drive, making it an ideal companion in the field. First-time dog owners may find trouble with training, as the breed requires ample attention and exercise. Without regular human interaction, a Weimaraner can become high strung. Introducing a dog early to training and sheds, coupled with routine activities, will keep you and your pup happy in the woods.
A gun and bird dog, the Pudelpointer is one of the best shed hunting dog breeds thanks to its versatility to track game in various rough conditions. The breed is quick and agile, perfect for mountainous terrain tracking. Like many active dog breeds, the Pudelpointer needs routine exercise every day. It’s loyal to its owner with a strong desire to please, but is a loving, happy dog and takes well to strangers.