Skilled hunting dogs come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Prized for their prowess in the field, good hunting dogs are just as comfortable as they are at home, where they may be the companions of adults, kids and other pets. Many breeds have potential to excel as waterfowl dogs, depending upon their temperament and physical capabilities as well as their desire to please their handlers.
Top 10 Waterfowl Dog Breeds
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
The energetic, friendly Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is a small retriever who possesses all the endearing disposition qualities of his larger cousins. He is energetic, friendly and affectionate, patient with children in the home and happiest while at work. The "toller," as he is affectionately called, thrives on praise and may seem worried or depressed when not working. According to the American Kennel Club, the toller's specialty is luring waterfowl through playful interactions with his human companions. When the curiosity of the birds encourages them to swim close to shore, the hunter can take aim. The toller will then retrieve the wounded or dead bird.
Known among canine enthusiasts as versatile, athletic and intelligent dogs, retrievers can make excellent family pets as well as tireless hunting companions. The outgoing Labrador retriever is a popular choice for hunters and families alike, beloved for his willingness to please, his weather-resistant coat and his ability to get along with everyone.
The golden retriever isn't just pretty to look at, he's a serious contender when it comes to retrieving game birds. He's also a devoted family companion, making him the AKC's third most-popular breed.
The tough and tenacious Chesapeake Bay retriever takes to training easily, and is a loyal, protective pet in the home. He is athletic and versatile, capable of hunting on land or in water in all weather.
Spaniels aren't hardy enough for retrieving waterfowl in cold weather, but their energy and persistence make them fun-loving, tireless hunting partners. The English springer spaniel is a hard worker with a steady head while in the field, according to the AKC. At home, he's obedient and friendly.
The durable Boykin spaniel, the state dog of South Carolina, is smaller than the springer but wide in the body. His eagerness in the field makes him a natural choice for hunters. The Boykin spaniel was bred for working in water and is equipped with webbed toes that help him swim with ease. He is friendly, lovable and easy to train.
The slightly smaller English cocker spaniel displays a merry disposition and a joyful approach to field work. Though energetic, he is more laid back than the other spaniel types. He is too small, however, to retrieve large birds.
Pointers and Brittanys
Retrieving waterfowl may not be their forte, but some pointing dogs are capable on land as well as in the water. The German wirehaired pointer is one of these, displaying intelligence and independence along with boundless energy and creativity. When consistently socialized with supervision, the German wirehaired pointer can be a devoted family companion. He is known to retrieve well from the land and the water, according to American Hunter.
The pudelpointer, a heavy pointing dog, is a cross between a German hunting poodle and an English pointer. The pudelpointer is a strong, loyal and affectionate hunting companion. He displays self-control in the field and excels in retrieving game on land and in the water.
The Brittany, a gun dog developed in France over centuries, is a favorite of hunters and is prized for his abilities on land and in the water. He is intelligent and agile, possessing a willingness to please his handlers. At home, he is the fun-loving companion of children and easily accepts other pets and people.