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19 Bird Hunting Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

black retriever hunting duck

19 Bird Hunting Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Bird-hunting dog breeds need to be alert and energetic. They also need to have a degree of independence while also listening to commands given to them by the hunter. While some bird dogs will flush out birds for the hunter, others point them out, and yet more will retrieve downed game.

Many dog breeds were originally bred to assist in bird hunting. Below you will find 19 bird-hunting dog breeds.

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The 19 Bird Hunting Dog Breeds

1. Boykin Spaniel

boykin spaniel with bird
Image Credit: Cade Landers, Shutterstock
Height: 14–18 inches
Weight: 25–40 pounds
Lifespan: 14–16 years

Bred in South Carolina in the early 20th century, the Boykin Spaniel was used to hunt ducks, turkeys, and waterfowl. It gets its name from the town of Boykin which, in turn, got its name from the town founder, Lemuel Whitaker Boykin. The breed was created by crossing various spaniel breeds and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and it has become popular across the US. The dog has webbed feet for improved movement in water. It also has a powerful sense of smell and is sweet-natured with its humans.

2. Bracco Italiano

Bracco Italiano standing in grass
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock
Height: 22–26 inches
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Lifespan: 12–13 years

The Bracco Italiano, or Italian Pointer, is an ancient breed, with origins dating back to the fourth century B.C. It was used to flush birds into nets and when guns were introduced, it turned its skills to the retrieval of downed birds. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the breed was introduced to the US and the UK and it was only accepted by the AKC in 2001.

3. Brittany

Image Credit: Andrew Williams, Shutterstock
Height: 17–20 inches
Weight: 30–40 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Brittany is a French pointer breed that originates from the Brittany region and was first bred at least as early as the 17th century, although its history is likely longer than this. They were something of an-rounder in the bird hunting world, flushing, hunting, and retrieving. They have an acute sense of smell, are quick and athletic, and are built to run through thick brush. They found their way to the US in the 1930s and were accepted by the AKC in 1934.

4. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

male Chesapeake Bay Retriever outdoor
Image Credit: MH STOCK, Shutterstock
Height: 23–26 inches
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever hails from Virginia and Maryland, where it was developed in the 19th century to retrieve game and also to help with other tasks like pulling fishing nets in. They are said to be bred from Newfoundlands and a combination of retrievers, spaniels, and hounds. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a thick coat that helps it hunt in cold winter Cheseape waters. They have webbed feet, are strong and muscular, and they were one of the first breeds to be registered in the US with formal recognition from the AKC offered in 1884.

5. Cocker Spaniel

curly cocker spaniel jack russell mix standing in the forest
Image Credit: iStock24, Shutterstock
Height: 14–15 inches
Weight: 28–34 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Cocker Spaniel originates from Spain sometime around the 14th century. It is a relatively small bird-hunting breed. The original Spaniel breed was divided into Springer and Field Spaniels. Field Spaniels became known first as Cocking Spaniels and then as Cocker Spaniels. They are excellent at scenting and despite their small size, they are well-equipped to carry large game back to their handlers.

6. Curly Coated Retriever

Black Curly-Coated Retriever
Image Credit: nika174, Shutterstock
Height: 25–27 inches
Weight: 65–80 pounds
Lifespan: 9–14 years

Originating in England in the 19th century, the Curly Coated Retriever was first bred as a general-purpose bird-hunting dog. Although early examples of the breed had somewhat wavy hair, Poodles were introduced to the line in the late 19th century, which brought the curly coat that they are now known for. The coat keeps them warm in cold water and also protects against injury from thickets and thick brush. They are hardworking dogs but they need to be given a job to do or they can become bored.

7. English Pointer

english pointer_No-longer-here_Pixabay
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay
Height: 23–28 inches
Weight: 45–75 pounds
Lifespan: 12–17 years

The English Pointer is an English breed although it is likely that it was bred from Spanish, Portuguese, or French Pointers. The first English Pointers were heavy-set dogs, but these were bred with Greyhounds to reduce the size and increase the speed of the breed. The breed traveled to the US in the late 19th century and is well known for being a hard worker that can turn its attention to any bird-hunting task.

8. English Setter

English Setter dog
Image Credit: Zelma Brezinska, Shutterstock
Height: 25–27 inches
Weight: 45–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years

The English Setter is an old breed, having originated in England in the 14th century. It was used to collect game from the water and on land. The English Setter was first recognized by the AKC in 1878. When they were first used for hunting, Setters would lie down when they found their quarry, waiting for the hunter. When guns were used, the Setter became skilled at pointing.

9. English Springer Spaniel

Wet English Springer Spaniel
Image Credit: louisewalker4, Pixabay
Height: 18–21 inches
Weight: 40–50 pounds
Lifespan: 10–14 years

The English Springer Spaniel is another old breed and another with its origins in England. Bred in the 14th century from Spanish Spaniels, they were used to locate birds in long grass and then flush them out. They are known for their “spring” and they are considered very eager to please and generally easy to train. Spaniels are also known for having a “soft mouth,” which means they can pick up birds without damaging the carcass.

10. German Shorthaired Pointer

Image Credit: Burry van den Brink, Shutterstock
Height: 21–25 inches
Weight: 45–70 pounds
Lifespan: 12–14 years

The German Shorthaired Pointer was first bred in Germany in the 19th century and was used to point and retrieve birds in water and on land. It is a medium-sized breed but is muscular and strong, athletic and determined. It made its way to the US in the 1920s and was recognized by the AKC in 1930. They have webbed feet and can work long days in the field. When they aren’t working, they need a lot of exercise to ensure they are busy.

11. German Wirehaired Pointer

German Wirehaired Pointer outdoors
Image Credit: Drazen Boskic PHOTO, Shutterstock
Height: 18–26 inches
Weight: 50–70 pounds
Lifespan: 12–14 years

The German Wirehaired Pointer is very similar and closely related to the German Shorthaired Pointer. The main difference is in the coat. Where the Shorthaired Pointer has a short coat, the Wirehaired Pointer has a wiry coat. This coat helped protect the breed against thorns and sharp brush. Otherwise, it has the same webbed feet as the Shorthaired and the same ability to hunt.

12. Golden Retriever

Golden retriever wagging his tail
Image Credit: Hollysdogs, Shutterstock
Height: 21–24 inches
Weight: 55–75 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the world, and while it might be best known as a guide dog, therapy dog, or service dog today, it was originally bred to retrieve game. It was first developed in Scotland in the 19th century. Its long coat kept the dog warm and protected it while hunting in the difficult Scottish terrain. Today’s Golden Retriever is quick to learn, eager to please, and loves being given a task to perform.

13. Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter dog standing
Image Credit: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock
Height: 23–27 inches
Weight: 45–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years

The Gordon Setter is a large setter breed and it originates from the UK where it was first bred in the 17th century. The breed is highly determined and has excellent stamina levels. Its size also means that it is powerful and muscular. The AKC officially recognized the breed in 1884 and changed its name from Gordon Castle Setter to Gordon Setter in 1892.

14. Irish Setter

irish setter standing in the field
Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock
Height: 25–27 inches
Weight: 60–70 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Irish Setter was bred in the 19th century, in Ireland, where it was bred to have a strong sense of smell and agility. It is a fast breed that is especially skilled at covering lots of flat ground. It is well known for its red coat, although the original breed had a red and white coat before the white was bred out. The glossy coat does serve a purpose, repelling water and helping keep this setter dry. The Irish Setter was officially recognized by the AKC in 1878. The breed is strong, athletic, fast, and has a good sense of smell.

15. Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever with duck
Image Credit: Lauren Pretorius, Shutterstock
Height: 22–25 inches
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years

The Labrador Retriever was first bred in the 19th century and originates from Newfoundland. The breed did retrieve birds for hunters but also retrieved fish. It is at home in the water and having been bred with British hunting breeds, it has lots of stamina as well as strength, is intelligent, and eager to please. The Labrador Retriever is another breed that is more commonly used as a search and rescue dog, guide dog, or therapy dog today but still has the skills to be an efficient bird hunter.

16. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova scotia duck tolling retriever
Image Credit: Sonja Kalee, Pixabay
Height: 17–21 inches
Weight: 35–50 pounds
Lifespan: 12–14 years

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a somewhat unusual bird-hunting technique. It would play with a ball or stick, attracting the attention of game birds that would fly toward the playing dog. At this point, the hunter would stand from a hidden position causing the birds to fly away and giving the hunter the chance to down them. Then, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever would retrieve the birds from the water.

17. Poodle

Poodle puppy ready for Hunting
Image Credit: Nitik,Shutterstock
Height: 7–24 inches
Weight: 20–70 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Poodle is perhaps best known as a show dog today, gracing rings and exhibitions around the world. However, the breed was originally bred to hunt birds. It was bred in Germany, although later became the national breed of France. Its name means to splash in water, which points to its skill in and love for water. The curly coat protects against water and physical damage while the breed is known for being highly intelligent.

18. Vizsla

magyar vizsla dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Lena_Sokolova, Shutterstock
Height: 20–24 inches
Weight: 50–60 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Vizsla is an ancient breed and its history can be traced back to Hungary at around 1,000 B.C. It is a fast and very versatile hunting dog, and it did not arrive in the US until around 1950, gaining formal recognition in 1960. The breed is strong but surprisingly fast and agile, has an excellent sense of smell, and is commonly used as a guide dog or service dog because it likes to be given tasks to perform and is unwavering in its completion of those tasks.

19. Wirehaired Griffon

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon running in the field
Image Credit: nicolasdecorte, Shutterstock
Height: 20–24 inches
Weight: 35–70 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon originated in the Netherlands in the 19th Century and was used to hunt, point, and retrieve game. It was bred to work a variety of different terrains and as well as having a water-repellent coat, the Wirehaired Griffon also has an exceptional sense of smell and is skilled in the water. The Wirehaired Griffon gained formal recognition from the AKC in 1887.

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Dogs are not used in bird hunting as commonly today as they once were, but the skills and characteristics of these breeds make them excellent as service dogs and in other professional settings. They can also make excellent pets, although prospective owners need to be aware of the high energy requirements most of these breeds have, while also looking for ways to keep the dogs busy and entertained.

See Also:

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