Deer hunting runs in North America’s sporting blood. And what screams “deer” more than a beagle (or perhaps even an entire pack of them)? Yes, beagles are, without a doubt, most people’s de-facto deer hunting dog breed, but they are just one of the many great deer hunting dog breeds any hunter can invest in.
With that in mind and without further ado, I’ll skip to the main section of the guide and take a detailed look at some of the best deer hunting dog breeds available today.
Great Deer Hunting Dog Breeds All Hunters Will Appreciate
Of course, general hunting dog breeds can chase any game species. As a seasoned hunter, however, you know that it’s essential to pick the right breed that primarily focuses on the animals you’ll be hunting the most. That’s why I respect your decision to find a specialized hunting dog that can help you track deer.
1. Golden Retrievers
Contrary to popular belief, Golden Retrievers aren’t just regular hunting or family dogs. They’re also one of the most common and popular retrievers considered deer hunting dog breeds, and for good reason.
Golden retrievers can navigate thick forests and even water with extreme ease, thanks to their exceptionally high intelligence. They’re also strong and sturdy, explaining why they love chasing and running after deer.
These dogs’ loyalty, companionship, and happy-go-lucky attitude are all features that every hunter will appreciate while on the road as well. Note, though, that you’ll need to take your Golden Retriever through an exhaustive list of physical exercises to keep him or her in great shape to hunt deer. Actually, this advice applies to every deer hunting dog breed I’ll mention in this detailed guide.
2. Mountain Cur
Honestly, all dog breeds not only enjoy chasing deer, but almost all of them can also be trained to effectively bark up bushy trails and effectively track these tricky animals. Mountain Curs and feists, however, have been specifically bred to do this: and they’re also well known for how enthusiastically they do it.
Brought from Europe to Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas by original settlers, Mountain Curs have historically been used for hunting squirrels, raccoons, deers, and even rabbits. They have also been a registered breed with the United Kennel Club (UKC) since 1998 and have been recognized as an all-around dog that families can use as both hunting and family dogs.
3. Plott Hounds
Just from their name alone, you can deduce that Plott Hounds aren’t just great for tracking and hunting deer.
We, humans, have been perfecting the art of selectively breeding pooches to carry out specific tasks for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years now, and things do not get more specialized than breaking up fall turkeys or flocks.
With that in mind, while Plott Hounds are best known for their great companionship to turkey doggers, it’s pretty hard to argue against these dog breeds’ speed and exceptional ability to track game, particularly deer. Not to mention the Plott Hound’s desire to chase, track, and bark, as well as its stylish looks and biddability.
What’s more? A deer hunting dog breed also needs to be a huge runner with the ability to track both by ground and mid-air while simultaneously using its eyes to spot the deer from a distance. Once the dog breed in question does spot the deer, it also needs the intelligence to burst the deer group into singles and give chase while barking to notify you of the direction of the deer—all these sound like precisely what Plott Hounds were bred for.
As I noted earlier, the beagle is an exceptional scent hound with a loud voice and an extremely sensitive nose. For centuries, this dog breed has been known for its amazing ability to track rabbits. And over the last century, the dog has also been making a name for itself in the deer hunting realm.
Beagles are also one of the few dog breeds that couple as great companions for any kind of household. They are especially great with children and have been known to be quite eager to love and please their hoomans.
5. English Setter
Known for its pointing, running, and deer hunting skills, the English Setter is one of the best gun dogs today. You can even train your English Setter to retrieve, a feature that has also made them excellent for bird-hunting expeditions.
That said, after an increase in Setter’s popularity, experts decided to split these dogs into two distinct categories. These are conformation and field. Conformation setter dogs are more suited as show dogs and pets, thanks to their large frames and long feathers. Field dogs, however, are regarded as the best for deer hunting due to their smaller structures and lightly feathered nature.
6. German Shorthair Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are great hunting dogs on both water and land. That explains why they’re regarded as one of the most versatile hunting dog breeds. For a long time, this dog breed has been best known for its bird-hunting capabilities. That said, they’re also skilled trackers of land mammals like raccoons, opossums, and, most importantly, deer.
The German Shorthair Pointer is also highly intelligent, making it one of the east to train to obey.
Ranging in size from 55 to 80 pounds and 20 to 25 inches tall at the shoulders, pointers’ athleticism is evident just by looking at them. What’s not apparent is their scenting ability, which has repeatedly won them awards as the best deer hunting dog breed.
Also, the German Shorthair Pointer is another dog breed that does not flush game. It instead points to the tracked prey and freezes, which is how the breed got its name.
Great Deer Hunting Dog Breeds – Final Thoughts
So you enjoy scavenging deer? This is the ultimate guide you’ll need to pick one of the great deer hunting dog breeds for your needs. As a general rule of thumb, ensure the dog you pick is energetic and exceptionally intelligent. Both qualities allow the dog to help you determine the location of your target deer, and be highly affectionate both on game routes and back home.
In the meantime, HAPPY HUNTING!