Hunting dog

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A hunting dog refers to a canine that hunts with or for humans. There are several types of hunting dogs developed for various tasks. The major categories of hunting dogs include hounds, terriers, dachshunds, cur type dogs, and gun dogs. Further divisions can be made among these categories based upon the dogs' skill sets.

For a list of breeds of each type, see the detailed articles for each category:

Spaniels definitively fall into two types: ones that seek prey in water and others that seek it on land. Spaniels are the oldest class of gundog in existence, going back at least to the late Renaissance. Flushing spaniels combine hunting, flushing, and retrieving skills. Flushing spaniels that are used in the modern field include the Brittany, the English Springer Spaniel, the slightly smaller Welsh Springer Spaniel, and the field bred American and English Cocker Spaniels. The larger two chiefly are used for retrieveing and flushing game in thick grass or mild underbrush, with the Brittany having working habits closest to later developed pointers. Cocker Spaniels are generally used for thick prickly brush that they can duck, dive and dodge in pursuit of smaller game like rabbits, and Clumbers, Sussex, and Field Spaniels are preferred for their slower, methodical hunting pattern.

The American Water Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, Kooikerhondje, and the Boykin Spaniel are noted for their water work and do very well in temperate water, with the last being adapted to subtropical swamps. They fall into the water spaniel category. Many of these breeds vary their game according to the desires of the hunter: American Water Spaniels are known to be able to go after animals as big as a large goose in the water or the much smaller prairie chicken out of the water. Boykin Spaniels have a coat more closely adapted to the warmer temperatures of the American South whereas Irish Water Spaniels are adapted for cool, damp conditions, hence the curly coat and whiplike tail of the latter.

Like spaniels, hounds generally fall into two types: Sighthounds and scenthounds. The scenthounds are the younger of the two classes. Typical examples of the scenthound family include the Beagle, Bloodhound, members of the Coonhound family, and the Grand Bleu de Gascogne. There is great variety in how this group operates, but the one constant is having some of the strongest noses in dogdom: Bloodhounds have been used for hundreds of years to track both man and beast, sometimes on trails that have been sitting on the ground for days. Members of the coonhound family were originally bred in the American South, a region with terrain that varies from mountains to forest to swamps, and thus require hounds with very versatile abilities. They are still used to this day to hunt many different kinds of beasts, ranging in size from the squirrel to the American black bear, so accordingly they are bred for great stamina in multiple terrain, on water and land (all are excellent swimmers,) a loud booming bark that can carry for miles, an ability to defend themselves against animals that can fight back violently, an ability to work singly or in packs, and a short coat that pairs well with a humid subtropical climate. Beagles have been bred in the British Isles since at least the 16th century as rabbit and fox hunters who will relentlessly pursue the scent of prey even when it goes to ground and were originally intended to work in large packs: they have a gregarious temperament. A Grand Bleu de Gascogne is a very large breed of scenthound that is also quite old: it was a common dog for noblemen to use in their hunting parties and also was a pack hunter; many scenthounds in France were kept by wealthy men to trail quarry on private estates and today it still sees use for slow, methodical hunts of medium-sized game.

Sighthounds are different from scenthounds in their methods and adaptations. The long, lean head of the sighthound gives it a greater degree of binocular vision, and the body is usually quite slender with an elongated lower spine, giving a double suspension gallop when it runs. In many cases this class is older than the scenthound group: the greyhound, the Scottish Deerhound, and the Saluki have origins going well back into the Middle Ages and earlier. Their speed, agility and visual acuity are particularly adapted for coursing game in open meadows or steppes, and all of them are adapted for running down prey rather than just sniffing for them until they catch up. They are independent in nature, and are worked singly or in a "brace" of two or three dogs. Sighthounds are generally quiet and placid dogs compared to other hunting breeds, but are capable of explosive speed. The Irish Wolfhound, a member of this group, is noted for its very quiet demeanor and love of a good rest by the fireplace, but for hundreds of years it was used for coursing and killing wolves; its long legs would chase the wolf until it was worn out. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are one of the few hound breeds with both capabilities, and, though they are not the fastest runners, they are notable for having exceptionable endurance.

This page was last edited on 5 June 2018, at 18:12 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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