Meet Canada’s 16 most popular breeds of hunting dog


Photo: jagdprinzessin/Pixabay



Working dogs don’t come out of the whelping box as champion retrievers, pointers, setters, flushers or hounds. They may be inclined to those skills thanks to their breeding lineage, but focused and regular training must be embraced as part of the sporting dog ownership experience—if you want to have the hunting partner of your dreams. Patience, care, consistency and plenty of exercise are essential elements to producing a solid gun dog. First, though, you need to choose just the right type of dog for your hunting needs, and that’s where finding a reputable breeder comes into play. Here’s how to refine your search.

  1. Know what type of dog you’re looking for. Consider the sliding scale of character traits for the various bloodlines for each breed. Are you looking for a friendly family pet that loves to hunt, or are you looking for a competitive gun dog who only lives for the hunt?
  2. Learn as much as you can to ascertain the quality of breeders. How long have they been involved with the breed? How many litters do they have in a year? What bloodlines and pedigrees have they focused on in their breeding program, and why? Do they train their own dogs for field work? Do they participate in hunt tests? Search for reviews online and ask for references. A series of carefully worded questions should reveal if they’re in it for the love of the breed, or just for the money.
  3. Make the effort to visit the breeder’s facility to meet the dogs and confirm the validity of the operation. More and more people are being scammed online when ordering puppies, so only pay for a dog in person once you’re confident in the breeder’s program.
  4. Ideally, you also want to meet the adult parents of the puppy you’re considering to help assess its temperament and health. A clean operation, where both the puppies and the adults are well cared for, is a good first sign.
  5. Does the breeder have a vetting system for determining who qualifies to purchase a dog? A good breeder will ask questions about you, your dog-owning history, your plans for the new puppy, and your long-term ambitions for the dog. Such an inquiry should seem sincere, not sound like a sales pitch. A quality breeder will want to ensure the best fit for both the puppy and its new owners.
  6. Ask the breeder for proof of health testing for both of the puppy’s parents, such as screening results for potential genetic issues associated with the breed. A puppy is an investment—no one wants to run into expensive vet bills and heartache down the road.
  7. Finally, ask the breeder for a guarantee, and whether it can be provided in writing. Quality breeders should be prepared to stand behind their puppies’ health.

Award-winning wildlife photographer Mark Raycroft has also long specialized in canine portraiture.