Hunting dogs have been a very popular variety of pets owned by enthusiasts. Hunting birds has been a royal hobby in the past, but in modern times too, this activity makes for a very good exercise for athletic, agile and intelligent dogs.
Generally, two types of hunting grounds are specified, which are suited for different types of hunting dog breeds.
Wetland hunting includes waterlogged areas, lakes, lowlands with plenty of running water, whereas upland hunting is a haven for many fast creatures like rabbits, strong, ferocious animals like boars/wild pigs, and even animals & birds that are great at camouflage.
Quails, which are small, lightweight birds with really frail bodies, are abundant in uplands. Here is a list of some of the best dogs built especially for quail hunting. The key features we have kept in mind while compiling this list are
The dog needs to have enough agility to run behind these small but fast little birds.
To keep up with the quails’ fluttering and flying, your dog needs to have a good deal of strength and stamina. Good musculature and flexibility enables them to pursue quails without getting tired out.
- Good instincts
A dog with great instincts is an invaluable dog. Most pointers are endowed with great instincts, but other dogs also have keen sight, smell and hearing, that makes them great at hunting quail.
- High trainability
Your dog ideally should not run amok and should be trained well to ensure he doesn’t get into unforeseen circumstances while hunting quail.
- Jaw power
A very important aspect for retrievers, soft jaw strength is required for quail hunting dogs because of the small size of the bird. It’s easy for a stronger dog to tear into the flesh right upon catching a bird, but the aim is to not damage the quail.
Before we proceed, let us take a moment to understand some of the specialities of hunting dog breeds.
These dogs are great at picking up scents and trailing them to the source. Some of these dogs also have good hearing. When they identify a familiar scent, they freeze their bodies in a particular orientation, indicating (“pointing”) to the owner where the hunt is.
These dogs are great at sniffing out the prey (“flushing”) from their hiding place. It might be by digging out animals from underground burrows, compelling creatures hidden in thick bushes or thorns towards the hunter, or even chasing up at birds hidden on trees.
3. Gun dogs/retrievers
Retrievers have a soft jaw strength, which is great for them to “retrieve” objects without physically harming them.
4. Sighthounds and scent hounds
These hounds have specific senses that they rely on for hunting. As their names suggest, sighthounds have great eyesight, while scent hounds have heightened sense of smell.
Let us now look at 8 of the best breeds for hunting quail!
Cute, energetic and playful, beagles are scent hounds with great flushing abilities. They can cover a large area of land without tiring out easily. Given their high amount of energy, it’s pretty difficult to housetrain them, but they are insanely friendly. They have been traditionally used to flush out small game, but they’re known to catch quail as well.
2. Irish Setter
A truly elegant, handsome dog with a red chestnut-mahogany red coat, the Irish Setter is known for its excellent hunting instincts. The Irish setter is gifted with speed and superior scent tracking, which makes it excellent at tracking & hunting, retrieving and pointing. While it’s built to hunt small game, it can be trained easily to hunt quail as well.
3. Labrador retriever
The medium-sized gundog is an excellent wetland hunter. However, it’s also capable of upland quail hunting. With its black to chocolate brown dense water-resistant coat, it’s a versatile dog that has excellent pointing, flushing and retrieving skills, both in water and on dry ground. They are of excellent build and physical health, making them adaptable to almost every environment.
This beautiful dog with graceful features originated in Germany. He has an athletic, agile body that makes it great for hunting a wide range of prey, and not just the little quail. When trained, he makes for a loyal, intelligent gun dog. This “Silver Ghost” was a highly sought-after breed for his guarding capabilities as well, so you can without a doubt let him accompany your woodland trips!
5. Golden retriever
This happy, energetic dog with a strong and athletic build is a friendly addition to your family. Predominantly known in India as a homely companion, this dog was cross-bred from a retriever and water spaniel to assist hunters in long-range retrieval of fowl. This dog has an extremely soft and gentle jaw grip, which can even hold an egg without breaking it. So, this makes the golden retriever a good hunting dog for quail.
6. Vizsla (Hungarian Pointer)
The Vizsla is a graceful, rust-golden-brown coated pointer with a light, athletic build. The musculature is well-developed and sturdy, giving it flex and streamlined agility that makes it suitable for vast expanses of hunting grounds. These canines are extremely well-suited for hot, humid climatic conditions like in India. Excellent at tracking, retrieving and pointing, Vizslas are a versatile breed that can effectively adapt on different terrains for quail hunting.
7. English Springer spaniel
The Springer is a larger spaniel that is used for detecting quail and game birds in tall grass or thorny bushes, flushing or “springing” them from their hiding places, and then pointing and retrieving the prey reliably. Developed as a companion gundog, he is a popular sporting companion. Well-built for long field trips, this breed is tough, muscular and yet with an easily trusting countenance. The Springer has a smooth, sweeping stride that makes it a fast hunter. This cute doggo is highly trainable, with awesome levels of energy, stamina, intelligence, and “rear-drive” movement.
The Brittany is a small dog: referred to as a “pocket pointer”, she is at par with English or German origin hunting dogs with her speed, energy and purposefulness. The breed has an excellent sense of scent tracking and retrieving. Don’t be fooled by its size and playful antics, because the amount of prey it can put on the table is generously high. The Brittany is a French-origin mixture of a pointer and a spaniel, with dominant pointers like traits, good musculature and long legs. Her high stamina and agility make her versatile and adaptable to rough, challenging terrains and weather.
All hunting dogs are active, loyal and make for good family companions. However, they need agility and intensive stamina training to build themselves up for hunting. Quail hunting is one of the most popular ways for you to take your prized pooch out of doors and engage them in physical activities.
Not only this, it gives you a chance to build a great bond with your buddy. Test out the training commands you have been teaching them at home, in one whole day out at the field. A truly productive day outdoors will also consist of you patting them and offering positive reinforcement.