Nowadays, most dogs are either considered family members, or companions, but most breeds of dogs were developed in order to accomplish certain jobs, and a good portion of those breed were created for hunting a variety of game.
Hounds are breeds which have been developed to track by scent or sight and chase prey. In many cases the chase ends up in a kill by a single or pack of hounds.
Sighthounds: Sighthounds are fast runners, and use their superior visual abilities to spot prey from afar, and use their exceptional speed to chase and overtake their target, killing it without aid from a human hunter. Some famous examples of sighthounds include Greyhound and the Irish Wolfhound.
Scent Hounds: Their primary mode of finding prey is through scent. Scent hounds are used to track game, which is sometimes followed by a kill. The chase can sometimes end in a kill, especially if the hunting is happening with a pack of hounds. Examples of breeds in this category include the Beagle, and Bloodhound.
Lurchers: A subcategory of sighthounds, Lurchers are a cross between a sighthound and working breed.
Gun dogs, often referred to as bird dogs, are hunting dogs which have been bred to have heightened capabilities for finding and retrieving small game (most often birds). There are three main categories of gun dogs: pointers, retrievers, and flushing dogs.
Retrievers: As the name suggests, retriever breeds are great at finding game that has already been taken and return them to the hunter without damaging it. The ability to not damage the game is bred into these dogs by giving them a ‘soft mouth’. The most popular dogs in the world are retriever breeds which include the Labrador Retriever, and the Golden Retriever.
Setters: Similar to pointers, setter breeds search for prey by using scent, and once they pinpoint a target, unlike hounds, they stay still instead of chasing, allowing the hunter to arrive to (hopefully) take the quarry by flushing and shooting with a shotgun. The most well-known setter breeds are the Irish Setter, and the English Setter.
Spaniels: These breeds of dog have been developed to flush game from dense brush, and work in close proximity of hunters (within gun range) so that when flushing game, the hunter has the ability to take the flushed quarry. Well-known spaniel breeds include the Cocker Spaniel, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Pointers: The most widely used gun dog for finding and hunting small game, the pointer breeds find and point (with their muzzle) towards game, and freezing in place allowing the hunter to arrive, flush, and take the quarry. The most well-known pointer breeds include the English Pointer (simply called the Pointer), and the German Shorthaired Pointer.
Water Dogs: The water dog breeds have been developed to flush and also retrieve game from water. They often have great resilience against cold weather. There is somewhat of an overlap with other breed categories, particularly retrievers. The most well-known water dogs include the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever, and the Standard Poodle.
Feist dogs were developed in the Southern United States for hunting small game, particularly squirrels. Feist dogs generally track prey and bark up trees waiting for the hunter to arrive. There are no well-known breeds of Feist dogs, but the category includes the Buckley Feist, and the Atomic Feist.
Terriers are most often used to hunt (small) mammals. They locate animal (usually in their den) and hold their position until a hunter can arrive. Terriers may also capture or kill the prey once it has been found, and even go underground into a den in order to drive out or kill game. Well-known terrier breeds include the Jack Russel Terrier, and the Boston Terrier.
Similar to Terrier breeds, curs are bred to hunt mammals; however, in the case of curs, they are developed to hunt larger game including boars, cougars, and other large game. Curs are another category of lesser-known breeds which includes the Black Mouth Cur, and Black and Tan Coonhound.
Meaning ‘badger dog’ in German, the Dachshund was developed for hunting burrowing animals including badgers and rabbits. They find prey through scent, and chase or flush game for the hunter to take. Dachshunds come in a variety of types, mostly differentiated through coat (and size), and include the wirehaired dachshund, and the black and tan miniature dachshund.