10 Duck Hunting Dog Breeds

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: June 9, 2023
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Dogs are really man’s best friend. They have been selectively bred for thousands of years to carry out particular jobs, such as guarding, hunting, herding, or helping on fields.

From working, sporting, and toy groups to terrier, hound, and non-sporting groups, dogs are bred based on their dispositions, physical looks, and genes. While breeds in the Hound group are best adapted for hunting, dogs in the Toy group are classified based on their small size. Working dog breeds are used for routine, everyday duties, whereas Sporting group dogs are known for their retrieval ability, which allows them to help hunters.

For hundreds of years, dog breeds such as retrievers, setters, and spaniels have been trained to be our companions during hunting expeditions. As such, their innate ability, enthusiasm, and instinct can be applied to duck hunting. 

As crucial as any other decision you make when selecting gear and equipment is picking the suitable breed of dog for duck hunting. It’s important to choose a dog breed that has the right amount of endurance, trainability, drive, energy, and water resistance for a successful duck hunting experience. 

Looking for the best possible duck hunting dog that can keep you company and increase your chances of success when out on hunts? You should consider taking any of the 10 dog breeds on this list. 

10 Duck Hunting Dog Breeds

#1 Labrador Retriever

Yellow Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers’ webbed feet, thick coats, and rudder-like tails make them capable swimmers


What’s not to love about the most popular dog breed in America? With their sociable, energetic, and outgoing nature, Labs make excellent family pets as well as duck hunters. They are also ideal as service and police dogs. 

Although this breed originated in Newfoundland in the 1800s, it gained recognition in Britain in 1903 where it was trained as a sporting dog for upland game and waterfowl hunting. Labrador Retrievers also became popular as a hunting breed in the United States following the Second World War.

You can tell they like water by their webbed feet, thick coat, and rudder-like tail. Due to their concentration, obedience, and retrieval ability, Labs guarantee an excellent duck hunting experience.

#2 American Water Spaniel

Irish water spaniel - regal in the field

Water spaniels come with waterproof coats, padded feet, and even have webbed toes

©Julie Morrish/Shutterstock.com

From its name, you can guess that this mid-sized gundog breed is one with the water. In fact, swimming and hunting are two of their favorite activities. They are perfect for any form of hunting because they were bred to be an all-purpose hunting dog, and are equally skilled in water as on land.

The American Water Spaniel is a duck hunting breed native to the upper Midwest lake country. This breed is ideal for a variety of dog activities due to its thick, waterproof coat, generously padded feet, and webbed toes

Despite their modest appearance, they have retrieving instincts that can compete with the greatest Retrievers around. They merge the hunting abilities of retrievers and spaniels.

#3 Golden Retriever

Golden retriever stands on the grass and looks forward

Golden retrievers’ tender mouths ensure they are able to return prey undamaged

©Burin P/Shutterstock.com

Golden coat, muscular gait, and a solid work ethic. It’s no surprise that the Golden Retriever is one of America’s most popular dog breeds.

Not only are Goldens adept hunters, but they are also excellent family dogs since they are easy to train, loyal, eager to please, and energetic. They also serve as blind guides and in search and rescue operations.

The Golden Retrievers are unique in many ways. Thanks to their tender mouth, they can return prey swiftly and undamaged. Having a sharp sense of smell is crucial for both hunting and retrieving, and Goldens are well known among duck hunters for this trait. 

They always relish a hunting adventure because they are great swimmers, and they enjoy taking part in hunting contests.

#4 Standard Poodle


Standard poodles are renowned for their intelligence and ability to remain in water for a long time


Surprised to find Poodle on the list? This breed is a classic example of “never judging a book by its cover.” Understandably, it may seem out of place among Retrievers and Spaniels, but the Poodle was originally trained for hunting. 

Standard Poodles are excellent water retrievers and highly clever dogs, giving them a unique opportunity to develop into outstanding duck hunting canines. It’s important to reiterate that the breed in question is Standard Poodle, not the miniature toy Poodles. The hunting abilities of miniature poodles, which are bred as household pets, are far inferior to those of standard poodles. 

Due to the placement of their hair around the joints and upper torso, which shields the Standard Poodle’s body from water, they can readily wade into the water. The thick hair makes it ideal for spending prolonged amounts of time in cold water.

Standard Poodles are observant, alert, and energetic. After a tiring day of hunting, they can return home to spend time cuddling and playing with you. 

#5 German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer in the Woods

German Shorthaired Pointers are renowned for their strength, endurance, and speed.


Midway through the 19th century, the German Shorthaired Pointer was bred in Germany as a hunting dog. This versatile breed possesses an incredible balance of strength, endurance, and speed, which contributes to its famed title as “all-rounder” within duck hunting communities. They will feel totally at home outdoors, on the water, or just lounging about the house with the family.

They were given their name due to their “pointing ability”, which allowed hunters to easily retrieve their prey because it showed them exactly where it had landed. They also have webbed feet and a waterproof coat, making them particularly well suited for water.

Although these dogs make wonderful companions, they need a lot of physical activity, much like other sporting dogs.  

#6 Deutsch Drahthaar

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon vs German Wirehaired Pointer

Deutsch Drahthaars are renowned for their lovable nature and excellent hunting skills


The Deutsch Drahthaars are an entirely different breed with high intelligence and energy levels, these dogs resemble German Wirehairs in appearance. They are excellent hunting dogs with a long history of helping hunters in Germany. Deutsch Drahthaars are good at finding ducks both on land and in the water.

Due to its water-repellent coat, this type is ideal for hunting near streams where swimming is required. Two of their valuable traits are that they love kids and are jovial, when not hunting. They are easy to train and maintain year-round because of their innate hunting instincts.

#7 Brittany

Beautiful Brittany portrait with an old wooden background.


dogs are skilled swimmers, excellent watchdogs, and enjoy loads of attention

©Kerrie T/Shutterstock.com

Since the 1940s, when this breed was first brought to the United States, it has enjoyed popularity as a companion and sports dog. Brittany, the beautifully patterned and trainable breed of French descent, is skilled as both land and water hunter.

As enthusiastic sports dogs and good swimmers, they are capable of assisting you with duck hunts. Their vigor and athleticism also help them excel in competitions.

When not working, Brittanys enjoy giving and receiving love and attention, In addition, they make good watchdogs when they’re at home.

#8 English Springer Spaniel

Prettiest / Cutest Dogs - English Springer Spaniel

English springer spaniels make up for what they lack in size with their intelligence and energy

©Martin Christopher Parker/Shutterstock.com

The English Springer Spaniel is one of the most coveted bird dogs. Its name came from its proficiency at “springing” out prey. Spaniels from the same breed were split into “cockers” and “springers” in the late 19th century. Thus, those springers were the ancestors of the English Springer Spaniel. This breed used to participate and still gets involved in competitive field trials.

Despite being smaller than other canines commonly used for hunting, they make up for their diminutive size with their great energy, dense waterproof coat, sharp instincts, endurance, and intelligence. They are also perfect for retrieving waterfowl without causing damage.

#9 Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Purebred brown and white Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are capable of luring ducks closer to the vicinity of the hunter


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a dog that was first developed in the 19th century in Nova Scotia and was crossed with a number of other closely related breeds. 

As reflected in its name, this breed is famous for tempting gullible ducks into close proximity for shooting. Usually, ducks would be attracted to the seashore by the dogs’ playful temperament and wagging tails, where they would be within reach of the hunters. 

Thanks to their origin in cold climates and waterproof double coats, Tollers are undoubtedly ideal for duck hunting.

#10 Vizsla

regal Vizsla outside in grass

The Vizsla originated from Hungary.

©iStock.com/Anna Pozzi

This is a sporting breed that was developed in medieval Hungary as a hawking dog. Their pointing and retrieving abilities made them a natural transfer for use as gundogs, and upland game, rabbit, and waterfowl hunters immediately adopted them.

Vizslas are exceedingly energetic and intensely driven. They are also quite affectionate and easy to train.

Summary of 10 Duck Hunting Dog Breeds

1Labrador Retriever
2American Water Spaniel
3Golden Retriever
4Standard Poodle
5German Shorthaired Pointer
6Deutsch Drahthaar
8 English Springer Spaniel
9Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Table of 10 Duck Hunting Dog Breeds

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rosa Jay/Shutterstock.com


  1. Hepper, Available here: https://www.hepper.com/duck-hunting-dog-breeds/
  2. Masterclass, Available here: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/dog-breed-guide
  3. AKC, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/american-water-spaniel/
  4. Pet Keen, Available here: https://petkeen.com/top-duck-hunting-dog-breeds/
  5. Ducks, Available here: https://www.ducks.org/hunting/retriever-training/top-ten-retrievers
  6. Dogs Planet, Available here: https://www.dogsplanet.com/en/adopt/duck-hunting-dogs/
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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which state has the best duck hunting?

With approximately 1.1 million ducks caught annually, averaging 16.6 ducks per hunter, Arkansas has one of the best success rates for duck hunting. In the early hours of the hunting season, a lot of ducks and hunters find themselves in flooded timberlands. Stuttgart, a town in Arkansas is lovingly called the “Duck Capital of the World.”

What time of the year is best for duck hunting?

The time of year has an impact on waterfowl activity. Typically, the mid-fall cold fronts are the best time of year to hunt waterfowl. The optimum times to hunt will depend on the type of duck being hunted and the hunting area, though.

Should you duck hunt in the rain?

True, the weather is really important when it comes to duck hunting. Contrary to the general assumption, wind and light rain are unlikely to hinder your success while hunting.

In fact, a little rain and wind may provide you with more opportunities. As the ducks become less frightened and begin to fly lower,  thinking they can’t be seen in such poor weather.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.