The History Behind Hunting With Dogs

It has been said that even 20,000 years before now prehistoric man partnered up with canines for hunting. How this occurred exactly, is still unknown. However, what has been discovered is murals, cave paintings and various evidence found in archaeological pieces that suggest that the partnership started around the time when humans started to organize themselves.

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In earlier years hunter-gatherer groups made use of dogs for hunting small game and fowl. In these times it was believed that these dogs were types of domesticated wolves that were proficient in spotting and then flushing out the target. This often meant that animals were harassed and chased till they collapsed from exhaustion. It would be at this point that the humans would finish off the job using weapons such as arrows, stone knives and spears.

Egyptians used Molossian type dogs that were extremely large in order to hunt a diverse selection of animals that included large game. The Egyptians are believed to be one of the first groups of people that began breeding dogs specifically for hunting purposes. The sight-hounds and Mastiff dogs were refined and developed and have become extremely prolific today. Over expanses of desert, Egyptians valued there dogs highly for their refined skills in sourcing and sighting game.

Romans and Greeks who were known for having lots of time on their hands due to their specific lifestyles, devoted their attention and time to breeding certain types of dogs in order to hunt with them. The hunting style changed as the humans changed and soon they trained their dogs to hunt nuisance and sport animals. Some of these animals included large cats, lions, bears and wolves. In fact in these times hunting was described as a type of elitist function. This meant that in this society and many others hunting was purely reserved for aristocracy. Various nobles often requested when they were dying that a portrait of their favorite hunting hound should be engraved onto their tomb and sometimes even have the dog buried alongside them.

Hunting with dogs became a widespread phenomenon throughout the era of the middle-ages. This resulted in highly specialized dogs. Below are a few of these groups who have established extremely strong bloodlines.

•Sight Hounds

These dogs have excellent vision and are able to spot prey from a very far distance. They are also skilled in quickly closing in on their prey.

•Retrievers

This type of hunting dog was used for retrieving birds that have landed in bodies of water after they have been shot. These dogs have water-repellent coats and toes that are webbed for quick and powerful swimming.

•Pointers

The pointer breed was developed to function as their names imply, which means to first locate and then point out the prey. These dogs embody keen senses and are able to locate even the most disguised or secretive game.

•Scent Hounds

This specific breed was some of the hardiest dogs known and they still are in this day and age. These dogs specialized in tracking and locating prey and game using scent. They are very methodical and efficient in the way they track, and have been known to follow a specific scent for many days without resting.

Over and above the dogs mentioned previously, firearm usage that began to spread over the ages required that specific types of gun dogs were required for hunting purposes. In these times Feudal paupers had severe infestations of rodents, this is where terrier breeds gained popularity to eliminate and hunt this small prey. Certain breeds later became more compartmentalized, and this meant that there were specific types of hunting dogs for specific purposes. The animals that were hunted by a different breed to each animal included deer, rodents, foxes, hogs, squirrels, bears, wolves, fowl and many more. A lot of these breeds are still around today, however there are a lot more that became extinct.

Currently, hunting with dogs is still very similar to the forgotten years. The Labradors still wait very patiently until commanded in the duck blinds and the Jack Russell Terriers still ferret out groundhogs, badgers and rats. Beagles are still used to harass and track foxes to their deaths. The purpose of these types of hunting dogs has become so ingrained in specific breeds that it has now become a strong part of each dog’s nature.

In the examples used above this may explain why
Labradors just love to swim, why the Jack Russell’s are unable to resist digging holes. Beagles without any training will also run off frantically if they happen to spot another animal that they view as prey. These attributes have become so instinctual to these specific breeds.

Hunting dogs over the years have always served their human counterparts with loyalty. Today, people who still hunt should know that they able to take advantage of these specific breeds and their inbred nature to hunt.

Hunting with dogs nowadays has become a very controversial sport and as mentioned above specific breeds are utilized for specific hunting purposes. There are various traits in hunting dogs that can vary greatly. Some of these dogs will have highly developed scenting abilities and others will be known for their phenomenal stamina. Some of the more popular and famous breeds will include the following: Black and Tan Coohound, American Foxhound, Norwegian Elkhound and the Beagle. The well-known AKC Sporting Group is a large group that consists of specific hunting dogs designed for use with hunters that enjoy the thrill of hunting alongside a dog in watery or woody environments. Specific breeds that are associated with this group will include: German Shorthaired Pointer, English Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever and the American Water Spaniel.

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Each of these hunting dogs has their own specific natural behavior. Hunting alongside one of these dogs enables humans to hunt more efficiently. However, it is very important to select the right breed depending on the type of prey that will be hunted. Terriers were a breed originally developed for the purpose of killing vermin and hunting smaller game. Today terriers are excellent companions for hunting small game such as squirrels.

One of the disadvantages of hunting dogs will be specific training procedures which are generally complex. In addition, this training may not be present when hunting for the very first time with the dog. In regards to training, hunting dogs often have to participate in at least a year of rigid training. Often this will be the only chance to train the dog in the correct manner as certain mistakes can very often be irreversible. One of these irreversible mistakes included lack of socialization while the dog is still a puppy.
It is always advisable to research the type of dog required for specific hunting practices. The training should begin when the dog is only a few weeks old to ensure a higher success rate.

Hunting with dogs has a variety of benefits and disadvantages. One of the main benefits would be using dogs that received the right training when they were still young. This will definitely increase the hunter’s chances of catching the desired prey as the dog will be adding into the experience. One of the biggest disadvantages would have to be the length of a training course. In addition, every dog will have their own character regardless of their breed, which always means that certain dogs will be easier to train while others may be impossible to train. Unfortunately there is no “standard” type of training procedure that will apply to every breed.