11 Best Breeds of Duck Hunting Dogs (with Photos)

Dogs have been working in partnership with us hoo-mans for thousands of years. Since the very first domesticated dogs help us hunt and guarded our homes, their roles in our lives have continuously evolved. 

One of their jobs is waterfowl or duck hunting. Duck hunting is one of the most popular forms of hunting in North America. Ducks are found in nearly every state, and they provide a challenging and rewarding target for hunters of all skill levels. 

duck hunting dogs
11 Best Breeds of Duck Hunting Dogs

Many different techniques can be used to hunt ducks, but the most important factor is always the same: knowing where the ducks are. A good duck hunter will spend hours scouting out potential hunting areas, looking for signs of where the ducks are feeding and resting. 

Once a likely spot is found, the hunter will set up a blind or decoys and wait for the ducks to come within range. Then, it’s just a matter of being patient and taking aim. After which, it is all in your dog’s paws! (or jaws). 

The rules are simple, you take down a duck, and your dog retrieves it. However, not all dogs are cut out to be waterfowl retrievers! In this blog post, we’ll look at what makes a good duck dog and the top 11 breeds most suited to be our hunting buddies. 

What Makes A Good Duck Hunting Dog?

When it comes to choosing a duck hunting dog, there are a few key qualities that you should look for. First, the dog should have a strong prey drive. This means that they should be eager and enthusiastic about chasing down fallen ducks. 

Second, the dog should be intelligent and trainable. A good duck hunting dog will be able to follow complex commands and work independently in the field. Third, the dog should have a good sense of smell

hunting dog
Hunting dog catches a waterfowl.

This will help them to track down ducks even when they are hidden in thick vegetation. Finally, the dog should be athletic and physically fit. Duck hunting requires a lot of stamina, and a good hunting dog will be able to keep up with the demands of the sport. It also couldn’t hurt if they had a water-repellent coat. The water can be COLD! 

If you can find a dog that possesses all of these qualities, then you will have an excellent companion for your next duck hunting adventure.

Top 11 Duck Hunting Dog Breeds 

1. Labrador Retriever 

America’s number 1 most popular breed, the Labrador Retriever is known for its loyalty, intelligence, and trainability. They make great family pets and are also used extensively in law enforcement and as assistance dogs. 

Labs come in three colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. Black Labs are the most common, followed by yellows. Chocolate Labs are the least common but are often considered the most handsome of the three colors. 

white Labrador Retriever
A white Labrador Retriever sits quietly.

Labs typically weigh between 55 and 75 pounds and stand 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder. They have a short, thick coat that sheds seasonally. 

Labrador Retrievers are energetic dogs that love water and will happily jump into a pond or lake to do what they do best – retrieve! 

2. Chesapeake Bay Retriever 

Any dog with “retriever” in its name is liable to live and breathe to fetch, and the Chesapeake Bay is no different. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were bred for hunting waterfowl, and they have all the qualities that make for a great duck dog. 

Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever sits on the dried leaves.

They are intelligent and easy to train, and they have a strong desire to please their owners. They are also athletic and have a webbed foot that helps them swim powerfully. In addition, their dense, oily coat protects them from cold water and provides insulation against cold weather. 

All of these qualities make Chesapeake Bay Retrievers the perfect breed for duck hunting. 

3. Golden Retrievers 

Yet another Retriever, the Golden is the adorable, floppy-eared cousin of the Labrador and some of the best duck dogs around. They are intelligent, eager to please, and have a natural affinity for water. Golden Retrievers also have a strong retrieving instinct, which is essential for retrieving ducks from the water. 

Golden Retrievers three colors
Golden Retrievers with different colors in snow!

In addition, their thick coats protect them from cold water and icy conditions. Golden Retrievers make excellent duck dogs because they have all of the necessary skills and traits. They are hard-working, reliable, and above all, they love the water. 

4. American Water Spaniel 

When it comes to duck hunting, few dogs are more beloved than the American Water Spaniel. These hardy dogs are built for long days in the field, with a thick coat that protects them from the cold and webbed feet that help them move easily through the water. 

American Water Spaniel standing
American Water Spaniel standing on a river.

Perhaps most importantly, American Water Spaniels have a strong hunting instinct, and they are eager to please their owners. As a result, these dogs are often able to quickly learn complex hunting strategies. 

5. Irish Water Spaniel

Another water-baby, Irish Water Spaniels are some of the best duck dogs around. They have a natural affinity for water and are quick learners, making them perfect for duck hunting. In addition, they have a thick coat of water-resistant fur that protects them from the cold. 

Overall, Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent, hardworking dogs that make great duck hunting partners.

an Irish Water Spaniel dog
The beauty of an Irish Water Spaniel (non shedding) dog

6. Boykin Spaniel 

When it comes to duck hunting, having a good dog by your side can make all the difference. And of all the breeds out there, Boykin Spaniels are widely considered to be some of the best. These dogs are bred specifically for hunting, and they have all the necessary skills for the job. 

They’re excellent swimmers with a keen sense of smell, and they’re also highly trainable. Perhaps most importantly, they have the stamina to keep up with even the most experienced hunter.

Boykin Spaniel walking in the field
Happy Boykin Spaniel walking in the field freely!

7. Poodles 

While their fancy hairdos and rhinestone collars might fool many people, Poodles were originally bred by German hunters to retrieve waterfowl long before Labradors even came into the picture. Athletic, intelligent, and highly trainable, Poodles are some of the best duck dogs around. 

three Standard Poodles
The three Standard Poodles are standing on the field.

Though they may not have the webbed feet of other breeds, their athletic build and waterproof coat make them perfect for long days out on the water. In addition, Poodles have a strong hunting instinct, and their natural tenacity means they’ll never back down from a challenge. 

Of course, you’ll want to use a Standard Poodle and not a Toy or Miniature, though they might still have their natural instincts which might result in a hilarious day! 

8. German Pointer

German Pointers are known for their exceptional tracking ability, which is essential for finding ducks in the wild. They also have a strong work ethic and are eager to please their owners. In addition, German pointers are bred to be excellent swimmers, making them ideal partners for duck hunters. 

With their natural ability and versatility, it’s no wonder that German pointers are considered one of the best duck hunting dogs around.

German Short-Haired Pointer 
German Short-Haired Pointer walking in the ground.

9. Curly-Coated Retriever

These dogs are bred specifically for waterfowl hunting, and they have the stamina and endurance to work in even the most challenging conditions. They also have a natural affinity for water, and they’re fearless when it comes to retrieving ducks from the coldest of lakes. 

In addition, Curly-Coated Retrievers are intelligent and easily trained, so you can be sure that your dog will be a well-behaved member of the team. 

Curly-Coated Retriever 
Curly-Coated Retriever stands on the grass.

10. English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels are some of the best dogs for duck hunting. They are bred specifically for this purpose and have a number of characteristics that make them ideal for the job. First, they have a strong desire to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. 

English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel during winter.

Second, they are eager to please and work hard, making them willing to work in all kinds of weather and terrain. Third, they have a great sense of smell, which allows them to track down ducks even when they are hidden in thick vegetation. 

Finally, they have a gentle mouth, so they can retrieve ducks without damaging them.

 11. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

With a mouthful of a name, these beautiful dogs, frequently nicknamed “Tollers,” were bred specifically for hunting, and they have a strong retrieving instinct. They were once bred to run up and down the shoreline to attract the attention of curious ducks.

They’re also intelligent, obedient, and athletic. And they’re relatively small with most weighing under 50 lbs, so they don’t take up too much space in a boat. 

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers on the waters.

Final Thoughts 

There are a few key traits that make a good duck dog. First and foremost, they must have a strong desire to retrieve. This means they should be willing to go into the water after a duck, no matter what the conditions are. 

They should also be obedient, so they will listen to their handler’s commands and stay within the parameters of the hunt. Additionally, a good duck dog should have stamina and endurance, as they will likely be working long hours in difficult conditions. 

And lastly, they must have a good nose, so they can track down ducks even when they’re hidden!