12 Interesting Dogs That Hunt Deer (With Pictures)

It’s easy to forget that our furry companions were once wolves, hunting and roving through forests after wild game. While your pet may not be equipped to live on its own in the wilderness, dogs aren’t actually that far removed from their wild counterparts.

Chihuahuas and gray wolves hunting side by side might be a stretch–however, chihuahuas aside, there are several breeds of dog that can go toe to toe with wolves when it comes to the hunt. Here we’ll go over and outline 12 dogs that hunt deer.

As you’ll find out, dogs can serve many different roles when it comes to hunting–from tracking to holding and taking down game, the dogs on this list run the gamut and are wide ranging in their abilities.

The 12 Dogs That Hunt Deer

Just because a dog breed has historically been used to hunt deer does not mean it is still up to the task. Since subsistence hunting is no longer necessary in most societies, and sport hunting has fallen out of fashion, many of the breeds on this list have been bred primarily as companion animals, and so have lost their predatory edge.

1. German Shorthair Pointer

German shorthair pointer
German shorthair pointer | image by Rexness via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Average Size: 40-70 pounds
Coat: short

A medium sized bird dog, the German Shorthair Pointer was originally bred in Germany to accompany hunters in the field.

Equipped for running across harsh and inhospitable terrain, this breed is quick and agile, capable of keeping pace with deer even in low visibility. Developed as a versatile hunting breed, the German Shorthair Pointer has been used to hunt small to large game, including waterfowl, deer, and even bears.

The German Shorthair Pointer is intelligent and trainable, and is known to do well in both home and working environments. While a solid family pet, the breed does require rigorous exercise.

2. Plott Hound

Plott Hound
Plott Hound | image by James Emery via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Average Size: 40-60 pounds
Coat: short

Superficially resembling a Bloodhound, the Plott Hound is a scent hound originally developed in North Carolina to track down large game.

With its long ears and jowly cheeks, this breed may look goofy to some–however, having been bred to hunt bears, the Plott Hound is no joke. An adept and courageous hunter with incredible stamina, this dog does not scare easily and will confront prey much larger than itself.

When it comes to dogs that hunt deer, the Plott Hound is certainly up there with the best of the best, and is almost exclusively bred for its hunting ability.

3. Golden Retriever

Golden retriever at dog's park
Golden retriever at dog’s park | image by Aidan Mak via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 60-80 pounds
Coat: medium

One of America’s favorite family breeds, the Golden Retriever was originally bred in Scotland to retrieve downed waterfowl. Eager to please and highly energetic, this breed is known for its love of water and incredible swimming ability. While not developed to hunt deer, it has been used for that purpose.

Due to its loyal disposition, the Golden Retriever makes a terrific household companion and family pet, and is known for being gentle around children. Unlike the Plott Hound, recent strains of the Golden Retriever have been bred for their companionable attitude, and not for their hunting ability.

4. English Setter

English setter on the grass
English setter on the grass | image by Scarlett2308 via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 35-70 pounds
Coat: medium-long

Recognizable from its beautiful splotched coat, the English Setter was originally developed in England as a bird dog. This breed is known for being agile and athletic, capable of working long hours in marshes and swamps retrieving pheasant, ducks, and other species of fowl.

Considered slightly mischievous, the English Setter requires proper training and sufficient physical/mental activity to keep its mind on track.

5. Labrador Retriever

Labrador retriever
Labrador retriever | image by Kevin Rodriguez Ortiz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 50-80 pounds
Coat: medium, dense

Like the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever was originally developed in England to retrieve downed waterfowl. Although registered in England, the breed stems from bird dogs brought over from Canada.

A terrific swimmer and dedicated hunter, this breed is willing and capable of following orders and has proven useful for hunting a wide variety of game animals.

Another popular American breed, the Labrador Retriever is a loyal and faithful companion animal, and does especially well with children. With shorter hair than the Golden, the Labrador Retriever produces less noticeable shed, although of a similar volume.

6. Beagle

Beagle on the road
Beagle on the road | image by Daniel Flathagen via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Average Size: 20-30 pounds
Coat: short

The inspiration for Charles Shultz’s Snoopy, the Beagle is a scent hound originally developed in England for tracking and hunting small game.

While itself small and unable to take down a deer on its own, the Beagle’s main asset is its nose, which is sensitive enough to pick up even the faintest of scents. By following deer trails, this breed dutifully directs hunters to their quarry, providing them the opportunity to clearly line up their crosshairs with the target.

Loving and friendly, the Beagle is known for its distinctive yowls, vocalizations meant to be audible across long distances. Unable to help itself, this dog can lose itself on walks in pursuit of a scent.

7. Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick coonhound in a dog show
Bluetick coonhound in a dog show | image by Petful via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 40-80 pounds
Coat: short

Another scent hound on our list of dogs that hunt deer, the Bluetick Coonhound is an American breed originally developed in Louisiana to track down medium to large game, ranging from raccoons to deer, and even bears.

Sporting a unique flecked coat with “blue” tones, the Bluetick was produced by crossing a mix of English, French, and American scent hounds.

Like the Beagle, this dog is known for its excellent sense of smell and droopy features. Less well known than the Beagle and other American scent hounds, the Bluetick can be hard to find and may be expensive to purchase.

8. Dachshund

Dachshund | image by Nick S via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average Size: 15-35 pounds
Coat: short or long

Perhaps the most surprising member of our list, the Dachshund is a German breed originally developed for hunting small game.

Its signature look, an elongated body with stubby legs, actually contributes to this breed’s effectiveness on the hunt. Its small and compact frame allows the Dachshund to crawl into narrow holes and burrows, following prey where other dogs cannot.

Like the Beagle, this dog is incapable of hunting deer on its own. That said, the Dachshund has been included in packs of dogs as support on deer hunts.

9. Bloodhound

bloodhound | image by: markfizzwig

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 80-110 pounds
Coat: short, dense

The most famous of the scent hounds, the Bloodhound is a French breed originally developed to track down large game. Its large stature and muscular body make the Bloodhound well suited to long hunts in the woods, possessing the stamina and determination to follow a scent trail for miles on end.

With the best nose of any dog, this breed has been used for a variety of purposes, including search and rescues, as well as for tracking down escaped criminals. A working breed, Bloodhounds should be kept physically active and preoccupied with tasks that put their noses to work.

10. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhound | image by Airwolfhound via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 6-10 years
Average Size: 100-160 pounds
Coat: long, shaggy

In the running for the tallest dog breed of all time, the Irish Wolfhound was originally developed in the United Kingdom as a hunting companion and guard dog. An ancient breed with historic roots in the UK, Roman invaders in England described encounters with these fearsome dogs during their conquests.

The Irish Wolfhound comes in at the number one breed of dogs that hunt deer, having both the physical capability and stamina to chase and down a buck on its own.  Believe it or not, the Irish Wolfhound actually acquired its name from its use to hunt wolves, and was kept by farmers to dissuade these predators from picking off livestock.

11. Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound
Afghan Hound | image by Lilly M via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Average Size: 50-75 pounds
Coat: long

Resembling a greyhound with a wig on, the Afghan Hound is a breed of sighthound originally developed in Afghanistan to assist on hunts, although no longer bred for that purpose.

Like other sighthounds, this dog chases prey by sight rather than by scent, and is accustomed to hunting on plains and in open landscape. Equipped for cold weather with its long coat, the Afghan Hound is incredibly agile and fleet-footed, capable of hitting high speeds for bursts at a time.

Its uniquely hair-like coat is beloved by many, and this breed is now primarily bred as a show dog, rarely employed for hunting outside of Afghanistan.

12. American Foxhound

American foxhound
American foxhound | image by Svenska Mässan via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 44-75 pounds
Coat: short

The American Foxhound is a medium-large sized scent hound originally developed in the United States from foxhounds imported from England. Similar in appearance to the Beagle, the American Foxhound features the Beagle’s keen sense of smell while possessing greater physical strength and stamina than its pint-sized cousin.

Typically used in packs numbering over five individuals, this breed is used to track, exhaust, and harry wild game until the hunter can line up clearly with their desired target . Like most other hounds, the American Foxhound’s howl is distinctive and can be heard over great distances, alerting hunters to incoming game.