10 Types of Dogs That Hunt Squirrels (With Pictures)

Most dogs love nothing more than chasing a critter. The mere glimpse of a raccoon, porcupine, skunk, chipmunk, or squirrel can send even the mellowest of pups into a frenzy of excitement. Sometimes dogs give chase to small animals simply out of curiosity or the desire to play; this is especially true of puppies. Other times, the impetus to chase comes from their innate predatory drive.

A well-trained dog is an invaluable aid for a hunter, as they have the ability to sniff out and track all sorts of tiny creatures that may not be discernible to the human eye. With proper guidance, the following dogs that hunt squirrels will make excellent companions in any expedition.

10 Dogs That Hunt Squirrels

Many hunters train puppies to squirrel hunt using the hide or tails of the small animals tied to a pole. While it is preferable to start training a dog as young as possible, they must understand basic commands such as sit and stay before they commence their hunting lessons.

1. Finnish Spitz

Finnish spitz
Finnish spitz | image by Simon Lee via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 13-15 years
Average Size: 20-33 pounds
Coat: Medium, double

The foxy-faced Finnish Spitz has an inborn taste for adventure, having descended from the ancient northern spitz canines that accompanied early Finno-Ugric tribes as they traversed the Eurasian continent. Originally watch dogs, they later developed into hunting dogs.

Closely resembling the immensely popular Shiba Inu breed with their curled tail and golden-red coat, the Spitz also possesses the same tendency for vocalization.

The Spitz mesmerizes its prey by ‘yodeling’ or rapid-fire barking. They are capable of emitting up to 160 barks a minute. The distinctive tail of the Spitz also easily allows hunters to keep track of them through dense forests.

Highly trainable and born for the hunt, the Spitz is an elegant and efficient squirrel catcher.

2. Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick Coonhound
Bluetick Coonhound | image by Petful via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 11-12 years
Average Size: 45-80 pounds
Coat: Short, smooth

Hounds are bred to pursue warm-blooded quarry, making the Bluetick Coonhound a natural standout in the ranks of dogs that hunt squirrels.

The Bluetick Coonhound, in its current iteration, was developed in Louisiana as a combination of the Grand Bleu de Gascogne hound of France, the English Foxhound, and the American Foxhound.

This athletic and agile pup is happiest when working and requires constant activity to keep it from becoming restless. They have an incredible sense of smell and instinctively chase almost any animal smaller than them.

Although they can be willful and somewhat challenging to train, the Bluetick Coonhound’s instincts and nose are an undeniable asset to hunters.

3. Airedale Terrier

Airedale terrier playing stick
Airedale terrier playing stick | image by Lulu Hoeller via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12 years
Average Size: 40-50 pounds
Coat: Medium, double, wiry

With its distinctive terrier ‘beard’ the Airedale breed makes for a charming and dapper squirrel hunter.

The Airedale Terrier was originally bred to hunt both large and small game, originating in the valley of the River Aire, England. Amongst the ancestors of this breed are the notoriously tough Irish and Bull Terriers, which enthusiasts credit for the Airedale Terriers’ hearty spirit.

Airedales require firm but gentle discipline from a very young age, as they can be remarkably stubborn and aloof. If handled properly, however, they make some of the best squirrel hunters out there!

4. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack russell terrier
Jack russell terrier | image by Frugan via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Average Size: 11-13 pounds
Coat: Short, smooth, rough, broken

The Jack Russell Terrier breed is so notoriously adorable, it’s easy to forget that they were made for hard work!

Known for their wide dark eyes and inquisitive expression, Jack Russell Terriers carry their sweet and puppylike disposition well into adulthood. Originated in England to hunt foxes, they possess a tremendous amount of energy for their small size.

The Jack Russell Terriers’ intrinsic courage and exuberance make them wonderful hunting companions, but their independence means a lot of patient training as required before you can set them loose in the woods!

5. English Coonhound

American english coonhound
American english coonhound | image by Petful via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 11-12 years
Average Size: 45-65 pounds
Coat: Short, smooth

The sleek and muscular beauty of the English Coonhound is only window-dressing for its incredible hunting prowess. They are one of the most highly-regarded of the dogs that hunt squirrels.

Specially bred by frontiersmen to trail and tree raccoons, the English Coonhound has maintained its popularity among game hunters in the years since its inception. A veteran raccooner was quoted by the American Kennel Club as saying “If I couldn’t have an English hound, I’d give up hunting.”

Like many hounds, the English Coonhound is intelligent and tenacious but requires diligent training and discipline to channel its considerable energy into a task.

6. Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian elkhound
Norwegian elkhound | image by atomtetsuwan2002 via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Average Size: 48-55 pounds
Coat: Medium, double

The gorgeous Norwegian Elkhound, also known as the Norsk Elghund Gra and Norsk Elghund Sort, is one of the oldest European dog breeds. They were a mainstay of the Viking Age, immortalized in folklore and art as a fearless and noble warrior companion.

Archeologists have even discovered the remains of Elkhounds entombed alongside their masters, a true sign of veneration.

In the beginning, the Elkhounds primary prey was the giant elk or moose. The breed developed an enormously enhanced sense of smell in order to track these large and dangerous animals at a relatively safe distance.

If the idea of facing off with a moose is a little daunting, rest assured, your Elkhound will happily settle for hunting squirrels!

7. Rat Terrier

Rat terrier
Rat terrier | image by John Liu via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-18 years
Average Size: 10-25 pounds
Coat: Short, smooth

The name might be a giveaway. Developed as an indispensable asset to farm life, the Rat Terrier is a critter-catching machine!

Over time, it has become apparent that the Rat Terrier is far more well-rounded than their name suggests. They are commonly known today as all-purpose hunters, exceptional watch dogs, henhouse guardians, and terrific playmates for people of all ages.

With their petite size and beguilingly expressive ears, the Rat Terrier breed is one of the cutest breeds of dogs that hunt squirrels.

8. Labrador Retriever

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

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 55-80 pounds
Coat: Short, double

A classic for a reason, the Labrador Retriever endures as the most popular dog breed in the United States. Outgoing and good-natured, they are the very definition of a family dog, but they also make first-rate hunting partners.

The traditional waterdog of Newfoundland, Canada, the Golden Retriever was first utilized as a duck hunter. Their weather-resistant coat protected them from the harsh Canadian winters and the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

Labrador Retrievers have a high baseline energy level and deep-rooted hunting instincts, but they do require early training in order to reach their full potential.

9. 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: 55-75 pounds
Coat: Medium, double

Who doesn’t smile when they see a Golden Retriever? This beloved breed radiates warmth and good spirit, with its luminous gold coat enhancing its sunny aura.

The result of generations of careful breeding intended to create the ultimate working retriever, the Golden is an all-rounder with an easy temperament. Built to retrieve waterfowl, the breed has endurance and stamina for days.

Few people need convincing of the Golden Retrievers’ merits, but their status as one of the most gifted dogs that hunt squirrels could make them the perfect pup!

10. Treeing Walker Coonhound

Treeing walker coonhound standing
Treeing walker coonhound standing | image by Kingkong954 via Wikimedia Commons

Average Lifespan: 12-13 years
Average Size: 50-70 pounds
Coat: Short, smooth

Another case of the name saying it all. Treeing refers to the practice of a hound trailing the scent of prey until the smaller animal rushes up a tree for safety. The dog then patrols the base of the tree and barks until the hunter is alerted to its location. The Treeing Walker Coonhound was bred from the Walker Foxhound to be even faster and more adept at treeing.

With their streamlined physique and propulsive instincts, the Treeing Walker Coonhound has the potential to be as prolific a squirrel hunter as a hunter could desire.

In addition, they are one of the most trainable and amenable breeds on this list and are always eager to please. The adorable, floppy face-framing ears of this hound are just an added bonus!