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Sporting Dog Breeds

You don't have to be an avid hunter to love one of these Sporting Dog Breeds. In fact, many of them are now considered ideal family dogs and the most popular dog breed in the world falls into this category, the Labrador Retriever. 

Sporting dog breedsLabrador Retriever
Sporting dog breedsGolden Retriever

What are the Sporting Dog Breeds?

So, just who are these sportsmen (and ladies) of the dog world.  Think spaniels, pointers, retrievers, and setters.

These dogs are some of the earliest breeds to be registered with the American Kennel Club and were classified by their personal style of hunting. 

Some of them found their game and then pointed to their location. (The Pointers)

Some race to find their game, usually birds, and then retrieve it.  (The Retrievers)

Some were initially trained to find the birds, then pin them down on the ground until hunters could use nets to capture them (The setters)

The oldest group was thought to have originated in Spain and were used to flush birds from their hiding places. These were the Spaniels, the word meaning Spanish dog.

This group of dogs is also called Gun Dogs in many parts of the world.

Sporting Dog Breeds in the 21st Century

They are still a favorite of hunters in the 21st century but are mostly found as household pets.  Many have been recruited to be used as service dogs for the disabled or as a bomb or drug sniffers for law enforcement agencies.

Today, many of these breeds are bred exclusively as field dogs to work and help hunters and participate in organized field trials.  Some of these same dogs are also bred for the show ring, which means that the breeder concentrates on the look of the dog, rather than those hunting skills. 

If one of these dogs are on your radar, it is nice to know whether the dog you are getting was bred as a show dog or a field dog. 

Most of the dogs purchased for household pets come from show lines rather than from the field, and this is important.  If for example, you are looking for a Labrador retriever to be your child’s best friend and not a hunting buddy, their hunting instincts may not be quite as intense.

Why do People Love the Sporting Dog Breeds?

Well for starters, they are very friendly, easy to train and do exceptionally well with children. 

They are athletic, with energy to spare, so they are quite capable of keeping up with even the most energetic kids.  They make great walking or jogging companions and ideal mates if you are camping or hiking enthusiast. 

While most are outgoing and friendly even to strangers, there are some that are a little more reserved.  They are intelligent, loyal, and devoted to their family.

As a group, they vary widely on the amount of grooming needed.  Some of the short haired breeds are very easy to groom, whereas others with longer hair, require plenty of brushing to keep hair from flying everywhere and landing on every surface of your home.

Most are easy to housebreak and do well with basic commands, but puppies can be quite a handful with their boundless energy and exuberance for life itself.

If your interests involve swimming, boating or other water sports, a member of the Sporting Dog group may be ideal.  Many love to swim and quite a few of them are skilled swimmers.

Any Downside?

On the downside, they do need plenty of social interactions.  These are not dogs to be kept outdoors with little human interaction.  Some don't do well if left alone for long periods of time.  Some are prone to doggie odor, and others are heavy shedders.

Some can be quite vocal, so if barking is not your thing, ask your breeder about the parents and how much vocalization to expect.

The most popular dogs in the world fall into this category, but some are so rare that you may never see one in a lifetime.  If one of these rare breeds appeal to you, expect to wait a long time to get that perfect little puppy. 

If you want one of the more popular breeds such as the Labrador or Golden Retriever, be sure to find a reputable breeder.  Popular breeds are often readily available in pet stores and from commercial breeders who know little or nothing about the breed.

What do dogs in the Sporting group need?

Plenty of Exercise

EXERCISE ! (sorry, don’t mean to shout.) These dogs do require lots of exercise and the best owner will have time to take their dog on a long daily walk.

Plenty of Human Interaction

Human interaction:  These dogs may be very active outdoors, but settle down indoors and enjoy keeping your company whether you’re reading or watching TV.  They want to be near their human.


A high-quality diet that includes the right nutrients in the right amounts, especially for fast growing puppies.

Regular Training and Socialization

Regular training and socialization:  Without a good program to train and socialize, puppies, especially can get out of control quickly. 

Their activity is high, and their energy level is unsurpassed, so getting and keeping the upper-hand is crucial.


Grooming:  Many are heavy shedders with long thick coats (Golden Retriever) that need regular coat attention. 

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Sporting Dog Breeds

American Water Spaniel

Sporting dog breedsAmerican Water Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel

Sporting dog breedsBoykin Spaniel

Brittany Spaniel

Sporting dog breedsBrittany

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Clumber Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel

Curly Coated Retriever

Sporting dog breedsCurly Coated Retriever

English Cocker Spaniel

English Working Cocker Spaniel

Sporting dog breedsRoxy the Working Cocker Spaniel

English Setter

Sporting dog breedsEnglish Setter

English Springer Spaniel

Field Spaniel

Sporting dog breedsField Spaniel

Flat Coated Retriever

Sporting dog breedsFlat Coated Retriever

German Shorthaired Pointer

Sporting dog breedsGerman Shorthaired Pointer

German Wirehaired Pointer

Sporting dog breedsGerman Wirehaired Pointer

Golden Retriever

Sporting dog breeds

Gordon Setter

Sporting dog breedsGordon Setter

Irish Red and White Setter

Sporting dog breedsIrish Red and White Setter

Irish Setter

Sporting dog breedsIrish Setter

Irish Water Spaniel

Sporting dog breedsIrish Water Spaniel

Labrador Retriever

Lagotto Romagnolo

Sporting dog breedsLagotto Romagnolo

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Sporting dog breedsNova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever


Sporting dog breedsPointer

Spinone Italiano

Sporting dog breedsSpinone Italiano (Italian Spinone)

Sussex Spaniel



Welsh Springer Spaniel

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sporting dog breedsWirehaired Pointing Griffon

Wirehaired Vizsla

Sporting dog breedsWirehaired Vizsla

Other Sporting Dog Breeds

Other Sporting Dogs registered with other Kennel Clubs

Ariege Pointing Dog

Auvergne Pointer

Barbet (French Water Dog)

Blue Picardy Spaniel (Epagneul Bleu de Picardie)

Cesky Fousek

Deutsch Langhaar

Deutsch Stichelhaar

Drentsche Partridge Dog

French Pointing Dog Gascogne Type

French Pointing Dog Pyrenean Type

French Spaniel 

Frisian Water Dog

German Spaniel

Kleiner Munsterlander

Large Munsterlander

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

Old Danish Pointing Dog

Picardy Spaniel

Pont-Audemer Spaniel (Epagneul de Point-Audemer)

Portuguese Pointing Dog


Saint German Pointer

Spanish Water Dog


Wirehaired Slovakian Pointer 

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