9 of the strangest hunting dogs in the world

From 20-pound cocker spaniels to 180-pound Irish Hounds, hunting dogs have been bred in all sizes and shapes to fulfill specific purposes. Some look strange, and some have been bred to do strange things. Some setters, for example, still crouch when pointing, a holdover from the days before gunpowder, when hunters threw nets over them in the dogs’ mouths. Here are nine strange hunting dogs, some of which you may never have heard of before.

1. Clumber Spaniel

A climbing spaniel lying on the floor.
The Clumber Spaniel is known for hunting thick cover – and snorting a lot. Hannah Group / EyeEm

The “lumber” dog in “Clumber” is the largest and slowest of the spaniels. Clumber spaniels can weigh up to 80 pounds or more. The breed is named for Clumber Park in Northumbria, England, although its origins are not fully known.

Sometime in the 1840s Clumbers became one of the hunting breeds favored by the British royal family. Big and powerful, if not particularly tall for their size, climbers excel at hunting heavy cover at a moderate pace. Not surprisingly, if you look at a picture of a Clumber Spaniel, they are known for snoring, and their snorers also hold a lot of drool.

2. Spitz

An ancient breed, perhaps as old as 3,000 years, the Spitz is the national dog of Finland, where it is used to hunt a variety of game, from squirrels and woodchucks to deer. Spitz is what is known as a “bark pointer”. You send it on its way, and when it finds the prey in the tree, it barks to let you know where it is and to distract the game so you can get in and make the shot. There are actual barking contests for spitzes, and they have been known to reach machine gun-like barking speeds of 160 beats per minute.

3. Lurcher

A Lurcher dog has been caught running fast.
Lurchers are general purpose dogs capable of hunting a variety of game. PeterTowlea

“Lurcher” wins the “strange dog” contest in name only. “Lamping with lurchers” means nothing to us, but to hunters in England it means lighting up the game in the company of a cross-breed dog. Lamplighting is just one use of lamps, which can also serve as scavengers or deterrent dogs, or be used for any other type of small game or vermin hunting.

Lurchers usually mix a sighthound with a non-running breed, preferably one that doesn’t bark much. Lurchers are not a distinct breed, although most are identifiable by a small, fascinating skull and muzzle. Hunters mix breeds to create the best they think will work best – think of cartridges like wildcat cartridges to hunting dogs.

4. Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington terrier in grass.
Today Belington terriers are primarily pets. No longer here from Pixabay

Developed by miners in the northeast of England in the 1820s, the Bedlington is a small terrier with a strange lamb-like appearance. Despite their warm and fuzzy appearance, they were wild dogs that were originally used to hunt badgers, foxes and rabbits, and were later used as fighting dogs.

Bedlingtons eventually caught the eye of the aristocracy and generally left their early sporting bloodlines behind to become cute house dogs that look like lambs. However, some are still used for beating in England.

5. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Nova Scotia duck retrievers were used to retrieve ducks to hunters. Sonja Kalee from Pixabay

A medium-sized, reddish-coated retriever, the Nova Scotia duck toler resembles a fox, and not by accident. Hunters played with their tollers along the shores of the lake, and ducks, apparently attracted by the sight of wild foxes, would swim into gun range for a closer look. Nova Scotia Tollers are also good retrievers and some are still used for hunting, with or without the game of fetch to lure birds close.

6. Pachon Navarro

If you think two noses can be better than one, a Pachón Navarro or Spanish pointer may be the dog for you. It is one of the very few breeds that exist with a bifid (“split” or “double barrel gun”) nose. A cleft nose doesn’t make them twice as good at sniffing out game as other dogs, and they can actually produce puppies with cleft palates. The nose gives Pachón Navarro its distinctive look.

A heavy-framed pointer that traces its bloodlines back to the Middle Ages, the Pachón Navarro was thought to be extinct in the 1970s, but enough surviving specimens were discovered to help the breed make a modest comeback. Today there are no more than 1000 of them. If that’s not rare enough for you, the Tarsus Catalburun, the Turkish pointer, only numbers a few hundred and has a similarly bifid nose.

7. Appalachian Turkey Dog

When you are hunting a bird as if it were a big game animal, you need a dog that combines the traits of a bird dog and a hound. And, when that bird is uniquely American, you need a uniquely American dog to hunt it down. At least, that’s the reasoning of the Appalachian turkey dog, a breed specifically developed to locate flocks of fall turkeys, chase them so they disperse, and then vocalize so hunters can know where to settle.

When hunters arrive at the distribution point, the dogs climb into the camo bags while the hunters call, then can track down injured birds if necessary. Although dogs like the Boykin spaniel have been used for turkey hunting since before the American Revolution, the Appalachian turkey dog ​​is a specialist and a recent result of a cross between pointers, setters and Plott hounds.

8. Norwegian Lundehund

Norwegian Lundehund walking on the ground.
Norwegian Lundehunds were mainly used for hunting puffins. Alexander Kantsur from Pixabay

Developed specifically for hunting puffins (“lunde” means puffin in Norwegian) lundehunds date back to the 16th century, and were bred to climb up and down rocky cliffs to hunt puffins and puffins. To that end, they have six toes per foot, the better to cling to rock faces.

They also have a much greater range of motion than most dogs, including heads that will turn 180 degrees, the better for getting into small rock crevices and grabbing birds and eggs. Now that puffin hunting is no longer allowed in Norway, Lundehunds have been used around airports to find eggs to reduce the chance of the birds being struck by airplanes.

Read more: 21 Best Hunting Dog Breeds Ever

9. Dachshund

Dachshund pulling a pigeon.
Don’t let the sausage body and short legs fool you. Daschunds are born to hunt. Phil Bourjaily

Take a look at a dachshund and see again for the first time: with its long sausage body and short legs, it is as strange as any unknown breed and as specialized. “Dachs” is German for badger, and originally dachshunds were larger, up to 40 pounds, and came in long and short-legged versions. Our wild dogs come from the short-legged variety, and their short legs, narrow heads, and elongated bodies were perfect for a den-crawling dog.

There are also short-haired, long-haired and wire-haired dachshunds, as well as miniature dachshunds used for hunting rabbits. Dachshunds are still in use as tracking dogs, both in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in the United States, where they are used to track wounded deer.

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