Home Getting A Puppy Sporting Dog Breeds – Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels

Sporting Dog Breeds – Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels

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Sporting Dog Breeds – Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels
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Dogs present a very unique opportunity; the chance to hand-pick your best friend and sporting dog breeds present several wonderful choices in this regard.

Dogs come in literally every shape, size, and color. From the tiny Chihuahua to the giant English Mastiff dogs are so varied that there is a breed perfect for anyone.

What’s an AKC Sporting Group Dog?

For the sake of convenience the American Kennel Club has divided each breed into a group.  The groups are organized together by characteristics and traits that are common to the breeds they hold.

There are several different groups each with numerous breeds. The AKC sporting group is one of the most popular groups and also has some of the most popular breeds such as the Labrador Retriever.

Sporting Dogs Are Comprised of Hunting Dogs, Gun Dogs and Bird Dogs

Yellow Labrador Retriever And Black Labrador Retriever Puppies
Yellow Labrador Retriever and Black Labrador Retriever puppies like the ones shown in this photo are bred to bring back game to their owners

As the name might suggest canines under the sporting dog group are best suited for activity. These dogs are not content to lounge about on the couch. They want to be outside running and playing. Full of energy the sporting breeds truly live up to their group’s name.

Sporting dogs were first bred to help hunters. They were valued for their ability to either locate game, flush out game, or bring dead game back to their owners.

In the United Kingdom sporting dogs are known as gun dogs due to their close affiliation with hunters. These breeds are generally divided into three categories due to the different roles they play in the field.

The Four Different Types of Hunting Dogs – Retrievers, Spaniels, Pointers and Setters


Retrievers do just as their name suggests. Retrievers return game that has been shot down and bring it back to their owner. These dogs have special qualities that allow them to perform their job.

For example, Retrievers that work with water fowl have coats that are naturally water repellent. In the case of some Labradors webbing of the toes allow for better swimming.  Common examples of Retrievers include:

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Curly-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retriever

Golden Retriever

Labrador Retriever


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy is an example of a dog that specializes in flushing out game birds so that hunters get off a reliable shot

Small and swift Spaniels are experts at flushing out game. They were often used to rouse birds into the air which allows the hunters a chance to test their aim. Spaniels are also great at flushing small mammals like rabbits. These types of hunting dogs are often considered the most beautiful dogs not only in their group but across the board.  Common examples of Spaniels include:

American Cocker Spaniel

American Water Spaniel

Blue Picardy Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel

English Springer Spaniel

Field Spaniel

French Spaniel

German Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel

King Charles Spaniel



Picardy Spaniel

Russian Spaniel


Irish Setter Puppy
Setters like this Irish Setter puppy make expert lookouts in the field and are trusted by hunters to locate game

Setters and Pointers are typically grouped together. They provide the same function but just go about it differently. Both types locate the prey and alert their owners to it either by sitting near it or standing rigidly near it. These dogs make for great bird dogs.  Common examples of Setters and Pointers include:

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English Setter

Gordon Setter

Irish Setter

Irish Red and White Setter


Canadian Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Wirehaired Pointer

Old Danish Pointer

Portuguese Pointer



Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Pointer Puppy
Similar to a Setter, a Pointer puppy is an expert at tracking, locating and then indicating where game may be hiding

Sporting Dogs for Companionship

Of course, not many of us are going to use dogs to hunt game with but if you plan to then this is the right group for you. While hunting dog breeds were very popular with English nobility centuries ago these dogs are now commonly sought after for their valuable companionship.

The qualities that make these dogs good as hunting dogs are the same qualities that make them perfect for companionship.

Dogs in the sporting group share several common characteristics even though their size, weight, and coats differ.

  • Highly intelligent
  • Very active
  • Sociable
  • Good Natured
  • Very alert
  • Loyal
  • Friendly

Of course each individual dog will possess their own individual traits so it is important to not only research the right group but the right dog when you are ready to narrow your selection to a breed type.

Dogs are very receptive to the emotions and energy in their environment and react accordingly. When deciding whether or not to even get a dog let alone the type and breed you must understand that it takes more than a few walks and bones to make a good companion.

A breed that is usually calm and good natured will not be that way if your household is full of nervous excitement or stress. Sporting dog breeds have become extremely popular but unfortunately many people fail to do adequate research into specific breeds to find out if that dog is going to be compatible with their lifestyle.

Is a Sporting Dog Right for You?

The most important thing to consider when looking at sporting group dogs is that they were bred to be active. These dogs were bred to be bird hunting dogs and companions to people leading an active lifestyle and they are not going to soon forget it. They like to play, to run, to be outside, and to live. So, if you are lazy and you can go ahead and admit if you are, then a sporting dog is not going to be your best friend.

Sporting Dog Breeds Are Perfect If…

  • You are active
  • You enjoy outside
  • You run regularly
  • You prefer the outside to a couch and television

Sporting dogs require exercise and plenty of it. Families with children will find that this type of dog is going to make the perfect addition. Take note though that some of the sporting breeds may be too large for small children and babies. Use your best judgment when accessing a potential dog for the family if you have small children.

A Final Thought on Sporting Dog Breeds

Breeds in the sporting dog group include some of the most popular breeds of all time. Prized for their intelligence and energy these dogs make for steadfast companions. Loyal and loving a household with one of these breeds is going to be full of energy and life. Sporting dogs do require special attention and extra exercise, even if you are actively training them. If you prefer to hike or run then dogs that fall in this group are sure to be your new best friend and steadfast companion.

Finding the “right” dog is pretty difficult and some say best left to fate. Sure, you might come home one day and find the perfect dog sitting obediently at your stoop ready to greet you with a vigorous kiss and love you unconditionally. Chances are, however, that this just is not going to happen. So why not choose a dog that is best suited to your unique situation and lifestyle?

Sporting dog breeds could very well be the perfect companion for you and your family so they’re definitely worth considering.