Sporting or Gun Dog Breed Group

cocker spaniel

Sporting or Gun Dog Breed Group

Sporting or Gun Dog Breeds

Sporting or Gun Dog Breed dogs belong are a group of dog breeds that were traditionally bred to accompany a hunt. These loyal and intelligent breeds are often described a perfect family dogs because they are typically very friendly and get along well with most family members – including cats!

Popular Sporting or Hunting Dog Breeds

Because of of their popularity as family pets, sporting or hunting dogs are a very common breed of pet dog in Ireland. Some of the most popular hunting breed in Ireland are:


Breeds such as the Labrador or Golden Retriever are one of the most popular dogs in Ireland. Original bred to retrieve fallen prey while hunting, these dogs are the perfect fetch partners.


Brittany Spaniels and Cocker Spaniel are popular breeds of spaniels. These sporting breeds love to track down their ‘prey’ and will love to sniff out their rewards for their humans!

golden retriever running in golden field happy

Setters & Pointers

The Irish Setter and Pointers are breeds that traditionally would help hunters locate game and let them know where it is by standing alert and while waiting for their humans to catch up. Because of this natural instinct your pointer will love to run and track down toys at playtime, but may not be great at bringing them back to you!

Things to Know About Your Sporting Dog

Some important things to know about your hunting dog:

  1. Your hunting dog will be full of energy and need lots of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. If under-stimulated your sporting pup is likely to make their own fun by chewing your furniture, toys or favourite shoes!
  2. These boisterous breeds love to eat and will be prone to gaining excess weight if they are overfed or under-exercised.
  3. Typically these loyal dogs love everyone and are great with adults, children and other pets

Types of Exercise and Play:

You might find that your sporting dog enjoys physical play that includes Body Slamming (running directly into another moving or stationery dog), Neck biting or Wrestling, which can be harmless, but still need to be carefully watched to prevent them going too far. 

Keeping your sporting dog active and mentally stimulated is the best way to keep them happy, healthy – and out of trouble!

What game or activity suits my hunting dog?

When choosing games for your sporting or hunting dog, its important to be considerate of their natural instincts. Your Retriever will love to play fetch, but your Pointer will be more likely to find the ball, show it to you and wait for you to pick it up!

Try games and exercise that will give your dog intensive, regular and invigorating exercise – swimming, tracking, dock-diving are great examples. Nose-games, Fetch and ‘hunting’ play will also give your pup lots of mental stimulation and appeal to their natural interests.

What toys should I get my sporting dog?

Our top recommendations of toys for this type of group are:

Shop Dog Toys

*Every dog is different their individual personality and interests may be different to what might be expected from their breed group. The information provided in this blog is to help you understand the typical traits and interests of your dog, but every dog is different their individual personality and interests may be different to what might be expected from their breed group. If you feel you need some additional help understanding your dog, or finding the exercise that suits them best, we recommend booking a session with a local dog trainer.

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