8 Best Small Breed Hunting Dogs

Small breed dogs are usually great companions that are ideal for smaller households. However, they can also be great gundog hunters

If you’re looking for the best small breed hunting dogs, you’re in the right place! In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the best options that you can go for.

What Are the Best Small Hunting Dog Breeds?

The best small hunting dogs are

Read on, If you’d like to find out more about these small breed hunting dogs.

A Deeper Insight into the Best Small Hunting Dogs Breeds

In the following section, I’ll provide you with a brief overview of each breed of them, so you can choose the ideal one for you.

American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniels are known for their curly hair coat and dark range of brownish-black colors.

Style of Hunting

American Water Spaniels are flusher dogs. They’re steady and excellent retrievers who usually work close to the shotgun range.

They have a great natural desire to retrieve game but are also considered highly versatile dogs. They’re athletic and eager but a bit stubborn and aloof with strangers.

Game You Can Hunt with the American Water Spaniel

Being highly versatile dogs, American Water Spaniels are great at hunting and retrieving waterfowls due to their dense hair coat.

However, they also do a great job of hunting in upland areas.

American Water Spaniel Temperament

As you already know, American Water Spaniels are known for their intelligence. They’re also highly energetic and keeping them active is the best way to keep them happy.

They’re obedient and friendly when you train them and they can easily become a trained upland flusher.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with American Water Spaniels

There are many field events that your American water spaniel can participate in. Here are some of these events that your dog can join:

  • AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests
  • AKC Retriever Hunt Tests
  • AWSC Hunt Tests
  • AWSC Roustabout
  • NAHRA Hunt Tests

Breed Associations that American Water Spaniel Can Be Registered to

American Water Spaniels have multiple breed associations, so you won’t have a hard time registering your dog to any of them.

The most common ones are:

  • The American Water Spaniel Club, Inc. (AWSC)
  • The American Kennel Club

The Average Size of an American Water Spaniel

Ideally, male American Water Spaniels are about 30 to 45 pounds while females are a bit smaller at 25 to 40 pounds. As for the height, it ranges from 15 to 18 inches for both males and females.

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever

They’re also known as the “trollers”. They’re known to be the smallest among all retrievers. They’re characterized by a unique high-pitch scream.

Style of Hunting

From their name, you can predict that the trollers are flushing and retriever dogs. Since they originate from Nova Scotia, they’re adapted to hunting in colder weather.

Their compact but agile body structure helps them to flash birds in uplands and “troll” the curious birds. This makes them ideal for winter hunting trips. They retrieve game from water as well.

Game You Can Hunt with the Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Trollers are ideal for hunting waterfowls. Their natural ability to entice and lure them within gunshot range is great. However, with little training, they can also be fascinating upland hunters.

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever Temperament

Trollers are highly intelligent and alert yet patient dogs. They have a natural eagerness to please their human companion.

However, unlike other retrievers, they’re less outgoing with strangers and less submissive. They can be a bit destructive, especially if you don’t keep them active enough.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with Nova Scotia Trollers

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retrievers are among the eligible breeds for retriever field trials in the American Kennel Club (AKC). they can also participate in the National Shoot to Retrieve Association (NSTRA) trials.

Breed Associations that Nova Scotia Trollers Can Be Registered to

Being a retriever, you can register Nova Scotia Trollers to many retrievers clubs. For example, you can register them to The AKC and the National Retriever Club.

However, you can also register them to “Nova Scotia Duck Troller Retrievers Club USA”, which is their exclusive club in America.

The Average Size of a Nova Scotia Troller

Males and females are in Nova Scotia Trollers are close in size and weight. Males are about 18 to 21 inches while females are 17 to 20 inches. As for weight, they all weigh from 35 to 50 pounds.

Cocker Spaniel

Named after the original bird they hunt, the cocker spaniels are among the smallest hunting dogs around.

Style of Hunting

Don’t let the small stature of these dogs fool you, they’re courageous dogs who would jump into the heaviest cover to flush a bird.

Cocker Spaniels are also known for being highly energetic dogs who are eager to work all day.

Game You Can Hunt with the Cocker Spaniel

Since they were originally bred to hunt Woodcockers, hence the name, they’re excellent upland hunters.

However, they can be trained to hunt just about anything, such as waterfowls and other birds.

Cocker Spaniel Temperament

Cocker Spaniels’ temperament varies according to their origin. For example, American Cockers are more outgoing and even-tempered. However, they’re known to be slightly aggressive.

On the other hand, British Cockers are easier to train and friendlier but they’re less outgoing and tend to avoid over-activity.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with the Cocker Spaniel

Whether it’s American or British, Cocker Spaniels have their fair share of hunting trails, including:

  • English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Spaniel Hunt Test
  • AKC Spaniels Hunting Tests
  • American Spaniels Club Field Work
  • Cocker Field Trial

Breed Associations that Cocker Spaniels Can Be Registered to

Besides AKC, you can also register your Cocker Spaniel to the American Cocker Spaniel Club (ACSC) and the American Spaniel Club (ASC)

The Average Size of a Cocker Spaniel

Males are usually larger at 14.5 to 15.5 inches while females are 13.5 to 14 inches. Male cocker spaniels usually weigh about 25 to 30 pounds and females are just 20 to 25 pounds.\


Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet. However, these little merry dogs are also excellent hunters.

Style of Hunting

Since the earliest development of the breed, beagles were known for hunting hare and rabbits. The activity was known as beagling.

They’re also good flushers but often in pairs rather than a singular beagle. Since they’re intelligent, you can also train them to fetch and retrieve.

Game You Can Hunt with the Beagle

Despite being originally bred to hunt rabbits, foxes, and hares, beagles can work with a variety of game hunting.

Beagle Temperament

Beagles are super popular for being gentle and amiable dogs. They’re also very smart, so training them is always a straightforward process.

However, like most energetic dogs, beagles need their daily dose of excitement, so they don’t become a bit destructive.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with the Beagle

A Beagle can participate in AKC field trails for beagles, NBC Triple Challenge, and NBC National Speciality.
Breed Associations that Beagles Can Be Registered to

You can register beagles to the AKC and National Beagle Club of America.

The Average Size of a Beagle

Male and female beagles are indistinguishable in terms of height and weight. Generally, beagles are about 13 to 15 inches tall. According to their height, they weigh around 18 to 20 pounds.

Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniels are on the larger end of small breed hunting dogs. They have a dense coat that help them swim even in cold water.

Style of Hunting

Like most spaniels, Boykins are flushing dogs. They’re popular for taking their time before making an aggressive flush.

They’re highly versatile dogs that can flush without commands. They’ve got a naturally strong instinct for fetching and retrieving.

Game You Can Hunt with the Boykin Spaniel

Since they use scent and sight for tracking, they are excellent for upland hunting, especially pheasants and quail. However, their thick coats help them retrieve waterfowls too.

Boykin Spaniel Temperament

Boykin Spaniels make an excellent family dog. They get along with people and they’re highly intelligent, companionable, and hard-working dogs.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with the Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniels can participate in a wide variety of trials and competitions, including:

  • AKC Spaniels hunt tests
  • Spaniel field trials
  • Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America (BSCBAA)
  • Boykin Spaniel Society (BSS) Retriever Hunt Test
  • Boykin Spaniel Society Upland Hunt Test
  • Breed Associations that Boykin Spaniel Can Be Registered to
  • In addition to AKC, you can also register your Boykin Spaniel in BSCBAA and BSS.

The Average Size of a Boykin Spaniel

Male Boykin Spaniels are about 15.5 to 18 inches while the females are about 14 to 16.5 inches.

As for weight, males weigh up to 35 to 40 pounds while females are significantly lighter. Females only weigh up to 25 to 30 pounds.

Small Munsterlander

Small Munsterlanders are among the easiest dogs to train for versatility. You should know that they’re not closely related to large Musterlander, as they only originate from the same area in Germany.

Style of Hunting

If you’re looking for a highly versatile small dog that can do it all, the Small Munsterlanderis the ideal one for you.

You can easily train them to point, flush, and retrieve. Additionally, you can train them to hunt in both water and land.

Game You Can Hunt with the Small Musterlander

As you might’ve guessed, Small Musterlanders can work their way around all kinds of game birds.

Whether they’re waterfowls, upland birds, or even wounded animals, they’re one of the most keen-on-hunting dogs around.

Small Musterlanders Temperament

Since they are yet to be common in America, their temperament remains inconsistent. However, they’re all known to be highly attentive, intelligent, and trainable.

They require frequent grooming and usually get along with families and other pets.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with the Small Musterlander

Being a highly versatile hunting dog, Small Munsterlander can participate in different AKC hunting tests for retrievers and pointers. NAVHDA tests are also a good option with Small Munsterlanders.

Breed Associations that Small Musterlanders Can Be Registered to

You can register your Small Munsterlanderto the following breed associations:

  • AKC
  • Small Munsterlander Club of North America (SMCNA)
  • North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

The average size of a Small Musterlander

Small Musterlanders have a similar height whether it’s male or female. They range from 20 to 21 inches and weigh anywhere between 40 to 60 pounds.


Brittany is a gundog breed that was purely bred for hunting. American Brittanys are closely related to French Brittanys. However, they have some differences between them.

Style of Hunting

Although they’re referred to as spaniels, Brittany s’ hunting style is closer to a pointer and setter than a flushing dog.

They’re leggy dogs that have a notable amount of agility and strength while covering the hunting ground.

Game You Can Hunt with the Brittany

Brittanys, in general, are great retrievers on both land and water. They’re primarily upland game bird hunters but they can also hunt anything from waterfowls to fur.

Brittany Temperament

They’re known to be highly adaptable and intelligent dogs. They’re ideal for active owners because they’re highly energetic dogs.

Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with the Brittany

Brittanys are classified as a gundog, so they can participate in hunting competitions and trails by AKC. also, they can join the ABC National Gun Dog Championships and NAVHDA.

Breed Associations that Brittanys Can Be Registered to

American Brittany s are registered in the following breed associations:

  • AKC
  • The American Brittany Club (ABC)

The Average Size of an American Brittany

American Brittany s are slightly larger than their French relatives. Ideally, male and female Brittanys are about 17.5 to 20.5 inches long. They both weigh about 30 to 40 pounds.

French Brittany

French Brittany s originate from the Brittany region in France, hence the name.

Style of Hunting

They have a similar hunting style to American Brittany. They’ve got strong noses and they’re keen pointing hunters.

Game You Can Hunt with the French Brittany

Since French Brittany s share similar abilities to hunt on land and in water, they’re great for upland game birds as well as waterfowls. However, they’re more of a fur and feather hunter in France.

French Brittany Temperament

French Brittany s are agile, smart and friendly. They make great family dogs as they get along with other pets as well.
Hunting Trails and Competitions You Can Participate in with the French Brittany

Both French and American Brittany s share the same competitions and hunting trials. The most popular ones are ABC Gundog Championship, AKC’s pointer hunting trails, and NAVHDA.

Breed Associations that French Brittanys Can Be Registered to

French Brittany s are registered in the following breed associations:

  • AKC
  • The American Brittany Club (ABC)

The Average Size of a French Brittany

They’re slightly smaller than American Brittany. So, they’re usually about 17 to 20 inches and weigh about 30 to 45 pounds.

What Are the Best Small Pointing Breeds?

Pointing breeds, also known as bird dogs, have a strong instinct to point towards the game bird. Any dog that stops and aims the muzzle towards a game can be classified as a pointer hunting dog.

Here are some of the best examples for dogs that are either natural pointers or easily trained to be one:

  • American Brittany
  • French Brittany
  • Small Munsterlander

What Are the Best Small Flushing Breeds?

Flushing breeds usually work much closer with the hunter, as they need to stay within shotgun distance of the hunter.

They’re usually upland game bird hunters who make an aggressive flush on birds that run away from the hunter. These ones cover the smallest distance among gundogs, so they need to be well-tempered rather than energetic.

Among the best small breed flushing hunters are:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Boykin Spaniel
  • American Water Spaniel

What Are the Best Small Retriever Breeds?

There’s a wide variety of dogs that are natural retrievers. Additionally, there are many intelligent and versatile dogs that can learn to retrieve with ease. Here are some of them.

  • Boykin Spaniel
  • Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever
  • Small Munsterlander
  • American Water Spaniel

What Are the Best Small Hound Breeds?

Hounds are hunting dogs that specialize in tracking and hunting prey. They need to have an excellent sense of vision and smell. Additionally, they have to be highly energetic.

Here are some of the best small hound breeds:

  • Beagles
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hound
  • Basenji
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
  • Portuguese Podengo Pequeno “the world’s smallest hound”

Wrap Up

There you have it. A comprehensive guide with the best small breed hunting dogs around.

As you can see, you can pick your ideal fit according to the kind of game bird you’re trying to hunt or the hunting style.

If you’re looking for the most versatile dog breed, I’d recommend the Small Munsterlander. Although they’re pretty rare in the U.S., they’re excellent small dogs that work with all kinds of game birds.

Scott Phelan

I came from a non-hunting family, in my teens I got interested in hunting and taught myself to hunt. I got my first hunting dog after college and became obsessed with all things hunting dog and hunting dog training. I have spent the last 10 years training and hunting with dogs. My dogs and I have hunted quail, chukar, huns, pheasants, grouse, woodcock, ducks, and geese all over the USA and Canada. Hunting dogs are my passion.

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