Are German Shepherds Good Hunting Dogs?

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Are German Shepherds good hunting dogs? I have always loved the German Shepherd breed. They are smart, loyal, and protective animals. Their intelligence also makes me wonder what else they are capable of. As someone who comes from a long line of hunters, I wondered if it would be possible to use a German Shepherd as a hunting dog. I decided to investigate.

So are German Shepherds good hunting dogs? The simple answer is no, but they can be. Trained correctly and from a young age, German Shepherds can be taught to hunt. Much like teaching anything else, it will take time, patience, and having a solid grasp on what makes a good hunting dog. 

German Shepherds are by no means the typical hunting dogs. Breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, the Beagle, and even the Bloodhound are often used to track and retrieve prey. But, unlike Huskies and other dogs who have not been bred to hunt and can’t be trained, the German Shepherd has the unique ability to be taught.

German Shepherd hunting dog

What Makes a Good Hunting Dog?

A good hunting dog is one who is healthy, is receptive to training, has a sense of fearlessness, and possesses the right temperament. Hunting requires a certain level of attentiveness and athletic capability, so any dog that is chosen to hunt must be up to the task. 

For a hunting dog to be receptive to training, they need to be calm, intelligent and, learn to take commands. The world of hunting is dangerous and a hunting dog needs to be ready to meet any challenge head-on. When a dog is well trained and has an attitude of fearlessness, confidence, and loyalty, they become more than just a tool to kill and retrieve prey.  

Hunting dogs can become very close to their owners. The stronger a bond between a hunting dog and it’s owner, the better the dog will be able to perform. Even if a dog is tasked with being the best hunting dog it can be, it is still an animal that requires love and attention. Dogs are social creatures. Once hunting season is over, a hunting dog still requires care and socialization to remain healthy and happy. 

It is also a good idea to know the background and history of your hunting dog. Because of the close companionship that can develop between owner and animal, you want your hunting dog to be around for as long as they can be. With excellent breeding and minimal health issues, a hunting dog can be a strong companion for many years. 

History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a breed of dog whose roots can be traced back to 19th century Germany. They were originally bred with the intent to preserve traits useful in herding and guarding sheep. Characteristics such as intelligence, speed, strength, and a strong sense of smell were indispensable qualities. 

Towards the end of the 19th century, attempts were made to standardize the German Shepherd breed by a man named Max von Stephanitz. He saw the potential of the German Shepherd’s intelligence and strength. He wanted to create his ideal version of a working dog. 

As the German Shepherd became mainstream, careless breeding led to health problems and a move away from being the ideal working dog. But even with those changes, the German Shepherd remained an easy to train dog breed. This quality led them to be used as police dogs and seeing-eye dogs for the blind. 

In today’s society, the German Shepherd is sought after for its loyalty, protective nature, and kindness. They make lovely domestic companions and are a fantastic family-oriented breed. 

How to Train Your German Shepherd to Hunt

Training for any hunting dog is best done in the early years of a puppy’s life. The earlier on training begins, the higher chance your puppy has to realize its full potential as a predator. It will also gain the confidence necessary to carry through on tasks such as attacking, tracking, and retrieving prey.

Socialization with other people and animals is a crucial ingredient in training a hunting dog. It allows your puppy to get comfortable in novel situations and creates a well-adjusted animal. Socialization also creates a unique and unbreakable bond between owner and animal. When a strong relationship is in place, your dog is easier to train and command. 

Running through open fields and allowing your dog to explore its surroundings is also essential. Vast open spaces can be scary and full of unknowns for a puppy just starting out on the hunting path. The sooner your puppy gets comfortable in big areas, the better he or she will be at navigating them with confidence and rigor. 

A puppy also needs to be introduced to guns and gunfire. If done correctly, your puppy won’t be gunshy and will know that the sound of a firearm is a signal to go out and retrieve prey. Softer tempered dogs may need more training and exposure in this area, as loud noises can be scary and overwhelming. 

Training a hunting dog requires time, patience, and a willingness to adjust the training regiment as needed. It is always a work in progress. Puppies are a handful when they aren’t being trained to hunt. Allowing yourself to get frustrated by expecting too much from your puppy right off the bat will only make training more difficult. It is best to enter into training with a good attitude and compassion for your animal. 

What Game Can German Shepherds Hunt?

German Shepherds can be trained to hunt a variety of animals. But, they are best with tracking and retrieving smaller prey like rabbits, vermin, and fowl.

The German Shepherd is also capable of detecting smaller prey that may otherwise go unnoticed. With the correct training and their innate intelligence, the German Shepherd can be a very useful hunting companion.

But, while other hunting dogs are great at chasing down and attacking prey, a German Shepherd should be used only for tracking and retrieving. The size and sheer power of a German Shepherd can cause problems. Prey that is attacked by a German Shepherd can end up being mutilated and mangled.

German Shepherds can also be used to track deer.

Although they are not fast and agile dogs and may scare the deer off before any shot is fired, they do have a great sense of smell. They are therefore great at locating deer trails and tracking wounded deer.

Related Questions

Can an older German Shepherd become a hunting dog?

Have you ever heard the old saying, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?’ The chances of an older German Shepherd becoming a hunting dog are highly unlikely. Any dog used for hunting should be trained as a puppy so they can develop the skills and attitude required to be a successful hunting.

Should I use a breeder for a German Shepherd hunting dog?

Because German Shepherds are not often used for hunting, using a breeder is ideal. Breeders know the history, the potential, and the likely temperament of the animals they breed. Finding a breeder who has had hunting success with a German Shepherd in the past is incredibly helpful and will make your decision easy.

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