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Are Golden Retrievers Good Hunting Dogs?

Are Golden Retrievers Good Hunting Dogs?

These days Golden Retrievers are known for being great companions, therapy dogs, and service dogs due to their loving nature. However, you might be surprised to know that the “retriever” part of Golden Retriever refers to the fact that the breed was originally bred for retrieving birds.

Now, you might be wondering whether this cute and cuddly breed can still do what its ancestors did to earn their iconic name. At, we’ve put this blog together to discuss whether a Golden Retriever can be a good hunting dog, so you can figure out whether it will be worth getting one.


What Makes Golden Retrievers Good Hunting Dogs?

Historically, Golden Retrievers made for excellent hunting dogs for a few good reasons. In this section, we will list and discuss them below.

Energy levels

The Golden Retriever is a sporting dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club, and has extremely high energy levels. It is vital that hunting dogs have good endurance, as hunts often require both the hunter and their furry hunting companions to trek long distances.

Dog breeds with poor endurance don’t make for good hunting dogs, as they will likely tire in the middle of a hunt. However, anyone who owns a Golden Retriever will know that these dogs can go for hours without stopping.

Sense of smell

An excellent sense of smell is important for any gun dog, as their responsibility is to help track game for the hunters. The Golden Retriever has one of the best senses of smell of all dog breeds.

This makes Golden Retrievers perfectly suited for tracking small game. While they were bred to retrieve waterfowl, they can also retrieve birds that fall into dense brush after being shot due to their sense of smell.

Receptive to training

Hunting dogs always need to be well trained, as many hunters will require them to follow strict commands to keep them out of harm’s way. Hunting dogs that aren’t well trained could end up taking off and getting lost in the wilderness, or worse yet; they could end up stepping in front of game before you take a shot.

Thankfully, Golden Retrievers were chosen as gun dogs for a reason. They pick up on training exceptionally quickly, so it won’t take them long to learn a new command or phrase.


Golden Retrievers are known for being some of the most intelligent dogs you can find. While this intelligence can be used to quickly pick up commands, as mentioned above, it does also have some other uses.

Golden Retrievers can pick up on the habits of game and learn how to use it to their advantage when hunting. They may also be able to find shortcuts and adapt to any difficult circumstances you experience while on a hunt.

The dog breed is often even intelligent enough to know how much pressure to use when carrying birds back to their owners in their mouths.


Golden Retrievers were bred to be hunting dogs from the very beginning, which is exactly why they are such great hunting companions today.

However, if you want to guarantee that your Golden Retriever will be good for hunting, then you should purchase a field-bred puppy. Field-bred dogs generally come from parents that have a hunting pedigree. This means that they have been specifically bred to be used for hunting.

These Golden Retrievers will often be especially easy to train when it comes to hunting.


Is It Possible For My Golden Retriever To Become A Hunting Dog?

If you have a loving, old Goldie at home that has never even heard a gunshot before, then you will probably struggle to train it to be a hunting dog. Just like with any other type of dog, the sooner you start training, the better.

If your Golden Retriever is a show-quality specimen or is mixed with another breed, this can also affect their receptiveness to training. If you and your Golden Retriever are both new to hunting, then it can be a fun learning process for both you and your dog.

These dogs have some natural hunting abilities due to their breeding, but you should know that training your dog to hunt won’t be quick or easy.

Hunting training is much more specific and involved than other types of training. If you want your dog to be an effective, well-trained hunting dog, you might be better off getting a professional to do the training for you.


How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Become A Hunting Dog

Training your Golden Retriever to become a hunting dog will require some tools and a lot of patience. In this section, we’ll tell you what you’ll need and how to start training your dog.

What you will need to start training

Some of the items you will need to start training your dog for hunting include:

  • Lures
  • Dummies
  • Check cords



When training your Golden Retriever to hunt, you will need a large open space to do so. Quiet parks and fields are great for this, as there won’t be any external factors to distract your dog.

If possible, you should choose an area that has bushes and trees. This can help you train your dog to hide from the game when they are on the hunt and not scare them away.


Golden Retrievers and other dogs are like humans in the sense that the more often you train them, the easier they will pick it up. You should, therefore, train your dog every day if you have the time to do so.

You should keep training sessions short, though. Otherwise, your dog may feel overwhelmed. It is best to keep the sessions around one hour long, but you can extend this slightly if you feel that things are going very well.

Training games

The best way to start training your dog is by using games that are similar to what they will do when hunting. Some of the best games to play involve you hiding something from your dog and getting them to find it and bring it back to you.

As you and your dog progress, you can start introducing distractions to make things more difficult as well.



Are Golden Retrievers predatory?

While Golden Retrievers make for great hunting dogs, they don’t really have much of a predatory instinct. They won’t chase after small animals unless they are specifically trained to do so.

What types of hunting are Golden Retrievers best for?

As mentioned above, Golden Retrievers don’t have much of a strong prey drive. This means they won’t really chase after small game like rabbits.

As the breed name suggests, Golden Retrievers are best used for retrieving birds on water or on land.


Final Thoughts

At BarksInThePark, we have plenty of information on Golden Retrievers and many other breeds. So, you should check out our website if you are interested in reading other Goldie-related blogs like are Golden Retrievers high energy?