Big game dogs: 5 extraordinary breeds you need to know more about
Big game hunting with dogs is for many the ultimate expression of the art of hunting and an opportunity to experience unique emotions and sensations. Species such as deer, roe deer, mouflon, deer or wild boar are dream trophies for any hunter, but also prey that can exceed 200 kilograms in weight and cause critical damage with razor-sharp fangs.
Dangerousness is inherent to big game hunting, and this is a factor that conditions the selection of dog breeds for big game hunting. The Andalusian Podenco, the German Arm, the Dogo Argentino or the Spanish Alano are ideal for qualities such as hunting vocation, sense of smell, robustness, bravery, bite power or “dicha”, that is, the dog’s bark in its pursuit of the prey, indispensable for other “companions” to come to the call and develop a perfectly coordinated work.
However, there is no infallible breed for big game hunting. Dogs that meet the aforementioned characteristics are of interest, but the orography and the dominant game in a territory are conditioning factors that are beyond the dog’s intrinsic aptitudes. Nevertheless, the following list contains five of the most valid breeds to integrate in a pack of dogs for big game hunting.
What are the best dog breeds for big game hunting?
As familiar as its graceful and lively demeanor may be, the Andalusian Podenco is not native to the Peninsula, but to the Middle East, dating back to the time before the first dynasties of Egypt. Its antiquity does not prevent it from having an absolute validity in our hunting herds, forming in fact the nucleus of the most used in Andalusia, Extremadura and other Autonomous Communities.
The Andalusian podenco captivates by its extraordinary loyalty, sense of smell and speed. Special mention should be made of the Galician and Ibizan hounds, two related breeds, particularly suitable for catching rabbits, hares and foxes. Any of these dogs can be fearlessly incorporated into big game hunting packs, with always satisfactory results.
The also called ‘alano montero’ and ‘lebrel de presa’ is one of the most appreciated big game dogs by hunters all over the world. Its popularity lies in its decisive influence in gripping and immobilizing heavy mammals. The fact is that hunting wild boar involves greater risks than other prey of similar size, and many dogs are harmed in a hunt. For this reason, the alano can be a ‘life insurance’ for the rest of the members of the rehala.
Due to its strength and forcefulness, the Spanish Alano is a key aid to the rest of the pack, containing the attacks of prey that, like the wild boar, can weigh more than 100 kilograms. This breed is native to the Iberian Peninsula and has been present in Spanish pictorial art for centuries, as evidenced by the alano visible in Diego Velázquez’s The Hunt for the Wild Boar of Philip IV.
The German Braco was introduced from Germanic lands around the 19th century and stands out for its elegance, endurance, great intelligence and uncommon sense of smell, not to mention the courage it shows when facing the fiercest beasts. This hunting dog for wild boar and other related prey occupies a special place for many hunters because of the bonds and affections they establish with their respective owners.
Another of the best dog breeds for hunting wild boar and other large prey is the Dogo Argentino. Its morphological qualities are surprising due to the whiteness of its coat, its athletic and muscular bearing and an ideal height for confronting large mammals. Like other breeds, it has certain shortcomings, but it makes up for them with a bite that is difficult to match, reaching 500 pounds per square inch, almost half the bite force of the Siberian tiger.
Unlike the previous breeds, the Spanish Hound is not noted for its great robustness, but for its endurance, bravery and hard-working spirit. This canine breed, originally from the north of the Peninsula, is suitable for tracking and catching roe deer, deer, foxes, wild boar and even bears. Although it has been known since the 15th century, its numbers dropped to critical levels during the Civil War, and during the second half of the last century when the Spanish hound experienced a resurgence, fortunately for all lovers of the art of hunting.