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Home » Are Poodles Hunting Dogs? How To Teach Your Dog To Hunt

Are Poodles Hunting Dogs? How To Teach Your Dog To Hunt

Poodle hunting

Poodles have been beloved by dog lovers worldwide for centuries, While most people think of poodles as fancy show dogs or lap pets, they have a rich history as hunting dogs. Poodles were originally bred for hunting and retrieving.

The name “poodle” has its origin in the German word “pudel,” meaning “to splash in the water.” This refers to the poodle’s actual purpose as a water retriever. But are poodles still used as hunting dogs today? Today, Poodles are popular hunting dogs, particularly among waterfowl hunters.

Are Poodles Hunting Dogs?

The short answer is yes, poodles are hunting dogs. However, it’s important to note that not all poodles are equally well-suited for hunting. The degree to which they are used for hunting depends on the size of the poodle. There are three sizes of poodles: standard, miniature, and toy. While all three sizes can technically be used for hunting, the standard poodle is the most commonly used and is considered the true “hunting poodle.” Let’s take a closer look at each size.

Are Standard Poodles Hunting Dogs?

Standard poodles are the largest of the three sizes, standing at least 15 inches tall at the shoulder. They were originally bred as water retrievers and excelled at hunting ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. Standard Poodles are also adept at tracking and flushing game, making them versatile hunting companions. They are intelligent, obedient, and eager to please, which makes them easy to train for hunting. Standard poodles also have a high energy level, which is essential for keeping up with hunters in the field.

Are Miniature Poodles Hunting Dogs?

Miniature Poodles stand around 10-15 in tall at the shoulder. While they can be trained for hunting, they are not as commonly used as hunting dogs as their larger counterparts. Miniature Poodles were originally bred as companions and had a more delicate build than Standard Poodles. However, they still have the intelligence and obedience that make them good candidates for hunting.

Are Toy Poodles Hunting Dogs?

Toy Poodles are the smallest of the three sizes, standing under 10 inches tall at the shoulder. They were not originally bred for hunting and are not commonly used as hunting dogs. While they have the intelligence and obedience of other Poodle sizes, their small size makes them less suited for hunting in rough terrain.

Poodle running and hunting

What Makes Poodles Good Hunting Dogs?

So, what makes poodles good hunting dogs? There are several reasons why poodles make good hunting companions.


First and foremost, poodles are highly intelligent dogs. They are quick learners and can follow complex commands. This makes them easy to train for hunting, which is important if you want a dog that can follow your instructions in the field.

Insulating Coat

One unique quality that makes Poodles particularly well-suited for hunting is their thick, curly coat. This coat is water-resistant, which makes it ideal for hunting waterfowl. It also provides insulation, which keeps Poodles warm in cold water. Additionally, the curly coat helps to protect Poodles from brambles and thorns while hunting on land.


Another factor that makes Poodles good hunting dogs is their versatility. Poodles can be trained to hunt various animals, from waterfowl to upland birds to small animals like rabbits and squirrels. This versatility makes them valuable to hunters who hunt different animal types.


Another reason why poodles make good hunting dogs is their athleticism. Poodles are agile and have a lot of energy, they can run fast and jump high. This makes them ideal for hunting, as they can chase prey for extended periods without getting tired.

Natural Instinct

Finally, poodles have the instinct to hunt. Even though they may have been bred as show dogs, their instincts as hunting dogs have not disappeared. This means that poodles are naturally inclined to track and retrieve prey, which makes them good hunting companions.

Poodle dog hunting outside

How to Train Poodles to Hunt

Training a poodle to hunt is not difficult, but it requires time and patience. Here is a detailed guideline for training your poodle to be a hunting dog:

Equipment Needed for Poodle Hunting Training

Before training your poodle to hunt, you must have the right equipment. Here are some of the essentials:

  • Hunting Vest: A hunting vest will help protect your poodle from scratches, scrapes, and other injuries while in the field.
  • Training Collar: A training collar is essential for communicating with your poodle during training sessions. Choosing a collar that fits properly and is comfortable for your dog is important.
  • Leash: A sturdy leash is important for keeping your poodle controlled and close to you during training sessions.
  • Training Bumpers: Training bumpers teach your poodle to retrieve birds. They come in different sizes, shapes, and materials.
  • Whistle: A whistle is useful for communicating with your poodle from a distance.

Basic Commands for Poodle Hunting Training

Once you have the necessary equipment, it’s time to start teaching your poodle the basic commands they’ll need to become successful hunting dogs. Here are some of the key commands to focus on:

  • Come: This command is essential for calling your poodle back to you when they’re out in the field.
  • Sit: Teaching your poodle to sit on command will help keep them still and focused while you’re setting up for a hunt.
  • Stay: The stay command is important for keeping your poodle in place while setting up decoys or waiting for birds to fly over.
  • Heel: This command will help keep your poodle close to you while you’re walking in the field.
  • Fetch: Teaching your poodle to fetch will help them learn how to retrieve birds.
Poodle running and learns how to hunt

Advanced Techniques for Poodle Hunting Training

Once your poodle has mastered the basic commands, you can move on to more advanced training techniques. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Scent Training

Poodles have an excellent sense of smell, which makes them great at tracking and finding birds. You can start by hiding a bird wing or feather and having your poodle find it. Gradually increase the difficulty by hiding the scent in more challenging locations.

Water Retrieval

Poodles are natural swimmers, which makes them great for waterfowl hunting. Start by teaching your poodle to swim and retrieve objects in shallow water and gradually increase the depth and distance.

Gunfire Training

Hunting can be loud and chaotic, so preparing your poodle for the sounds of gunfire is important. Start by introducing them to the sound of a cap gun or starter pistol, gradually increasing the volume over time.

Bird Introduction

Once your poodle is comfortable with basic retrieving, it’s time to introduce them to birds. Start with dead birds and gradually work up to live birds. Ensure your poodle is comfortable handling birds before taking them on a hunt.

Field Training

Field training is important in preparing your poodle for real hunting situations. Set up decoys and practice calling your poodle back to you while they’re in the field.

Training Tips and Considerations

Training a poodle to hunt can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind:

Use positive reinforcement

Poodles react nicely to positive reinforcement, so reward them when they do something correctly. This could be a treat, a toy, or praise and affection.

Consider working with a professional trainer

A trainer can guide training techniques and help you develop a training plan tailored to your poodle’s strengths and weaknesses.

Be patient

Training a poodle for hunting requires patience and persistence. It may take several months or even a year for your poodle to become a skilled hunting dog. Be patient and consistent in your training, and celebrate small victories.

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