The Versatile Hunting Dog

The Versatile Hunting Dog


The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) defines versatile hunting dogs as “the dog that is bred and trained to dependably hunt and point game, to retrieve on both land and water, and to track wounded game on both land and water.” The group asserts that “The versatile breeds, as we know them today, are products of Europe.” Generally speaking, most of the versatile hunting dogs were developed in Europe during the 19th century due to hunting laws that required all game to be recovered after it was shot.

A versatile hunting dog is not only our faithful companion at home. We also have genuinely versatile hunting companions we can take on our upland and duck hunting trips while also having a blood tracking dog for game hunts to search for wounded game. A hunting dog promotes ethical hunting in that hunters do everything within their natural abilities to recover their game. 

The most well known versatile breeds in South Africa are the German Shorthaired Pointer (Deutsch Kurzhaar), the German Wirehaired Pointer (Deutsch Drahthaar), Vizsla, Weimaraner and Spinone. Some other examples of versatile breeds are (not at all a complete list): English Setter, Spaniels, Gordon Setters, Irish Red & White Setter, Irish Setter and Pointer.


Versatile dogs must be intelligent, with the willpower to persevere and the ability to concentrate under numerous and variable conditions. Searching, pointing, tracking wounded game, cold water retrieving, blood tracking and blind searching are necessary capabilities for versatile hunting dogs.

In the field, versatile dogs should exhibit a staunch pointing and the desire to search for, track and retrieve game in a cooperative manner and display the use of a fine nose. A versatile dog needs to further prove his independence, stamina and quality of nose by transferring his search for and retrieving of game to the water.


Snare Tracking – Handler Ramona

Developing your versatile hunting dog is much more than just exposing the dog to birds and letting the natural ability “kick in” or letting the “older dog” teach him to hunt. Training a versatile hunting dog can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re the new owner. You don’t have just one type of hunting situation to prepare for, but rather multiple game species hunted in just as many different cases. In the end, it is well worth it. Nothing beats a well-trained, well-controlled hunting dog working for you in any hunting scenario.

To raise a hunting dog, being steady in your training is crucial, particularly during the first year of your pup’s life. The proper foundation will ensure your canine companion safely and effectively does their job. Hunting with your dog is a two-way street. It calls for consistency and commitment from both of you.



While you may enjoy a hunting outing with your friends, there are times when you may just want to enjoy the serene silence of the outdoors. Nothing compares to the quiet companionship of a dog who understands your every command and can make hunting quite an adventure.

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