All sporting dog breeds are known for being naturally alert and active, making them likable and well-rounded companions.

These dogs were initially developed to work with hunters to find and retrieve quarries.

Currently, there are four types of sporting dogs: setters, retrievers, pointers, and spaniels.

These dogs hold superior instincts in woods and water, and many enjoy field activities and hunting.

These dogs hold a water-repellant coat for water-retrieving breeds, which insulates against the elements.

As the name might suggest, sporting breeds will require regular, invigorating exercise.

Sporting Dog Breed Group: Common Traits and Characteristics

If you are wondering what a pooch is like from the sporting dog breed group, we have listed the common traits you can expect from this category:


Dogs from the sporting breed group just love people! That's why they'd make an excellent, loyal companion.

They are very responsive to their owners and would come to you the moment you show up!

If you're looking for an upbeat, family pet, you might like to get one of the sporting dog breeds!


Just like the working dog breeds, this group used to spend most days helping their owners in the field. However, if they are kept as pets, they would need a lot of exercise to spend all that energy.

They are great canine companions when you're also engaged in an active lifestyle.

If not, it's best to keep them preoccupied with physical activities or training. Otherwise, they might end up getting destructive.


As the name implies, it's only fitting to say that the sporting dog breed group is very capable of doing physical activities.

Dogs in this category are mostly fond of jumping, running, swimming, and even diving. Because of this trait, sporting dog breeds are often entered into competition showcasing dog agility.

Strong and Sturdy Body

The sporting dog breed group is known for its stamina and strength.

So if you tend to get worried about fragile dogs, you wouldn't have to experience that with this type of dog.

Protective Coats

Given the kind of outdoor activity this dog group is involved with, they have coats suitable for different weather.

In fact, their coat keeps them warm and insulated. It also somewhat repels water which makes drying their fur easier and faster.

With this in mind, you wouldn't worry much whenever your dog jumps into the first puddle they see.

Highly Trainable

Dogs from the sporting group are quite intelligent. Their intelligence and susceptibility to orders are already part of their natural instinct.

If you have plans to get them as a puppy, you can easily train them to follow commands and even certain tasks!

4 Basic Types of Sporting Dog Breeds

Dogs under the sporting breed group are further categorized into four types, namely:


These dogs can find or track objects and game through scent. They then do a “pointing” stance where they point their nose in the direction of the object.


The Spaniels dog breed is the one you can expect to flush out the game from the brush.


These are the type of sporting dog breeds you see on the field, always working hard. They track preys by scent, and they “freeze” to indicate that they have found the game.


As the name implies, these dogs retrieve game and give it back to hunters. You'd be surprised at how much they're willing to do to get your game back.

Some dogs would even dive into the water just to bring the game back to you!

10 Most Popular Sporting Dog Breeds

American Water Spaniel is among the true American dog breeds

American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is native to the lake country. This breed is an outdoorsy athlete who enjoys hunting and swimming.

These dogs are known for their enthusiastic and charming personalities, although they can be aloof with people they don’t know.

This breed is also known for being stubborn. The American Water Spaniel is a muscular midsize gundog, recognizable by the wavy or tightly curled brown coat.

This breed loves working in the marshy banks of the Great Lakes region or icy waters. The dog’s coat is dense and waterproof, with thickly padded feet and webbed toes.

This canine’s body is small enough for a dog to hop in and out of the skiff without rocking a boat.

With hunters, the American Water Spaniel combines the working traits of spaniels and retrievers.

Admirers and enthusiasts of the breed often describe the dog as intelligent, merry, and versatile, suited for plenty of canine sports.

A key to this breed’s happiness is physical and mental activity, particularly with their adored human. When left underemployed, these dogs can quickly become vocal and destructive.

Orange and White Brittany


The Brittany is a gundog and genuinely has birds on the brain. While they’re often called a Brittany Spaniel, the American Kennel Club formally changed the name in 1982.

These dogs are notorious for their energy, making them versatile family companions and hunting dogs.

Typically, Brittany is hyperactive, which makes suitability dependent on the owner’s activity level.

The Brittany is a medium size dog that can travel in the car, but their energy is abundant. They have joy for life and high enthusiasm in everything they do.

Unfortunately, if you don’t hold the same energy level, these dogs can seem like a bit much.

These dogs can become destructive if under-stimulated, reacting neurotic and hyperactive. Always provide Brittany with plenty of exercises, a walk around the block isn’t going to cut it.

The Brittany is great with children and other animals but can accidentally injure a small child with their exuberance.

This breed is susceptible to harsh treatment, requiring gentle yet firm training. Positive enforcement methods often work well.

These dogs have a hunting instinct, making them ideal for flyball, agility, or other similar activities. In hunting, the Brittany can point at game, willingly retrieving on land and in water.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Initially, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was a water dog used to retrieve ducks and hunt in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

Thanks to their sturdy build, stamina, dense coat, and strength, this breed was perfect for the chilly chop.

Today, they’re still recognized as durable hunting dogs and adorable companions for active and experienced owners willing to offer exercise and structure.

These dogs love water, becoming powerful swimmers. This breed can use its slightly curved or straight tail as a rudder.

This breed may be much to handle for apartment dwellers and novice dog owners.

Affectionally called “Chessies,” these dogs can fill many job descriptions. If creatively trained, these dogs can do well with obedience, enjoying rally, flyball, and agility.

This breed makes prized hunting dogs with excellent noses and stubborn personalities. Thankfully, when hunting for fallen fowl, this trait is beneficial.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is friendly and obedient, occasionally having their own mind. They can easily overpower an inexperienced owner.

With experience, these dogs can quickly become willing and hardworking companions. These dogs require daily exercise, with long walks or opportunities to swim satisfying the impulsive urge to hunt.

The Chessie needs early socialization and exposure to many different places, people, animals, and sights.

He’ll never become overly social with humans, making him better suited for protection than social activities.

Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed

Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel is beautiful to look at, with a labor-intensive coat. This breed is commonly found as a companion dog, but they’re capable bird dogs at heart.

The Cocker Spaniel loves to please its owner, holding a cheerful and amenable disposition. Whether you have a large home or a small apartment, the Cocker Spaniel can easily adapt to their environment.

Considered the smallest of the Sporting Group, the Cocker Spaniel gained popularity with Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

With a beautiful flowing coat and gentle temperament, this dog is a wonderful family dog.

The Cocker is relatively small compared to others in his group, fitting comfortably in a condo, apartment, or small home.

They will likely remain companion animals but can quickly train for obedience and agility competitions.

The Cocker Spaniel is trustworthy and loving, sitting exceptionally well with children and other pets.

The extreme popularity does pose a few health issues for unscrupulous people wanting to breed without regard for temperament, conformation, or health.

Always source this breed from a reputable breeder with a health guarantee.

English Springer Spaniel Health

English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel was initially developed as a gun dog, working to flush game in the field.

The dog earned the name due to how he springs at the game to flush it for the hunter.

Currently, they’re still popular with hunters and families alike. As an athletic and versatile breed, these dogs are popular with hunt tests, agility, and obedience.

This lively dog is also an excellent addition to any family wanting an energetic and adventurous dog. This dog loves hiking, camping, and spending time outside.

As a hunting dog, the English Springer Spaniel requires plenty of exercise. Always keep them on a leash when unfenced, as these dogs may decide to go hunting on their own.

Many non-hunting owners will participate in agility, obedience, and flyball activities. They also make excellent therapy dogs, bringing smiles to many in nursing homes and hospitals.

The English Springer Spaniel loves spending time with people, making them terrible guard dogs.

They expect attention from everyone they meet, including strangers. Due to their affectionate nature, this breed shouldn’t be left alone for long periods.

german shorthaired pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP for short) will hunt furred and feathered game or trail deer if given a chance.

This versatile breed excels in retrieving on land or from water, hunting many game types, or sitting as a companion animal.

The GSP will curl up with the kids as a companion dog and relax the night away. These dogs have an interesting, easy-care coat but require plenty of exercise.

Without room to run and play, a bored dog may become destructive. If you can offer the German Shorthaired Pointer with the mental and physical challenges they need, this dog will remain happy and content.

This breed is intelligent and energetic, bringing enthusiasm to work and play. These dogs enjoy people and offer a lot of companionship to children on the move.

The GSP requires extensive levels of exercise, wanting at least two hours of playtime daily.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is eager to please, responding well to praise, food, or play rewards.

These dogs can learn new tricks or exercises quickly, although focus can be an issue. The GSP can become bored relatively quickly.

Labrador Retriever Dogs


Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is both a working dog breed and a friendly companion.

Historically, the Labrador Retriever was a fisherman’s helper, fetching ropes, hauling nets, and retrieving fish from the North Atlantic.

This breed is good-natured and hardworking, sitting as America’s most popular breed. These dogs commonly work as retrievers for hunters, search and rescue dogs, and assistance dogs.

As an intelligent breed, the Labrador Retriever is a loyal companion, waiting by their owner’s side.

The Lab is muscular and athletic, with a friendly demeanor and plenty of energy. As an intelligent breed, they can work as an assistance dog or retrieve people.

This breed’s sweet nature makes them excellent therapy dogs, working throughout hospitals and retirement homes. The Lab lives to serve their family, often likened to angels on earth.

Red Dog Breed #1: Irish Setter

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is a boisterous family dog with great potential for canine sports and activities.

Originating as gundogs in Ireland, the Irish Setter quickly spread thanks to their beauty and enthusiasm.

These dogs are friendly, curious, and mischievous, with high energy levels. These dogs are highly likable thanks to their confidence, grace, and athleticism.

Although this breed was initially developed as a bird dog, the Irish Setter retains a lot of energy and drive from his forefathers.

These dogs love doing new things, especially if they involve birds. While the Irish Setter isn’t in the field as other sporting breeds, hunting instincts are still strong.

Although the Irish Setter loves virtually everyone, these dogs are highly energetic. As such, they’ll need owners willing to commit to at least an hour of exercise daily.

An active family that includes the dog is essential, as these dogs can develop separation anxiety or destructive habits if left alone.

Outside of their hunting talents, Irish Setters can excel in many activities, including rallies, tracking, obedience, and agility.

The Irish Setter is known for intelligence but can periodically be mischievous and independent. Training this breed will require a lot of patience and consistency.

Slow to mature, owners should prepare for a full-size dog with puppylike enthusiasm. These dogs make excellent companions to active older children but can often overwhelm toddlers or elderly people.

17. English Pointer


Bred for hundreds of years to “point” small game and birds, the Pointer is a versatile field dog. This breed is an exceptional family dog, excelling in many training areas.

As an energetic and fun-loving breed, these dogs are well suited to active homes.

These dogs require plenty of space to run and play and extensive daily exercise to keep their high energy in check. If left unattended, these dogs will find fun by acting out.

The Pointer is almost instantly recognizable, with a long head and pointed tail. They have the body of a hunter, standing tall and still when they identify the game.

The Pointer is called the Cadillac of bird dogs, known for speed and ability to go all day in the field.

Although focused on the field, these dogs are full of energy and fun-loving personality. These dogs will run hard and fast, making them ideal for running or cycling.

The Pointer is also known for holding a highly competitive nature and excelling in obedience, agility, and rallying. These dogs love performing in public.

Weimaraner Running


Initially bred for handling big game like bears and deer, the Weimaraner (“Silver Ghost”) was highly sought-after in native Germany.

Named after the place in Germany where he was developed, noblemen wanted a dog with courage, intelligence, and scenting ability.

Owners also needed a dog with speed and stamina to outlast prey on the hunt. Today, these dogs still make appearances in the hunting realm.

These dogs can also make excellent family dogs, provided they get enough exercise.

With a top priority of being with his people, these dogs love spending time with their families.

Unfortunately, these dogs aren’t ideal for everyone – they’re a lot of personality for first-time dog owners.

These dogs require a lot of exercises and mental stimulation to remain happy. The Weimaraner wants to remain within touching range of their owner, staying close to you throughout the house.

Sporting Dog Breeds: Conclusion

For families looking for a new canine companion that can keep up with active and busy lifestyles, the sporting dog is the perfect pup to join the home.

Although sporting dog breeds originated as hunting dogs, virtually every species has adapted to the typical family lifestyle.

These dogs are highly energetic and devoted and hold high levels of stamina on the field and off.

READ NEXT: Top 5 Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

Chin has been working as a writer for more than a decade in various niches and now she's finally living the dream of writing something she's passionate about—dogs!