Most people want a dog for companionship. It’s a wonderful feeling coming home from work only to be greeted by a big furball who’s super excited to see you.

Our human companions may still fit in this category, but nothing replaces that canine companion. They are there for us when we’re feeling low, and they want to share the great moments with us too.

The group with some of the most excitable companions is the Sporting group. These dogs are used to spending lots of time outside with their family, but they are also ready to put in a day’s work too.

Read below to find out more about the group that is ready to follow you around for a hard day’s work: The Sporting Group.

What are Sporting Dogs?

Historically speaking, Sporting dogs were dogs used to hunt. They would accompany their handler onto land or sea and assist in catching game.

While many would think that dogs in the Hound Group would do the same thing, Hounds are better at tracking something that may already be injured. The Sporting dogs have very specific jobs to complete. The main jobs a Sporting dog would complete are as follows.

Pointers and Setters

These dogs can work separately or in a group. They will go out in the field with their handler and start casting back and forth until they find game. In most cases, these dogs are used to hunt birds, and are thus also known as “birddogs.”

When the dog ranges out, once it finds prey it will freeze and point at what they’ve found. Depending on how the dog was trained. They will either wait for the hunter to come and flush out the prey, or the hunter will give the dog the command to flush out the prey.

Once the game has been downed, they dog will search for and retrieve it once the hunter gives the command, “dead.”

The types of birds commonly hunted by these Sporting dogs are bobwhite, grouse and quail.


While Pointers and Setters do flush out birds, that is not their main job. Though, a flusher can aggressively flush out birds like pheasant.

Flushing dogs also keep a much closer range to their hunter, as the weapon of choice for these hunts would be the shotgun. A dog who has gotten to far from their handler could catch some stray bird shot as they move beyond the safe range of that weapon.

Once they flush out a bird, the dog will stop to watch the bird’s flight so they will know where the bird can be retrieved from.


The dogs in the Retrieving category are commonly used for hunting waterfowl, though they can be used for other birds as well.

During winter conditions, many hunters will use a boat to hunt these birds, so a Retriever is expected to be able to sit calmly and quietly until instructed to begin their task.

Once the hunter has downed game, they will send the Retriever to capture the game. This may also take place while other game is being downed as well. This means the dog must be able to ignore the noise of the hunt and focus on their task at hand.

Different Types of Sporting Dogs

While the dogs in the Sporting group can be grouped according to the job they perform, the American Kennel Club groups them based on their type. Here are the four different types from the American Kennel Club.


Many believe the name is related to their origin, Spain. These dogs are known for their long, droopy ears and silky coats. These dogs are natural flushers. They’re known for their very affectionate temperaments. Some popular Spaniels include:

  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel


Pointers were one of the earliest Sporting breeds and saw use as far back as the 17th century. These dogs are obviously named after the job they perform, but they are also naturals at it. They’re fast learners and retain what they’ve learned very well. Some popular Pointers include:

  • German Wirehaired Pointer
  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffon


These are prized hunting dogs as they are said to have a “soft” mouth. This means that they can seek and retrieve prey without causing damage to the animal. These dogs are among the sweetest and most eager to please. It’s easy to see why a retriever has been at the top of the AKC’s most popular breed list for decades! Popular Retrievers include:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever


These dogs are natural bird hunters who “set” upon finding a bird. They’ll hunch down in preparation to pounce on a bird once they find them. This instinct has come in handy once humans realized their dog could help them hunt.

  • Irish Setter
  • English Setter
  • Gordon Setter

Popular Sporting Dogs

Sporting dogs are well adjusted, fun loving and loyal companions. This is likely why many have been on the AKC’s most popular breed lists for years. Here is just an idea of which dogs top the most popular Sporting dogs list.

Labrador Retriever

This breed made number one on the AKC’s top breed list in 2018, but they always hover around the top. Labs come in a mix of colors, and whatever you choose makes a great family pet. They’re very sturdy and will need lots of exercise.

Golden Retriever

Hailing from Scotland, this eager to please dog has been at the top of the AKC’s most popular breed list for years. They are obedient, loving, and sometimes just the right mix of silly.

German Shorthaired Pointer

This breed needs lots of exercise and love. Their favorite thing to do is spend time outdoors with their family. Whether it be running, swimming or other sports, the GSP is sure to happiest when they’re with you.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The CKCS may look like a toy breed, but they are certainly athletes. Standing at only about a foot high, they will still want a romp around your yard to get out their energy. They make great lap companions too.

Natural Companions

While some dogs may only like bonding with one family member, many of the Sporting breeds will love to be a part of any family. They are affectionate dogs that are looking for lots of physical stimulation.

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