Needing a hunting dog, and at the urging of his wife Bryan, Evans Dietz decided on a poodle.

“I figured if all fails, we would have a good family pet for my daughter Eva,’’ he said.

Five years later, Dietz is thrilled with his constant companion, Jethro, a Standard Poodle who was trained by Rich Louter of Atlanta and is Dietz’s partner while hunting duck, geese and doves.

Jethro may not have the sleek lines and heroic profile of the Labrador Retrievers, the first string dog of choice for so many hunters through the years, but he gives as good as a Lab, Dietz says, right down to the companionship.

“He is great,’’ Dietz said. “He loves to hunt. He doesn’t dive like a Lab. He seems to take the easiest route, very smart dog. And he just does not miss a duck. He never whines, is very quiet. He does not mind the cold. He is just crazy about hunting.”

While Dietz is thrilled with what he has, it still takes some getting used to for others.

“I think the first time we took him out, we were going hunting on a farm north of Brinkley,” Dietz said. “My wife had gotten him groomed and he was really pretty, show dog quality. We get over there and everyone is wondering about this poodle. In fact, the gentleman who owned the farm was in this 80s and he said, ‘I haven’t been hunting in 10 years but I am going today.’ ”

Jethro proved himself, and struck a blow for non-traditional breeds of hunting dogs everywhere. While the Lab remains the king and favorite of most hunters, there are other options out there.

Bob Rainey of Little Rock loves his two Chesapeake Retrievers. And it is has been a longtime infatuation.

“I have been hunting with them since I was nine,’’ he said. “And I am 64 now. My dad hunted with them for years before me. We believe in them.

“I love their heartiness and their ability to take on full water. In my opinion they beat the Labs and the Golden Retrievers. They can handle white water well.”

Rainey said he trained his own dogs.

“I entertain a lot of hunters and I ask them to bring their dogs. And a lot of the time after we hunt they want to get Chessies,” Rainey said. “They can do everything. I use mine if I am hunting ducks, doves, pheasants. A good dog can really make a hunt and a bad dog can really ruin one.”

Jimbo Ramsay was looking for a Lab when his wife surprised him one Christmas with the gift of a Wirehair Pointer Griffon he named Ramble.

“To be honest, I told her, and I probably shouldn’t have, that that is fine but if it does not work out I was still getting a Lab,’’ Ramsay said. “We are about to go into our fourth year hunting with Ramble and I could not be happier. If I ever get another dog it will be a Griffon.”

A life-long duck hunter, Ramsay grew up around Labs, even though he was looking to replace a Chessie when he was given Ramble.

“I did some research and they were called the four-wheel drive of hunting dogs,” Ramsay said. “And that is what they are. Around the family he is a great pet, sleeps in our house, is great around the family and other dogs, but when you take him on the field he is all business.”

Ramsay said he does not just use the dog for ducks, but also quail, doves and geese.

“He can do it all. I am very pleased,” Ramsay said.

(Also see: A Guide To The Non-Traditional Duck Hunting Dog Breeds)