If you’re an avid hunter looking to get a dog, you’ll likely want a canine that can assist you in catching your bounty. So, is a Pitbull a good choice for that role? Can a Pitbull be a hunting dog?
Pitbulls can be hunting dogs when trained. Given their strength and instinct to fight, they make great catch dogs. That means they catch the animal being hunted and they hold them down, waiting for the hunter to arrive. They are more suited to catching large game like boars.
Whether a Pitbull can be a hunting dog depends on the amount of effort you are willing to put into training. It also depends on how you hunt, whether you measure your success in captures or in the simple enjoyment of the act. So, can a Pitbull be a hunting dog? Read on to find out.
A Brief Introduction To Pitbulls
Pitbulls are a much-loved breed in the United States. They are excellent guard dogs and lovable companions. These dogs are recognizable by their broad, flat heads, wide, muscular shoulders, and huge mouths.
What Is a Pitbull?
Many different breeds are commonly referred to as Pitbulls. This can be confusing and deserves some clarification.
A “pit bull” is actually a type of dog, like a “hound” or “working dog.”
- The American Pitbull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Bulldog
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
These dogs were created hundreds of years ago by breeding a Bulldog and some sort of Terrier. The Bulldog chosen for its strong jaws and stocky build, and the Terrier selected for its scrappiness. Together, they made a determined, burly dog that was first used for an unfortunate sport.
What Were Pitbulls Bred For?
Pitbulls were initially bred for a cruel reason: blood sports.
These dogs were grown to be strong and ferocious, deprived of food and attention, and often, beaten. This worked the dogs into a desperate craze, and they were unleashed upon each other in a pit, for human entertainment.
Sometimes these canines would be in packs and then released upon a tied-down bear or bull, with very grisly results. These activities are now banned, and the breeds took a turn for the better.
These dogs have become excellent companions who maintain their ancestors’ strength and determination.
Can A Pitbull Be A Hunting Dog?
Looking at their brutal past, you can see that a Pitbull has plenty of strength and fervor. When pitched against an animal twice its size, often they won’t back down. Which brings us to the question, “can Pitbulls be hunting dogs?”
In short, you can train a Pitbull to be a hunting dog. In particular, they make excellent catch dogs, though they can pin other animals as well.
Different Types of Hunting Dogs
Let’s break down the types of hunting dogs and see where Pitbulls fit in.
Bird dogs, or gun dogs, are dogs that assist hunters who use shotguns.
The dog detects and hunts small prey, leading the hunter to the game.
While Pitbulls could locate small prey in the wild, they are not reliable bird dogs. The Pitbulls instinct would be to kill the find, and they would most likely make a mess of your bounty.
There are three main types of bird dogs:
- Flushing dogs – These dogs go forward into tall grasses to flush birds out. As the dogs startle the birds, they take flight, and the hunter can then shoot them.
- Retrievers – Move into the brush after hunters have felled the bird. They then locate and retrieve the animal in the grass and bring it back to the hunter.
- Pointers – Pointers have an excellent sense of smell; they track down birds and small mammals and then “point” to signify their find.
Bay dogs are a type of hunting dog used in capturing large game.
They are also swift animals that can follow beasts, usually boars, for miles.
Packs of bay dogs will follow and corner the boar, and then bay to notify the hunter of their find. This also serves as a signal to release the catch dogs.
Pitbulls are not typically suited to being bay dogs. More suited to this task are dogs like cures and hounds.
This is where Pitbulls used in hunting can shine.
Catch dogs go out after the bay dogs to be the muscle. They are large, strong dogs that can pin big game like boars.
As a result, these dogs should wear a chest plate for protection from the boar’s tusks.
Catch dogs can also move out on their own or alongside bay dogs. Then, when the prey is immobilized, the hunter finishes the hunt.
Pitbulls are well-suited as catch dogs because of their instinct to fight. They won’t back down from a battle, even if it’s with a terrifying wild boar or bear. Large game is also a good fit for Pitbulls, considering their immense strength. While their jaws can pin a boar, they would likely demolish any smaller quarry.
Hound dogs, like bay dogs, track game running through the woods. These dogs are either sight hounds or scent hounds, using either their keen eyes or nose to chase down prey. Pitbulls would be a sight-hound, as their sense of smell is not that good.
Tracking dogs find large prey wounded from a gunshot or arrow. Also, these dogs have an excellent sense of smell and can find a blood trail. Pitbulls are not good at tracking dogs.
How To Train A Pitbull For Hunting
Some consider that any large, strong dog can be a catch dog. Pitbulls are great as catch dogs as they are muscular, determined, and have the strong bite inherited from their bulldog ancestors. If you want to know how strong a Pitbull’s bite is, read this article.
When training a Pitbull as a catch dog, it’s best to wait until they are full-grown to start any actual combat. There are certain things you can do as a dog to prepare them, though.
1. Become comfortable with being outside
Firstly, as a puppy, get them very comfortable with being outside.
Secondly, take them on long walks to raise their fitness level. Do Pitbulls make good hiking companions? Click here to find out.
Also, make them wear lots of jackets and harnesses to get them familiar with having gear on. As a catch dog, they will need to have protective equipment like a breastplate.
Also, teach your dog to take and release toys. This command will come in handy later when you want your dog to release your catch.
2. Introduce the game
You can begin to introduce your dog to a pig at a year old, with the pig inside a cage or enclosure.
Promote your dog’s interest in the pig, getting him more and more excited.
Repeat this for 5-10 minutes every day for a month.
Don’t let your dog catch the pig.
3. Take and release
Once your dog has learned the take and release command and has grown a considerable interest in the pig, you can let them run with your other catch dogs. If you don’t have catch dogs, join a friend on a dozen or so hunts.
4. Maintain the catching
When trained and active as a catch dog, ensure you upkeep your Pitbull’s diet, training and exercise. It’s essential to always keep your Pitbull in control and on a leash until you are ready to give hunt.
Pitbulls can be hunting dogs if trained with patience. They are best suited as a catch dog, as they are strong enough to pin large prey.
More Stuff To Read
Have a read of the other articles on our blog if you have an interest in Pitbulls:
- Pitbulls and hiking – all you need to know
- Pitbulls and their bite: how strong is it?
- Want a Blue-Nosed Pitbull? Read our comprehensive guide.
- Pitbulls and their sense of smell for tracking
- Pitbulls and backpacking – the only guide you need
- Mileage and dogs: how far can they run (features Pitbulls)
- Do Pitbulls drool more than other dogs?
- How much does your Pitbull shed?