Are Pitbulls Good Hunting Dogs? – Detailed Guide

If you think of a good hunting dog, a pit bull isn’t going to be the breed that comes into your mind immediately. Instead, you will probably think of a lovely beagle, a retriever, or a hound dog.

But the question is, can pit bulls make good hunting dogs? Even though pit bulls are not usually used for tracking or retrieving games, they have special skills, such as “catching,” that are well suited for hunting hogs and other large prey.

In addition, a little training can make a pit bull a well-rounded hunting dog. Let’s look at what traits will help or hurt the pit bull as a hunting dog.

What Does a Hunting Dog Do?

There are many different hunting techniques and just as many jobs for a hunting dog. You have dogs that retrieve, track, bay, catch, and other little things.

Hunting dogs are usually used to track potential prey, such as rabbits or foxes. At the same time, some are used to retrieve animals that the hunter has already killed, like a bird or deer.

This is true for a waterfowl when the hunter isn’t too excited to swim halfway through a lake to grab a duck. The last requirement for a dog to hunt is to have a prey drive.

As the experts explain, the prey drive has five parts: the search, the eye stalk, the chase, the grab bite, and the kill bite. Dog-like bagels have a stronger prey drive when it comes to searching, and pit bulls have a stronger drive to grab and kill bites.

Small toy dogs like Maltese don’t have any prey drive, and you won’t find them leading the way in a hunt.

Pitbulls and the History of Hunting

The pit bulls do have a history of hunting, but not in such a way that you might think. Pit bulls were initially bred for a cruel bloodsport called “bullbaiting.” The pit bulls were forced to fight and provoke strong bulls in this sport.

This inhumane means of entertainment was banned in 1835, although it continued illegally in some places even after that.  In the early 1900, Americans began to use pit bulls in hog hunting.

Although pit bulls were rarely trained like regular trackers or retriever dogs, they were commonly used for hunting feral pigs. Pitbulls are still often used for this purpose in the South West.

The instincts that made Pitbulls successful in the harsh pastime of bull baiting today also make them successful with large game hunting, even if it wasn’t the breed’s original intended use.

What Makes Pit Bulls A Good Choice For Hunting?

Let’s look at some qualities that make Pitties a good hunting dogs.

Pitbulls Have A Strong Prey Drive

A strong prey drive is the most important characteristic of any potential hunting dog. Pit bulls most certainly fit this description and are inclined to bite, restrain, and kill prey.

Pitbulls are Brave

Hunting hogs and rabbits vary significantly from one another. Hogs have deadly, razor-sharp tusks that have killed several other creatures and even hunters.

A dog must possess a certain amount of bravery to approach these large, deadly animals and keep them down while they wait for you to arrive. Pit bulls possess the courage required to handle these circumstances.

Pitbulls are Strong, Durable, and Athletic

Hunting can be a challenging activity for dogs! The dogs will need to expend a lot of energy running, either chasing down prospective prey or recovering birds, as you’ll likely spend hours in the field in any type of weather.

Pit bulls have the strength for a high-intensity activity like hunting since they are strong and muscular. Your strong pit bull would have no issue keeping up with the prey in the field. Additionally, because of their strength, they won’t be as readily hurt in a hunting mishap.

Pitbulls are Intelligent

A non-standard breed will require some intelligence to teach it to hunt. The ability to obey commands is something you need in a dog, regardless of breed, and pit bulls are excellent in this regard.

Pit bulls are ranked in the “Above Average Intelligence” category by canine specialist Stanley Coren in his list of the smartest dog breeds. Pit bulls are, therefore, intelligent enough to learn hunting techniques.

But more crucially, pit bulls have a high percentage of first-time obedience after understanding a command. You won’t need to be concerned about a pit bull misbehaving when you’re hunting.

What Problems Could A PitBull Have When It Comes To Hunting?

Utilizing a pit bull for any other kind of hunting except hog hunting will be outside their expertise. You and your pit bull can encounter a few issues, even though they can be trained to retrieve or track dogs.

Pitbulls Don’t Have A History Of Retrieving.

Even though almost any dog may be trained to be a retriever, some breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, are practically made for the job. It is what they excel at.

You would be better off choosing one of those breeds instead of a pit bull if you were searching for a hunting dog with the primary objective of retrieving.

If your pit bull does manage to retrieve a piece of the game, they might not know how to do it properly, or they might not want to bring it back to you.

Pitbulls Can Be Rough On Prey

Having a strong prey instinct is advantageous for hunting dogs but can also be disastrous.

Your pit bull can mistakenly believe that a tiny animal like a rabbit or bird is theirs to play with due to their high hunting instinct but weak retrieving instinct. No hunter will be happy if their animal is chewed up, shaken, or flung around before it reaches them.

Pitbulls are Not Great In The Water

Although pit bulls enjoy being in the water, they are not good swimmers. They won’t swim effectively because of their strong, muscular bodies’ poor ability to float, and their toes aren’t webbed. Even if they can swim, the extra effort to keep them afloat would quickly exhaust them.

A good hunting dog must be ready for anything in the field and may regularly be requested to retrieve ducks from lakes, ponds, or streams.

It won’t go well for your pit bull if you ask them to carry something in their mouth on top of trying to keep their head above water.

Pit Bulls Aren’t Great In Regulating Body Heat

Pit bulls are sensitive to high temperatures because of their short coats and muzzles. Their coat won’t do much to keep them warm in cold weather, and with too much work in hot weather, they could quickly become overheated.

Although we all enjoy the lovely 70-degree days, hunting is rarely possible on those days. Your pit bull would have to adjust to frigid cold or blazing heat, which is unsuitable for them due to their build.

How Can I Prepare My Pit Bull To Hunt?

All is not lost because you can prepare your pit bull to be a good hunting dog. Your pitbull may not become the best hunting dog, but it may be able to fare well in this arena.

Socialize Your Puppy

For any puppy, socialization is an essential first step. Introduce new people, animals, and situations to your pit bull. The more experience your dog gets, the less anxious it will be when encountering novel situations.

You want them to handle everything easily because hunting will be a significant transition for them and involve a lot of stimuli.

Get The Puppy Used To Basic Commands First

It’s essential to wait until your dog has mastered the fundamental instructions before starting hunting training, even though many people tend to jump the gun.

Teach them basic but essential orders like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” or “down,” and have them practice them until they can do it correctly. Your pit bull will learn the required obedience crucial in the field here.

Slowly Teach More Advance Skills

After your Pitbull has the basic commands down, it is the best time to move on to advanced skill training. The specific training you put your dog through will depend on what skills you want him to have in the field.

You can use your dog to track, retrieve, catch, or baying, but you have to train the Pitbull for it first. Remember to have extra patience if you want your pit bull to learn to retrieve or track. These are some things that do not come naturally to a pit bull.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Do Pit Bulls Go Hunting?

Pit bulls were originally bred for bull baiting and hunting large animals such as hogs and feral pigs. So yes, Pit bulls go hunting because they are strong and brave enough to attack such huge and dangerous animals.

Can Any Dog Beat a Pit Bull?

Absolutely, several dog breeds can easily beat a pit bull in terms of strength and physical abilities. One such breed is the rottweiler, known to have killed pit bulls. Other breeds, including mastiffs, Kangal, and even pit bulls, can often beat each other.

Do Pit Bulls Have a High Prey Drive?

All dogs have a prey drive, and pit bulls have some of the highest prey drives. This is because pit bulls were initially bred to fight bulls and to hunt critters that live underground.

After banning bull baiting, people started using pit bulls for hog hunting. Thus increasing the prey drive in the breed even further.


Pit bulls are basically used as bay and catch dogs in the hunting world. But they can be utilized for additional skills such as tracking or retrieving with proper training.

Even though pit bulls are not the first choice as hunting dogs, their intelligence, determination, and strength make them capable of just about anything.

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