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Is a Pitbull a Hunting Dog? History & Facts

Written by: Jana Blagojevic

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

white pitbull with a dog harness

Is a Pitbull a Hunting Dog? History & Facts

Pitbulls are an amazing and fascinating breed with various characteristics that make them popular worldwide. This breed has been a loyal companion to many, as they are affectionate with children and protective of their owners. They are incredibly cuddly and kindhearted, but they also have a different side that doesn’t always see the spotlight.

Pitbulls have been bred for hunting and used for this for centuries. Many hunters love this breed as a hunting companion because of their keen smell and strong muscular form. Pitbulls are skilled hunters and are still used in hunting activities today.

To learn more about how this breed became what it is today and whether they have strong hunting tendencies, read our article below.

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Pitbull History

The Pitbull originated in England during the 19th century when breeders mixed dogs used for bull baiting with terriers to create Pitbull-type breeds. These dogs got their name from being used in sports such as fighting in pits with rats and allowing people to bet on them. Their Terrier blood allowed them to be quick and agile, while the strong jaw of the Bulldog allowed them to hold on to their opponents. With the Cruelty to Animals Act, these gruesome activities became illegal in 1835, although people would find another use for these fascinating dogs.

They began using them for more traditional hunting activities, where they showed exceptional skill at hunting small rabbits and foxes. They could also take down deer and other larger animals when necessary. Pitbulls were amazing at hunting because they would learn quickly, and hunters could easily train them.

brown pitbull with collar standing outdoors on grass
Image By: Caroline Ziemkiewicz, Unsplash

Temperament & Characteristics of Pitbulls

Pitbulls are known worldwide for their gentle nature towards people, but also their fearless and somewhat temperamental nature. They are fantastic with children and even with strangers, while they can be strong-willed and even aggressive toward other dogs and animals. They are hunters by instinct, so make sure to keep small animals, such as cats or rabbits, away from them. If you want to keep a Pitbull around your other pets, it is possible with the proper training from an early age. Early socialization can significantly lower the aggressive tendencies of these dogs and make them more friendly and tolerant.

A strict and serious training process is a must to teach these dogs to behave around strangers and other dogs.

Are Pitbulls Good Hunters?

Specific traits make Pitbulls excellent at hunting, while some flaws prevent them from excelling at this sport.

Good hunting traits:
  • They have a strong prey drive
  • They are courageous
  • They have strength and stamina
  • They are quick, agile, and precise
  • Their intelligence is above average
Bad hunting traits:

While nowadays, Pitbulls are commonly used as loyal companions and family-oriented dogs, they were once bred to be fearless and aggressive hunters. Still, some hunters prefer to use Pitbulls as tracking and hunting partners in their hunting activities. They are excellent at tracking down small game, such as raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and even larger animals, such as bears. Hunters love Pitbulls because they are also amazing guard dogs, keeping their campsite and personal belongings safe while they’re away.

While they have a gentle, affectionate, and cuddly nature, Pitbulls can be loyal and devoted hunting companions. They are strong, agile, and quick and will stay by the hunter’s side no matter what.

American pitbull terrier
Image By: David Robert Perez, Shutterstock

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Tips On How to Handle a Pitbull with a High Prey Drive

If you have a Pitbull with high prey drive and don’t want to encourage this type of behavior, you can socialize them and train them to reduce this behavior. Properly raising a Pitbull with a high prey drive can reduce potential problems for them and other animals. Properly training your dog and socializing them early on can ensure their safety.

  • Train your dog to “leave” instead of running off after small animals.
  • Staying consistent in your training.
  • Use a reward-based system with positive reinforcement.
  • Ensure your property is secured to keep your dog safe and other animals from entering.
  • Teach your dog to come to you when being called immediately.
  • Keep your dog on a leash during walks.


After learning about the unique nature and history of Pitbulls, you may understand their behavior much better. While owners adore the gentle and soft side of Pitties, it is essential to be aware of and acknowledge their hunting past. These dogs are still being used for hunting; whether we agree with this or not, it has been in their blood for generations.

Featured Image Credit: Lee Hardy, Unsplash

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