10 Different Dogs That Hunt Rabbits (With Pictures)

Rabbit hunting is an enduringly popular sport. Enthusiasts can cite many reasons why the pastime is so popular. Primarily, it’s a great starting point for inexperienced hunters and youngsters, it’s a low-stakes way to hone one’s reflexes and speed, and it protects agricultural and ecological life from the destruction that rabbits can engender.

As rabbits move quickly and can be hard to spot in dense environments, experienced hunters often utilize the skills of one of the numerous dogs that hunt rabbits.

The following breeds have different strengths, with some more proficient at scent-tracking, whilst others are skilled at giving chase. All can be remarkably useful in any hunting expedition if properly trained.

Dogs That Hunt Rabbits

Ideally, a canine hunting companion will be physically agile with the ability to jump, have a powerful sense of smell, and possess innate hunting instincts.

1. Beagle

beagle | image by Dee West via Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Average Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average Size: 20-30 pounds
Coat: short, smooth

The immensely adorable beagle is a fixture in the rabbit-hunting game. Even the word ‘hunting’ on its own conjures in many people’s minds images of packs of beagles, noses to the ground, intently scouring the landscape.

The beagle is an ancient breed. Purportedly, they are descendants of hounds that hunted rabbits in England as early as 55 B.C. By the fifteenth century, most English gentlemen owned large hounds that tracked deer and smaller breeds that tracked hares. The more diminutive dogs were the ancestors of the beagle as we recognize it today.

With the hunting instinct so firmly entrenched in their DNA, and a personality that earned them the moniker ‘The Merry Beagle’, it’s no wonder this breed is popular with hunters and the general public alike!

2. Dachshund

dachshund | image by Jeremy Bradford via Flickr | CC BY-NC 4.0

Average Lifespan: 12-16 years
Average Size: 11-32 pounds
Coat: short, medium, smooth

The unmistakable silhouette of the Dachshund is so endearing, it is easy to forget that these dogs were bred for a purpose beyond being cute!

Developed in Germany for badger hunting, the long and low body of this breed is made to squeeze into tight spaces. As badgers can be surprisingly fearsome, with razor-sharp teeth and claws, Dachshunds also had to develop a keen wit and courageous temperament.

For the self-evident reason of their tiny legs, Dachshunds are not equipped for long-distance running or leaping, but they make up for these discrepancies with their outsized courage, and their startling bark which seems to belong to a much bigger dog. Of course, it doesn’t hurt their appeal that they are one of the most adorable dogs that hunt rabbits.

3. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier | image by Nick Wood via Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Average Size: 9-15 pounds
Coat: Short, wiry, smooth

An eager and industrious working terrier, the Jack Russell Terrier was developed in England for use in fox hunts.

Bred by Rev. John “The Sporting Parson” Russell in the eighteenth century, the Jack Russell Terrier was created to be the ‘ultimate working terrier’. Spry and nimble, they can keep pace with any hound, but their petite size ensures them easier passage into tight burrows and rabbit holes.

Joyful and animated, they are an endlessly enthusiastic consort in a rabbit hunting expedition!

4. Basset Hound

basset hound | image by sbluerock via Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Average Lifespan: 12-13 years
Average Size: 40-65 pounds
Coat: short, smooth

These low-down hounds are one of the most beloved breeds for their dangling ears and true ‘hangdog’ expression, but they were bred to be excellent hunting compadres.

Developed as a scenting-focused hound, the accuracy of the Bassett’s nose is second only to that of the Bloodhound. The breed is built for endurance and rough terrain rather than speed, with powerful legs and enormous paws.

As a scent-tracker, the Basset Hound is almost without peer and will assist any rabbit hunt with astonishing precision.

5. Weimaraner

weimaraner | image by Nathan Eaton Jr. via Flickr | CC BY-NC 4.0

Average Lifespan: 10-13 years
Average Size: 55-90 pounds
Coat: short, smooth

Nicknamed the ‘Gray Ghost’, the Weimaraner is known for its swiftness, grace and streamlined beauty.

A relatively new breed, emerging in the eighteenth century, The Weimaraner was devised by Germany’s Grand Duke Karl August, of the town of Weimar. August’s ambition was to develop the ultimate hunting dog and he is said to have crossed Bloodhounds with unknown varieties of French and German hunting dogs to create the Weimaraner.

With their Bloodhound heritage, the Weimaraner has a phenomenal sense of scent, and their physical agility and speed make them outstanding amongst the many dogs that hunt rabbits.

6. Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever | image by raymondclarkeimages via Flickr | CC BY-NC 4.0

Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Average Size: 55-80 pounds
Coat: short, double

The traditional waterdog of Newfoundland is the most popular dog breed in America today.

Originally a duck retriever, the Labrador has a weather-resistant coat that developed to help them withstand the bitterly cold waters and winters of the Northern hemisphere. Over time, the breed evolved into all-purpose dogs, with an intelligence and adaptability to any situation that makes them superbly trainable.

With their friendly dispositions and sociability, the Labrador Retriever is a sweet-natured pet and practical rabbit-hunting asset all in one!

7. Lurcher

lurcher | image by Penny King via Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Average Size: 55-90 pounds
Coat: short, medium, coarse

One of the most unique dogs that hunt rabbits, the characteristics of the Lurcher can be hard to pinpoint. These dogs are not purebred, but generally the result of crossing a sighthound and non-sighthound breed.

Sighthounds such as Greyhounds have up to 270-degree vision and can see objects up to half a mile away. Most Lurchers possess between 50 and 75 percent sighthound genes, and the rest derive from non-sighthound dogs like terriers and collies.

This concentrated breeding can lead to a physically singular dog with unmatched hunting skills.

8. Redbone Coonhound

redbone coonhound | image by Dan Harrelson via Flickr | CC BY 4.0

Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Average Size: 45-70 pounds
Coat: short, smooth

The Redbone Coonhound is a compelling combination of a floppy-eared gentle sweetheart and steely hunting machine.  Bred for the radiant red coat that enables them to be easily discerned by hunters in the thick of the woods, the Redbone Coonhound began its hunting career as a master racooner.

Over time, the agility of the Redbone Coonhound in landscapes of all types has made them a staple in the hunting community.

9. Dogo Argentino

dogo argentino | image by andigirl via Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Average Lifespan: 9-15 years
Average Size: 80-100 pounds
Coat: short, smooth

One of the largest and most formidable of the dogs that hunt rabbits, the Dogo Argentino is an elegant beauty with killer instincts.

Bred in Argentina in the 1920s, the Dogo was reportedly developed by combining several purebreds with the now-extinct Cordoba Fighting Dog. The aim was to create a hunting dog who had the merciless instinctual drive of the toughest fighting breeds.

In the early days, the Dogo Argentino primarily hunted boar and mountain lion, but over time their usefulness as an all-rounder has become apparent.

10. Cane Corso

cane corso | image by AllAboutDogs.Net via Flickr | CC BY 4.0

Average Lifespan: 9-12 years
Average Size: 90-130 pounds
Coat: short, smooth

The Cane Corso dog is a descendant of the ancient Greek Molossus variety. These canines were known as fearless war dogs who were used for defensive purposes, and as messengers.

With wide chests, powerful legs, and facial expressions that can best be described as “thoroughly unamused”, Molosser breeds and their descendants have struck fear into the hearts of the adversaries for many ages.

Before 1988, the Cane Corso as it exists today was considered extremely rare, known only in southern Italy. The first Corso arrived in America that same year, and the breed has grown in esteem and popularity amongst hunters in the decades since.

In addition to their physical dominance, the Cane Corso is intelligent and eager to please. However, their inherent assertiveness means they require early socialization and training to be the best pets and hunting partners that they can be.