Hunting Dog (Felids)

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This ancient mosaic, likely Roman, shows a large dog with a collar hunting a lion

Hunting Dogs (Felids) refers to those few hunting dogs which are used primarily to aid in the hunt for large members of the cat family (felids) such as lion in the Old World and cougar in the New World. A pack may be used either, to track the animal and keep it at bay—which combines both giving voice to the sound known as baying, and surrounding and confining the animal—or, they may be expected to engage the animal in combat and seize it, in the manner of the catch dogs used in boar hunting, until the huntsmen have the opportunity to dispatch it. This dual function means that the dogs are of essentially molosser type and are among the largest of all hunting dogs.

Lion hunters[edit]

Rhodesian Ridgeback

It is thought that in ancient times Assyrian mastiffs were used to hunt Lions and in Roman times mastiffs from Britain were put into combat against them. In the quotation, “...deemed worthy to enter the Roman amphitheatre and in the presence of the masters of the world, encounter the pard and assail even the lord of the savage tribes, whose courage was sublimed by torrid suns, and found none gallant enough to oppose him on the deserts of Zaara or the plains of Numidia.",[1] the “lord of the savage tribes” is thought to refer to the lion. The practice of lion-baiting also occurred as late as the 19th century in England, using Old English Bulldogs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.[2][unreliable source?]

The breed most associated with lion hunting is the Rhodesian Ridgeback,[3] an African breed whose history began in the 18th century, when the first European settlers bred their own dogs with dogs domesticated by Khoisan tribes that had a ridge of hair along their backs. Though the resulting dogs were undoubtably used to bay lions, the 2008 Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress took the view that in its early use, the Ridgeback was more a "hunter's/farmer's ox-wagon dog" than a "lion dog”, and had a general guarding and hunting role, including the hunting of birds. They have also been used to hunt other felids such as cheetahs and leopards.[4][unreliable source?]

Panther dog[edit]

Aaron Hall (1828-1892), hunter, breeder of the panther dog

The "panther dog" was a Pennsylvanian crossbreed dog developed in the 19th century by Aaron Hall to hunt cougars, for which “panther” was a colloquial name. It was the only breed known to have been specifically bred for hunting cougars and is now extinct.

Henry W. Shoemaker wrote in 1907, "Packs of panther dogs would soon spring up in the mountainous settlements, and the breeding of these animals would give an impetus to the canine industry in these regions. SMALL "game bred" bulldogs ARE SAID TO BE THE BEST for this purpose. Although many prefer the ordinary whippet or "fice". Aaron Hall, the "Lion Hunter of the Juniata", slayer of fifty panthers in Pennsylvania between 1845 and 1869, bred a race of panther dogs. They were part bulldog, part bloodhound, part Newfoundland, and part mastiff. They were so large that C. K. Sober, of Lewisburg, former State Game Commissioner, when on a visit to Hall at his hunting cabin on Rock Run, Centre County, was able to ride on the back of one of them. They were trained to hunt in pairs, and when the quarry was overtaken, to seize it by the ears on either side, holding the monster until the hunter appeared. With Hall's death, in 1892, this interesting breed of dog was allowed to become extinct."[5]


The hunting of cougars using dogs is permitted within the designated removal areas in the United States.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cynographia Britannica, (1800) Sydenham Edwards , London: C. Whittingham
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2007. 
  3. ^ How to Raise & Train Rhodesian Ridgeback”, Frank C Lutman. TFH Publications, 1966, ISBN 0876663722/ ISBN 978-0-87666-372-1
  4. ^ National breed—South African dog, Showdogs
  5. ^ Extinct Pennsylvania Animals Henry W. Shoemaker. Altoona Tribune Publishing Co. 1907 p. 51
  6. ^