7 Hunting Breeds That Make Great Rabbit Dogs

Beagles aren't the only option when you're looking for a bunny-hunting buddy

beagle and hare hunting chase
The end of the trail after a long beagle-and-hare chase in the Michigan U.P.Mitch Kezar/Windigo Images

Rabbit hunting runs in North America’s sporting blood. And what says “rabbits” more than a baying beagle—or maybe even a whole pack of them? Yes, beagles may be the world’s de facto bunny dogs, but they’re just one of the canine breeds that can help you fill a game bag with cottontails.

1. Beagle

Breed Notes
Standard beagles stand 13 to 16 inches tall and weigh 20 to 25 pounds. They usually come in the typical black, tan, and white hound colors.

Hunting style
The classic rabbit dog, beagles yowl and howl on the merry chase. This baying marks the hunt's progress as rabbits circle back home. Beagles are perfectly sized for cruising through brushy rabbit cover.

Bonus points
You can't beat a beagle as a family pet—their size is right, and they are happy, affectionate, and bright-eyed.

2. Mini Beagle

Breed Notes
Although they aren't American Kennel Club (AKC) registered, there are many small beagles (10 to 12 pounds) out there. Sometimes they are called pocket beagles.

Hunting style
These little dogs hunt as hard as their purebred cousins. Mini beagles are perfect for working smaller covers, such as in exurban areas.

Bonus points
This driven breed of rabbit dog gets the job done, but is small enough to ride out of the woods in the pocket of your game vest if he's tired.

3. Basset Hound

Breed Notes
Long-eared and low to the ground (15 inches tall at most), bassets are beloved for their floppy ears, droopy jowls, and laid-back personality. Weights range from 40 to 60 pounds.

Hunting style
Bassets may be the ideal cottontail dog. They move slowly enough that rabbits just hop ahead, hardly ever holing up. And the deep, low, bawling hound song is music to any hunter's ears.

Bonus points
For the lower-energy or mature family, bassets are perfect. They love people and don't require an excessive amount of daily exercise.

4. Dachshund

Breed Notes
Standard dachshunds are only 8 to 9 inches high at the shoulder and weigh 16 to 32 pounds. The wire-haired dogs enjoy protection against briars and thorns in rabbit thickets.

Hunting style
While they were originally bred to enter holes and hideaways to chase out badgers (dach in German), these dogs are actually hounds (hund in German) and will trail rabbits like a mini basset. Low-slung dachshunds are perfectly sized to sleuth through rabbit cover. Dachshunds excel in little or no snow.

Bonus points
Dachshunds may not look athletic, but they have exceptional energy and they never let that wiener-dog build slow them down.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

Breed Notes
These spunky little terriers stand 10 to 15 inches tall and weigh 13 to 17 pounds. Coloration is mostly white, with a little tan and occasionally some black on the head.

Hunting style
Although this breed was developed to spook out game holed up below ground, Jack Russells have excellent noses and will trail rabbits much like beagles. Jack Russells are also adept at slinking under brush piles and flushing bunnies to get a chase started.

Bonus points
These terriers are sized just right for living in the home.

6. Redbone Coonhound

Breed Notes At 22 to 25 inches tall and 45 to 60 pounds, a redbone may seem like overkill on rabbits, but they are good, steady workers with incredible noses.

Hunting style
How about a dual-purpose hound? A redbone can hunt rabbits by day and coons by night. A redbone will trail whatever you put him on. And if you're a northern snowshoe hare hunter, the redbone's long-legged physique was made for your kind of country.

Bonus points
Redbones are exceedingly handsome and affectionate. Find a runt and you could have the multi-purpose hound of a lifetime.

7. Weimaraner

Breed Notes
These striking gray dogs are very large at 50 to 75 pounds, but they will hunt anything.

Hunting style
Though known more as a bird dog, the Weimaraner is hound-like in both looks and demeanor. Rabbit hunting is in their ancestral blood. The rough-shooting hunter would do well to let his or her Weimaraner point anything—rabbits included—but hold to flush.

Bonus points
The Weimaraner is ultra versatile, with upland birds, furred game, and even water retrieving in its skill set.