10 Great Small Hunting Dogs (Under 40 Pounds) + What They Hunt

Breed Weight (lbs) Height (inches) Sheds? Good for Hunting
Jack Russell Terrier 14-18 10-15 Moderate Foxes, Ground Game
Beagle 18-30 13-16 Moderate Rabbits, Hares
Dachshund 16-32 5-9 Varies Badgers, Foxes
Cocker Spaniel 20-30 13.5-15.5 Moderate Birds, Waterfowl
Miniature Schnauzer 11-20 12-14 Low Rats, Small Game
Brittany Spaniel 30-40 17.5-20.5 Moderate Birds, Waterfowl
Boykin Spaniel 25-40 14-18 Moderate Ducks, Waterfowl
Rat Terrier 10-25 10-18 Moderate Rodents, Small Game
Lakeland Terrier 15-17 13.5-14.5 Moderate Foxes, Vermin
Welsh Terrier 20-22 15-15.5 Moderate Foxes, Rodents

These breeds are known for their hunting skills in various environments and against different types of game, making them suitable companions for hunting activities despite their small size.

1. Jack Russell Terrier (Non-Stop Energy)

Jack Russell Terrier

Origin and History

  • The Jack Russell Terrier is a breed with its roots deeply embedded in England.
  • This robust, energetic breed was developed by Reverend John Russell during the early 19th century.
  • Reverend Russell was an avid fox hunter and desired a dog that could keep up with the hunt and flush out the fox without actually harming it.

Hunting Prowess

  • Type of Game Hunted:
    • Primarily bred to hunt foxes, the Jack Russell Terrier is also adept at dealing with other game such as rats and ground-dwelling creatures.
    • Its compact size and agility make it excellent for burrowing and flushing out prey from dens.

Home Living

  • Adaptability:
    • While the Jack Russell Terrier is known for its boundless energy and need for stimulation, it can adapt well to various living situations if provided with sufficient exercise and mental engagement.
  • Thriving Conditions:
    • Outdoor Space: Prefers homes with a backyard where it can explore and play.
    • Activity Level: High; this breed needs a lot of exercise, including daily walks, playtime, and training challenges.
    • Companionship: They thrive in environments where they receive plenty of human interaction and companionship.

Remember, the Jack Russell Terrier, while small, requires a lot of exercises and does best with an owner who can provide structure, training, and a proper outlet for their energy.

2. Beagle (Small Game Experts)

Beagle Running in the Sun

Origins of the Beagle:

  • Country of Origin: The Beagle is a breed with roots deeply embedded in England.
  • Development: Traditionally developed for hunting hare, which is an activity known as beagling.

Hunting Prowess:

  • Quarry: Beagles are particularly renowned for their ability to hunt small game like hares and rabbits.
  • Senses: They excel through their keen sense of smell and impressive stamina.
  • Hunting Style: They hunt in packs or pairs, using a distinctive baying call to communicate.

Ideal Home Environment:

  • Activity Level: Beagles are energetic and need ample exercise.
  • Family Life: They are known for their friendly disposition making them an excellent choice for families.
  • Space: While adaptable, they do best with space to explore and sniff.
  • Companionship: They thrive on human or canine companionship, suffering if left alone for too long.

3. Dachshund (Flushing Pro)

Dachshund

The Dachshund is a distinctive and charismatic breed, well-known for its long body and short legs. Here’s a brief guide to this beloved hound:

Origins

  • Country of Origin: Germany
  • Historical Purpose: Hunting, specifically to track and flush out burrow-dwelling animals like badgers.

Hunting Prowess

  • Prey: Primarily badgers, but also other tunneling animals such as rabbits and foxes.
  • Hunting Skill: Known for its tenacity, keen sense of smell, and ability to navigate through tight spaces.

Ideal Home Environment

  • Space: Adaptable to various living situations, including apartments.
  • Family Dynamics: Often does well with families, but may be reserved around strangers.
  • Exercise Needs: Despite its size, it requires regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and avoid back issues.
  • Consideration: Homes with very young children may need to supervise interactions due to the dog’s long spine and potential for injury from rough play.

4. Cocker Spaniel (Birding Expert)

Cocker Spaniel With Her Pup

The Cocker Spaniel is a beloved dog breed known for its endearing personality, beautiful coat, and versatile abilities in the field and home. Here’s what you need to know about this affectionate companion:

Origins

  • Region: The Cocker Spaniel originates from the United Kingdom, with rich history as a cherished hunting dog.
  • Development: It was developed to hunt gamebirds, specifically woodcocks, hence its name “Cocker.”

Hunting Prowess

  • Game Type: The Cocker Spaniel is renowned for its capability to hunt a range of game, especially bird species.
    • Specialty: Its primary game is the woodcock, but it is also skilled in flushing other small game.
    • Working Style: The breed is known for its enthusiastic and efficient working style, often working closely with hunters, using their keen sense of smell to flush game out of hiding.

Home Life and Adaptability

  • Family: Intensely loyal and affectionate, Cocker Spaniels make excellent family pets.
  • Environment: They thrive in a variety of living situations, from apartments to sprawling country homes.
    • Exercise Needs: While they are adaptable, they do require ample daily exercise to manage their energy levels.
    • Size Compatibility: Their medium size makes them well-suited to most homes.
  • Socialization: They are typically social creatures that enjoy the company of people and other pets, but early socialization is important for a well-rounded temperament.
    • Companionship: They do not like being left alone for long periods, so they suit homes where they will have company most of the time.

5. Miniature Schnauzer: (Vermin Vanquisher)

Origins and History

  • The Miniature Schnauzer originates from Germany, bred down in size from its larger cousin, the Standard Schnauzer.
  • This breed is the result of crossing the Standard Schnauzer with smaller breeds such as the Affenpinscher and Miniature Poodle, aiming for a diminutive but robust farm dog.

Hunting Prowess

  • Hunt Type: Primarily vermin hunters
    • Exceptional at hunting rodents, including mice and rats
  • They are not game hunters in the traditional sense (like hunting fowl or deer), but their keen senses and swift reactions make them excellent pest controllers.

Living Conditions

  • The Miniature Schnauzer is highly adaptable, making it an ideal pet for various home environments.
  • Apartment Living:
    • They thrive even in small spaces like apartments, as long as they receive adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation.
  • House with Yard:
    • A fenced yard is a bonus, providing a safe area for play and exploration.
  • Family Dynamics:
    • They are known for being affectionate with family and are good with children if socialized early.
    • Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them trainable companions.
    • As alert watchdogs, they may be wary of strangers, which can be managed with proper training and socialization.

6. Brittany Spaniel (Great Gun Dog)

Brittany Spaniel in the Snow

The Brittany Spaniel, often simply referred to as the Brittany, is a breed with a rich heritage and distinct hunting abilities:

Origin and History

  • Breeding Grounds: The Brittany is named after the French province of Brittany, where it is believed to have originated in the 17th century.
  • Recognition: It gained recognition in France as a distinct breed in the early 1900s.

Hunting Skills

  • Versatile Hunter: This breed is known for being an all-purpose gun dog, adept in pointing and retrieving.
  • Preferred Game: Brittanys are particularly good at hunting:
    • Birds: Such as pheasants, quail, and partridge.
    • Small game: Due to its size and agility, it can maneuver through thick brush to flush out game.

Home and Family Life

  • Adaptability: Brittanys are versatile in home living situations:
    • Activity Level: They thrive best with active families who can provide ample space and exercise.
    • Size: Moderate in size, they can adapt to both house and apartment living if sufficiently exercised.
  • Temperament: Known for their friendly and eager-to-please nature:
    • Children: They typically get along well with children, making them excellent family pets.
    • Sensitivity: Brittanys are sensitive dogs and respond best to gentle, positive training methods.

7. Boykin Spaniel (Southern Swamp Specialists)

Boykin Spaniel in the Grass

The Boykin Spaniel is a versatile hunting dog with a rich history and distinctive characteristics that make it a beloved breed among enthusiasts.

Origins and History

  • Originating in the United States, specifically South Carolina, the breed was developed in the early 20th century.
  • L. Whitaker Boykin is credited with developing the breed, which is where the name “Boykin Spaniel” originates from.
  • Initially bred for turkey and waterfowl hunting, these dogs are well-suited to the Wateree River Swamp environment.

Hunting Abilities

  • Versatile Hunters: Particularly adept at retrieving game from boats, which is a unique characteristic.
  • Preferred Game: They are trained to hunt a variety of game, most notably ducksturkeys, and wild quail.
  • Adaptability: Their compact size and agility make them excellent for navigating through dense brush and forests.

Home Living and Temperament

  • Family-Friendly: Known for their amiable and sociable nature.
  • Adaptability to Living Situations: Thrive in homes where they receive ample exercise and interaction.
  • Ideal Home Environment:
    • A home with a fenced yard for exercise.
    • An active family that enjoys outdoor activities.
    • Consistent engagement through training and mental stimulation activities.

8. Rat Terrier (Ratting Dog)

Rat Terrier Standing Proud Outdoors

Origin and History

  • Roots: The Rat Terrier is an American breed with a rich history in farming.
  • Development: Originating in the early 20th century, they were designed to be all-purpose farm dogs.
  • Influences: This breed was created by mixing various terriers including the Smooth Fox Terrier with other breeds like whippets and Italian Greyhounds.

Hunting Skills and Game

  • Primary Prey: As the name implies, Rat Terriers were bred for ratting and are exceptional at controlling rodent populations.
  • Versatility: Although adept at hunting rats, they are also skilled in:
    • Tracking larger game: They have been used to hunt small and medium-sized game, such as squirrels and rabbits.
    • Underground work: Their terrier heritage makes them good at flushing out vermin from their hiding places.

Home Living Adaptability

  • Environment: Rat Terriers can thrive in a variety of living situations.
  • Size and Exercise: They are small to medium-sized, making them suitable for:
    • Apartments: With adequate exercise.
    • Houses: With or without yards.
  • Temperament:
    • They are known for their intelligence, affection, and loyalty.
    • Family Integration: Rat Terriers do well with families and can be great companions for children when socialized properly.
    • Alertness: They make excellent watchdogs due to their alert nature.

Overall, the Rat Terrier is a dynamic and adaptable breed, capable of fitting into numerous roles, from dedicated vermin controller to loving family pet. 

9. Lakeland Terrier (Fox Finder)

Lakeland Terrier Standing Tall Outside

The Lakeland Terrier is a spirited and agile breed with deep roots and a rich history.

Origins

  • Country of Origin: England
  • Region: Lake District, Cumberland
  • The Lakeland Terrier hails from the rugged terrain of the Lake District in England, where it was originally bred to hunt foxes during the lambing season.

Hunting Prowess

  • Primary Game: Foxes
  • Hunting Traits:
    • Boldness: They’re known for their fearlessness and determination.
    • Agility: Their compact size allows them to squeeze into fox dens.
    • Endurance: Possess a high energy level suitable for long hunts.

Home Environment

  • Adaptability: Adapts well to different home settings.
  • Living situations where Lakeland Terriers thrive:
    • Active Households: They have high energy and need stimulation.
    • Family Environments: Good with children; however, their strong prey drive necessitates caution around small pets.
    • Space Considerations: While they can adjust to apartment living, access to a yard or daily exercise is imperative.

The Lakeland Terrier is a breed with a distinctive personality and an indomitable spirit. They are as hardworking in the field as they are loving in the home, making them well-suited companions for a variety of lifestyles.

10. Welsh Terrier (Adaptable to Most Prey)

Welsh Terrier Outdoors, Green Lush Forest

The Welsh Terrier is a breed steeped in history, originating from the rugged landscapes of Wales. Let’s delve into the tales of this tenacious terrier and uncover its origins, hunting prowess, and knack for adapting to various living situations.

Origins:

  • Welsh Roots: The Welsh Terrier hails from the country of Wales in the United Kingdom, where it was bred for its hunting abilities.
  • Historical Companion: Traditionally, these dogs partnered with hunters, excelling in the pursuit of game due to their keen senses and agile build.

Hunting Game:

  • Versatile Hunter: This breed is renowned for its skill in hunting small to medium-sized game, showing remarkable agility and determination.
  • Type of Game Targeted:
    • Foxes: Cunning and quick, presenting an engaging challenge for the terrier.
    • Badgers: Tough and resilient, requiring tenacity from the hunting companion.
    • Rodents: Smaller yet elusive, perfect for the Welsh Terrier’s keen instincts.

Home Living Situations:

  • Adjustable Nature: Welsh Terriers are adaptable dogs that can thrive in a variety of living situations.
  • Optimal Conditions:
    • Active Families: They match well with active households that can provide plenty of exercise and engagement.
    • Small to Large Homes: From apartments to sprawling estates, as long as there is ample room for play and daily walks.
    • Consideration for Temperament:
      • Early Socialization Required: Like many terriers, they need early exposure to different environments and people to develop a well-rounded character.
      • Potential for Training: Intelligent and capable, they respond well to consistent, positive training methods to fit into family life impeccably.