Call them cougars, mountain lions, pumas, or catamount, these secretive animals attract the passion of hardcore houndsmen. Be it to hunt or for conservation, hounds play an important role in mountain lion management.
What is the best dog breed for mountain lion hunting? Houndsmen have a variety of preferences, Black and Tan Coonhounds, Plotts, Curs, Walkers or most likely a combination of these breeds. Houndsmen often breed or buy pups to fit their hunting style, and the region they hunt. There are no breed-specific competitions or clubs like there are in other hunting dog worlds that tend to force a stricter purebred approach. For houndsmen casing mountain lions it’s about results, not pedigree.
That said established breeds are a great place to start. I’m going to walk you into a detailed profile of a number of breeds common to cougar hunting. Additionally, you’ll know the strengths and weaknesses every breed has during the hunt.
Common Mountain Lion Hunting Dog Breeds
These breeds are the most common ones I’ve seen used for mountain lion hunting. These ones are guaranteed to deliver the best results.
Out of all Coonhounds, this breed has a well-balanced temperament. They can be quiet and laid-back as long as you feed their natural instinct of hunting and exercising.
They’re exceptionally hard workers. That’s why it’s common to see them as working dogs on farms. This is even more evident in hunting. They’ll tirelessly follow the mountain lion until they tree or corner it.
If you’ve never heard them baying before, you’ve missed a lot. When they successfully complete the hunting mission, you’ll hear an energetic and melodic baying that will fill you with an imminent joy.
Their most notable weakness is the increased liability to put on weight if they were fed carelessly, even if they maintain their natural activity level.
Also, their mental maturation is slower than their physical development. Hence, puppies won’t realize how strong they are, which will often leave your house in chaos.
Therefore, until they’re at least 2 years old, I wouldn’t recommend having them in close contact with your babies.
- Temperament: even-tempered and amiable
- Height: 22-27 inches for a male, 21-26 inches for a female
- Weight: 45-70 pounds
- Hard workers
- Strong scenthounds
- Produce melodic baying calls
- Can put on weight if poorly fed
- Delayed mental maturation
This is my favorite breed in terms of looks. You just fall in love with his speckled black and blue coat. But when a Bluetick goes hunting, it’s the performance that’s going to impress you.
They might be slower than other Coonhounds, but they compensate this with an amazing cold nose that tracks far older trails. Moreover, they can hunt well during the night owing to their strong eyesight.
These two abilities alone will get the sneakiest mountain lion treed in no time.
Their persistent hunting temperament is sometimes reflected within the household. Don’t get me wrong, though. They can be devoted to you and your babies. But they can’t be trusted with small pets, especially non-canines.
At older ages, they have an increased tendency to develop a cataract. While this will obviously affect their ability to chase, their noses remain powerful.
Blueticks are also prone to ear infections more than their Coonhound cousins. Hence, you should regularly clean them.
- Temperament: persistent and devoted
- Height: 22-27 inches for a male, 21-25 inches for a female
- Weight: 55-80 pounds for a male, 45-65 pounds for a female
- Cold-nosed ability
- Long powerful baying
- Slower than other Coonhounds
- Prone to cataract and ear infections
Want to corner an intimidating large mountain lion? Then a Plott will be of service. All Coonhounds are famous for their fearless hunting. But Plotts are the most aggressive. That’s why they’re well known for hunting big game like bears.
I think this tracks back to their unique ancestry. They’re the only Coonhounds that don’t descend from English foxhounds. Instead, they were bred from German boar-hunting dogs.
Their baying is quite distinctive with a high pitch. I believe this helps in treeing mountain lions faster.
These features make them excellent watch-dogs. They’ll instantly warn you against intruders and relentlessly fight against any danger.
The only thing I don’t like about them is their rapid boredom. They have a high homing instinct. Hence, they won’t be willing to pursue a mountain lion that went far away leaving old trails.
Additionally, compared to other Coonhounds, they have a higher tendency for hip dysplasia. But this usually develops at older ages when they’re too tired to hunt anyways.
- Temperament: courageous and intelligent
- Height: 20-25 inches for a male, 20-23 inches for a female
- Weight: 50-60 pounds for a male, 40-55 pounds for a female
- Fearless and aggressive against the large game
- High-pitched intimidating baying
- Not persistent like other Coonhounds
- Higher possibility for hip-dysplasia
Treeing Walker Coonhound
Treeing Walkers are widely known for their high speed and long-lasting endurance. These features will make them able to chase mountain lions tirelessly until they’re eventually treed waiting for you to finish the job.
Contrary to other Coonhounds, they can be trained to climb small trees. That’s how they can push preys up to further cornered areas. No prey can escape this easily.
But there’s a trade-off to this ability. If you choose to keep a Treeing Walker as a pet, you’ll have to surround your house with a 6-foot fence at the least. Otherwise, your neighbors might not be friendly with you.
However, if you’re looking to hunt distant mountain lions, then I wouldn’t recommend a Treeing Walker. They have a much colder nose than their cousins. Hence, they can get distracted easily by fresher trails.
With their hot noses and incredible speed, I’d definitely recommend them for field trials.
When a Treeing Walker is trailing a prey, they produce distinctive long bayings. But when they successfully corner it, they bay in a short powerful manner. This is quite helpful when you’re hunting at night and you can’t see what your dog is up to.
- Temperament: highly enduring and even-tempered
- Height: 22-27 inches for a male, 20-25 inches for a female
- Weight: 50-70 pounds
- Notably faster than other Coonhounds
- Hot nose
Black and Tan Coonhound
Do you want a breed that never leaves an incomplete hunt? A Black and Tan is definitely what you’re looking for. Known for their powerful cold noses, they’re perfect to trail mountain lions at a large distance.
People even say that a Black and Tan is a nose with a dog attached to it!
Although they’re often mellow, they can prefer to follow their independent nature and misbehave during a hunt. They typically go after the prey and think on their own while leaving you behind.
That’s why it’s important to train them as puppies to work under your command.
They can be loving and caring as pets. However, their independent nature will be a bummer to playful kids.
Due to their large droopy ears, they require constant ear cleaning. Otherwise, they might develop a serious ear infection.
Moreover, they have an increased chance to have hip dysplasia when compared to their cousins. But luckily, they both develop it in a similar old age.
- Temperament: independent and persistent
- Height: 25-27 inches for a male, 23-25 inches for a female
- Weight: 65-110 pounds
- Strong cold noses
- Persistent attitude
- High chance for an ear infection and hip dysplasia
- Independent dogs may misbehave
Mountain Curs are one of the hound mixed-breeds. When the English settlers migrated to the USA in the 1940s, they brought different types of Terrier breeds with them.
It’s thought that breeding of these Terriers with the native American dogs led to the emergence of the Mountain Curs.
Like most of the other Curs, they were bred to herd, hunt, and guard the homes of their owners. That’s why I think they provide the right balance between a pet and a hunting dog.
Although they were originally bred to hunt small prey like rabbits, they can perform exceptionally well in a mountain lion pursuit.
Why? For starters, they have the strength and agility of a regular hound. But my most favorite feature is that they can be trained to climb trees. Therefore, mountain lions won’t stand a chance.
Due to their droopy ears, they’re prone to skin infections and wax buildup. Hence, you should pay special attention to their cleaning. Otherwise, they might become deaf.
Moreover, their coat is known to develop regular irritations. This is especially true for pets that are kept inside for long periods.
- Temperament: intelligent and obedient
- Height: 18-26 inches for a male, 16-24 inches for a female
- Weight: 30-60 pounds
- Can be trained to climb trees
- Prone to ear and skin infections
Other Things You Should Know
Aside from the dog breeds, I thought I should share with you other information that’s essential for every mountain lion hunter to know.
Mountain Lion Hunting Season
Generally, the best season to hunt them is winter. The snowy ground makes it easier to track them. However, each state may impose a specific period for hunting. So make sure to check your state’s law to avoid legal problems.
It’s important to note that some states, like Oregon, don’t allow the use of dogs to pursue or kill mountain lions. Others, like Montana, allow it within certain months.
As you may know, you need to purchase a license from your state’s wildlife agency to be legally allowed to hunt mountain lions.
Some states have a specific quota after which the hunting season is closed. In those states hunters must check that the quota has not been reached before hunting the next day.
Fully review the regulations for where you are hunting. If you are successful you may be required to check-in the carcass and hide of your mountain lion in your state’s wildlife agency. Biologists know incredibly little about these animals. That’s why they want to gather as much information as they can.
If you decide to go with rifles, then I recommend using something like .300 Savage, .300 Lapua, .308 Winchester, 300 Blackout or .444 Marlin.
I know what you’re thinking, these look notably overkill considering the animal size. And yes, they are.
But mountain lions are dangerous, even when wounded. Actually, a wounded mountain lion may become frustrated to the point that it goes for one last attack. You never know what can happen.
That’s why you have to take this animal down as clean and fast as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the characteristics of a good mountain lion dog?
Above all, a mountain lion hunting dog has to have an obedient temperament. A strong cold nose is also essential to properly track sneaky mountain lions.
Fearlessness is an obvious character to be able to stand against the hisses and growls of a mountain lion. Speed, agility, stamina, and strength are generally wanted in any hunting dog.
Do these breeds make good family pets?
Yes. Outside the hunting ground, most of these breeds can be loving and caring for your family. They show loyalty and friendliness as long as you take good care of them.
Also, they provide the best protection. Plott Coonhounds, for example, are famous watch-dogs.
However, as they bay and bark louder than other breeds, your neighbors may disapprove of them.
Can these breeds live inside?
Again, yes. Nearly all the breeds I mentioned can be taken inside the household. However, as these dogs were bred to hunt, you should give them the chance to satisfy this instinct.
Take them for regular walks, field trials, or even raccoon hunting. Otherwise, the dog will get bored and start to aggressively misbehave.
Moreover, some breeds have delayed mental maturation, like the Redbone Coonhound. This means that a Redbone puppy may be unable to realize how strong he is.
Consequently, having them as pets may damage your property and possibly harm your children.
Do mountain lions ever kill the dogs hunting them?
Mountain lions are strong carnivores. In terms of size, they are the fourth largest cat after tigers, lions, and jaguars.
So technically, yes. They can kill a hunting dog. But hunting with a pack of more than 2 dogs will drastically reduce the likelihood of dog injuries.
Also, Coonhound bayings are found to intimidate mountain lions. Therefore, they tend to run and climb trees to avoid combat.
To Sum Up
If you have interest, find a mentor, get a pup and get on a trail. These dogs make great companions and great pets. Lastly, good luck! I wish you a safe and fruitful hunt.