African Hunting

Best Dog Breeds for African Hunting – Your Plains Game Hunt Companion

For the last 12,000 years, dog breeds for African hunting have been present as partners, companions to lift heavy items, and guard dogs. They are an expert in flushing, tracking, or retrieving games.

However, out of various popular hunting dog breeds, there are two uncommon yet incredible hunting dog breeds: Beagles and Parsons Terriers. These adorable-looking dogs may deceive you with their looks, but they are excellent when pursuing games.

Nonetheless, both have their unique characteristics and histories. In this blog post, we will explore their roles in the hunting world and their use so you can introduce a new breed to your hunting pack! So, let’s get started!

Parsons Terriers is on the couch with Rifle.

Parsons Terrier: One of the Best Dog Breeds for African Hunting

Dog breeds for African hunting. Black Jack, the parson's terrier

The Parson Terrier, or the Parson Russell Terrier, is a small and lively breed. They have an active and charming spirit with a passion for hunting.

It came into being as Jack Russell Terriers but was later changed to Parson Russell Terriers by AKC in 1997. They were initially hunting dogs. But later, their friendly and affectionate demeanor turned them into a loving family dog. Let’s dive deep into the world of Parson Terriers and learn about their distinctive characteristics and hunting nature.

Parson Terrier on shooting bench.

Basic Characteristics

  • Size: Parsons are small to medium-sized dogs, varying between 33-36 cm or 12-15 inches.
  • Weight: Their tiny weights may vary between 13-17 pounds or around 5-8 kg.
  • Coat: They have a shiny double coat. It’s a dense undercoat with a short -smooth, or rough- top coat. Parsons come in white with different color markings such as black, tan, lemon, brown, or tricolor.
  • Shedding: They are moderate shedders all year. However, if you’re looking for hypoallergenic hunting dogs, jump to
  • Temperament: A small packet full of energy, loyalty, and eagerness to please. It has a lifespan of 13-15 years. PRTs require lots of fun activities, mental simulations, and training to keep them entertained and save your furniture. If they get bored, PRTs get very vocal (high barking level sometimes) and may become destructive.
Parsons terriers with hunting vehicles in the background.

They are known for their active and intelligent personalities. PRTs are not a good option for first-time owners as these tricky pets may jump off the fence or disappear down the hole with their tiny bodies. They require attentive owners and good training.


The history of Parson Terriers goes back to the 18th century when Reverend John Russell was aiming for a dog companion for fox hunting. Hence, the breed got its name from its owner, “Reverend John (The Sporting Parson) Rusell.

The British gentleman had two interests in life: ministry and fox hunting. So, he was searching for a perfect dog breed with long legs (to keep up with his horse’s pace) and small bodies to flush foxes from under the ground and holes. And have the resilience to confront and hunt the foxes.

Parson Terrier puppy.

After countless breeding, Russell found the perfect match and his way to fame. Rusell bred this dog to be an independent problem solver (which they have been to date).

Nonetheless, this breed took long enough to be recognized by any Kennel club. It was in 1990 that this breed got official recognition as a “Parson Jack Russell Terrier” of the Terrier group. Finally, the formal name changed to “Parson Russell Terrier” in 1999.

Parson terrier on a bushbuck hunt.

Hunting Instinct

As history suggests, this breed participates in England’s traditional “fox hunting” sport. They have a high drive to chase and catch prey.

They have intelligent expression with long legs and small bodies that makes them look like a stuffed toy. But don’t give in to the illusion of their appearance. They have the speed to keep up with Hounds and the strength to flush foxes from their lair.

They have high energy levels and a determined personality. But it also means leaving them under supervision around small animals such as small cats or dogs, rabbits, rats, or birds on the ground.

Parsons Terrier is chasing a reedbuck into the water.

Did You Know

  • PRTs are AKC’s 145th breed.
  • Regardless of their hunting instinct, PRTs are great with children and make good family pets.
  • They are experts in canine sports, including agility, obedience, and tracking.
  • They can be good farm dogs as they are not afraid of big animals (horses, cattle, sheep).

The Parson Terrier is a small breed with notorious hunting abilities. With their distinctive combination of persistent attitude and cuddle-worthy appearance, this breed became famous as hunting dogs and lovable family pets.

Parson terrier on an Eland hunt.

Beagle: Feisty Hunter with Amiable Face Mask

Beagle scent dog with Fallow Deer.

This adorable breed ranks 8 in the AKC “Popular dog breeds” list. Have you seen Snoopy from Peanuts? That is a Beagle! This breed is famous for its cute appearance, but little are they known for their hunting abilities.

They have friendly behavior with families with a nose for everything good (at least good for them). They are perfect companions if you are going on a rabbit hunt. However, if you are aiming for a Coyote this time, we would still suggest an addition of Beagle to the pack.

Dog breeds to assist you on your African plains game hunt.

Basic Characteristics

  • Size: A small-sized breed varying between 13-16 inches.
  • Weight: Slightly heavier than a Parson Terrier. Beagles weigh between 20-30 pounds.
  • Coat: A dog breed with a dense double coat. Beagles have smooth, weather-resistant short coats, commonly tricolor (black, white, and brown patches).
  • Shedding: They are among the top producers of dander. Sorry for people with allergies.
  • Temperament: Beagles are famous for their friendly and social personalities. Although initially reserved with strangers, they enjoy making friends with pets and humans.

Their good temperament (with adorable faces and large pleading brown eyes) makes them a good family dog. However, what is the point of a guard dog if yours (Beagle) will befriend anyone after a minute? Nonetheless, they are naturally loud pets and bark at unusual things, making them good watchdogs.

Beagle hunt dog


During the 16th century, people of England had pack hounds for hunting. There were larger dog breeds to hunt deer and smaller breeds for rabbits. This smaller and compact breed is the ancestor of a Beagle.

The 19th-century Beagle we are familiar with today is the modern result of selective English importation and breeding. The previous Beagles were more similar to Dachshunds and beagles but with weaker heads.

Nonetheless, their spectacular sense of smell can track down injured or small prey and catch them. And they are ever since bred and renowned for their cunning nose.

Beagle with Kudu.

Hunting Uses

People have been using Beagle’s ancestors to hunt small prey since before 55 B.C. To this day, they are primarily known to hunt small games.

Beagles are scent hounds, they use their nose to track and hunt. However, a hunter will own at least two Beagles for efficient hunting. And their friendly nature makes them great dogs to work in groups.

Beagles can also hunt (other than rabbits and hares) birds, squirrels, or bobcats. Or they can hunt larger animals such as wild boar, foxes, deer, and coyotes.

Beagle on a couch in our lodge.

Did You Know

  • The Beagles are known for their “Bay” hunting method. It is when they melodiously howl to share locations while hunting.
  • Their smart nose has led them to different professions. They work as detectives to search for drugs or bedbugs. They are also found in airport security to search for food in passengers’ bags.
  • In 2013, a Beagle named “Elvis” could smell to determine if a Polar bear was pregnant.
  • Beagles were introduced in South Africa in the 20th century (and Parson Terriers in the 19th century). Both breeds were adaptable to Africa’s climate and soon became an integral part of their hunting programs.

A small breed with pleading eyes that looks like a plush toy; do we need more convincing to get a Beagle addition at home? Their amiable personality makes them great with kids. Although keeping their scent prowess in mind, you have to keep an eye on them because they find and eat anything that smells good.

Beagle in the bar area in our lodge.

Beagles And PRT in South Africa

With South Africa’s ample territory and diverse animals, hunting has a long history. They consider hunting as a sport, as well as protection.

South Africa has various kinds of hunting games. And Beagles and Parson Terriers have found their role in these games. Here are some names;

Jack Russel with Bushpig
  1. Small Game: Small games like rabbits and hares are abundant there. Beagles and Parson Terrier’s tracking skills help them to hunt small prey.
  2. Birds: Beagle’s scent skills aid them in tracking waterfowl and non-waterfowl birds.
  3. Farm Protection: Agriculture is among the top professions in Africa. And Parson Terriers are a valuable asset to hunt down rodents and keep the farm safe.
  4. Sports: Africa also has various opportunities for sport hunting. Both breeds are advantageous in such competitions and events.
Parsons Terriers sleeping.


Parson Terriers and Beagles have a rich history of hunting. But they have unique characteristics and hunting skills. But their versatility to hunt small games, with larger animals like foxes and deer, make them an asset to the hunting world. But it doesn’t change them from being an affectionate family dog.

So, as a professional hunter or a dog lover, this blog post will give you an insight into these incredible breeds. They have contributed to a history of hunting. So, the next time you see a Beagle or a Parson Terrier, don’t forget that they are experts with an age-old hunting skill.

By Nick Bowker

Owner Nick Bowker Hunting. Passionate Hunter, Outdoorsman, and Conservationist, as well as Rancher. Registered Outfitter and Professional Hunter (guide) for more than 25 years.

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