Wild hogs or boar have become a major problem in the U.S. They are not native to North America but were introduced from overseas and their population has grown out of control, as there are few natural limitations on their population growth. Wild hogs, or boar, destroy crops, property, and sometimes livestock as they are voracious omnivores, and cause widespread damage, rooting up plants, wallowing, and creating pollution from runoff in areas they have damaged and contaminated with feces. They can also be quite dangerous when cornered by unsuspecting humans or pets.
Hunting boars has become a common method of population control in the U.S. due to environmental and crop damage, and danger to people. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of environmental and crop damage from wild boars to be in the billions of dollars annually. To solve this problem, many wild boar hunters employ dogs to aid them in hunting boar, a practice which dates back to the 1800s in America and back to ancient Roman times in the old world.
Hunting boars with dogs involves two types of skills, sometimes performed by two different kinds of dogs: bay dogs, and catch dogs. Bay dogs harass and chase the boar until it is cornered. They then bark at the pig until catch dogs and handlers can follow them to the location. Catch dogs hold the boar and handlers capture or shoot the boar. Bay dogs need to locate a scent, track the pig, flush and chase it, then corner it while barking loudly to alert hunters of their location. Once a boar is located by bay dogs, hunters release catch dogs to incapacitate the boar. Catch dogs need brute physical strength to attack, fight, and hold the boar until subdued, for hunters to arrive and shoot or take the boar live. Dogs usually hold the boar by grabbing it behind the ear to control the animal. This can be very dangerous for the dogs, and only large, aggressive physically strong dogs are suitable for the task. Dogs used as bay or catch dogs wear protective equipment such as vests and neck protectors that protect their necks and vital organs.
Dogs can start being trained to be hog dogs when they are 3-4 months of age but will need to reach maturity before being used in potentially dangerous boar hunts on wild hogs. Catch dogs especially need to be fully matured and have reached their peak physical condition to perform the task of holding a wild boar for hunters to arrive.
Dogs trained to hunt wild boar are familiarized with wild or domestic pigs first, that are approximately the same size or a little smaller than themselves in a controlled environment. This will necessitate locating and purchasing such a hog to help train your hog hunting dog. You will need a safe, contained area to work. While hunting boars in the wild, dogs will need to be safely and securely transported to the hunting site. Off-road vehicles fitted with crates are usually used for this purpose, and training your dog to load up and ride patiently is recommended. Some dogs are suitable as bay dogs that track boar, others as catch dogs, although some dogs perform both tasks, you will need to determine what task or tasks you are training your dog to perform prior to training. Make sure your dog is physically capable and suitable for the task you are planning on training him to perform, as boar hunting can be dangerous. Dogs will need to wear protective equipment, which includes, paw boots, to protect feet from terrain, vests, neck protectors, and tail protectors. Hunting dogs also frequently wear tracking dollars so they can be located if they become separated from handlers or other dogs and get lost.