The welfare of pig-hunting dogs in Australia.
Hunting feral pigs using dogs is a popular recreational activity in Australia. Dogs are used to flush, chase, bail, and hold feral pigs, and their use for these activities is legal in some states and territories and illegal in others. However, there is little knowledge about the health and welfare of dogs owned specifically for the purpose of pig hunting. We conducted a review of the literature on working dogs in Australia and overseas to determine the likely welfare impacts confronting pig-hunting dogs. We identified numerous challenges facing pig-hunting dogs throughout their lives. Risks to welfare include overbreeding, wastage due to behavioural incompatibilities, the use of aversive training techniques including electronic shock collars, solitary kenneling and tethering, high exposure to infectious diseases including zoonotic diseases, inadequate vaccination and anthelmintic prophylaxis, high incidence of traumatic and other injuries during hunts, climatic exposure during transportation, mortality during hunts, and a suboptimal quality of life after retirement. There are also significant welfare concerns for the wild pigs hunted in this manner. We conclude that research needs to be conducted in order to determine the current health and welfare of pig-hunting dogs, specifically in Australia. The humaneness of this method of pest control urgently requires further assessment.