.38 Special for feral dogs?


May 24, 2004, 12:22 AM
First, please know that I own 2 indoor dogs, was raised in a home that included 2 indoor rottweilers and a collie, and that my family does volunteer fostering of puppy litters in our home for the local humane society. On those occasions that an old dog of mine has had to be eased into the long sleep due to failing health, I, as a grown man have cried like a child. With that said, I will ask my questions. My wife and I recently bought 10+ acres in the county, where the people population is less but there seems to be a problem with packs of domesticated(?) dogs raiding livestock, and at times even threatening persons. Fearless of humans, these dog packs present a danger to adults and children alike. I carry an SP101 with JHP ammo in .38+p. Should I consider instead something along the lines of frangible slugs or what for this type of risk? Practice, practice, practice with whatever I carry yes. But, is the average 40+ pound canine a tough beast to stop?

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May 24, 2004, 12:30 AM
is the average 40+ pound canine a tough beast to stop?Short answer? ...... potentially yes indeed. Seems that canines unless hit in absolute vitals can all but ignore injury and continue with an attack .... an ''adrenaline'' thing I guess.

I'd sure rather have my SP101 and .357 loads than nothing but .. frankly .... more gun will be way safer for you .... and more effective.

I would favor a 4" .44 mag of some sort .. M29 perhaps . or Ruger Redhawk. You really want as close as possible to one shot stop .... plus longer sight base helps a lot ...... even consider optics of some sort ..... tho depends on range involved when you have to use.

Also a shottie could be well useful ... an 870 stoked with something useful .... maybe double aught buck or even #4 shot .. at least a good chance of rapid follow ups and whilst first shot may not ''neutralize'' ..... good chance of halting actual attack.

Others might suggest a small carbine or rifle ... a Mini-14 could work .. semi's do give some speed of delivery. Also a lever action in say 30-30.

Lots to choose from but personally ..... primary choice? NOT .38 spl +P .... it could let you down badly. Just my 0.02 tho.

May 24, 2004, 01:03 AM
it's my understanding (based solely on anecdotal evidence) that dogs do not react in at all the same way as people, given simliar massive trauma.

well, unless the people in question are on drugs.

May 24, 2004, 03:26 AM
Untill you get a 10mm, how about .38 spl. SWCHP+P? (assuming this is a .38 SP-101). I don't think frangible ammo is a good choice for animals of any kind. If it's a .357, Winchester 110 JHP's are low recoil/flash and should work well on a broadside rib cage shot.
I'm a nature lover and believe feral animals should be killed on sight.

May 24, 2004, 08:07 AM
I grew up in a rural area where coyotes weren't a problem. Neighborhood dogs allowed to run freely were our biggest problem. Hitting a small target thats gonna be moving fast with a handgun will be difficult. We always kept a shotgun handy whenever the need arose to defend our stock. Dad kept a tweleve guage loaded with #2 shot. It seemed to give better hit probability and really do a number on the 60-80 lb animals.

May 24, 2004, 08:49 AM
Thanks for the input. I guess I should have given a few more details though. My SP101 is .357--my wife and I both carry one, and she can control the .38 +P's easier than the full-house loads. I'd hope not to have to tote an 870 (have one) or a Mini-14 (have one of those too) for walks in my woods/chainsawing/fencing/mowing/horse riding, but rather prefer the SP as an "always" gun (it is my carry gun now) right in my pocket. 125 grain loads may be the answer. Shot placement is the deciding factor I know.

May 24, 2004, 09:21 AM

I think a SP101 could be a perfectly good gun for the job you're describing; but I would suggest a different load.

The 125s are definitely the flashiest and loudest of the bunch, but a heavier bullet--any good 158 gr HP or even SWC--would be easier to shoot (less flash and bang, and your SP has plenty of mass to make the muzzle flip controllable).

The better penetration of the 158s would also address the fact that dogs (animals) react differently to being shot--primarily, I suspect, because they don't know they're supposed to fall down when shot, because they haven't watched enough movies and tv to understand this ;) They aren't going to react to anything but physical breakdown, if they've decided to attack you--and in order to get that kind of damage, you need a bullet that will punch down deep.

Basically, this is moving in the opposite direction from the frangibles you suggested in the initial post--but still in the realm of ammo your gun is perfectly capable of digesting with aplomb.

May 24, 2004, 09:27 AM
I have lived in two places w/ ferral dogs. Down in Texas (Ft. Bliss area) we would go out with a few 50 lb sacks of dog food. We would take up position up on ridge lines and open the bags down in the low spots. Wait for them to come in and put them down. We used everything from Garands, ARs , Minis, and good old huntin' rifles. Make a full day of it.

Here (Idaho) the tree huggers would have an anurism if we did that. But, in the valley I grew up, we had a pack of ferral pits some bikers left behind. The pack grew quite large, 25 beasts IIRC. I know that dog are too small for 180gr 30-06 to open up properly, most just passed through. 30-30 w/ 170 gr speers seemed to give reliable one shot stoppage. I imagine any flat tip 150gr or better should do it. In close quarters, shotty with buck would probably be a good choice.

When I am out hunting, I carry a 357 service-six with gold dots just for the dog issues.

May 24, 2004, 11:51 AM
Always found that #4 Buck from a Moss. 500 would stop a charging coyote pretty much in its tracks. A semi-auto doulbe tap with the same load from a S&W 1000 with a reddot works damn good too.:)

May 24, 2004, 02:50 PM
I live close to ????cago (Chicago) but as I live in Indiana, I'm also close to Gary (the murder capital of the U.S.). Feral dogs are a real problem. The Bangers turn the dogs loose when they're done fighting them. A good friend of mine is a long time Pit Bull owner and ex Marine Armorer. He assures me .38 spec. will drop either of his 80 lb. Pits., but we're talking head shot at 5 feet. When I walk my little dog I carry a 1911 230 gr hardball for dog control.

toolmaker: That said, it sounds like you need a community meeting to discuss best approach to problem, as in trapping, community hunt, or whatever works best. You're probably dealing with Coydogs by now.

May 24, 2004, 02:52 PM
A pack of feral pits? No thank you sir.. bet they'd eat just about anything they could run down.

I'd have to agree with the others.. 158 gr'ers seem pretty standard. I'd say golddots, but they just seem to be my fav's these days. Its even what I keep my mamma's revolver loaded with.

You might want to reconsider the mini. I've seen some that just weren't reliable enough for this sort of work. 10+ acres isn't that much land, either. How far to the nearest house?

May 24, 2004, 03:20 PM
You might want to reconsider the mini. I've seen some that just weren't reliable enough for this sort of work.

I'll second that. A Mini is a fun gun, not a bet your life on it gun.

May 24, 2004, 05:28 PM
Against a dog I would opt for penetration over explosive expansion. A rapidly expanding bullet may not penetrate deep enough to reach a dog's vitals, so I would go with a 158 grain load, LSWC, JHP or JSP.

May 24, 2004, 10:21 PM
A 40 lb pissed off dog can indeed be hard to stop. I used to have a 50 acre ranch (yeah i know everybody else calls 'em farms but this is Kallywierdya) and raised cattle and hogs. We had a big problem with ferel (domesticated?) dogs. I used to keep a 12 gauge in my truck and a .357 loaded with 125 gr hollowpoints on my hip. The only dog i ever had to shoot using my .357 was a lab/shepard mix (about 50 lbs) at about 25 yrds. Hit him just behind the shoulder and knocked him down. Had to use one more round to put him out. After that i went to 158 gr lswc.

May 24, 2004, 11:15 PM
I'd suggest the 158 gr. load as well, but also recommend you switch to a belt holster, if a dog pack decides to attack, they will probably sneak up on you and you won't have a lot of time to draw from a pocket.

When working around the farm, I usually carried a .357 of some sort, but have recently switched to a .10 MM, as the auto carries a bit flatter, and doesn't tend to bang into fenceposts, truck doors, etc while working.

If I had stock, I'd definitely keep a rifle handy as well, dogs will pull down calves and colts readily.

May 25, 2004, 12:55 AM
While working on my property cutting firewood, or about anything else I carry a 9 shot Taurus .22lr. My CCW gun is a Sp101 3” and I agree with the others that a 158gr SWC would be your best bet when carrying your SP. However, If you’re at home and spot the dogs from there a shotgun or rifle would be the best bet. I’ve killed feral dogs with both a .22lr rifle and shotgun (00buck) :cool:

Alan Fud
May 25, 2004, 01:02 AM
Hey toolmaker, I've been asking the exact same question over in this thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=83509) ... living out in the country, SP101 in .357mag, coyotes, etc. Quartus (http://www.thehighroad.org/member.php?s=&action=getinfo&userid=2971) was kind enough to show me the link to this thread here. You might find what is being said in the thread that I started (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=83509) equally interesting.

May 26, 2004, 02:07 AM

Like you, I am a BIG dog lover. Having been raised in a rural area, we commonly would come across feral dogs while out and about. Rather than being an armchair theorist, I can tell you that I have used all manner of firearms including, but not limited to, 22 pistols, 45 ACP from 1911, 38 revolver with wadcutters, 20 gauge bird shot, etc. and all seemed to do a fairly good job. Like others have allowed, accuracy rates high on the list of priorities as does the ability for a quick follow up shot. Were I in your shoes, showing the most admirable concern for my wife's safety, I would have no qualms with her using her SP101. I would prefer bullets more on the medium weight side and I would be very comfortable with the new 130 HP's and even the lowly 148 grain wadcutter. With a decent thorax shot (heart and lung), they bleed out pretty quickly or a shot to the CNS will simply shut down the system. It goes without saying that a couple of speedstrips are a great idea.



May 26, 2004, 08:16 AM
even the lowly 148 grain wadcutter.

Wadcutter or semiwadcutter?

May 26, 2004, 08:34 AM
Hello Sir,

I have used both to the same end degree of success. I merely mentioned the wadcutter to illustrate reality vs. theory. The wadcutter offers great accuracy, low recoil, and good penetration, cutting a nice hole as it goes through.



Highland Ranger
May 26, 2004, 08:50 AM
I do a search on Pit Bulls here and on the internet in general . . . there are numerous accounts of police trying to stop a pitbull with service revolvers and the animals taking more punishment than you would expect before quitting the fight.

I vote 44 mag or shotgun depending on what may be behind the target.

May 26, 2004, 09:11 AM
Deleted post

May 26, 2004, 09:13 AM
A quarter of a century ago, I checked with a friend at a Vet school re putting down a neighbor's german shepherd after it mauled my then five year old younger son. I was cautioned against poisons, and told to: "... make holes - lots of holes... use a shotgun!". I found a contigency-seeking bottom-feeder to write them a letter. They had to hire representation - and the dog was put-down after the quarantine, due to this being the third child it had 'bitten' (... and, it had eaten 7 local pets who 'happened' through the unfenced yard.).

That son is not scared of dogs - at 6'1" 230lb now, he can look 'impossing' enough to make his older brother's guard dog school graduate similar german shepherd wet the floor and whimper. I'd just shoot the damn thing... a large, mean dog should never be out of a well-fenced lot.

I think that the old FBI .38 load - the 158gr LHPSWC +P rated .38 Special like the Remington R38S12 I recently 'discovered' - should be effective. From my 2" +P rated M10, I chrono-ed them Monday at 834fps. From my 3" M65, they reached 912fps... increased to 994fps from my 6" M66. I personally like my M296 with the Blazer 200gr GDJHP .44 Specials, which reach 805fps from it's 2.5" barrel. I don't own a shotgun...

I love animals... we have six house-bound cats. I even picked up hurt birds (Owls, eagles, buzzards, even crows!) for a wildlife preserve, sometimes driving hundreds of miles. If I see a Rott, shep, or pit-bull wandering loose in my yard, however, it is a target... Oddly, I won't even kill a snake, preferring to relocate them (Neighbors...). Attack-type dogs in a sub-division? They are always like a grenade with a loose pin. Targets!


May 27, 2004, 12:18 PM
I have an acquaintance who emptied the magazine of a Glock 9mm into a Mostly-collie wild dog. The dog stopped his attack, but he simply stood and stared at the guy with the pistol until he finally expired. The dog was not even knocked down. The fellow switched to a .45 sidearm after that experience.

I have killed wild dogs with a .22 rifle, but if I had a choice, I would use a .223 or a shotgun.

Stories of the effectiveness of .38 special wadcutters are myths, by the way. Penetration is very poor.


May 27, 2004, 03:36 PM
Stories of the effectiveness of .38 special wadcutters are myths, by the way. Penetration is very poor.


Seems to work just fine on paper and cardboard! :confused:


May 27, 2004, 11:56 PM
Having been on the business end of a Mastiff who had just mauled a kid...... I was very glad the cop had the shotgun!

Having seen several other wild dogs shot, a .45 ACP, .44 Mag or something of similar size (10mm, .41 Mag) would be the minimum...... preferably by far a 12ga buckshot or slug load.

I remember reading about an antidrug unit (CANE......up in Chicago I think?) where a Rott tried to come right in the window of the guy riding shotgun as they pulled up in front of a dealer's house for a raid (trained attack rott). He inserted the MP5SD he was carrying into it's mouth to keep it from chomping on him and Hail Mary'd (32 round burst) at literally muzzle contact distance right down the throat. It literally was still kicking after he stopped wetting himself and reloaded.

Apparently this happened one more time with the same result on a different raid, and he changed weapons. 14" 870. This time the Rott jumped up he shoved the shotgun into it's mouth (or close enough) and a round of 00 Buck basically decapitated the dog.

Now do you really think an annoyed feral dog's going to be stopped by a 2" .38?

May 28, 2004, 01:35 AM
My experience with Mini-14s has been completly opposite- that is, perfect reliability. Use good magazines- factory, John Masen, PMI, Pro-Mags. They aren't exactly heavy (my stainless w/ Hogue stock is about 7#s loaded I think) or unweildy, but I agree, I wouldn't want to carry a long gun all day.

Remember, my ancedote is just as irrelevant as any :) .

May 31, 2004, 01:12 AM
Have a cop buddy who had a crack dealer loose his rottie on him. Two rounds or .40S&W Goldrn Sabres to the skull knock the poochie out for a short time, but it survived with superficial wounds to its thick skull.

Same cop buddy encountered another rottie, one shot to skull, rottie survives.

The .40S&W Remmy GS is considered a very good round by most, but it was not up to the task of penetrating a rottie''s skull on three occasions I know of.

I would want a round that had more penetration. A nice 158gr quality HP or LSWC for .38/.357 would be my minimum. Winchester produces a 180gr Partition in .357 mag that kicks less than the dramatic 125gr .357 mags.

Premium hollow points designed for optimal performance on humans will not be the best feral poochie medicine.

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