Darkest Dungeon – Houndmaster Guide

Join Smough as he shares everything you need you need to know about mastering the Houndmaster in Darkest Dungeon.

March 28, 2021

“A tough and uncommonly compassionate ex-lawman, the Houndmaster and his faithful Wolfhound work in tandem to bring down their enemies and protect the innocent. Together they stalk the back ranks, bursting forth in a flurry of harrying bleeds, gnashing teeth, and stunning blows. Should the tide of battle turn, the pair can support an ailing party by protecting the weak and rallying the stressed.” – Guild

A versatile duo of man and dog, the Houndmaster is a fan favourite because he can do it all; want to cause bleed on all four enemy positions? No problem. Want to mark or stun an enemy? Houndmaster has you covered.

No matter what you are facing there is always a place for the Houndmaster and his faithful companion.

Houndmaster has always remained one of the most popular characters in the Darkest Dungeon; not just because of his cute pup but also because of how useful he is.

Houndmaster fighting
On the offense, the HM is a superb bleed dealer, having the capability to hit every position with a bleed attack at the same time, as well as having a single target bleed attack. In support he can stun enemies, stress heal and guard squishier members of the group.

What the HM gives you is a powerful swiss army knife that will have a role to play in every fight; whether that be keeping sustained damage on the enemy or whether that be protecting his teammates. To get the most out of your dynamic duo, we have pushed them to their limits to provide the following guide.

Darkest Dungeon Houndmaster Overview

“A lawman and his faithful beast – a bond forged by battle and bloodshed.” – The Ancestor

If we first look at his baseline stats, we can see that the HM has the stats we’d expect of a versatile class; average middling stats. Fairly low health, good dodge, decent speed and relatively low damage. Given the fact that the HM can strike any enemy position and cause them bleed, anything else would make him overpowered.

Darkest Dungeon Houndmaster Base Stats
However, as his resolve level goes up, his dodge will eventually reach 30 – making it the second best in the game after the Jester. This makes up for his relatively average hit points and it makes him quite difficult to finish off.

As in keeping with our previous character guides let us take a brief high-level look at the pair’s strengths and weaknesses.


• Access to bleed
• Can easily target backline targets
• Can self-heal
• Can stress heal team
• Extremely versatile build options
• Excellent camping skills


• Low direct damage
• Average health
• Low crit chance

As shown, while the Houndmaster lacks significant direct damage, his access to marking, stunning and bleed make him a great source of sustained damage. Built differently he can instead play the role of disrupter and protector.

Now let us dive into the abilities of everyone’s favourite team and examine them one at a time to get the best from him. We would also highly suggest you read our Ultimate Darkest Dungeon Guide to learn more about combat and team positioning.

Hounds rush on wald


Hound’s Rush

• Ranged
• Can be used from Rank 4, 3 or 2
• Targets any rank
• Damage Modifier 0%
• Accuracy 85
• Critical mod 5%
• Bleed damage of 1pts per turn for 3 turns
• +15% Damage vs Beast
• +60% vs Marked

The HM’s most direct source of damage, which has some real potential when combined with Target Whistle or other party member’s marking abilities. That 60% damage buff is very tasty and stacking it with the bonus against beasts in the Warrens makes the HM a real damage dealer.

Coupled with the fact it can hit backline stress dealers, makes this attack an almost auto include for any build.

The Hound rushes an enemy

Hound’s Harry

• Ranged
• Can be used from any rank
• Targets every rank
• Damage Modifier -75%
• Accuracy 85
• Critical mod -5%
• Bleed damage of 1pts per turn for 3 turns

Hound’s Harry trades Rush’s higher target damage and bonuses for the ability to rake the entire enemy team, with a lower damage and Bleed proc. On the surface, it may not look like much but if repeatedly used the stacks across the enemy team can quickly build up, especially if combined with other characters like the Flagellant.

Famously, Hound’s Harry is devastating against the boss ‘Formless Flesh’ and if you have two HM’s in your squad spamming Harry then this difficult boss becomes a bit of a joke.

Target Whistle

• Ranged
• Can be used from any rank
• Targets any rank
• Damage Modifier -100%
• Accuracy 100
• Mark Target (3 rds)
• -20% Prot (130% base, 4 rds)

The HM’s marking ability that synergises well with a marking party and will benefit his Hound’s Rush attack. In addition it brings down the enemies Prot, allowing for tougher enemies to be quickly felled by a Bounty Hunter or Arbalest.

HM marks a target


• Melee
• Can be used from Rank 1 or 2
• Targets Rank 1, 2 or 3
• Damage Modifier -65%
• Accuracy 95
• Critical mod 5%
• Stun (110% base)

Blackjack is a solid part of an HM’s toolkit, allowing you to reliable stun the damage dealers of the enemy ranks; again combining this with a Bounty Hunter’s ‘Finish Him’ makes for a great synergy. Placing the HM at rank 2 is a solid choice because you can use every single ability in the HM’s roster.

Cry Havoc

• Team stress heal
• Can be used in position 4 or 3 and can target any position
• Stress -2 (66% base)

One of the few stress healing-abilities available in the game that can prove invaluable in longer dungeon runs where stress can become a factor. Combine this with the ‘Therapy Dog’ camping skill and you have a real asset for the more stressful dungeons.

Lick Wounds

• Self heal
• Can be used in position 4, 3 or 2
• Heal 4

Pretty self-explanatory, a welcome addition if you are struggling for a last skill for your build, as a self-heal will always be useful to have to free up your main healer.

Guard Dog

• Can be used from any rank
• Targets any rank
• Guard Ally (2rds)
• Self +10 DODGE

A very useful tool for a support HM that not only protects an ally, but also boosts the HM’s already significant DODGE making him very difficult to hit and improves his survivability dramatically.

Camping Abilities

Darkest Dungeon houndmaster - team sitting next to campfire

The camping abilities of the HM are worth noting because they are some of the best that are available in the roster of heroes. Therapy Dog gives good stress heal and stress reduction to the entire party and Hound’s Watch remains my favourite camping skill as it prevents a disastrous night ambush and reduces the chance of being surprised. Finally, the Release the Hound skill boosts your chances of scouting ahead which is always invaluable in scouting missions.

Strategy and Synergy

“Still clad in his worn Gendarme’s uniform, the Houndmaster’s focus is on evasion over mitigation. His cudgel is an effective stunning tool, but it is the Hound who delivers the pair’s most crippling blows, especially when he’s been fed an invigorating snack!” – Blacksmith

Upon looking at the HM’s abilities it should be clear that the Houndmaster is one of Darkest Dungeons most versatile characters but where he really shines is his synergy with a marking party. For that reason, I like teaming the Houndmaster up with a Bounty Hunter who can take advantage of the marking and stunning abilities of each other. If you combine these two with the tanky hitting power of a Leper or a Crusader then you have some real potential for serious damage.

A solid squad that would take advantage of bleed and marking criticals, whilst having a constant source of solid damage would look like this; 1-Leper, 2-Bounty Hunter, 3-Houndmaster and 4-Vestal.

Darkest Dungeon Houndmaster in combat with team
In this squad, the Leper would soak up the damage while hitting the front two enemy positions with solid damage dealers. Either the Bounty Hunter or the Houndmaster would start marking enemies before both ramp up some real damage with those bonuses. All the while the vestal would be dishing out heals where necessary and stunning enemies at will, for the Bounty Hunter to take advantage of.

The Houndmaster can also be used as pure supportive class, guarding enemies, healing stress and dishing out solid stuns with the Blackjack. The Houndmaster should usually be used in tandem with teammates that can take advantage of marking and stunning. In the Warrens, feel free to bring two along and let loose with Hound’s Harry and watch the enemy bleed to death.

Now let us look at a sample build that showcases the potential of the houndmaster.



The Hunt Master: A Houndmaster Build

This is probably my go to build when I use the HM, as it has so much utility and can almost always have a space in a party, especially when used with a Bounty Hunter or an Arbalest.

The skills for the Hunt Master are; Hound’s Rush, Hound’s Harry, Target Whistle and Lick wounds.

Suggested Trinkets; Spiked Collar (+20% DMG, +30% Bleed Skill Chance, -50% Healing Skills, -20% Healing Received)

So the idea behind this build is to, apply bleed if necessary with Hound’s Harry but in most circumstances you will be marking your enemy with Target Whistle and then hitting the positions 3 and 4 with Hound’s Rush to make use of that juicy +60% DMG bonus for marked enemies. Lick Wounds is simply there to free up the main healer in case the HM is close to death’s door.

Watch the video below to watch the HM pick apart a powerful enemy team in a Veteran Dungeon:

In the video you observe that the HM is the lynchpin of the team and helps wear down the exceptionally tough Giant, by first marking him for the Bounty Hunter who then goes on to deal a staggering amount of damage thanks to the marked buff.

The Houndmaster then uses Hound’s Harry to apply bleed to the whole team before taking out the backline witch with a targeted Hound’s Rush.

This is where the HM excels in my opinion, targeted backline hits, placing some bleed effects and marking enemies for his teammates. Of course, this is only one suggested build because, as we have repeatedly reiterated; the houndmaster is an extremely versatile hero.


So, there you have it, our guide to the Darkest Dungeon’s houndmaster; the Lawman and his goodest boy.

We hope that this guide has inspired you to fill your team out with the Hound and his Master, so he can help wear and hunt your enemies down.

Houndmaster cover photo

Darkest Dungeon

RPG/Dungeon Crawler/Roguelike

Geoff SmoughTown

Geoff SmoughTown


My grandfather was a man way ahead of his generation, owning his first PC in the early ’90s. When I and my sister came to visit he would fire up ‘Rabbit Reader 2’, and I was transported to the world of ‘Wordsville’. Since then my tastes have developed finding myself attached to Lore rich games; the Souls series, Dead Space and any RPG with a good story. For me, Games can be forms of art to be dissected, analyzed and appreciated.



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