His quest to study Hadith began at the age of 18. Among his teachers was Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal. Imam Dhahabi said about him - He resembled Ahmad ibn Hanbal in manners, conduct and habits. Ahmed ibn Hanbal was well-known for his manners in speaking as well.

There's a very interesting story when he hired a small boat to return back to shore just to reply to the person who sneezed and said Alhamdulillah. He explained that the person who sneezed could be the one whose supplications are accepted by Allah.

Among his prominent students, was his own son Abu Bakr Abdullah ibn Abu Dawood, Imam Tirmidhi and Imam Nasai. He was glad that his own Ustaad Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal narrated one Hadith from him in his collection.

Ibrahim al Harabi said about his Sunan Abu Dawood, "Hadith was made easy for Abu Dawood the way Hadid (iron) was made supple for Prophet Dawood".

Being a Faqih he made a point to pick those hadith which fell in the category of Fiqh and explained the fiqh through only one or two hadith. His outstanding contribution was - He summarised the long Hadith to save the fiqh lessons getting lost in the long narration. Whenever he included a weak narration he made a point to mention it.

Abu Dawood died in Basra in 275 Hijri.