Abilities are a pretty big deal. They can make or break a Pokémon (Regigigas with Slow Start, anybody?), and changes to Abilities that have happened throughout the generations have severely hurt some Pokémon (such as Gengar losing Levitate), and brought others to the forefront of the metagame (such as Pelipper being handed Drizzle). So, let’s talk Abilities.
Pokémon can have anywhere between one and three Abilities. Most Pokémon will have two Abilities that are randomly selected with equal chance, while a few have no choice. For example, Pelipper’s first two Abilities can be Keen Eye or Drizzle. The third/final Ability, if unique, is Hidden. This means you won’t ever see it if you don’t already get a Pelipper that has it.
Breeding Keen Eye Pelipper will give lots of Wingull with Keen Eye and some with Hydration (Wingull’s second Ability, Hydration, will become Drizzle upon evolution). But you’ll never see Rain Dish, the Hidden Ability they possess.
Passing Down Generic Abilities
In the realm of inheriting Abilities, the mother will always have the greatest amount of power. If you breed a female Pokémon with an Ability (the male parent can either be a compatible male or a Ditto, doesn’t matter), the Ability she has will always have an 80% chance of being passed down.
So having a female Pokémon with the Ability you want maximizes the chance of getting said Ability. The male Pokémon’s Ability has zero influence normally. However, if you breed a male (or genderless) Pokémon with a Ditto, they are suddenly treated as a female and pass down their Ability with a 80% chance.
Passing Down Hidden Abilities
Paired with a compatible male or with a Ditto, a female has a 60% chance of passing down her Hidden Ability, so it’s slightly lower than with generic abilities. The other 40% will be split 20/20 if the Pokemon has two generic Abilities.
Breeding a male or genderless Pokémon with a Ditto also gives you a 60% chance of passing it down.
If you have a female Pokémon with the same species male Pokémon and both have their Hidden Ability, the chance for passing it down remains set at 60%, as this depends solely on the status of the mother. So long as you have a female with the Hidden Ability, the father’s Ability is largely irrelevant and you are free to focus on things like Nature, Egg Moves, and IVs.
Again, your friendly reminder that to get the base Pokémon with the Hidden Ability in the first place, you have to S.O.S. Chain or transfer from previous generations. To check Abilities in battle, use a move like Simple Beam that will force the HUD to show you the enemy’s Ability.
The Curious Case of Dusk Lycanroc
For those who managed to grab the event distribution of Rockruff with Own Tempo, which can evolve into the Dusk form Lycanroc, you’ve probably already asked yourself: Can I breed this Rockruff and get more Rockruff with Own Tempo?
Yes, you can! However, due to the way Own Tempo is coded (it is treated as a completely different Ability set, separated even from Hidden Abilities), here’s the two ways you must breed your special Rockruff to get more.
Female special Rockruff can breed with anything, including male normal Rockruff, and her offspring will always have Own Tempo. Male special Rockruff don’t have it as lucky. You must breed a male event Rockruff with Ditto, and you have a lower chance of getting offspring with Own Tempo.