By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 7 August 2010)
Most dogs are good with cats if they have lived with them from an early age, but some dog breeds tend to be particularly cat-friendly.
Dog Breeds That are Best with Cats
Animal Planet’s top-rated dog breeds for cat-friendliness include:
- American Cocker Spaniel
- Chinese Crested Dog
- English Cocker Spaniel
- English Springer Spaniel
- Field Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
- Old English Sheepdog
Spaniels, Retrievers, Beagles, and other gentle breeds tend to be particularly good with cats, though there are certainly exceptions to this rule.
Dog Breeds That May Be Bad with Cats
Petplace’s Irreverent Vet asserts that certain dog breeds such as Greyhounds, Pit Bulls, and Parson Russell Terriers are more likely to be bad with cats. This doesn’t mean that all dogs of these breeds are hostile toward cats, but there is a higher likelihood of conflicts.
Greyhounds and Cats
Racing greyhounds have been trained to chase and may have trouble overcoming this conditioning. But according to Greyhound expert Debbie Buxcey, with proper “detraining,” 90% of greyhounds can be taught to accept resident cats as members of their packs, though they will probably still chase unknown cats if they have the opportunity.
Pit Bulls and Cats
The Irreverent Vet has seen more cats injured and killed by Pit Bulls than by dogs of any other breed. However, it is usually bad owners rather than bad natures that cause Pit Bulls to turn mean.
According to Karen Delise, Director of Research for the National Canine Research Council (The Pit Bull Placebo: Media, Myths, and Politics of Canine Aggression), Pit Bulls have been a favourite of criminals who raise dogs for fighting and other aggressive purposes, and such dogs usually suffer severe abuse and neglect. In addition, media hype has demonized the breed. However, there are many responsible Pit Bull owners who socialize their dogs properly, treat them well, and don’t let them escape and roam. There are also plenty of photos available online depicting Pit Bulls snuggling with cats, so it’s obvious that these dogs have the potential to be cat-friendly.
Pit Bulls that are well-socialized and cared for tend to be trustworthy and good-natured. And although Pit Bulls that have been poorly socialized, abused, or neglected may be particularly dangerous, the same could be said of many other breeds of dog.
Pit Bull Rescue Central offers advice on how to integrate Pit Bulls within cat-owning households, noting that although some Pit Bulls have too strong a prey drive to live with cats, most will be cat-friendly if they are well trained and introduced in a positive way. If adopting an adult Pit Bull, the organization recommends asking whether the dog has been tested with cats prior to bringing him home.
Parson Russell Terriers (Previously known as Jack Russell Terriers) and Cats
The Irreverent Vet notes that a number of cats have been killed or injured by Parson Russell Terriers, and Terriers in general are over-represented among Animal Planet’s lowest-ranked dogs for cat-friendliness. Terriers were originally bred to hunt, which makes many of them prone to chasing cats, but some Terriers can learn to control themselves, particularly with positive early socialization.
Full List of Dog Breeds That May Not Get Along with Cats
The following dog breeds received Animal Planet ratings of just 1 or 2 out of 5 for cat-friendliness:
- Airedale Terrier
- Alaska Malamute
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Australian Cattledog
- Bedlington Terrier
- Border Collie
- Cairn Terrier
- German Pinscher
- Irish Terrier
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lakeland Terrier
- Manchester Terrier
- Miniature Pinscher
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Parson Russell Terrier
- Pharoah Hound
- Redbone Coonhound
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Shiba Inu
- Skye Terrier
- Smooth Fox Terrier
- Welsh Terrier
- Wire Fox Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
In some cases, conflicts with these breeds are likely to be relatively benign. For example, Border Collies have a tendency to herd cats and other pets. Michael DeVine and Michele Earle-Bridge ( Border Collies, a Complete Pet Owner’s Manual) note that they are unlikely to harm cats once they catch up to them, but a cat may find the constant chasing traumatic.
With other breeds, the risk may be relatively high, as with some Weimaraners. According to the Weimaraner Club of Kansas City, a significant percentage of Weimaraners will kill cats if given the opportunity.
All Dogs Have the Potential to be Cat-Friendly
Even the least cat-friendly dog breeds can become best friends with cats if they are raised with them. Also, there are individuals within each breed that behave differently from the breed standard.
See How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Cat for tips on facilitating positive first contacts between cats and dogs to reduce the likelihood of conflicts (the same rules apply when introducing a new cat to a resident dog). See also How to Stop a Dog Attacking a Cat for information on preventing canine-to-feline aggression.
Cat Breeds That Get Along Well with Dogs
Can Cats and Dogs Be Friends? provides a list of cat breeds that are considered to be particularly dog-friendly.