Dog Breeds That Get Along Well with Cats
by Jennifer Copley
Beagle - good with cats - photo by filmismylove (Flickr)
If you have a cat and want to adopt a dog, choosing a cat-friendly dog breed will increase the likelihood that your pets will live together happily. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and any dog that is socialized from a young age with cats has the potential to be cat-friendly.
Cat-Friendly Dog Breeds
The following dog breeds are more likely to be friendly and gentle with cats.
Among the most amiable dog breeds, Beagles tend to be calm and easy-going around the house as long as they get sufficient outdoor exercise. Most Beagles are gentle and tolerant, so they are more likely to
get along well with cats than dogs of many other breeds.
Famous for its superior scent-tracking ability, the Bloodhound is a calm dog, more inclined toward endurance than hyperactivity. Placid, gentle, and trustworthy, a dog of this breed is unlikely to frighten or harm a cat.
A mostly hairless, slender breed with a plume of long hair on the top of its head, legwarmer-style fur on its legs, and a furry tail, the Chinese Crested Dog enjoys the dubious distinction of having won more World’s Ugliest Dog contests than any other breed. Cuddly and sweet by nature, Chinese Crested Dogs tend to be sensitive and kind toward other pets.
Although the Newfoundland is a strong, protective guard dog, this breed tends to have a sweet, easy-going temperament and get along well with other pets. Because they are typically calm, gentle, and friendly, most Newfoundlands can integrate well with cats.
Old English Sheepdog
Good-natured, gentle, and well-mannered, this devoted, protective breed is more likely to treat cats like family than as prey. The adaptable, mellow, easy-going Old English Sheepdog is among the breeds least likely to be aggressive or nervous, traits which make a dog harmful to cats. Sheepdogs often “herd” children or other pets as though they were a flock of sheep by gently bumping them.
Retrievers (Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever)
Although athletic, exuberant, and energetic, Retrievers are known for their gentle dispositions and tend to be cat-friendly dogs. Plenty of outdoor exercise is necessary to ensure that they are calm around the house (most cats prefer dogs that are calm).
Playful and energetic yet gentle, Samoyeds that receive plenty of exercise outdoors tend to be good with children and cats. Like the Old English Sheepdog, a well-raised Samoyed is unlikely to bite children or cats, but may try to herd them like sheep.
Spaniels (American Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel)
Spaniels tend to be active, friendly, affectionate, tractable, and eager to please. Because they are usually gentle and sensitive, most can be socialized to get along well with cats, and even Spaniels that chase cats are unlikely to harm them.
Dogs of breeds other than those listed above can also be cat-friendly if introduced to cats at a young age in a positive manner. However, many dog breeds such as Terriers and Greyhounds have a strong chase reflex, and aggressive chasing can traumatize a cat. Dogs of certain breeds, such as the Weimaraner, may even kill cats if given the chance unless they have been raised with cats.
If a dog is adopted as a young puppy into a household with a resident cat, he will probably grow up to be cat-friendly, but the situation can be trickier when bringing in an adult dog.
Bringing an Adult Dog Home to Meet a Resident Cat
If you have one or more cats at home and are contemplating adopting an adult dog from a shelter, ask if he has lived with cats in the past or been tested with cats at the shelter beforehand. When you first bring the dog home, keep him on a leash or behind a baby gate in the presence of the cat until you’re sure that he can behave himself and the cat is comfortable with him. Give both pets treats, praise, and affection when they are behaving calmly together to create a positive association.
Making sure that dogs get plenty of outdoor exercise will make them calmer at home around cats, which increases the likelihood that your pets will get along well. Obedience training for dogs is also beneficial in teaching them the self-control required to be cat-friendly.
Animal Planet. (2011). “All About Dog Breeds” AnimalDiscovery.com.
New Zealand Kennel Club. (n.d.). “Old English Sheepdog” NZKC.org.nz
The Cocker Spaniel Club. (2011). “Frequently Asked Questions” ThecockerSpanielClub.co.uk.