Come on, there must be a dog out there that can live with cats! There must be a better way of finding the best dogs for cats than picking one, crossing your fingers and hoping you hit the adorable jackpot! Certain dog breeds are almost guaranteed to be good with cats. Oh, and there’s a worst dog breeds for cats list, too.
It all depends on the cat as well, but let’s not go there just yet…It helps to know what dog breeds are known for getting along with cats. Friendly reminder: there are always exceptions!
Best Dogs for Cats in the House
Some dog breeds are predisposed, through a long history of breeding for specific temperamental traits, to make them more likely to live in peace with kitty.
Here are the absolute best dogs for cats (make sure you watch the adorable cat playing with dog videos and pictures):
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Basset Hound
- Bichon Frise
Best Dog Breeds for Cats
How do you decide the best dog breeds for cats?
It’s not only the obvious requirement that it should not chase, bite, let alone kill, the cat. It should actually get along with the cat, tolerate its moods (and as cat owners know, cats are expert at being moody), and generally befriend the cat whatever its personality.
That is a tall order, to say the least.
As always, the individuality of each pet goes a long way towards their compatibility, and as always, if they grow up together the chances that they get along improve a lot.
If you think about it, dogs that have been bred as a companion, guide, or care dog should be more likely to get along with cats as well as they would do with humans. Playful, gentle, tolerant, are words that you should look for in the breed characteristics. So in general – this is only a guide – the following dog breeds are the best to try if you need it to live with cats.
1. Golden Retriever
The same characteristics that make Golden Retrievers one of the best choices for a human family also make them the top of the list for living with other animals, including cats.
Yes, they do become quite large, but most cats can deal with size. As long as the dog is trained to treat the cat as gently as it does your family members, it should be fine.
The one word you will see over and over again when people describe Golden Retrievers is “friendly”.
They are by nature one of the friendliest dogs you can come across, to people as well as animals. Easy to train (that’s one of the reasons they are such excellent guide dogs) and eager to please it will quickly understand that the cat is part of the family. And that is the best way for a dog to get along with a cat (we will ignore the cat paws trying to type “Treat the Cat as though it is the King of the house”).
Many owners in fact report that Golden Retrievers become quite protective of cats in the household. These dogs seem to understand when another creature is in need of protection – animal or human – and are ready to step to the plate.
2. Labrador Retriever
Retrievers are unsurprisingly high on the list of cat-friendly breeds.
Labs have been bred for decades to keep their mouths soft when picking up or handling game birds. It is for preventing damage to the birds that they bring back to the hunter, which stands them in good stead when they deal with other animals or humans.
Note: It could be advisable to make sure that the Lab you bring home to your cat comes from a breeding line that is intended for a companion or a carer animal and not a birding animal.
In which case you are almost guaranteed the perfect dog for your cat.
Labs are top of the list for tolerance, gentleness, imperturbability – ok, they tell me that’s too big a word, it means nothing fazes them!
If your cat is one of those huffy ones that sometimes take offense without any visible cause, or temperamental – one day all purrs and rubs and the next, spits and claws – the Labrador Retriever will take all of this in his stride. He is quite happy to wait until sweetness returns and ready to be friends again.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Spaniels are hunting dogs. But the Cavalier King Charles is a toy breed and bred for companionship rather than hunting.
Historically they were lap dogs and still today very much want to sit on your lap, your shoulders, your feet, anywhere! Where they manage to look very decorative, sweet, and downright beautiful, thank you.
They have a reputation for loving cats.
These gentle, sweet, playful, loyal, funny dogs are ideal companions for cats. Cavvies love everything and everybody, including that so-called natural enemy of dogs, the cat.
The “Comforter Spaniel” hates being left alone, in fact, they will wail all day long because they suffer from separation anxiety. Having a cat for a companion calms them and makes for a peaceful household in your absence.
It could be that because they are rather small dogs, the cats seem to feel more comfortable with them. It could be because they do not yap without a pause like many other small dog breeds. If they do bark excessively, there is a good reason.
4. Basset Hound
Think about a classic cartoon detective with a black cape, deerstalker cap, magnifying glass, and faithful scent hound, and what picture do you get?
Of the dog, I mean! A Basset, most likely.
Those droopy ears, droopy eyes, and droopy mouth are very recognizable. For all their droopiness they are not depressed, just slow and steady. Ideal for a house companion.
If barking is not for you, then neither are Basset Hounds. Well, they do not bark, they bay. That’s worse, believe it. To be fair, they usually become barkers if they are bored or feel ignored, or if they need something like food or water. It doesn’t mean the cat has to scatter, even though it can be quite a frightening sound.
Bassets are kind, even-tempered, and good with other pets, including cats. They are perfectly happy to let the cat do its thing while they are lying around the house promoting the Slow movement. Or they will search for and find, the cat, and then announce it to the whole house.
Look! I Found The Cat!
Just don’t give more attention to the cat because Bassets can be jealous.
Beagles do amazingly well with cats.
They have a few drawbacks like not listening to your commands when it has found something more interesting to do and needing quite a bit of exercise. After all, it was bred to be a hunting dog and lots of activity is part of its nature. But if those do not bother you, a Beagle may be the dog for you and Kitty.
Beagles, like foxhounds whom they closely resemble, are pack hounds. As such they love to have other animals in the house and will readily accept your cat as a member of the pack. They may even be quite indifferent to the cat, which is as good as being friendly.
Even though Beagles are thought to be hunters, their function was actually to track, not kill, and their documented lack of aggression makes them an ideal choice for your cat. On the other hand, we’re talking about one dog, not a whole pack of them. A Beagle that is used to living in a pack with other dogs is not an optimal dog for a cat-owner.
They are such cards! Having a Pug is like having your own court jester. They can be delightfully silly and do not take themselves seriously at all. In short, they are the opposite of Madame Cat.
This does not mean they will not get along. On the contrary.
Pugs can be trusted to leave the cat alone when it’s in a bad mood and play with it when it’s willing. They are famously said to be lovers rather than fighters. In fact, the Pug is in more danger of being hurt by the cat than the other way round.
Pugs like to sleep a bit more than other dogs, 10-14 hours a day, and so have at least a little affinity with Madame Cat. Because it is flat-faced it snores and snorts so the cat will need to tolerate the noise. But there is evidence that cats and pugs can live and sleep (snore) together quite happily.
7. Bichon Frise
As one would expect, smaller dogs tend to be better with cats than larger ones (though not all of them!). The Bichon Frise is classified as a toy dog and is known for wanting companionship all the time.
Humans sometimes have to do things without the dog though, and then the Bichon Frise will be more than happy to transfer its attention to the cat. Reportedly, they are one of the most common breeds that pair up successfully with a cat in the household.
They are very playful and need to be the center of attention so be sure your cat is able to handle this dog. It is perhaps not the best choice if your cat is old, sickly, or shy, but otherwise, they should get along without issues.
Crossbreeds and Cats
While there are many purebred dogs that are excellent with cats do not throw away the mongrels and the mutts. Many people will tell you (in my circle of friends…) that the mongrels are the best pets and that they tend to be very tolerant of other creatures in the household.
If a mongrel is just too much for you, then consider a cross-breed. Some fancy crossbreeds that are reportedly good with cats are:
It sounds like the special at the local Chinese restaurant but in fact, this is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a miniature or standard Poodle.
Although not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) the Goldendoodle Association of North America has its own breed standard written in the appropriate format and all.
On the other hand, the Golden Retriever Club of America makes no bones about their disdain for the dog:
“The Goldendoodle is nothing more than an expensive mongrel.”– Golden Retriever Club of America, regarding Goldendoodles
Whatever your opinion it seems that this cross really gets along very well with other animals. Its prey drive is low and it has the all-round friendliness towards all humans and animals that the Golden Retriever is famous for.
In fact, some score it 5 out of 5 for cat-friendliness! Now we’re talkin’!!
Note that a Goldendoodle can be a big dog that weighs up to 90 pounds and that it needs lots of space. And that space needs to be indoors – they are people-loving dogs that should not be left alone outside. Cats usually do not like to be crowded, so make sure every animal has a spot of its own. Especially the cat.
Umm yes. What an unfortunate name. Good thing it doesn’t have to go to school and get bullied about its name as a human kid most definitely would!
Another Poodle cross, this time a miniature Poodle with an American Cocker Spaniel. Again not a pure breed and therefore not recognized by the AKC, but The American Cockapoo Club calls it a Breed.
These dogs are social, friendly, affectionate, and happy. They were bred to a large degree to be companion dogs but they are also quite playful, and your cat may get irritated with it. As long as the cat has a place where it can get away from the pesky canine, they should be able to live together quite well.
To get the best dog for your cat, why not combine two of the breeds on the list above? Enter the Cavachon:
A cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise.
Voila! The best of both worlds.
Just be aware that they have to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and romping with the cat does not count.
You’re not serious. There is a dog “breed” named Puggle? Your kids will love telling it to their friends! The benefit to you is that it is a cross between another two breeds that are on our cat-friendly list, the Pug and the Beagle.
This crossbreed eases the problem of the flat face of the Pug. Called brachycephaly, it causes the development of serious breathing problems. The Beagle heritage removes the snuffles but the Pug heritage keeps the clown!
Dog Temperament: What Dogs are Best Suited with Cats?
After all the information and some opinions, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of which are the best dogs for cats. In summary, you can look for a specific breed, or you may do better looking for specific temperamental traits and past history. Here’s the shopping list:
- Optimistic, happy
- Non-threatening, non-aggressive
Old dogs can be very grumpy.
Young kittens are curious, they want to play, they stick their little (but needle-sharp) claws into everything and really, an old dog just wants to lie in the sun and rest.
Furry feline funballs can be nothing but a nuisance to them. So even if you have one of the calmest, gentlest, friendliest, but old dogs, it can be a trial for it to cope with a rambunctious kitten or cat.
The other way round is usually not such a great problem. A young puppy is also curious and while they do not have such sharp claws, they try to bite everything. Not nice for an older cat. However, even an old cat can usually find a spot too high for a pup to reach and will retreat to safety when it all gets too much. By the time the pup can reach the cat, it has usually been taught to keep a respectful distance by a few feline swipes.
And by the way, be careful about scolding the cat – it’s trying to protect itself and is establishing a relationship where the dog understands that it’s not supposed to bother the cat.
It was there first, and believe it or not, cats are very territorial. Don’t think it should be instinctively protective because the pup is a baby creature – cats don’t think as humans do.
Cats and Dogs in Multi-Pet Homes
Want to bring a dog into a home that already has a whole bunch of pets of all kinds? These are the words to write on your list:
But that’s not all! You also need to consider:
- how well trained the dog is,
- whether it’s used to being around other animals
- the dog’s age
In this case, you need to be aware that breed is less important than early life experience (think shelter dogs, abandoned animals), your ability to pay equal attention to all the animals (jealousy is a very animal emotion), and your capability of training the dog to fit into the household. Living with another species in the household is a known anxiety trigger that can cause pets to suffer constant stress.
Almost any breed in the Sight Hound group is not a good choice for cats. They are bred to hunt by sight, and a running cat is irresistible. Even if it’s not running, the cat is a small, furry creature and to the dog, that is prey. Disastrous consequences. Any dog with Terrier in the name is usually not a good choice. Terriers were bred to hunt rats and rabbits. Cats don’t look much different, especially if the dog gets excited. It is a great risk to pair a cat with a Terrier.
Yes. Cat breeds that are not prone to be either too timid or too challenging. They should be able to stand up to a dog and yet not attack it when not warranted. Some suggestions are American Shorthair, Siberian, Maine Coon, Abyssinian, and Ragdoll.