Worst dog breeds for cats? Picture this: Boy meets girl. They fall in love, they fall in love, they fall in luuuuvvvv. Soon they decide not to waste any more money on keeping two places – moving in together is the obvious next step. Except… One has dogs and the other has cats! (continued below list)
If you already have a cat and are in the dog breed selector stage, don’t get one of these because these are the worst dog breeds for cats:
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Pitbull Terrier
- Jack (Parson) Russell Terrier
- Afghan Hound
- Italian Greyhound
- Irish Wolfhound
- Other herding dogs (Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, and any breed with “Shepherd” in the name)
Are the dogs and cats going to live together in harmony?
Are the dogs going to chase the cats?
Are they going to kill the cats?
Is the happy couple going to throw the animals together and wait to discover the outcome?
Or could they form an expectation beforehand of what is going to happen just by considering the breeds of dogs that are involved? Because the potential problem is the dogs, unfortunately. Cases of cats terrorizing dogs are not unknown, but far fewer than the other way round.
Some dogs are known to get along famously with cats and other pets, even if they did not grow up together. Other dogs are infamous for chasing and killing anything that even looks like a cat. Of course, there are always individual exceptions. There are some really cute videos on the net of cats and dogs sleeping together, playing together, and so forth. But don’t think that’s the norm.
Be prepared for fights and worse if you want to keep both kinds of pets in your home. The question is, are some fights unavoidable and others just a possibility? So let’s consider the dog breeds that are the worst to try to keep together with cats.
Worst Dog Breeds for Cats: 12 Cat-Unfriendly Dog Breeds
If you stop and think about it, there are some breeds that you really should not be surprised at when they chase cats. Any dog that was bred to chase and hunt small prey like rabbits can’t be blamed for behaving the same way when it sees a cat. The same goes for the terriers, which were bred to both hunt and kill vermin. They were trained to dig into rabbit holes and follow anything that tries to hide in a burrow. So they don’t easily give up. A terrier will get frenzied with excitement if the prey is visible but unreachable. Cat in a tree is an excellent example.
Dogs that have been bred to hunt larger animals, like the Cane Corso, will also feel the urge to hunt cats. Although they are capable of bringing down a large prey animal, they are not too proud to get small ones.
They usually fall in the Sighthound group.
Sighthounds are bred with the specific intent to hunt using sight and speed rather than scent. So when these breeds see something running, they give chase, and the cat is history. Or the little Toy Pom for that matter.
The list below reflects the principle that dogs that have been bred to hunt can not be expected to know it is not supposed to hunt your cat, unless you teach it so. Most dogs will tolerate cats if they are raised together and most dogs will only chase a cat if it’s running in the first place.
So before anybody gets their ruff up, this is just a guide, not the last word on the compatibility of a specific dog breed or individual dog with cats.
1. (and 2.) ____ Bull Terrier
Both Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pitbull Terriers are notorious for not getting along with cats, to put it mildly.
They are strong, have a highly developed prey drive, and do not take kindly to being stopped when they want to chase or fight. They are also very active and playful and consequently they have harmed many cats (and sometimes humans) by playing too hard and not knowing when to let up.
Owners swear they are the sweetest dogs you can hope to find. In fact the American Kennel Club (AKC) characterizes them as playful, charming, and mischievous. Unfortunately, some of them, notably Staffies, have problems learning that other creatures are part of the household and not part of the menu. A betting person would not try to introduce them to a cat.
Here’s a sobering thought:
How do you think fighting dogs are trained?
Yes. Dog fighting may be illegal in all of the 50 states and other US territories, but that does not mean it does not happen.
3. Jack (Parson) Russell Terrier
They were only recognized as a pure breed in 2016 in their country of origin, the UK. A Jack Russell may be small, but it is a gun dog. It was bred to follow foxes down into their holes and then nip and bark until the fox flees outside, without killing it.
By the way, if the dog is larger than 12 inches in height it is known as a Parson Terrier or Parson Russell and it is bred mainly as a show dog, rather than a working dog. The Parson Russell Terrier was known as the Jack Russell Terrier in the USA until 2003.
Clear as mud?
Cats do not look much different from foxes and rats, in particular if it’s scurrying away from the dog. If the cat turns round to defend itself and rakes the dog, you have a fight. Because Jack Russells do not back down.
Don’t underestimate the incompatibility of Jack Russells and cats. It’s even worse when you have more than one Jack Russell…does the phrase “hunting pack” tell you what’s going to happen?
4. Afghan Hound
Those beautiful, elegant dogs that look like the canine equivalent of Barbie?
Beautiful they may be but consider where they come from. No, not Afghanistan, although that’s where they originated and were known as Tazi.
Their background where they come from is the problem. Wrong side of the railway track, sort of thing, rough and ready? Well they were mainly owned and used by elite and royalty so that‘s also not the right answer. It’s the activity they were used and bred for.
Originally these dogs were used as coursing hounds i.e. the hunting of prey with dogs that rely on sight rather than scent. Coursing is done in a specific way with lots of traditions and rules. Today there is a sport called Lure Coursing that enables Afghans and a number of other breeds to satisfy their natural instincts safely.
It is flatly stated that Afghan Hounds have an affinity for chasing cats and that outdoor cats should fear for their lives when it springs into action. An Afghan hound can run 40 mph – that’s faster than a German Shepherd (30 mph) and only 5 mph slower than a Greyhound. Cats do not have much of a chance.
Most of the above applies to Greyhounds as well. They are also Sighthounds, but have been used more for racing than hunting during the last hundred years or so.
How do you create the desire to run faster in the dog?
You give it something to chase of course! It’d called a lure. Like a rabbit. Or a small pig. Cats don’t look that much different.
Greyhound training is a subject fraught with controversy and accusations of cruelty – involving the dogs as well as other animals.
The point is, Greyhounds will chase and maul. They say it is instinctive.
Can you trust it around your cat?
When you are not there?
Sometimes, sometimes not…
It is instructive to read the advice from Kent Greyhound Rescue on introducing rescued greyhounds to cats. It is a long, arduous process and they say that it may still fail in spite of months of effort. Here is an important statement they make that you need to be comfortable with – “Never stop the cat from trying to be the boss”.
Greyhound adoption agencies “cat test” greyhounds to determine whether a particular dog will be able to live with cats peacefully. However, some do say that a onece off test is not reliable, it has to be done at least twice, preferably even more times, before being sure of the verdict.
So if it’s a greyhound that you want to introduce to your cat, you can test them beforehand, using the method that the adoption agencies have developed. But get help.
6. Italian Greyhound, 7. Whippet, 8. Irish Wolfhound, and 9. Saluki
All these dog breeds are Sighthounds.
There are more breeds in the Sighthound group, but together with the Afghan and the Greyhound, they are worst with cats.
Their prey drive is so high they have difficulty ignoring anything small that runs or plays vigorously.
This breed looks like it can not harm a fly let alone a cat. So beautiful and fluffy and pure white with its “Sammy smile”. Do not judge a book by its cover or a dog by its looks.
The Samoyed is a working dog, used to herding reindeer, pulling sleds, and hunting. Although it is now a great show dog and has become a popular family pet, it has not forgotten how to run after something furry. It has a high prey drive as well as herding drive and as cat owners will know, cats do NOT like to be herded.
Many Samoyeds coexist peacefully with cats but just as many do not.
So why tempt it?
Like most dog breeds, it is much better to bring the two pets together when they are younger.
11. Other Herding Dogs
It bears repeating again and again: a lot depends on the individual dog and your training whether they get along with cats.
However, other herding breeds that may not be the best choice to live with cats are the Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, and any breed with “Shepherd” in the name. Like German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, you get the picture.
But just to confuse you, you will find both the Border Collie and the German Shepherd named as good with cats as well.
Weimaraners are hunting dogs that are also called gun dogs. Unfortunately it seems that you either have a Weimaraner or you have a cat, but you do not have both.
This is due to them being known to kill cats even if they have been living with the cat for a long time and always having behaved. It is unclear why a Weimaraner that has lived for years with a cat in the household will one day turn around and kill it. Rather not take the risk.
There are, of course, a number of other dog breeds who possess a very high prey drive in addition to those already mentioned. They are therefore also potentially not suitable cat companions.
Here are a few of them:
- Akita Inu
- Alaskan Malamute
- Doberman Pinscher
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Shiba Inu
Which Breed of Dog is Best with Cats?
Oh dear. It looks like there is almost no dog breed that you can have with cats. Luckily, that’s not the case. Dogs in the toy group are generally good with cats, with some exceptions. Older toy dogs and playful kittens usually do not do well together and if you know your Toy Pom has a temper, well then.
Here are some breeds that you can get with a lot of confidence that your cat will be ok:
- Beagles are enigmatic. Sometimes they are on the worst list and sometimes on the best list. But they do seem to get on the “best with cats” list more often. The old story – better to raise the dog and the cat together, but if that can not be done, introduce them with great care and consideration.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are often used as therapy dogs which gives an indication of their very calm disposition. They may try to get on your lap together with the cat, so make sure jealousy does not develop! They are peaceful, polite, and sweet-tempered. Ideal for cats!
- Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Although these are in the Working Dog breed they are birding dogs. They have been bred to pick game birds up gently so even if they do get irritated with the cat – highly unusual! – they will not hurt it. An indication of their friendly, tolerant nature is that they have been at the top or near to the top of the most popular dog breeds in the USA for many years.
- Pug. These dogs know they are small and can have a short man syndrome. That’s a problem for your cats as well as other dogs, but it is something you will see in individual dogs. It is more usual for the breed in general to be quite docile. Chances are they will get along famously with the cat. In fact, watch the cat, it is more likely to injure the dog than the other way round.
- Poodles. The Maltese can be a feisty little ball of fur but most poodles are good with cats. If they do not become friends, at least the poodle will tolerate the cat. Because of their protective nature, they are known to get along especially well with kittens. Normally a poodle will also not easily take off after cats when walking in public spaces.
Yes -if it can, and it wants to, it will.
A dog does not have the ability to think of other animals in terms of “pet”. It regards a cat the same way as it does any other animal. Whatever the cause, if the dog wants to kill the cat and it is strong enough you may not be able to stop it.
It is very easy for a dog to kill a cat – they get it by the neck, one shake, and the spine is broken. That is the reality. If it can’t do it that way it will simply maul it to death. If you really want to you can get lots of info on the internet. Then go see a psychiatrist.
It is your job as dog owner to teach your dog that, in the first place, your cats are part of the household and not to be chased, let alone killed. That is one of the reasons you must get your dog from an accredited, accountable breeder because your chances are better of getting a pup that can be socialized and trained.
Secondly, you should teach it not to chase other cats either, but admittedly, that is more difficult. It will save you a lot of heartache, prevent your dog from getting a bad reputation, and ultimately safeguard you against civil lawsuits if you can succeed in training your dog to leave small animals alone.
One that has been abused, taught to be vicious, abandoned and left to fend for itself, comes from a puppy farm, and/or has been chained all its life. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with breed and everything with inhumanity. Yes, you can rehabilitate it and there are people out there who achieve wonders. However, usually these dogs can not handle the extra stress of coping with cats.
That’s an unanswerable question because there are just too many variables that are involved.
It depends on the attitude and amount of work the owner is willing to put in; the ages of the dogs and cat; the breed of dog and cat, to a degree; other pets and humans in the household; the physical and psychological environment; even the food and shelter. Almost anything in the whole situation will affect the adjustment process. It may happen almost immediately or never.