Breeds That Are Unlikely To Kill Small Animals?


Experienced Member
Okay, so I know this one has to do A LOT with an individual dog's personality... But, statistically speaking, which are the breeds that are less likely to kill small pets? Like ferrets, mice, etc. Just out of curiosity, since I know many people with small pets.

I've been reading that herding and companion breeds are less likely to do this, while hunting (duh), molossoid and terrier breeds are the ones most likely to injure small pets.

What is your opinion on this?


Honored Member
My Cavalier loves to kill rats, birds and mice if the cats bring them in alive, and if they hide then nothing will get her away from staring at where they've hidden (but I wouldn't say that this bahaviuor is normal of the breed). If that helps


Honored Member
My herding breed of dog, kills all small or medium size animals that he can. A few each week or two, despite our best efforts to prevent this.
He'd probably at least try to kill a large animal, too, if he could catch it.:rolleyes:

I hear, that if you raise a dog from infancy/early puppy times on, and introduce the puppy to small animals throughout his puppyhood and first year of life-----------------that THAT particular dog, can learn to live peaceably with small animals, or whatever.
I do not know, if the contact and familiarity has to be maintained constantly, though(?).......... LIke, i do not know, if a pup grows up with hamsters, but at about 1 year old, then never sees any more hamsters for years, i don't know if at age 5, if that dog would still be cool, be safe, years later, with some new hamster or not(?)

Like, have the puppy live amongst whatever creatures you do not want him eating, be it hamsters or birds or kittens or whatever, if he grows up, side by side, with the creature, he's more likely to not react to it as an adult.
There are some members here on DTA, who have pet dogs who are best pals with some small creature that the dog grew up alongside. Somewhere on DTA, is some member, i forgot who, whose dog snuggles with her pet rat...but the dog grew up with the rat as his pal.


Staff member
With Molossoids it depends on what the breed was originally ment to do when they caught something. Bull Mastiffs were meant to continously circle their prey til their master got there. They weren't to bit or harm it, just corner it and keep it still. English Mastiff were breed to not only guard like the Bull but also be apart of bull and bear baiting so they are more inclined to use their teeth instead of their weight. Great Danes were used as War dogs and hunted for large animals.

Moose, my old Bull Mastiff, was very into throwing his weight around. If any one would try and wrestle in the house, Moose would slam his shoulder/chest into them and knock them down, just like his breed was meant to. Kratos, Kona and Chloe (English Mastiff and Great Danes) are actually either terrified of small animals or want to chase them. While Duke (Bull/English mix) was fascinated with small animals, always wanted to follow them and lick their fur:rolleyes:. And none of them except Kona was raised with small animals.

I think it has more to do with the size of most Molossoids and their ability to hurt something small without trying. It causes Chloe a lot of stress to be near smaller dogs as well because they like to weave around her legs and she appears terrified she'll step on them. It's like an Elephant with a mouse.

I've also had a couple of Beagles that were scared of rabbits. And a Chihuahua that was able to catch and kill mice.

I would definitely suggest a calmer puppy being raised with said small animal would be the best match exactly what breed would depend on the person.


Experienced Member
As you said, it's more based on individual temperament and whether or not they grew up with small animals or not.

But, I own ferrets and have had a lot of dogs come to the house for fostering or visiting. Dogs that I am much more likely to trust meeting the ferrets (which are not rodents, so a lot of dogs ARE ok with ferrets) are dogs from the retrievers, herding, and toy group. Dogs that worry me are usually sight hounds or terriers.


Honored Member
I have also heard it is more a matter of individual temperment and raising the dog from early puppyhood on with small animals.

That said, in terms of generalizations I would probably avoid Terriers. The AKC describes the Terrier group as "Terriers typically have little tolerance for other animals, including other dogs. Their ancestors were bred to hunt and kill vermin. Many continue to project the attitude that they're always eager for a spirited argument."