Holle has cared for many dog breeds and has trained and bred dogs for decades.
Do Dogs and Cats Get Along?
A lot of people love dogs and a lot of people love cats. Some humans wish to have both as members of the family. There's an old belief that canines and felines are natural enemies, but that's not always true. I've owned, bred, and trained numerous dog breeds and many were fine with cats. In fact, some of them seemed to love cats.
On the other hand, we've had a few dogs that hated cats and wanted to kill them. While each dog has a unique personality, some breeds tend to be more reliable with cats and other small animals. Take Great Danes, for instance. I've owned Great Danes for decades and I've never had one that didn't get along great with cats. (Although I'm sure, however, that there's a dane that hates cats somewhere.)
7 Dog Breeds That Are Good With Cats
- Great Danes
- Golden Retrievers
- Basset Hounds
- English Pointers
- English Bulldogs
Why You Should Choose a Dog With a Low Prey Drive
What is prey drive? Prey drive is the ability to find, chase, catch, kill, and eat animals. As you know, dogs descended from wolves, and if wolves didn't possess a strong prey drive, they wouldn't survive. Through centuries of selective breeding, humans have largely bred out traits in dogs that they didn't find attractive. In some breeds, this included a high prey drive.
What does "high prey drive" mean?
A high prey drive means a dog has a tendency to exhibit the following predator-like behaviors: find prey, track or chase it, catch it, kill it, and consume it. Some dogs stop before completing all of these steps. For example, we've had dogs that would chase cats if the cats ran from them, but when they caught the cats, they didn't try to hurt them; if the cats didn't run, the dogs didn't chase them.
A high prey drive isn't necessarily a bad thing. In some dogs, it's desirable. If you want a dog that will probably be a better cat companion, however, it's best to choose a breed with a low prey drive.
Dog Breeds With a Strong Prey Drive
If you want a dog that will get along with cats, you probably want to avoid dogs with a high prey drive. Such canines will often see a cat as prey—not as a playmate or companion. Breeds with strong prey drives include but are not limited to:
- Heelers/Cattle Dogs
- Shar Peis
A Note About Puppies
Of course, if these dogs are raised around cats from puppyhood, they might be fine with their feline family members. If one isn't used to cats, however, don't expect things to go well if a cat is suddenly placed in front of them, especially if it's an adult dog.
1. Great Danes
This is my all-time favorite breed. I've had lots of danes, and I've never had one that didn't get along great with cats. In fact, the only time any of them showed aggression at all is when they thought I was being threatened. All of our danes have been extremely tolerant of cats and kittens.
I've seen kittens bite on the tails of our danes and the dogs didn't try to retaliate. The dogs just sniffed the kittens as if to say, “Hey! Whatcha doin' to my tail?!” Our danes have always gotten along fine with smaller dogs, too, and they adore kids!
2. Golden Retrievers
This is probably my second favorite breed, and I've had several goldies. They are, as a whole, extremely non-aggressive. We had a male, Rascal, who followed our cats everywhere. He once even tried to defend them against an attacking dog. We could often find him napping, curled up with a family cat or two. Goldies are usually fine even with cats outside of their family pack.
Like Great Danes, Newfoundlands are usually gentle giants and are rarely aggressive. These big dogs are laid back (some people might even call them lazy). They thrive on affection and are more likely to be seen cuddling with a cat than chasing it. They're protective by nature, so a Newfoundland might very well protect a family cat against threats. Newfoundlands are known to be good with small children and other dogs, as well.
4. Basset Hounds
As scent hounds that enjoy hunting rabbits, you'd probably think this breed would see cats as prey, and I'm sure some do. Based on my experience with the breed, however, these are very gentle dogs. They're also pretty slow-moving critters, so any fit adult cat should be able to outrun and outmaneuver an offending basset. If raised with cats, a Basset Hound would be a good choice for cat owners.
Malteses are sweet little dogs that usually lack the “little dog” attitude. They're not particularly hyper or prey-driven dogs. My Maltese, Pumpkin, and my mom's cat, Baby, were the best of friends. The diminutive size of this breed is a plus when it comes to getting along with cats because it provides a more level playing field, so to speak. In fact, if you have a big and/or aggressive cat, you might need to protect the dog from the kitty.
6. English Pointers
I used to do a lot of quail hunting, so we kept several hunting dogs. Remember though, pointers were bred to locate game—not to chase and kill. And they specialize in finding birds, not small mammals. We never had any problems with our pointers trying to harm cats. Not all of them wanted to be friends with the felines, but they never tried to chase or attack them; they pretty much just ignored them.
7. English Bulldogs
These guys have come a long way from their history as bull-baiting dogs. Today's bulldog would rather snuggle with you on the couch than attack a bull. Modern bulldogs have a laid back, mellow personality and usually love everything and everybody. They're often very protective, too, and might defend your children and your other pets from perceived danger.
How to Introduce a Cat and Dog Properly
If you have a dog and decide to add a cat to your family or vice versa, don't just throw them together. Introductions should be made slowly, especially with adult animals. Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
- Puppies and kittens are often more adaptable and less aggressive initially than adults.
- Pets should be allowed to smell each other's scent first. Then they should be introduced gradually, while the situation is totally under your control. (When introducing a new cat to my dogs, I always held the cat in my lap, showing ownership: “I'm the pack leader, and this is mine!” I allowed the dogs, one at a time, to sniff the feline while I was holding it.)
- Once your dogs seem accepting of their new family member, place the cat on the floor in a crate. Next, put the cat on the floor and hold the dog by a leash. If the dog shows no aggression, move on slowly from there in small increments.
Dogs and cats don't have to be enemies—they can actually be great friends. You do, however, need to do proper introductions. I think any breed can be acclimated to liking cats—or at least tolerating felines—as long as the proper steps are taken when the dogs are still puppies. If you choose a dog breed that lacks a high prey drive, though, your job will be much easier.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Holle Abee
Abby Slutsky from LAFAYETTE HL on July 19, 2020:
I don't have any animals because I have a certified home baking business, but it was interesting to read about this topic. Several of my friends have cats and dogs in their houses, and the animals seem to get along well. However, all the dogs were brought in as puppies.
Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 23, 2019:
Patrick Kamau from Nairobi, Kenya on December 22, 2019:
This is good information so that one can be able to make a decision when buying a dog.
Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 22, 2019:
Clive, we've had lots of cats that liked our dogs!
Clive Williams from Jamaica on December 21, 2019:
Are there any cats that like dogs?
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 21, 2019:
Good point on the Maltese. Years ago my wife had a Siberian cat and when he wanted my Maltese out of the way, or even out of the room, the poor little dog had no say in the matter!