Dog Breeds That Will Probably Kill Your Chickens

Updated on February 14, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark raises free-range rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, horses, and sheep at his small farm in Brazil.

Some dogs might kill your chickens, but probably not this one.
Some dogs might kill your chickens, but probably not this one. | Source

Are you in the process of going back to the land? There is nothing better than eating garden-fresh food, finding a good dog to sit on the front porch and watch things around the farm, and keeping a big flock of chickens to make little “patties” on the ground while providing your own eggs. In my opinion all dogs are good—it´s just that not all breeds of dogs are good for a small farm. Some of them, in fact, are just downright wrong.

Some dogs make a hobby out of killing chickens.

All the breeds that like to kill chickens will also look for other small animals you happen to have around. They might be interested in your cat, your rabbits, songbirds, a smaller dog, or, for that matter, anything that runs away.

Here are some of the dogs with high prey drive that I definitely do not recommend around chickens:

An Italian Greyhound checks out a chicken. Not all sighthounds will go after chickens...well, as long as they do not move.
An Italian Greyhound checks out a chicken. Not all sighthounds will go after chickens...well, as long as they do not move. | Source

Greyhound

Anyone who has been to the track knows that the Greyhound was born to chase rabbits, and this sighthound really loves small animals that move strangely, like the chicken. I personally would not mind having one of these skinny dogs around the house, reclining on the couch and not doing much else. The house would be good, since my chickens would not want him out in the yard.

Although I pick on the Greyhound, not all of them have high prey drive—it is just that most sighthounds are born to chase. I have met some well behaved Whippets, but barnyard birds have the misfortune of looking like prey to most sighthounds. (This includes Afghans, Salukis, and several other breeds.)

Greyhounds are able to run about 63 kilometers an hour (39 mph). They are able to get up to top speed in the first six strides, and only the cheetah is able to reach such speeds from a standing start.

Chickens don’t stand a chance.

A Weimariner checks out his new companions.
A Weimariner checks out his new companions. | Source

Weimaraner

This big active dog was bred to be a hunter back in the 19th century; when the ancestors of these sleek animals were chosen to breed, only animals tough enough to hunt boar, deer, and bear were selected. Chicken-friendliness has never been part of the breed standard.

Most of the dogs still live up to that standard. If you decide to bring one of these handsome dogs down to the farm, don’t plan on keeping much small livestock. The local deer need to be put on notice too.

Males are tall, 25-27 inches, and since they are tough, and have plenty of stamina, they will do their best to investigate your chicken coops. Those big jaws were meant to shred chicken wire.

Free range? Hah! Chickens out in the yard will probably end up being part of that days hunt.

A JRT, dreaming about chicken?
A JRT, dreaming about chicken? | Source

Jack Russell Terrier

A lot of the small terriers love to chase things that move around a lot. High prey drive is a characteristic that was bred into them, and any dog not willing to chase prey would have been left back on the farm. The active Jack Russell terrier seems to have this characteristic down more than others, however.

Maybe we can blame the modern Jack Russell´s performance on the JRT breeding group. They still want to breed these dogs for performance, not for looks, and running down a hole in search of a badger, fox, or other prey is part of their performance. Chasing rats is also part of the breed characteristic. Chasing chickens seems to be a characteristic they are experts at, despite their other great traits.

If you are looking for a small dog (a little over 10 inches) who is tough, healthy, and bred to work, the JRT is a great choice. If you happen to have a flock of hens and want to maintain a harmonious lifestyle, you need to make another choice. That cute little JRT you see needs to be left with the breeder.

Of course sometimes the chicken wins.

A Siberian Husky checks out some chicken.
A Siberian Husky checks out some chicken. | Source

Siberian Husky

This dog was originally developed by the Chukchi tribes of the Siberian Arctic. Siberian Huskies were only kept around if they worked all day pulling a sled, were only prized if they defended the household against wild animals like wolves and polar bears, and were only able to earn a special place in the tribe if they were friendly enough to babysit the kids. You will notice that there is nothing in there about getting along with chickens.

Siberians still hunt like a wolf pack and will decimate a flock of chickens in no time at all. Other small animals are no safer. They are able to work as a pack to open “dog-proof” rabbit cages, chase cows with horns big enough to scare a Mastiff, and will even take on geese that are mean enough to make other dogs run for cover.

Most sled dogs are like this, but I had to pick on Sibes since I have had to clean up the dead chickens so many times. Siberians do not come with “Beware of Dog” signs. Any chicken you talk to thinks that they should.

What Dog Breed Will Not Kill My Chickens?

When you go to find a dog to live around your chickens, be sure to select a breed with low prey drive. There are several alternatives.

One idea is to get one of the livestock herd dogs. These dogs are bred to be comfortable around livestock and are unlikely to bother your chickens. The Great Pyrenees, the Akbash, and Kuvasz are a few of the breeds available. You could also try to find an Anatolian Shepherd or Komondor. Since these dogs are large and are used to moving with the herd they have extensive exercise requirements.

Another idea is to find one of the dog breeds that has been used to herd cattle and sheep. The Australian Kelpie and the Border Collie are two examples. These dog breeds also need a lot of exercise.

The final idea is to find a dog breed that was developed for use around the farm. The Puli is a livestock guard dog that is not as large and hard to handle as some of the others. Most of the other farm dogs were bred to be ratters, so some do have a high prey drive, but many of them will be okay. I prefer the Schnauzer. Boxers are also a good choice, as are most Golden Retrievers.

Not all dogs will take a nap while the poulty have breakfast. Of course, maybe she is just rolling in s***.
Not all dogs will take a nap while the poulty have breakfast. Of course, maybe she is just rolling in s***. | Source

Okay, this list has no scientific studies to back it up. On the other hand, PETA would approve, as no chickens gave their lives in order to write this article.

My personal favorite chicken killer is the Siberian Husky, but my Pit Bull hangs and guards my small livestock. My chickens are happy with the “No Siberian Huskies or Vacuum Salesmen” sign posted on my front gate. My dog enforces it.

All dogs are great, just stay awat from those dogs that love to kill chickens!

Questions & Answers

  • Will a lab Catahoula mix kill my chickens?

    Labs are bird dogs, so they may or may not be aggressive with your birds. I have seen it go both ways. The same can be said about the Catahoula Cur, but they are more aggressive more often than not.

    It may depend on training, the younger the dog is exposed, the better. It definitely depends on your individual dog. Some are just lazy and do not care much about chickens.

  • Will the dog breed Caucasian Ovcharka kill my chickens?

    Any dog can kill your chickens. Livestock guard dogs like the Caucasian Ovcharka are much less likely to do so, as long as they are introduced to the birds when still young.

    The same thing is true for sheep and other small livestock. If introduced early, the Caucasian will form a bond and protect your animals.

Do you have a chicken killer that did not make the list? Leave a comment.

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    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Rob, my Pitbull is the best farm dog I have ever owned. (That is a picture of her above rolling around while the ducks and geese have breakfast.) I am sorry you lost your chickens, but many Pitbulls do not have a high prey drive. They were not bred to kill chickens.

    • profile image

      Rob 

      4 months ago

      Pitbull twice killed our chickens. Second time we caught it in the act. Just murdered them for fun. Maybe didn’t make your list because people have mostly learned to keep them Restrained so they are not out and about as much as some other dogs. But it seems logical that they would kill anything with their reputation and breeding for that purpose.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      That is a great Sibe story! My dogs loved to chase cats, and probably never imagined a meal coming out of one of those furry critters.

      Hmmmm, Five Bird Breeds That Will Kill Your Dogs! I bet no one has thought to write that one!!

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 

      4 years ago from https:// www.consumeraffairs.com/ online/ hubpages. html

      Yes, most breeds are naturally prone to be chicken killers, maybe some more than others but even the worst can have a loving buddy relationship with a chicken or other small animals if they are raised together from 3 to 4 weeks of age. Puppies will imprint with normally prey animals if you put them together at 3 - 4 weeks old and keep them together all the time (except while nursing if mama isn't cool with it). I have done this with Siberian Huskies and cats. Someone bought a pup from me and raised it with his cat but I had raised the pup from 3 weeks old with cats because this Husky's parents were natural cat killers and I didn't like that. I watched once when the pup was full grown and his owner put a bowl of spaghetti on the kitchen counter. The husky sat tentatively on the floor as the cat leaped up on the counter. The cat picked up a strand of spaghetti in his mouth, scooted to the edge of the counter and dangled it over the edge where the husky was sitting, looking up excitedly like he was ready to leap and snatch the cat. Using his paw the cat pushed the strand that was partially sticking to the counter off the edge and lowered it so the dog could remain seated as the strand went into his mouth. The cat fed him half the bowl of spaghetti this way one strand at a time before we got bored watching them. I could hardly believe my eyes as this pup's parents once got loose and killed 15 rabbits a neighbor had in not so well constructed rabbit pens. This was a long time ago but I've read where the same can be done with wolves and their natural prey. However, under abnormal stress or hunger I wouldn't be surprised if all bets are off.

      Great hub page. If you want to do one on birds that might kill dogs look at male Muskovey ducks, boy they can be big and mean. :-)

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      That sounds like pretty normal prey drive to me. My little dogs chase songbirds and birds on the beach, but since my chickens, Guinea fowl, and other birds just stand there and look back, my dogs do not even bother to chase. BCs are usually the same way, and, if the chickens are free range and she sees them walking around all the time, she is even less likely to mess with them.

      If I had a BC I would go for it. Try to start out with a few adult birds, since dogs are a lot more likely to chase and catch hatchlings and young chicks. I do not even let my Guinea fowl out in my yard until they are four months old, because when they are young they have jerky movements and high voices that attract dogs.

      Good luck.

    • sleepylog profile image

      Sleepylog 

      4 years ago from Australia

      Do you think a Border Collie would kill chickens? We have one and we want to get chickens and let them free-range, but we're not sure if our dog would kill them. He likes to chase things, especially birds and he's yet to catch one so I have no idea if he would kill one if he ever caught one.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      tirelesstraveler--I guess your comment was about Bob´s last sentence about "they´re primitive, get over it". I really don't agree either, if we are discussing some dogs and their unwillingness to go wild and kill livestock. This evening, for example, my dog Ajej was standing in the path that the geese take when they are ready to go in to their cages for the night. A gosling came up to her and poked her, pulled her hair, and did everything he could to hurt her and get her to move. She could have killed it easily, but just looked at it like "give me a break".

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      Oh sorry, I should know better.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      If any dog people took offense at your article, they're the ones who need an attitude adjustment, not you, Doc. I don't need to tell you that many of the behaviors of today's domesticated dogs are instinctual, including predator/prey. Such behavior violates our civilized conscience, but not the dogs' domesticated conscience. Note to dog people: We know they're your "children," but they're primitive, get over it.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for stopping by, tirelesstraveler. Trying to be PC, as those PETA folks are always looking over our shoulders!!!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      Loved the PETA disclaimer. Must admit I haven't thought about dogs being a nuisance to chickens, but it is a good thing to think about.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      My heart bleeds for all of them, Bob. I wish someone had warned me about chickens and dogs! I wrote this one a long time ago but never published it since I did not want to offend all the dog people. My hens urged me to go ahead and make this information available. Like dilipchandra mentions, it is not really a popular subject out there.

      Imogen, the dog probably did not mean anything mean. The cat probably would not agree to that. Thanks for reading.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Another interesting, helpful hub presented in an entertaining way. Even here in suburbia, people are getting back to the land. I started seeing "city slickers" at my feed and grain store seeking baby chicks, equipment, and advice on raising them. That started around 2005ish. Many communities amended their by-laws to accommodate this trend. Being allowed to keep 6 hens X-number of feet from the property lines seemed to be in vogue. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      4 years ago from India

      An interesting hub... informative it is, well written as well. I never have come across such a topic, now i know this info.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      4 years ago from Southwest England

      Thanks for the advice - as a chicken keeper that is considering getting a dog!

      I had a cat that was viciously attacked and nearly killed by a greyhound with very nasty owners, but I also know a greyhound cross that is well enough trained to walk right past my chickens without batting an eyelid - perhaps it depends on the owners and level of training to a certain degree.

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