Dr. Mark raises free-range rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, horses, and sheep at his small farm in Brazil.
Not All Dogs Are Good—for a Farm
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 watching 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, 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.
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.
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? Ha! Chickens out in the yard will probably end up being part of that days hunt
Read More From Pethelpful
3. 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.
4. 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 and are not usually recommended as pets unless you have plenty of room for them to move around.
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 can be aggressive to chickens at times, and 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.
Stay Away From Chicken-Killing Dogs
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 away from those dogs that love to kill chickens!
Questions & Answers
Question: Will a Husky and Border Collie mix kill our future chickens?
Answer: Both Huskies and Border Collies have a high prey drive, and are likely to kill your chickens. If you have birds then this is not a good mix to bring home.
Question: Will golden retrievers kill chickens? We are planning to get chickens, but we don’t know if our dogs will kill them or not.
Answer: Goldens usually are very good around chickens. Make sure that you monitor your dog around your chickens when you first bring them home. If she acts too interested, tell her to calm down. If she ignores them, so much the better.
Question: Will a German Shepherd/Collie mix kill or chase my chickens?
Answer: Shepherds have a high prey drive. Most dogs with a high prey drive chase chickens. I cannot guarantee the actions or behavior of any particular dog, but most dogs of that mixture will chase chickens.
Question: Do dachshunds kill chickens?
Answer: They are hunting dogs with a high prey drive. If the chicken runs at all, like chickens are likely to do, the dog will chase it down and kill it.
Miniature dachshunds have a different origin and do not have as strong as prey drive. Individual dogs are not as likely to chase.
Question: Will a whippet cross kill our chickens?
Answer: Even without knowing what the cross is, I would assume that your dog will kill your chickens. Whippets, like all sighthounds, have a high prey drive and will chase almost anything that moves.
Question: Will a lab Catahoula mix kill my chickens?
Answer: 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.
Question: Will boxer terriers kill chickens?
Answer: Many terrier breeds have a high prey drive and will kill chickens. If your dog is a Jack Russel Terrier or an Airedale Terrier, then the answer is yes, probably, since they chase and kill most things that move.
Boxers do not have much of a prey drive. They do not chase, which is why they are so good around cats.
So will a mixed breed chase and kill chickens? No one can tell you for sure. It depends on the dog.
Question: Will a golden retriever/lab kill chicken or cats?
Answer: Goldens do not normally have a strong prey drive and do not usually chase cats or chickens. I have seen this behavior more in Labs, but they are usually overbred dogs that are being sold for the puppy trade. (The "Marleys" out there.")
A crossbred Golden/Lab will probably be okay. I cannot guarantee this, since all dogs are individuals, so before introducing this dog to your chickens you should start obedience classes. Teach your dog to respond to you, not do whatever he wants.
Here is an article on teaching dogs to be polite: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/teach-your-dog-impulse...
Question: Why is my bullmastiff killing my ducks and chickens?
Answer: Most guard dog breeds have a high prey drive. They are bred to be that way so that they will be on alert.
Livestock guard dogs are on alert but do not have a high prey drive.
I cannot say for sure why your bullmastiff is killing your chickens and ducks. Sometimes dogs that start this behavior will not stop until all of the chickens are dead.
Have you thought about guinea fowl? They are a lot more hassle than chickens, but if your bullmastiff chases, they will fly off. He might get frustrated and stop chasing. (The birds should be at least four months old before they are exposed to the dog for the first time.)
African geese are another option instead of ducks. They are tough but until they are fully grown would have no chance against a bullmastiff.
Question: Will a Pointer dog harm a chicken in any way?
Answer: It depends on the individual dog. Pointers are not known as an aggressive breed, but they were selected to hunt birds.
If you are getting a puppy of this breed, the best thing you can do is get him familiar and comfortable around the chickens when still young. It would not be a good idea to trust him until he was an adult and showed no likelihood to chase the chickens.
Question: We have a 2 year old boxer that was given to us by a friend and we recently got yard chickens. Today as I was coming inside the house she ran out the door before I could stop her and tried to kill two of my chickens; do you think she can be trained not to kill my chickens?
Answer: Boxers generally do not have a very high prey drive so it is possible to train your dog. She may have been excited by running out of the door, the chickens were there, and she just reacted to the moment.
To train her, I recommend you follow the instructions in this article about dogs and rabbits. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/train-dog-accept-rabbi... You can ignore the parts about rabbits but scroll down to the section about training your dog not to chase your rabbit. Everytime you read rabbit, replace it with chicken. Follow these instructions to the letter. It may not go fast, but this is the safest method to put your Boxer with your chickens.
Question: Will the dog breed Caucasian Ovcharka kill my chickens?
Answer: 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.
Question: Will a Belgium Malinois kill chickens?
Answer: Belgian Malinois are chosen as police and guard dogs so often because they have a high prey drive. This makes them easy to train, and also makes them likely to chase chickens.
Not all Belgians will kill chickens. If you are looking at puppies, however, you should choose a different breed.
Do You Have a Chicken Killer That Did Not Make the List? Leave a Comment.
Carl on September 03, 2020:
You didn't mention the English shepherd.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 28, 2020:
Bethany, I have heard of some GP doing the same thing with lambs they guard. it just seems to be boredom, and I cannot really suggest a training method that would be effecttive.
Bethany on August 28, 2020:
I have two Great Pyrenees/Lab mixes (brothers)—one is ultra gentle and pays no mind to the chickens. The other usually seems bored, but will randomly chase one and pin it to the ground.
There’s never been any injury that I could tell, just ruffled feathers—but it unsettles me.
Do you know what causes this and how I should train him against it?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 23, 2020:
Don, it is hard to tell about any individual. Dobies are often close to their owners but some do have a high prey drive and like to kill.
Don on July 21, 2020:
Ive been thinking abaout getting a dog but we have chickens so will a doberman kill them?
Blake on July 21, 2020:
I have a border collie queensland and our chickens are his. He would die for them. I also have a pitbull and had a jack/chihuahua.. None of them ever killed any of our chicks or chickens..
Emily on June 15, 2020:
Will my kenteria kill a perkins duck??
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 01, 2020:
Ash, normally I would say that there is no way to tell with a cross breed. However, your dogs actions indicate that yes, he will probably get very excited and try to kill your chickens.
Ash on April 30, 2020:
I have a Skipperke Chihuahua mix and every since we got chickens, he's been weird but when ever he is near them he gets all excited but until they get close to him in the fence he will snap at them and even today he tore feathers from my chicken Holly. So i just have a question- do Skipperkes or Chihuahuas kill chickens?
Liz on January 24, 2020:
I free ranged my chicken (and ducks and turkeys) for 2 years. My German Shepherd has had no problems (well, except my full grown turkey has taken to taunting her through the fence). A little over a year ago, we got a Border Collie full grown pup who we're pretty sure has something else in his blood (like German Short-haired pointer which I think is a bird dog). We worked to make sure he wouldn't eat them. I would make big shows of caring for the chickens (petting them, holding them etc) and we would reward him for ignoring them. In the last year, he has caught a few chickens and turkeys, but he would sit there with them and not hurt them (one of them limped for a couple days, but never any blood). He mostly likes to calmly herd them out of his yard. I've watched chickens foraging within two feet of him while he sat there looking bored. Those two have actually done a great job at keeping the coyotes away from the chickens!
We are no longer free ranging though... because our cats have taken to killing and eating the chickens.
Bridget on January 16, 2020:
as someone who lives and has lived on farms with Chickens and many dogs i can attest to some of this.
most of the breeds here for being good around chickens are correct but i would not advise having a Golden Retriever with chickens. THEY ARE BIRD HUNTING DOGS. yes, i will admit that many don't have as high a prey drive as their ancestors or their working cousins they still have one and it is still in their blood line.
I own one of the most least prey driven Goldens that i have ever met and she still goes crazy when she sees Chickens even though she was brought up around them.
please always do a lot of research before adopting when live stock is involved.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 24, 2019:
Joan, you are lucky and incorrect. JRTs have a high prey drive, and many of them will kill other animals no matter how much you train them. Socialization in the sensitive period helps a lot, but it is not always the answer.
joan on November 24, 2019:
I have a four month old jrt. He does not chase or kill my chickens. It is important to socialize them at a very young age...7 weeks.... The chickens pecked him and he does not chase or bother them. My cats adore him and they love his attention usually laying on their backs and exposing neck and stomach to him. Just takes some training at a very early age....
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 16, 2019:
Ann, sometimes dogs can get a lot more aggressive once they have killed their first bird. Here is an article on dogs and rabbits--just change the rabbit to chicken and use the same training method.
Ann on November 15, 2019:
My golden lab mix got loose feom my yard today abd brought one of my neighbors free range chickens home she did not kill it but it went into shock and died anyway she is 3 and never has bothered the chickens vefore. Should I be worried or change her traiining ?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 28, 2019:
Mal--I cannot predict the behavior of any individual, however rat terriers usually go after chickens, and standard doxies are likely, mini doxies are much less likely to bother them.
Mal on September 28, 2019:
Will a rat Terrier Mixed with dachshund Killer chickens
Jane on September 01, 2019:
My Belgian malinos will kill any chickens
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 28, 2019:
Cez, although Poms are small they are a Spitz, so wil probably chase your chickens. I doubt they will kill your silkies if they are able to fight back. If you keep a rooster, the dog will probably only try to chase once.
Cez on June 28, 2019:
Will Pomeranian chase or attack a silkie chicken?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 13, 2019:
Is it only lambs? I had a lamb born last Monday and when I went to treat her umbilicus against blowflys a Pitbull that I am watching followed me into the sheep barn. The ewe attacked the dog and since then he does not even want to get close to them. Not the best method, but it was very effective
Here is an article I wrote on training dogs not to chase sheep:
There methods I go over in this article are a lot more humane.
mauisurfer on June 12, 2019:
My border collie is good with chickens and geese, though he was NOT raised with them. He kills lambs every chance he gets. How can I train him to be gentle with lambs?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 24, 2019:
Some Border Collies will be fine. Some Labradors will be fine. Some will not. If you really want to be as safe as possible, choose a dog breed with very low prey drive. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dogs-with-no-prey-driv...
Mahina on May 24, 2019:
I wanted some chickens and a dog to help me herd and protect the chickens at night. I was thinking a border collie or labrador would be good for this job. I also have a rabbit that I don't want to be hurt by my dog. Which breed do you think is best for herding and guarding but won't kill my chickens or dwarf rabbit.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 01, 2019:
Badmonkey--your comment might come off a little better if you had actually trained a dog that is used to killing chickens. Instead, it seems a perfect fit for the last sentence of your weird post.
Badmonkey on May 01, 2019:
It's all in the training or most likely the lack of training. I have several upland bird hunting dogs and never had any issues as each of the dogs where taught not to touch them. I've seen chicks standing on them while the dogs are sun bathing in the morning.
Sadly most people put little effort or pride in their dogs and try to blame genetics on poor behavior. Blaming dog breeds is pathetic and stupid.
H D Kelso from USA on February 08, 2019:
The domestic neighborhood dogs are the worst predators. I agree with the husky assessment. I chased one for a half mile after he invaded my chicken crib. Also Labradors are not chicken friendly or any other bird hunting dog. My neighbor had his pond full of pet white ducks. A black lab slaughtered every duck in the pond and came across the pasture hunting my chickens too. I made it very plain to my neighbors, any critter comes to my chickens, my chickens get to eat that critter. They keep ther dogs home now.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 11, 2019:
As I have pointed out in the other answers, dogs are individuals and there is not telling. In general, english shepherds have a higher prey drive than Bernese mountain dogs.
If I had a normal Bernese, I would not worry much but definitely keep an eye on the dog the first few days to see how he reacts around the birds.
mari on January 05, 2019:
will a bernese mountain dog or english shepherd kill chickens
Anonymous on November 20, 2018:
I own (2) shelties and a border collie and they are all fine with chickens if they are trained to watch them. Very intelligent and obedient.
The shelties are excellent. The border collie will pin them with his mouth, but will not harm. He has chased off predators including hawks, foxes, and coyotes. He is the best protector. We leave him out with them and will heard them all day while they are free ranging.
Anyonymous on October 14, 2018:
I'm thinking of getting a Great Pyrenees and I have chickens. This is so helpful. Thanks!
Debbie Lohse on July 31, 2018:
My boyfriend has a Boston Terrier. The people that live next door to us have chickens & roosters. They keep flying over the fence and land in my backyard. The Boston Terrier kills a chicken or a rooster every week; he's killed around 10 of them now in a 8 month period. I told the owner of the house next door about this and she said she doesn't care and that if the chickens are stupid enough to fly over the fence that they deserve to be killed!!!!!! OMG...this is disgusting!!! I have walked outside on 4 separate occasions and have caught him killing them....it makes me sick to my stomach!!!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 11, 2018:
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.
Rob on March 11, 2018:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 27, 2014:
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!!
The Logician from then to now on on March 27, 2014:
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. :-)
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 27, 2014:
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.
Sleepylog from Australia on March 27, 2014:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 29, 2013:
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".
Judy Specht from California on December 29, 2013:
Oh sorry, I should know better.
Bob Bamberg on December 28, 2013:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 27, 2013:
Thanks for stopping by, tirelesstraveler. Trying to be PC, as those PETA folks are always looking over our shoulders!!!
Judy Specht from California on December 27, 2013:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 27, 2013:
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 on December 27, 2013:
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.
Dilip Chandra from India on December 26, 2013:
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 from Southwest England on December 26, 2013:
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.