Dog Breeds That Will Probably Kill Your Chickens
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:
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? Hah! Chickens out in the yard will probably end up being part of that days hunt.
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.
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.
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!