Dog Breeds That Will Get Along With Your Rabbit

Updated on February 20, 2020
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark raises free-range rabbits, poultry, horses, and sheep at his small farm. He is a veterinarian and works mostly with dogs.

Dogs That Get Along With Rabbits

This issue comes up at the worst times, usually when a beloved pet rabbit has been injured beyond repair and the family tells me that their dog did it. Typically, the rabbit is a family pet and was being watched by one of the family's children. The rabbit moves quickly, and the untrained dog with high prey drive chases. In just a few seconds, the rabbit is mangled beyond repair.

Is there a way to prevent this? Can you stop a dog from chasing and killing your rabbit?

Dogs can get along with rabbits.
Dogs can get along with rabbits. | Source

Dog Breeds Likely to Leave Your Rabbit Alone

The best way to prevent a dog from killing a rabbit is by selecting the right dog. Here are a few breeds, both small and large, that are unlikely to bother your rabbit:

  • Maltese
  • Japanese Chin
  • Bichon Frisé
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Golden retriever
  • Great Pyrenees

There are no guarantees, of course. Dogs on this list usually have low prey drive, but even dogs with low prey drive might chase a rabbit.

Even if you do get a dog breed that is more likely to leave your rabbit alone, it is up to you train the dog properly and supervise them until you are sure that they can be left in the same room without incident.

When your rabbit is around your dog, watch closely for signs of stress.
When your rabbit is around your dog, watch closely for signs of stress. | Source

Dog Breeds That Will Probably Chase Your Rabbit

Some families lose their rabbit to their dog because of a bad choice made when choosing the dog. A Siberian Husky might be a sweet dog and great with kids, but that does not mean he is going to be good with rabbits. Here are some types of dogs that I would not recommend for a family that has or wants to own a rabbit:

  • Sled dogs like the Siberian Husky
  • Sighthounds like the Greyhound, Whippet, Russian Wolfhound, etc
  • Scent hounds like the Beagle
  • Terriers like the Airedale and hunters like the Dachshund
  • Guard dogs with high prey drive like the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois

In general, dogs that look upon small animals as prey are more likely to chase rabbits. This does not mean that any individual is going to be aggressive. (If you look at the Youtube videos of dogs from this list playing with rabbits, however, you will usually find that the rabbit and the dog are showing signs of stress.)

The best dog around my rabbits is a Pit Bull Terrier. She might want to get in there and attack a smaller animal, but she is trained and she does not do so. I cannot guarantee that any individual dog from a breed on this list is able to be trained and will leave a rabbit alone, however.

If you want a dog that is safer around your rabbit, choose from one of the breeds with a low prey drive.

Many of the giant rabbit breeds are calmer around dogs.
Many of the giant rabbit breeds are calmer around dogs. | Source

Rabbit Breeds for the Dog-Owning Family

If you are looking for the best rabbit breed around dogs, you need to realize that rabbits are also individuals. Just because you find a rabbit from a breed that does well around dogs does not guarantee that your rabbit is going to be okay.

Generally, the large meat type rabbits are calmer:

  • Flemish Giant
  • California Giant
  • Checkered Giant

The very small and wiry rabbits are sometimes more nervous:

  • Dutch Lop
  • Netherland Dwarf
  • Mini Rex

There are always exceptions. If you have mixed breed rabbits, like I do, just look at the animal and determine its type. I have mostly Dutch and New Zealand crosses. They are usually calm animals, but occasionally a bunny will be born that will not allow the dogs to get close.

Training Your Dog Not to Chase Your Rabbit

Start with basic obedience training. Teach your dog all other methods of impulse control so that he is used to obeying you in all situations. “Leave it” should be obeyed immediately, 100% of the time. I emphasize impulse control every time I take my dogs out for a walk; if your dog learns that he is not able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, he is much less likely to disobey and attack your rabbit.

  1. Take the rabbit to a room so you can watch how the dog and rabbit interact. The rabbit should be in a car carrier so that he can hide and feel secure; if you only have a cage with wire sides, then he should at least have something in the cage where he can run to and hide. (A box, a tube, etc.) Rabbits that have nowhere to hide can get stressed out easily and will die secondary to shock.
  2. Put your dog on a leash and bring him to the room where the rabbit is waiting in the carrier. (If you do not have 100% control of your dog on a leash, and he lunges just walking into the room with the rabbit, then neither of you are ready. You need to do some more obedience training.)
  3. Put your dog in heel position and walk over so that he can sniff the carrier.
  4. After he has investigated, put your dog in a down/stay position. Have your dog lie on his side. (I train my dogs to play dead, and when I ask them to lie on their side, they enjoy it since it is followed by a lot of praise. I find this trick very helpful when introducing my dogs to new animals.)
  5. Open the door of the carrier and let your rabbit out to investigate. (I never grab the rabbit and force the meeting. Let your rabbit deal with the dog at his own pace.) This might take a while, so grab a chair or sit on the floor and wait.
  6. When the rabbit comes out, the dog should notice but should be looking at you. If he does not and gets up to investigate the rabbit without even asking for permission, call his name, and put him in the down/stay position again. Give the rabbit time to investigate. If the dog gets up again without permission, take him out of the room.
  7. If your dog stays down, give him praise, and allow the rabbit to come over and check him out.
  8. When your rabbit has sniffed the dog, and your dog has remained in the down position, it is okay to allow him to get up and sniff the rabbit. If he gets too excited this first session, take the dog out of the room. (Rabbits do not understand behavior like the play bow. Even if your dog is being friendly, your rabbit will only understand that a prey animal is being aggressive. If you allow this to get out of control and the dog chases him, you may NEVER be able to train him.)
  9. If your dog sniffs the rabbit and stays calm, give him a treat, a lot of praise, and end the session.
  10. Try it again tomorrow, and repeat each step until you are sure that the dog is going to be calm when you open the rabbit carrier.

Once your rabbit and dog have met in the house, it is also a good idea to let them “bond” in another environment. In the early evening, when my rabbits are grazing in my front yard, I allow my senior pit bull to sit with me when I am outside reading. The first few times I did this, I kept her on a leash, but since she showed no interest in the rabbits when loose, I am now able to let her off-leash at the same time.

If you do not have a yard for your rabbits to run loose in, it is a good idea to take the dog and rabbit for a walk together. You will need to carry the rabbit in a carrier the first few times until he becomes used to the experience, but eventually, you can hold him in your arms or even let him down to investigate the trail. (Please make sure that he is on a leash and rabbit harness. A rabbit can jump out of your arms quickly and will run off before you are even aware of what is happening.)

Dogs that go for a walk with their rabbit do exceptionally well together. You have to be sure that it is in a place where no other dogs walk, however.

The best time to introduce a dog and a rabbit is when:

See results

Will Training Always Work?

Rabbit are prey animals. Dogs are predators. Many dogs can be trained to leave rabbits alone, and many rabbits can grow accustomed to a dog and will no longer run when a canine is around.

Always? No, some dogs will never be able to accept a rabbit despite all the training you do. If you are still choosing and pick the breeds I recommend, however, your chances of success are much greater.

If you do not yet have a dog, visit a shelter and look for one of the animals in the list above that are good with rabbits. Puppies can hurt your rabbit just trying to play, so a senior is the best choice since these dogs are quiet and not as likely to wrestle.

Questions & Answers

  • What kinds of hypoallergenic dog breeds don't pay attention to a rabbit?

    Maltese have a very low prey drive and get along with rabbits most of the time. The Bichon Frisé is also a very good choice. There is no guarantee with any dog breed, so be careful and follow the instructions on this article when it is time to introduce your new dog to your rabbit.

  • Will a miniature dachshund hurt my middle aged rabbit?

    Dachshunds are bred to have a high prey drive so they will most likely chase and hurt your rabbit. Miniature Doxies have a much lower prey drive since they were crossed with several other breeds but I still would not recommend you get a dog like that to be around your rabbit.

© 2018 Dr Mark

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    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      9 days ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Ava, there is really no way to predict how that mix is going to react. Try the training method in the article.

    • profile image

      Ava 

      11 days ago

      Hi I have a westie and bichon frisé mix he is going to be 5 years old in June and for my birthday in July I am getting a rabbit I was wondering whether it would be a good idea and he doesn't like my hamster ether but I am hoping that's because she is a rodent and the rabbit will be living indoors

    • profile image

      Katie Wilmoth 

      2 months ago

      Consider the age of your dogs. We have two miniature dachshunds who were 13 and 14 last year when we got our chinchilla rabbit. I was worried, but they couldn't have cared less about it. They sniffed each other and the dogs laid down bored. The rabbit can eat out of the same bowl as the dogs and there is absolutely no problem. He hops around the house, and even snuggles with the dogs at times. I think it's weird but I'm grateful. Have to wonder if they're just too old and tired to chase anything anymore.

    • profile image

      Sad Dad With Maltese Shih Tzu “Malshie” Dog 

      2 months ago

      Hi Everyone,

      It looks like there is some really good, practical advice on this page. I just wanted to share our experience this week as it was very unfortunate and sad for our family.

      We have a 4-year dog that is a Maltese + Shih Tzu mix. He is about 8-9 pounds, so a pretty small dog.

      We got our 11-year daughter a lop eared rabbit for a Christmas gift. We worked with a local breeder to get a baby bunny, who was with her mom for at least 6-7 weeks. We brought her home last Saturday.

      Over the past week, we slowly introduced our dog to the bunny without leaving it alone. All week, it appeared it was hard for him to not be calm in the house. Not crazy, but just always whining and waiting by the door of the room where the bunny was staying. A couple of times he appeared to want to be aggressive, but we stopped it before anything happened. We thought he’d be able to get comfortable with her.

      On the 6th day, tragedy struck. We had the bunny in a bedroom with the door closed. While my wife and I were not paying attention working in the house, it appears the dog went upstairs and was able to push on the weakly latched door. He got to it. We found the bunny in a downstairs family room passed away and chewed up.

      In retrospect, we were probably a bit naive about the risk of this happening. Our dog is small and not aggressive.This site says that Maltese are typically lower risk, though there are no guarantees that it won’t see the rabbit as prey. Our dog is a mix Maltese and shih tzu and I don’t know if that increased our risk. I just want people to know that for our type of dog, it didn’t work out and was tragic for us. The bunny was very sweet and we feel very bad about what happened.

      We didn’t want to tell our daughter the truth about what happened because we feared she would reject our dog. We’re relieved she wasn’t home at the time to see the real event.

      Through of all of this reading, maybe our experience was just an unlucky outlier. I hope you all are able to enjoy both the love of the bunny and your dog.

      Best of luck

      RN in Chicago

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      2 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Anon, Beagles are rabbit hunting dogs, so I would normally say no but I really cannot predict if that individual is going to do well. They usually do chase, but since he has done well with the guinea pigs maybe he will be okay.

      If I were you I would get a large breed rabbit and introduce him using the instructions I have given in the article. Make sure the rabbit breeder knows that you may have to bring him back if the dog does not get along.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      3 months ago

      Hello! I’m thinking about getting a rabbit, I have a beagle who hasn’t ever been interested in the past when we had guinea pigs, hamsters, or birds and has only rarely chased a squirrel or two. I was just wondering if you think it would be a good idea to get a rabbit with a beagle in the house.

    • profile image

      Mia 

      3 months ago

      I recently got two bunnies and introduced them to my dog. My dog gets quite excited and stares at them and kisses them. She doesn’t seem to want to harm them, but I think it spooks the rabbits a bit.

      Although, the rabbits sometimes go up to my dog and sniff her face and my dog just stands still. My dog always wants to be around the rabbits, but I don’t know whether she is acting protective or like a predator.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Iciar, use the training method described in the article. Best of luck with your new puppy. You should have a lot of fun.

      No, I do not think separate rooms are needed, but your rabbit should have a cage as a safe place she can go to get away from the puppy.

    • profile image

      Iciar 

      4 months ago

      Hello!

      We have a 3 years old Belier bunny, she lives indoor free-cage and she's super nice, adorable and sociable with humans.

      In february we are going to have a female golden retriever puppy (10 weeks old). How do you think is the best way to introduce them? Must we have them in different rooms til the dog is trained?

      Do you think that is possible that they get along well? :)

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Lisa, I think breed does matter, but individual personality has a lot to do with it too. What kind of big dog are you thinking of getting? If you still plan on keeping a rabbit, please try to stay away from dog breeds with high prey drive.

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      7 months ago

      I have a 2 year old Maltese mix and we recently adopted a 9 month old English spot mix. I was worried at first bc our Maltese seemed a little too interested in the rabbit pen but he lost all interest. Now our rabbit is an indoor free range bunny and we never crate our dog. They aren’t exactly buddy buddy but they get along fine and both adore my children (ages 5, 3 & 1). We would like to adopt a larger dog in the future but for now I have my hands full! We did puppy-sit our dogs biological sister for 2 months and she desperately wanted to eat our rabbit. So for us it hasn’t been about breed or even breed line, but individual personality and training. The sister was not trained at all.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Worried, Bichons are one of the better dog breeds for rabbits, so your dog will probably get along with your rabbit as long as they are introduced slowly (following my recommendations in the article) so that the rabbit does not run. Your dog is chasing the back yard rabbits mostly because they are running away from him.

    • profile image

      Worried 

      7 months ago

      I have a small Bichon Poodle. She is about 2 years old and likes to chase bunnies that come to our backyard. I want to get a bunny, but I’m not sure if it would be safe. Could I get some advice?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      8 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Roy is there a reason you have chosen a Pom? Some of them are fine, some of them do have a spitz-like high prey drive.

      If you have not yet brought your dog home, take a look at the breeds I have suggested in the article above.

    • profile image

      Roy Cattell 

      8 months ago

      I’ve got 2 lop eared rabbits and we are thinking to get a Pomeranian dog so will those two go together? The rabbits are inside a shed in the back garden.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      9 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Interesting choices! I have seen some very aggressive and hard to deal with Shibas. Vizslas, despite being a hunting breed, have a low prey drive and are usually easy to train around rabbits and other pets.

    • profile image

      avid 

      9 months ago

      hello!

      i currently have two dogs and a rabbit. both dogs dont seem to have a problem with my rabbit and my rabbit could care less about my two dogs no matter how loud or playful they get around him!

      i'm thinking of getting a shiba inu or hungarian vizsla from a reputable breeder but am unsure as to if either breed would mix well with my rabbit.

      my rabbit stays inside of his hutch and every saturday or sunday fortnight goes into his playpen for a good 3-4 hours while we clean his hutch and let him stretch his legs.

      should i continue thinking about either a shiba inu or a hungarian vizsla?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      10 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      A full size Australian shepherd has a high prey drive and is not a dog breed I would recommend around a rabbit. The miniature dogs are bred more for the pet trade, so it will depend on the line of dogs you want to buy from. You can do a simple (and only partly accurate test) when you go to see the puppies: throw a ball. If the puppies chase it, they are more likely to have a higher prey drive and will chase your rabbit.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 months ago

      Hi!

      We have a 6 month old holland lop and we were thinking about getting a miniature Australian shepherd but we aren't sure if that breed would do well with that sort of bunny.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      11 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Anonymous, a lot of times a pet that does not have a high prey drive (like not chasing squirrels) will get used to another pet in the household and not even consider chasing him. When you do get a rabbit, though, I would recommend you be present with them at all times when together. Your dog might be fine all of the time and then one moment decide that your rabbit is prey and decide to chase.

      So yes, get a rabbit! If things do not work out make sure that one of your friends is interested in adopting him though.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      11 months ago

      I have a dog that is not interested in chasing squirrels but in chasing bunnies. I want to get a pet bunny, but I am afraid of what my dog would do. My dog is 9 years old but thinks he is a puppy. Should I get a bunny or not??

    • profile image

      Nienna 

      11 months ago

      To Unsure-

      I have a 5 year old Bichon who is just being introduced to bunnies for the first time. He is definitely interested but every interaction has been gentle. I have him sit next to me while I hold a bunny to my chest. I pet hom and praise him too while holding the bunny, every now and then letting him get a whiff of my hand. He sniffs the bunny itself too then settles his head in my lap.

      He has also become protective of his new friends and "guards" the pen!

      Every dog is different though. This Bichon doesn't even have enough prey drive to play with toys. He only cuddles with people. Our previous Bichon would leave a decapitated stuffed toy every other week. Rabbits would not have been safe with him. It isn't as much about breed as temperament.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      11 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Unsure, a maltese would be a great choice, even better than a Bichon. They are not too big and generally do very well with other animals, especially rabbits.

    • profile image

      Unsure 

      11 months ago

      Hi Dr Mark!

      I have a rabbit at home who is about two years old. I would like to get a small breed of puppy who is willing to play and go for walks as well as love me just as much as i will love it. I was thinking about a Maltese or a Bichon frise. I have read that these pups will generally not attack. I have thought about a retriever but it is to big, i would like something small. Could you please suggest some puppy breeds for me. Thanks alot!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      16 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Bob, I cannot even imagine a local feed store being able to go through that much feed. My rabbits are free range but I leave a bowl of pellets in the pen so that they can munch during the night when things are closed up. I usually have to buy horse pellets though because rabbit feed is rarely available.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is going well up there. We are in the midst of late spring rains so things are flooded down here--which gives me all the more time to write on HP!

    • profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      16 months ago

      Really great article, Doc. I shared this one on Facebook. Around here, rabbits are very popular pets, and also popular for the table. We sold pet rabbits from a local breeder at our feed and grain store. I wish I had had this article when my store was open. Because of the volume of rabbits raised for the table, we sold an average of 3 tons of rabbit food a week.

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