Dog Breeds That Will Get Along With Your Rabbit

Updated on August 20, 2019
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

  • 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

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      12 days 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 

      13 days 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 

      4 weeks 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 

      5 weeks 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 

      6 weeks 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 

      6 weeks 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      4 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 

      4 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 

      5 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 

      5 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 

      5 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 

      9 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 

      9 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.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)