5 Exotic Pets That Are Like Dogs

Updated on February 2, 2018
Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa holds a bachelor's degree in biology and is a plant and animal enthusiast with multiple pets.

Pets With Similar Traits to Dogs

Dogs are often considered to be the "ideal" pet for many reasons. For many people, they are surrogate children, and for others, a loyal companion with relatively easy care. Dogs are also very interactive pets—their owners can take them outdoors and engage in energetic play sessions. Are there any alternatives to dogs with similar traits?

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Traits That Make Pets "Dog-Like"

  • Trainability: Most dogs can be trained easily and they can perform a myriad of tricks.
  • Playing Fetch: Dogs love to chase after objects that are thrown by their owners and play "keep away".
  • Human Affection: Dogs are probably the most human-centric animals on Earth. Dogs often follow their owners, love to be petted and are cuddly.
  • Hierarchy: Dogs are given status by their human owners and will abide by the rules (for the most part). Dogs care about what their handlers want, even if they don’t behave ideally all the time.

Obviously, no one animal can be exactly like a dog because they aren’t dogs. In fact, dogs are special in the animal kingdom. Dogs are similar to wolf pups because they are neotenic, which means they retain juvenile traits. Due to this, dogs are essentially adult baby wolves and naturally do best with an owner that will lead them. In addition, dogs are uniquely fine-tuned to bond with humans, and they are even some of the only animal species that can comprehend human gestures like pointing. Still, there are some pets that share specific traits with dogs.

1. Rabbits

Rabbits are traditional pets and are often considered to be "small" animals. They are often caged and given basic care, but many owners are proving that these common animals can be much more active and even trained to complete agility courses when given the chance. There’s growing backlash within the rabbit owning community against keeping these animals in hutches. Many owners now use dog pens to give them more room to roam and some even let them "free-range" throughout the house like dogs.

Rabbits like to cuddle with humans and come in different shapes and sizes like dogs. They might not walk as well as dogs on a leash, but you can easily put a harness on them and take them for a brief walk. Their enjoyment of this activity will depend on the individual.

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2. Bengal and Savannah Cats

While Bengal cats aren’t really "exotic" since they are fully domesticated cats, they are often considered to be "partially" "wild" animals because this breed was created using Asian leopard cats. The DNA of this species is heavily diluted, however, and Bengal cats possess a striking coat and personality.

One trait that separates these cats apart from typical cats is their play drive and confidence, which is said to resemble dogs. They often walk much better on a leash and have sustained activity levels. You can play fetch with this breed and teach it tricks more easily. They even like to swim! Bengals are the "border collies" of the cat world; they are athletic, intelligent, and can sometimes be a challenge to own for some people. They require more attention and some have been known to be prone to spraying.

Other breeds with exotic cat DNA and similar characteristics include the Savannah cat and jungle cat. Savannah cats have serval DNA and are often sold with a much higher percentage of exotic cat genetics. These cats are known to be quite dog-like.

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3. Foxes

It seems like a given that a fellow member of the canid family would be similar to dogs, but foxes actually have a lot in common with felines in their behavior. As a pet, most fox species will be aloof and have a high degree of independence. Their prey drive is intact regardless of how they’re raised and they will always be more skittish than most dogs. Still, foxes can be leash-trained, love to play, and wag their tails in excitement when their owners return.

The Russian Fox Experiment made famous the concept of domesticating foxes, but less than 10 of these animals have made it to the United States. These foxes, unlike those which were bred in fur farms and make up the majority of fox species found in the pet trade, are said to have strong similarities to dogs such as human affection and docility. Their differences from "regular" foxes which have also been hand-raised and socialized may not be so extreme, however, as these animals exhibit the same behaviors.

4. Rats

Rats are inching their way up the ladder to traditional small pet status. Many find the idea of owning a rat unappealing, but anyone with basic knowledge in small pets knows that rats are considered to be some of the best pets. These rodents are known for their intelligence, trainability, and willingness to display human affection. On youtube, there are many videos showing how simple it is to teach rats various tricks. Rats are known for having great personalities and temperaments. Like dogs, aside from enrichment, they require social interaction either in the form of another rat playmate or frequent playtime with the human owner.

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5. Pot-Bellied Pig

Pot-bellied pigs are rising in popularity so quickly most people know these animals can be kept indoors like dogs and can learn a variety of tricks. The term pot-bellied pig refers to many different breeds of pigs, and while one type is referred to as a "mini pig", all of them are somewhat large. Like dogs, pigs descend from animals that are very social and have a hierarchy. Training is required to maintain the human's position as head of the "pack".

It is often said that pigs are even smarter than dogs, but it's more likely that pigs excel in a different way with tests that they are just better at. Pigs don't quite measure up to dogs in human understanding, as no other animal really does, but they can display affection and understanding to a high degree.

Questions & Answers

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        BellatheBall 2 months ago

        The Pot Bellied Pig originates from Countries like Vietnam and Taiwan. They are intelligent and trainable animals. but, that being said, some varieties can grow to a large size, so when choosing a piglet, be careful to meet the parents.

        Pigs can be house trained, just like dogs, and can be trained to live with other animals too.

        Pigs are also herd animals and do not do well with "alone" time. So just as you wouldn't expect a dog to do well when left alone all day, expect the same from a pig.

        Pigs, like dogs. have a limited ability to sweat, so they need mud or water to wallow in. If you are thinking about getting a pig, you will need to provide this for them as well.

        As you can tell, little piglets are very cute, but they come with a lot of pig needs.

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        Louise Powles 2 months ago from Norfolk, England

        I think pot-bellied pigs are very cute, I'd love one! The video of the rat is very cute, they are lovely little animals.

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