If you love both cats and dogs, you may be wondering if you can ever have both as pets. The good news is: Yes, you can! Many pet owners do just that, enjoying the antics of both canines and felines together! While the individual dog's personality is the most important thing, you can improve your odds of getting Kitty and Fido to get along by choosing the right dog breed for your cat.
Why is the breed of your dog important? There are exceptions, but in general, some dog breeds are more likely to have predatory tendencies. These canines may be more likely to chase cats than others. Some may say that there are dogs that love cats and dogs that love cats as a squeaky toy. How do you achieve détente? It's a matter of planning, management, and training.
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Best Dogs for a Cat to Have
These fluffy dogs weigh at from three to seven pounds, and a lot of that is hair. If you can stand the grooming chores, this dog will be about the size of a cat. They are affectionate and full of confidence. Although they were originally bred to be a working dog, they relish the role of pampered pets and will want to share a lap with a cat. A devious cat may find a Pom's fur just the thing to groom—wanted or not.
This short-coated breed is very confident, willing to take on larger dogs, and he usually manages to intimidate them. Weighing in at about six pounds, these pint-sized dogs will feel the chill faster than most, so they welcome a warm cat as a nap companion.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
This dog is the definition of laid back. They make great therapy dogs and are very tolerant of other animals. Be sure to provide a lap for two, though, as the Cavalier is a cuddler. Expect him to weigh about fourteen pounds.
4. Shetland Sheepdog, aka Sheltie.
The Shetland Sheepdog is an exceptionally intelligent working breed. He needs a job, and herding cats might just be the thing. He'll be glad to round up the scattered cat toys too. There's a lot of grooming involved, but this sweet-tempered dog is well worth the trouble.
Although Beagles are a hunting dog, they are also gentle and generally slow-moving because they are scent oriented. It takes extra time to follow a trail when you're only using your nose! Beagles have a sweet disposition and are willing to share the limelight.
6. Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever.
These are larger dogs, the Lab short-haired and easier to groom, the Golden with longer hair, and a lot of shedding. Both have a good temperament and lots of tolerance. Eager to please and in need of a job, either breed will be good with kids, other dogs, and cats.
Dog Breeds to Avoid
1. Hunting Dog Breeds
Avoid the hunting breeds—not the dogs who retrieve when hunting, but the dogs bred to find and kill vermin or larger prey. Wolfhounds killed wolves who landowners considered to be poachers on the estate. This list would also include the Scottish Deerhound, Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Norwegian Elkhound, and Siberian Husky.
Terriers were bred to dig underground and eliminate animals like moles, rabbits, groundhogs, and badgers. The Jack Russell, Scottie, Bedlington Terrier, Fox Terrier, Rat Terrier, and Schnauzer can view a cat as a squirrel or rabbit that they are supposed to hunt down.
3. Sight Hounds.
This list includes the Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, Saluki, Whippet, Afghan, and Borzoi. These dogs are hard-wired to react to movement and rely on their superior eyesight. They will chase and catch anything that moves without thought. For generations, people bred hounds to track and tree raccoons or find a fox, coyote, and other predators. Cats could easily be mistaken for prey rather than a family member.
4. Fighting Dogs.
Pit bulls can have a sweet personality, but if someone trained them as fighting dogs, cats might have been a training tool. If you don't know the history of a rescued pit bull, make sure to consult with a dog trainer before introducing the pup to your cats.
4. Herding dogs.
Herders are not a bad breed to have, but be aware: they'll annoy the cat to no end. Herders are the OCD breed that likes to keep everyone where he can see them. It's his job to guard the group. In that respect, a cat who likes to nap twenty hours a day will be quite put out when the dog wakes him and says, "move along to the living room - it's TV time." Don't count on management to be the solution. Someone will leave a door open, the latch will come undone, the dog will figure out how to climb over the gate, or the cat will get overly confident and start a play chase.
Train the dog that the cat is yours. Many dogs learn to respect cats in the house (they're our stuff) and sometimes even in the yard (it's here with our stuff) but not outside the property line (fair game).
If at all possible, introduce the dog and cat as a puppy and kitten. Don't count on the cat being able to defend himself. One quick shake happens faster than claws can be drawn. Always give the cat an escape route so the dog can't follow and remember, supervised play is best for all concerned.
Finally, whatever their ages, make sure you make the proper introductions. Read more here about how to introduce a cat and a dog safely.
Have questions about dog breeds and how they mix with cats? If you leave a comment below, we won't be able to reply or help you. Instead, please register and start a thread with your question in the cat behavior forum.