Do you want to bring a new cat into your previously all-dog household? Are you a little apprehensive about the process?
Are there any particular breeds that do better with cats than others?
If you have any of these concerns, you are not alone. In fact, it is wise to ask these questions. Dogs can be prey-driven and antisocial when it comes to cats.
Given the common size differentials, you want to protect your cat as well as your dog.
We answer the question about the best dogs for cats with research on inherent breed temperaments.
We chose five breeds based on traits that make them compatible with cats as well as great overall companions. You will actually see them on multiple lists concerning family-oriented dog breeds.
Where can it go wrong between cats and dogs?
Although dogs and cats share much in common, their biggest conflicts stem from their positions in the animal kingdom hierarchy.
Wolves are apex predators, and many dogs retain the mentality and size to back this up in the domestic realm.
We have promoted aggression against intruders and small animals and have refined hunting and retrieving skills through breeding.
Dogs inherently see the much smaller cat as potential prey or vermin. Add to this our roles in genetic selection, and predatory behavior against cats can be very difficult to reverse.
Tigers and lions are also apex predators, but wildcats or bobcats are only mid-range hunters.
You will notice even a solitary tiger keeps its distance from packs of wild dogs. Wildcats, more closely related to domesticated cats, can be hunted and killed by canids.
Based on their DNA, cats have a difficult time trusting dogs and acting in an unprovocative manner in their presence.
When cats and dogs first meet, the cat will instinctively run which feeds the dog’s innate desire to chase it down. So you want to focus on breeds that do not act on this predatory drive around cats.
On the other hand, there are situations where cat and dog roles reverse and felines are the tormenters.
Therefore, always remember a cat can intimidate and bully a nervous or high-strung dog. Some cats are, in fact, as large as medium-small dogs, like Siberian cats and Maine Coons.
What are the vulnerabilities of cats and dogs?
A cat’s small size makes it especially vulnerable to dogs 15 pounds and over. They also have relatively weak jaws as their teeth evolved to penetrate nerves and vessels. A dog’s jaws crush bones and tendons.
A cat’s only viable defenses against a dog are to flee, hide, or climb. He can intimidate an attacking dog with bravado. In the end, a cat is no physical match for most dogs.
With the flight response, cats are at a disadvantage. They are built for short bursts of speed and tire quickly. Dogs can run for miles.
Cats can hide, but dogs bred to “go to ground,” or burrow after rodents, can follow them.
A cat’s best means to evade dogs is by climbing out of reach. Providing your cat with elevated areas will help her feel secure.
It will also allow her to seek privacy and enable you to keep her food out of reach of your dog.
When introducing dogs and cats, make sure your cat has somewhere to climb or escape.
As mentioned above, small or timid dogs are subject to tormenting by feline bullies. And a cat goes anywhere a dog can. Provide rescue for your dog if necessary.
Dogs are most vulnerable in their eyes and sensitive snouts. Brachycephalic dogs(flat-faced)are especially prone to corneal lacerations because of their prominent eyes.
How can dogs and cats get along?
Dogs and cats, both being carnivores, have similar means of communication. Like most mammals, they rely on a complex system of pheromones and body language to relate amongst themselves. They can also pick up on interspecies messages.
When dogs and cats feel threatened and choose to extricate themselves, they will make themselves appear smaller.
Both cats and dogs will advert their heads and eyes, lower their tails and slink closer to the ground.
Both species that are cornered will show piloerection (hairs stand up). Ears will be straight up as will tails to appear as large and threatening as possible.
Aggression from both cats and dogs is displayed as a fixed glare, ears flat against the skull, and tense stances. They may vocalize, showing teeth.
Subtle differences between feline and canine language lie in the use of tails and paws. Cats often strike out with aggression because their claws back up the power of their teeth.
Dogs have comparatively weak claws and use their paws in play or to assert dominance.
You probably already know that a dog does not always wag her tail out of joy nor does a cat wave his exclusively out of anger. Tail reading is one thing that will benefit from the individuals’ growing familiarity with each other.
What are the top five best dogs for cats?
According to Anything Labrador, The Labrador Retriever’s ancestors arrived in England from Newfoundland in the 1830s. Their retrieving abilities were evident at the outset, and these traits were propagated.
If you have ever been in the vicinity of a Lab, you know what an unflappable temperament it has.
Labradors are highly intelligent and bred not to damage the prey they retrieve in their mouths. They also do not actually hunt and kill in the field at all.
Labrador retrievers get along with all manner of different species and people. If a cat is part of your family he is likely also a member of your Lab’s pack.
Despite its large size and rambunctious nature, a Lab tends to be patient and deferential to smaller animals, including cats.
The following video illustrates how most Labrador and Golden Retrievers interact with kittens and cats.
This is an example of a Golden, but Labs and beagles are similar in demeanor. Notice the dog’s endless patience and gentleness.
Modern beagles came from Great Britain in the 1830s. Hunters sought a small, social scenthound to help them go after rabbits.
Beagles have sweet dispositions and are bred to live in intimate quarters with pack mates. A beagle’s strong interest in smells often overrides its desire to chase things.
Beagles like cats much as they enjoy children. They are good-natured and tolerant of different personality types.
According to TheSprucePets, Golden retrievers were bred from spaniels and the then-inadequate retrievers in Scotland in the mid-1800s. They are renowned for their temperaments.
Like many sporting breeds, Goldens are calm in a variety of situations and around different animals.
They are affectionate and gentle and not prone to chase cats. Golden Retrievers are obedient and do not display aggression.
Goldens tend to be indiscriminately friendly and particularly gentle around children and smaller animals. They can be persistent in their overtures to make a friend.
A close relative of the Bichon Frise, the Maltese may have originated in Malta off of Italy. They have become established at least since the 1800s solely as companions.
When it comes to getting along with cats, it certainly helps that a Maltese is the same size if not smaller than the average feline. However, a Maltese is no fading violet. In fact, it is fearless and even fierce when necessary.
The Maltese do not have a high prey drive. Like many other breeds in the toy group, it has been selected for friendliness and companionship.
Moreover, a Maltese’s nature is, according to Hillspet Scientists, playful but gentle. This can be reassuring for many cats.
Pugs probably came from China, where they would have been treated like royalty with their own servants.
They arrived in Europe from China, Japan, Korea, and Russia in the late 1500s. They were bred to be pampered companions and to alarm of trespassers.
Pugs are charming, gentle, and affectionate. They are even-tempered and calm around cats and small children. They are not designed to chase anything for very long.
What other dogs could you consider for cats?
For the most part, dogs fit to belong to groups that typically get along well with cats. Close relatives of the listed breeds are good places to start.
Gundogs that have calm temperaments like retrievers and spaniels can potentially get along well with cats. Use caution with prey-driven hounds.
Some retrievers such as the Chesapeake Bay can be a little more aggressive with small animals than Goldens and Labs.
Toy dogs are bred to be companions with much of the aggression bred out of their temperaments. Poodles may be great around cats while others in the group may be wired too tight or too timid.
Nonsporting dogs like Bulldogs and Schipperkes seem to tolerate cats pretty well. It is a broad group, however, and it includes more aggressive personalities like Chow Chows.
What dogs are not good around cats?
Although many dogs can be trained to live with your cat, some are just ticking time bombs with small animals. Their prey drive is simply too well-developed.
Terriers, for the most part, are terrible choices for cats. They are fast and relentless. Many are small enough to find hidden cats. Worst of all, they have been bred for centuries to find and kill small animals.
According to TheCatSite, Sighthounds have also been bred for years to chase and kill anything from hares to deer and wolves.
They do not discriminate between small game and other dogs or cats. Moreover, they are fast and tireless pursuers.
Malamutes and other sled dogs can be a cat’s worst nightmare. They are extremely energetic. Small animals and children easily stimulate them.
A husky can be very aggressive with other animals. Unfortunately, his independent streak may mean he ignores all commands.
Guard dogs may see a cat as worthy of protection or they may regard it as prey. Since they are large, athletic, and powerful, caution should always be exercised with this group around cats.
Herding dogs have a very strong prey drive, although not usually directed towards killing livestock. However, many independent herding dogs have been bred to kill both small and large predators, like foxes.
Our list of dogs that can cohabitate with cats is by no means exhaustive. Animals, like people, are individuals.
You cannot always predict which particular dog will make friends with a special cat.
Some dogs in the groups above do not like cats. The breed of cat can also play an important role in how the two species interact.
Dogs and cats who meet before the age of six months may have a better chance of getting along.
Most representatives of the breeds we specified have the temperament and genetic make-up to serve as great companions for cats as well as for you.