What Dog Breed is Best for My Cat?
Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats living together isn't a sign of the apocalypse but is in fact a reality for many households. But, while most dogs can learn to peacefully coexist with cats, some breeds have an easier time sharing their space, and their people, with kitties.
So, what are the best dogs for cats? Whether you have lots of space with a big backyard, a tiny apartment with limited space or something in between, there's a cat-friendly dog breed that's right for you. Read on to discover the best dog breeds for cats and tips for welcoming a pooch into your home.
The Best Medium to Large Dog Breeds for Cats
If you have the space for them, these larger dogs will make great playmates for your kitty:
- Beagle: Beagles tend to be sociable and friendly toward people and pets alike. Although they might make a game of chasing your cat, they aren't likely to cause them any harm. Beagles are sweet dogs who love to cuddle with anyone who'll let them, but they also tend to be hyperactive. While they don't bark much, they bay loudly, making them a poor choice for tight spaces but great for homes with big backyards.
- Cocker spaniel: These sweet people-pleasers enjoy the company of other animals as well as people, making them one of the best dog breeds for cats. Cocker spaniels are playful, medium-sized dogs who love to cuddle up with a companion, and they aren't choosy about whether their cuddle buddy is human or feline.
- Boxer: While this breed can look intimidating, socialized boxers are known for being extremely sweet and playful, and tend to be very accepting of cats. Boxers are best matched to larger, good-natured cats who won't be easily startled by a big pup bounding around and trying to coax them into a wrestling match.
- Golden retriever: The same quality that makes goldens a terrible choice for guard dogs makes them one of the best dogs for cats — they see everyone as a friend, kitties included. In spite of their indiscriminate friendliness, goldens are highly intelligent dogs and are easy to train.
- Standard poodle: The comedians of the dog world, poodles are friendly and intelligent dogs that get along well with children and animals. A playful breed, the large standard poodle needs plenty of space and exercise to burn off energy.
The Best Small Dog Breeds for Cats
If you're tight on space, these small dog breeds won't cramp your kitty's style:
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel: Cavaliers are known for their calm and reserved temperament; they're likely to show your cat respect and give them space. That said, Cavaliers hate to be left alone and generally do well in homes with other pets to keep them company when their human companions leave.
- Bichon frise: The bichon frise is one of the best dog breeds for cats. These happy-go-lucky little balls of fluff love everybody, cats included. Playful by nature, this breed is likely to see your cat as a potential playmate. They'd do best with a cat who isn't easily annoyed and would welcome the playtime.
- Maltese: This is a laid-back breed that likes to be close to people and will curl up in any available lap. Calm in nature and diminutive in size, Maltese make great apartment dogs and are likely to be largely indifferent to any cats in the house.
- Miniature or toy poodle: These smaller versions of the poodle possess the same qualities and temperament as the standard poodle, and make a great cat-friendly dog for all of the same reasons. Miniatures typically weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, while toy poodles generally weigh in at under 10 pounds, making both varieties a good fit for small spaces.
- Chihuahua: The tiniest of the toy breeds, Chihuahuas love kitties who'll engage them in a friendly wrestling match or chase, and they're also happy to share their bed or a lap with a feline friend. While Chihuahuas can be aggressive, this is rarely a problem if they're properly socialized, and these pint-sized pups are too small to pose a serious threat to your kitty's safety.
Dog Breeds to Approach With Caution
Dog breeds with a strong prey drive can pose a danger to cats, says The Cat Site. These include hunting dogs who've been bred to track game, including most sight hounds and terriers and sled dogs, like the Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky.
Herding breeds, such as German shepherds, Australian shepherds and border collies, don't pose a real danger to cats, but if they possess a strong herding instinct they might try to corral your kitty, who may not appreciate being bossed around.
While it's important to know about the potential conflicts certain dog breeds could present, every dog is unique. Who knows? Maybe your kitty and a terrier would make the best of friends.
Other Factors to Consider
- Your cat's temperament: Some cats just want human companionship and do best as an only pet. And some cats don't seem to like anybody. Only you know your cat well enough to judge whether they'd be likely to tolerate, or even enjoy, a dog's company.
- Your cat's breed: Some cat breeds are more likely to get along well with dogs. Ragdolls, Siberians and Maine coon cats are all hardy, friendly breeds that don't tend to be intimidated by dogs, says PetHelpful.
- The dog's age: Regardless of their breed, a puppy is more likely to get along with the household cat than an adult dog is. A puppy, if introduced to your cat between the ages of 4 to 12 weeks, will have no problem acclimating to a kitty's presence.
Once you've found your new canine companion and you're ready to bring them home, it's time to introduce them to your kitty! The key to a successful introduction is to take it slowly. For the first few days, keep them separated, allowing them to sniff each other through a barrier, such as a pet gate or bathroom door, so they can get used to each other. Let them meet face to face under close supervision, preferably while the dog is leashed (even indoors), and be sure your cat has an escape route and a safe place to hide if they feel threatened.
Remember that while it's important to know the best dog breeds for cats, a dog's breed is only one factor. Ultimately, you should choose a dog who won't just play well with your cat and other people in your home, but will also be a good match for your lifestyle and your available space.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.