If you wish to share your home with both cats and dogs, look for a dog breed that’s typically friendly with felines. While it ultimately comes down to the individual dog (and cat), certain breeds have tendencies that help them get along with other species. For example, many working dogs were bred to watch over and protect their family members, including other animals. And some hounds, especially scent hounds, were bred to work closely in packs, so they are usually friendly with other furry family members. Sporting dogs, such as retrievers and spaniels, typically get along with anyone, including cats. And toy dogs were mostly bred to be loving companions even to other species. Here are 10 dog breeds that often get along with cats.
In general, many dog breeds with high prey drives aren’t suitable for homes with cats. For example, a cat’s movement could trigger a sight hound to want to chase it, though a scent hound will typically leave the cat’s familiar scent alone. The breeds that are generally sociable and happy to make friends with anyone tend to do best with cats. Moreover, dogs with low to moderate energy levels are good for cats, as they won’t startle or stress their feline companions with outbursts of activity. Plus, the dog breeds that are typically people-pleasing and trainable are ideal, as they can be taught how to coexist nicely with a cat.
All dogs are individuals. For instance, even though beagles tend to be good with cats, your beagle might not be. Always introduce dogs and cats cautiously until you know they will get along. A professional trainer or behaviorist can offer tips to make the introduction go more smoothly.
Beagles are a subset of hound called a scent hound, which means they use their exceptional sense of smell to sniff out prey. These dogs traditionally hunted in large packs with hunters accompanying the packs on foot or horseback, so it was imperative that they got along with other animals. Beagles are gregarious and congenial. And most will live happily with other animals, including cats, which they will likely view as just another member of the pack.
- Height: 13 to 15 inches
- Weight: 20 to 25 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Muscular, solid body; domed skull; squarish muzzle; long, floppy ears; perky long tail held upward
Like the beagle, the basset hound is also a scent hound. As a pack dog, basset hounds are friendly and amicable. With their short legs and long, heavy bodies, basset hounds are also slow-moving, which is ideal for living with cats, as they likely won’t spook or be intimidating to their feline friends. They are loyal, patient, and low-key dogs.
- Height: 11 to 14 inches
- Weight: 50 to 65 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Long body with short legs; long, drooping ears; wrinkled forehead; hanging lips; soft eyes
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is part of the American Kennel Club Toy Group. They were bred to be loving, loyal lap dogs and all-around friendly companions. The Cavalier is as sweet as they come. This breed can get along with almost every person and animal imaginable, including cats. They are adaptable and gentle little creatures.
- Height: 12 to 13 inches
- Weight: 13 to 18 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Medium-length, silky wavy coat; adults have feathering on their ears, chest, legs, feet, and tail
If you recall Lassie (a rough collie), you know that collies are lovers, not fighters. Although not all herding dogs live well with cats, collies are a bit mellower than some other herding breeds and generally can resist the instinct to herd when the behavior wouldn’t be appropriate (such as chasing the family cat). Plus, collies tend to be gentle dogs, including with kids and other family pets.
- Height: 22 to 26 inches
- Weight: 50 to 75 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Dense smooth or rough coat; long, narrow face; comes in sable and white, tricolor, blue merle, and white
One of the most popular breeds in the world, the golden retriever is a truly gentle dog. And its good manners extend to cats as well as people. Golden retrievers are loving and sweet-natured, adaptable, and outgoing. As highly trainable and people-pleasing dogs, most goldens can be taught to live successfully with cats.
- Height: 21 to 24 inches
- Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Sturdy, muscular body with a lustrous gold coat, broad head, and friendly and intelligent eyes
Poodles come in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. While all three are highly intelligent and can be trained to behave around cats, the smaller miniature and toy varieties are generally less intimidating to a cat. In fact, toy poodles are roughly the size of many cats and often will become close companions and playmates with their feline friends.
- Height: Standard: 15 inches; miniature: 10 to 15 inches; toy: 10 inches and under
- Weight: Standard: 45 to 70 pounds; miniature: 15 to 18 pounds; toy: 5 to 9 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Curly, dense, single-layer coat that may be one of many solid colors, including white, black, gray, brown, and apricot
Weighing less than seven pounds on average, the Maltese is around the size of a cat, which causes many cats to feel comfortable around it. This toy breed is a gentle and loving companion with an easy-going attitude. A Maltese is usually fine lying on the couch, ignoring much of anything else going on, including the activities of a cat.
- Height: 8 to 10 inches
- Weight: 4 to 7 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Dark, alert eyes shrouded by white fur that is naturally long and silky; single-layer coat without an undercoat
Newfoundlands are the gentle giants of the dog world. Newfies are patient, calm, and protective of their family members. They are typically great with people of all ages and pets of all types, including cats. This large breed is generally known for its calm demeanor and somewhat low activity level, so its size shouldn’t be that intimidating for a cat.
- Height: 26 to 28 inches
- Weight: 100 to 150 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Large, heavy-coated, powerful body; broad, massive head; small ears that lie close to the head
The Pomeranian is a spirited and engaging toy dog. At just three to seven pounds, they are smaller than most cats. So these fluffy little canines are rarely a threat to feline friends. They are typically affectionate dogs with a moderate energy level, and they tend to live peacefully with other pets, cats included.
- Height: 6 to 7 inches
- Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Long double coat; fox-like face; pointy, erect ears; curled tail
Pugs are charming and happy little dogs that can get along with almost anybody. Most pugs lack the inclination to chase or otherwise bother a cat, so they generally can live successfully with felines. In fact, because pugs are such friendly and social dogs, a cat can help keep them company when their humans are away.
- Height: 10 to 13 inches
- Weight: 14 to 18 pounds
- Physical Characteristics: Small, barreled body; round, wrinkled head; short nose; curly tail
Breeds to Avoid
In general, if you have cats, avoid dog breeds that have a high instinct to chase. For instance, terriers are tenacious, feisty, and full of energy. They were primarily bred to hunt and kill small furry animals. Most retain this instinct, and your cat might become a target. Furthermore, some high-energy herding breeds, such as border collies, often can’t stop themselves from herding everyone in the house, cats included. And the cats might not appreciate being herded by an enthusiastic dog.