Ever been backed into a corner about whether you’re a “cat person” or a “dog person”? We’ve all been there! And though some of us do tend to lean more to one side than the other, there is a whole slew of folks who are both—or who want to be both. Enter breeds of dogs that are good with cats.
Maybe you have a dog you want to introduce into your cat household, or, are looking to add a cat friend for your beloved furry roommate. Either way, you need to create a space where both species are able to cohabitate.
We’ve got some ideas for you (and some suggestions for dog breeds that are good with cats!). After all, there’s always the possibility that these two animals will become the best of friends—you just need to create a situation that encourages and supports that bond between them.
Introducing a New Dog to a Resident Cat
First, we want to share with you some tips from American Humane that’ll be helpful if you’re attempting to introduce a new dog into what has historically been a kitty-centric household. Here we go:
- Take personality into account! Some animals are inherently not into other kinds of animals—look for a dog that has already been exposed to other species and seems to have a tolerance for them.
- It’s also important to match the two personalities. For example, an older, quiet, or anxious pet will probably do better with a calm counterpart that won’t frighten or annoy them. Whereas a playful and confident cat would probably be well-matched with a playful (but gentle) dog.
- Watch out for aggression! Dogs who aggressively chase, pin, or bark at cats won’t be a great match. Same for the kitties who always growl, swat, and hide from dogs.
Want help with the actual introduction process between a new dog and a resident cat? Here are a few steps from American Humane that can help:
- Make sure the introduction is in a safe place—preferably the home where the cat can feel comfortable.
- Take a few days to rotate the animals in each other’s space, so that each has the chance to investigate the other’s scent on their own (while the other is not there).
- Once they’re calm, have them in the same room with the dog leashed.
- Continue this until they’re pretty chill around each other and can be left together unsupervised!
Want to give yourself a better chance of things going smoothly? We’ve gathered together a list of some topnotch dog breeds that are known to be feline-friendly. Perhaps you can find your kitty’s future best friend somewhere on this list:
Small Dogs That Are Good With Cats
We can start with some of the little guys! These breeds may be small, but they have lots of love to offer their feline friends. Here are some of our favorites:
Since they’re diminutive themselves, pugs tend to be great around smaller animals (and love getting friendly with them!). It also helps that they have such a loving, outgoing personality that requires attention—so they’ll likely enjoy having a friend around when the humans leave the house.
They’re also spunky so they won’t let the feline in the house push them around too much.
Their intelligence and trainability make this breed ideal for getting along with feline friends. They’re on the small side (but have big, warm personalities) and will quickly become buddies with the other furry animals in your abode.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
There are a couple of characteristics that make this breed adaptable to life with a kitty—mainly that they’re affectionate, sweet, and gentle, but also that they’re inclined to give other animals some space, and won’t get too “up in the business” of your cat.
They also don’t like being left alone, which means that having another animal around the house is bound to bring them some comfort and companionship. Plus, who could resist that face? Not even the crankiest cat, I reckon.
Maltese are known to be wonderful with cats thanks to their excellent manners (and perhaps their classy coif helps in some way). They do really enjoy companionship but are also happy to give cats a bit of space to be on their own when it’s needed.
Their gentle nature means you won’t have to worry about them bothering your kitty—just make sure the cat doesn’t take advantage of their gregariousness and pick on them!
This happy-go-lucky breed can get along with most other furry creatures, including cats! This may come as a surprise to some, considering they’re known to chase other small animals, but they do seem to have an affinity for hanging out with felines—perhaps they’re creating their own “pack” inside your house?
The only cat-friendly breed from the herding group, the Sheltie is super-friendly and intelligent—and will actually listen if you order them to not chase the cat.
They’re easy to train and affectionate, and so as long as the two animals are introduced in the appropriate way (see above for more information about introductions!), you can feel confident that their friendship will truly blossom.
Big Dogs That Are Good With Cats
Though it may be surprising, these larger breeds are excellent when it comes to getting along with their kitty roommates. Just give them a chance and they’re bound to impress you.
Friendly can’t even begin to describe the sweet and kind personality of a golden retriever. Very family-focused, this dog is more than ready to become part of a family—even if that includes a feline!
They’re also super eager-to-please and respond well to training, so letting them know early on that the cat isn’t for chasing will be effective. Plus, they generally just want to be buddies with everyone, so a true friendship is bound to happen.
Another friendly breed that just wants to be loved? The Labrador! This dog seems to follow the old saying “the more the merrier” because their circle of loved ones always has room for one more.
Even in small spaces, they tend to be kind and gentle (with kids and other pets including cats), and their intelligence and obedience mean you can point them in the right direction if they ever get out of line.
Poodle (All Sizes)
Poodles come in a variety of sizes—toy, miniature, and standard—and all three seem to make fine feline companions.
They all do react to them in different ways, with some actually playing with them and others merely tolerating their existence. That’s why it is important to introduce them as soon as possible, so you can make sure their personalities and playfulness are compatible. But more often than not, your poodle and kitty are bound to become good buddies!
Hunting Instinct? Behaviors to Watch Out For
You may have noticed that some of the breeds in this list were originally bred to be hunting dogs, some for small game. How does that affect their ability to live with cats?
While the breeds listed above are known to be cat-friendly, some may have difficulties curbing that instinct to chase or play more roughly than they should with their feline counterparts. Some behaviors to watch out for are:
- Stiff posture or “stalking” movements
- Aggressive chasing, or “treeing” of the cat
- Whining, barking or other sounds of distress
- Fixed staring or hyper-awareness
If you notice your dog reacting to the resident cat in these ways, it’s recommended to discourage the behavior and break your dog’s concentration to focus on something else. It could also be a good idea to get the help of a certified trainer to get some tips on how to mitigate the discomfort or instincts being triggered by the cat.
- Dilated pupils
- Flattened ears
- Tail aggressively thrashing
- Hissing, growling, or yowling
If you observe these behaviors, it’s time to give your cat and dog some space. It may even be a good idea to go back over the introduction period, giving them both time to cool down over the course of several days. This can help reset behaviors and help them associate positive feelings with the other pet.
When it comes down to it, it’s always wonderful to welcome a new member into your family, and these breeds have personalities that can sometimes make that transition a little easier on everyone, especially the resident cat in your house.