Curious about the best and worst dog breeds for cats?
Just like there are cat breeds that hate dogs, there are dogs that just plain don’t play well with kitty.
Since your cat was- presumably- there first, you want to make sure you do right by him when adding a canine companion to the mix.
Let’s start with the worst dog breeds for cats, then we’ll check out the best!
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Worst Dog Breeds for Cats
When it comes to the worst dog breeds for cats, your best bet is to avoid certain groups entirely.
Three in particular stand out, so let’s take a look at them in a moment.
First, though, since I know many of you just prefer a quick and easy list, let’s do that.
Here are some of the more popular breeds that are among the worst for cats.
- Italian Greyhound
- Irish Wolfhound
- Airedale Terrier
- Jack Russell Terrier
- American Staffordshire
- Cairn Terrier
- Schnauzers- all sizes
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Malinois
- Border Collie*
- German Shepherd
- Old English Sheepdog
- Shetland Sheep Dog
*Interestingly, the Border Collie often appears on both lists. We’ll see why.
If you know a lot about breed groups, you’ll see a pattern emerge. Let’s discuss why these groups tend to be among the worst for cats.
While some parts of the hound group are actually quite good with kitties, sighthounds are the exception.
This group includes Pharaoh Hounds (like my girl), greyhounds, whippets, salukis, Irish Wolfhounds and such.
Some – if not all -of these dogs can be taught to get along with cats, but you’ll have your work cut out for you.
See, it’s not that they don’t like cats. Freya actually adores our kitties and often lounges peacefully with Zoe on the sofa.
However, sighthounds have incredibly high prey drives, and they literally cannot stop themselves from chasing small creatures- cats included.
When Alex the Fuzz goes into crazy cat mode and tears around the house, we have to stay right on top of Freya repeating “no cat, no cat, leave it!”
Even then, she just plain can’t help herself. He runs, she must give chase.
That prey drive is hardwired into their genetic code, too.
She’s been around cats since puppyhood, so don’t assume that getting a dog after a cat will make a difference.
Like sighthounds, pretty much all terriers are on the “not good with cats” list.
Again, it’s about genetics and drive rather than any sort of mean-spirited desire to hurt cats.
See, terriers were created to hunt (and kill) small prey. What does your cat look like? You got it, small prey.
Much like sighthounds, your cat’s boisterous jaunt around the room can easily trigger that drive.
Now, I will say one thing, my brother’s Cairn Terrier mix was always pretty mellow around my cats back when he used to bring him to visit.
So, I do think you have a better chance of teaching a terrier to tolerate cats than you do a sighthound.
However, you will still have your work cut out for you, so if patience isn’t your strong suit, consider another breed.
3. Herding Dogs
The herding group- which includes shepherds, collies, sheepdogs, and such-also top lists of breeds to avoid in cat-centric households.
However, they are probably the easiest to train to get along with kitties. That’s why you’ll often find them popping up on lists of the best dog breeds for cats, too.
See, unlike sighthounds and terriers, their issues don’t come from a high prey drive.
Instead, they’re on the list because of their tendency to try to herd cats. In some cases, that herding involves nipping.
While that’s not a problem when they’re nipping sheep heels, it can be catastrophic to a small kitty.
Before Freya, I had two dogs that fell in the herding group. Tasha was a German Shepherd. Maia was a lab/collie mix.
Tasha pretty much ignored the cats entirely.
We gave her a lot of other opportunities to feel like she was “working,” so she just never really felt like herding cats was part of her job description
Maia’s lab side came through when it came to the cats. She was super gentle with them, even when they were kittens.
My Fuzz thought of her as a surrogate mama! Here they are together below. He was as heartbroken as we were when she passed away.
Again, all of these dogs can be taught to tolerate cats.
However, if you want to just go the easier route, keep reading to discover the best dog breeds for cats!
Best Dog Breeds for Cats
The best dog breeds for cats tend to come from the Toy group as well as they sporting group, according to the AKC.
Again, let’s look at a straight-forward list, then we’ll explore some of the groups that do well with kitties.
- Retriever breeds
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel
- Basset Hound
- Collies & Border Collie (sometimes)
- Poodles all sizes
- Newfoundland (seriously!)
- Cocker Spaniel
- Setters- English and Irish
- Shih Tzu
- Lagotto Romagnolo
Again, certain group patterns emerge. Let’s dig deeper.
The vast majority of dogs were bred for specific purposes- hunting, herding, or working. The Toy group, however, has a simpler purpose– companionship.
These pups have one mission in life, keep their people company. As such, they’re affection, sociable, and fairly adaptable.
It’s these qualities that make them fairly well-suited to life with cats.
Toy dogs are also among the easiest to train, so even if you get a cat after your dog, it won’t be terribly traumatic to teach him to leave kitty be.
Anyone who has ever owned- or even met- a lab knows that they’re among the friendliest and most out-going dogs on the planet.
That trait isn’t just exclusive to retrievers, though. It’s fairly common among the entire sporting group.
Their good nature and adaptability make them perfect dogs for homes with cats.
Remember my story above about Maia. When it came to her love for our kitties, she was all lab!
My Cooper was also a lab mix (mixed with what, we’ll never know). He tended to ignore our cats for the most part.
There are always exceptions
Before we wrap up, let me just remind you that there are exceptions to every rule.
While the above are generally the best and worst dog breeds for cats, “generally” is the important word there.
Some terriers get along great with cats, while some sporting dogs can’t stand them.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t a magical dog and cat compatibility rule-book that spells everything out for us.
In my experience (aside from Freya), it’s usually easier if you introduce a puppy to your existing cat, rather than a kitten to your existing dog.
However, regardless of how you do it or what breed you choose, you’ll still need to remain vigilant for a long time.
Never leave cats and dogs alone together until you are 100000% sure that they’ll be okay.
It took a long time for us to trust our previous dogs alone with the cats, and we will never be at that point with Freya.