Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
Conventional wisdom says that you are either a dog person or a cat person—and that the two types of people are as different from one another as any two people could be. But, contrary to popular belief, there are many people who love both dogs and cats, equally. They love them so much that they could not think of living without one or the other and want to have both animals as pets.
You may be asking yourself, don’t dogs hate cats and vice versa? While cats may be suspicious of most dogs until they get to know them, what typically gets in between the two is the dog’s playfulness and curiosity towards the feline. The dog is intrigued by them, wants to be friends with them, and, above all else, wants to play with them. Cats, on the other hand, mostly like to be left alone and, maybe, cuddle with the dog once they calm down a bit.
If you do decide to have both dogs and cats as pets, then it would be smart to get a dog breed that is a bit more predisposed to be around cats, won’t be aggressive with them, and can learn to be calm around them.
Which dog breeds are the best around cats?
Beagles – Beagles were bred to hunt in groups and so it is in their nature to be friendly with other animals, including cats. They also typically have a happy-go-lucky personality that may cause them to play with your cat, but they aren’t likely to be aggressive. Chances are, they will see cats as just another member of their pack.
Boxer – Properly socialized boxers are known to be sweet, playful, and very accepting of cats as part of their family. They are best around larger breed cats who are laid back and not easily startled by a pup nudging them trying to play.
Cocker spaniel – These mild mannered dogs are known to be friendly around both people and other animals, including cats. Cocker spaniels are a medium sized breed that isn’t afraid to get up close and cuddly with a human or a feline companion.
Golden retriever – Golden retrievers are excellent family dogs. Their playfulness and laid back attitude makes them the perfect dog to have around small children and cats. They are friendly, easy to train, and highly intelligent—all qualities that make them a great choice to be around your kitty and train how to behave properly.
Labrador retriever – Although a lot larger and heavier than your cat, labs are loving, gentle, friendly dogs who tend to get along with most people, dogs, and cats they meet. Similar to golden retrievers, labs are amazing family dogs who are highly intelligent, playful, eager to please, and who can be easily trained to behave correctly around your feline.
Bulldog – Although they can be intimidating and they might not be your first choice of dog to be around your cat, bulldogs are well known for their mild temperament. They are friendly toward all other creatures, and their easygoing personality makes it likely that they’ll enjoy your cat’s company.
Collie – This famous breed is well known for their love of children and status as one of the ideal family dogs. Although vocal canines, collies are usually highly tolerant and gentle towards other pets, including feline family members.
Although this list is not exhaustive, a good rule of thumb for finding the right dog breed to live with your cat is to choose a breed that is considered a family dog. A dog who is patient and loving enough to be around your small children will likely learn to show love and affection towards your other furry friend.
How to Introduce Your Dog to Your Cat
In addition to finding the right breed of dog to add to your already cat-owning family, you have to take into account the personalities of the specific animals. Here are some tips from American Humane that could be helpful:
- Choose a dog that has already had experience living around other animals; if they have lived around cats before that is just a bonus.
- A dog that shows excessive excitement or aggression towards other animals is not the right choice for your cat household.
- A calm, laid back dog is better than a dog or puppy who is overtly anxious and nervous.
- If you are introducing a puppy into the household, then it is important to train them from the get go to respect your cat’s personal space and not be obnoxious around them.
The first meeting between the two animals is critical. No matter which animal is the existing resident, they should never be brought to the shelter or pet store for their first meeting. This may be a stressful environment for the both of them and not a good indicator of how either would behave at home. You should do the introduction at home in a relaxed, safe environment.
Across a few days it’s a good idea to rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to allow each pet plenty of time to investigate the other’s scent. Sometimes the dog should be confined to a crate or another room (or taken to another location if he can’t be left alone) to allow the cat time to roam free and investigate the smell of the dog.
Until your cat is calm and your dog is calm (and not obsessed with you cat), you should confine your dog whenever you aren’t home. In the beginning stages of their relationship, your dog and cat should not have unsupervised interactions.
Cats and dogs can be excellent companions and life long friends. The only thing you have to do is find a suitable breed of dog, have two animals that have friendly dispositions, and take the proper measures for introducing them to one another.