Most dogs are natural predators with a history of hunting somewhere in their genetic lines. Domesticated dogs as we know them and grey wolves descended from a now-extinct wolves species an estimated 15,000-40,000 years ago. No one knows the exact story of how this happened, but if you trace any breed of dog’s lineage far back enough, we know that all dogs were once wolves. This is embedded in their very DNA, along with a natural prey drive that exists in almost all dogs.
That being said, some breeds are highly intelligent and easy to train, which dramatically helps keep this prey drive under control. Other breeds are gentle and even-tempered and will not view the family rabbits as food, and other breeds are simply uninterested.
If you have pet rabbits at home that you do not want to be your pooch’s next snack, the best method of avoidance is to go for a breed that is more likely to not view your rabbits as food or can be trained well at the very least. We put together this list of the 15 dog breeds that are likely to get along well with rabbits, as well as a few that are best to avoid altogether.
1. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and for good reason. Although they were originally bred and used as gundogs, you are unlikely to meet a more gentle, loving, and even-tempered pooch. They are notoriously easy to train, have been widely used for search and rescue, and are frequent winners in obedience events. All of this and their low prey drive make them an ideal rabbit-friendly family companion.
2. Labrador Retriever
Another popular family companion both in the U.S. and around the world, Labrador Retrievers are renowned for their loyalty, patience, intelligence, and low-prey drive. They were bred as reliable working dogs and loyal companions, and as such, they have a long history of being close to their owner’s side. They get along famously with children, strangers, other dogs, and of course, rabbits.
The sprightly little Maltese is the quintessential lapdog, a gentle yet fearless pooch that loves to please their owners. They are highly adaptable and graceful dogs that generally do not mind sharing their homes with other family pets, including rabbits. They can become possessive of their owners at times, but with early socialization, they will soon see your rabbits as an important addition to the family.
4. Coton de Tulear
These intelligent balls of soft fur are famous for their cotton-like coats, earning them their name. Their personality is just as soft and gentle as their coats, and they generally get along great with other animals. They are highly adaptable and low-maintenance pooches that are happy as long as they are near their beloved owners, and your rabbits are safe with these gentle lapdogs.
The muscular and courageous Boxer may seem like an unlikely breed for this list, but underneath all those wrinkles and intimidating appearance lies a sweet, gentle, and unwaveringly loyal dog. They are sweet dogs that get along well with children and other pets, including rabbits. One caveat to bear in mind is that these dogs require a great deal of exercise, without which they may get up to mischief that may involve your rabbits!
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Although Spaniels have a somewhat sporty history, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred as a loyal companion and has dutifully fulfilled the role. They are active and high energy dogs when they feel so inclined but are more content to spend hours cuddled on their owner’s lap. Indeed, it is this friendless, loyalty, and innate desire to please that with good training and socialization make this a great breed to have alongside rabbits or any other pets.
7. Bichon Frise
The friendly and sociable Bichon Frise is about as sweet and good-natured as they come. A prototypical toy breed, these dogs love to be around their owners and get along great with almost everyone, including kids. This sociable nature extends to other pets too, and your rabbits are not only safe with these dogs, but they will likely become the best of friends.
8. Great Pyrenees
Another seemingly unlikely addition to this list, the Great Pyrenees is a powerful working dog hailing from the Pyrenees mountains. They truly are gentle giants and are gentle and loving with both children and other animals. While they can be protective at times, they are generally as good-natured and composed as they come, and with good training, they pose no threat to your rabbits.
9. Japanese Chin
Bred solely as a companion dog, the Japanese Chin is a lapdog through and through. Some estimates date this breed as far back as 1,000 years, so they’ve had a ton of practice being loyal and gentle companions. They are highly affectionate and loving animals, and provided that they are properly socialized, they get along great with other animals.
10. Bernese Mountain Dog
These large and powerful dogs originated in Switzerland and were used to pull carts and herd cattle in the icy Swiss Alps. While they may appear intimidating, they are in reality, gentle giants that have a long history working closely with humans, and consequently, they are obedient and easy to train. They are friendly dogs that get along well with children and other pets.
11. Australian Shepherd
Despite the misleading name, Australian Shepherds were developed in the U.S. as herding dogs. They are highly intelligent and easy to train, and their affectionate and loyal nature makes them ideal family pets. They get along great with other family pets but require a great deal of regular exercise to keep them out of mischief.
12. Basset Hound
Hounds have a long history of sniffing out prey with their powerful noses, but the Basset Hound is unique among Hound breeds in that they are sweet and easy-going. They are adaptable and relaxed dogs that generally can’t be bothered with chasing rabbits or any other small animal, provided that they are socialized early. Despite their hunting history, they have a low prey drive.
13. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is a U.S.A. original that was originally bred as a fighting dog, but today, they are a popular and gentle companion animal. They are affectionate dogs that get along well with children and other family pets alike, provided that they are well-trained. Bear in mind that they have a great deal of energy and will require regular exercise to keep them from misbehaving.
Known as the clowns of the canine world, Pugs are sure to keep you entertained with their comical natures and lively personalities. They were originally bred with the express purpose of being loving lapdogs and as such, thrive on human interaction. While they can be headstrong and stubborn at times and thus, difficult to train, they generally get along great with other animals and are rarely aggressive.
Although Bulldogs seem like large and intimidating animals on the outside, they are rarely aggressive toward other animals and have a low prey drive. They are kind, courageous, and dignified animals that have a stubborn streak, yet they have infinite patience with children and family pets. In fact, they are well known for forming strong bonds with children, and with good training, they will likely be fine with rabbits.
Breeds to Stay Away from If You Have Rabbits
While some dogs, even those with a hunting history, can get along fine with other pets like rabbits or at least be trained to leave them alone, some breeds are unlikely to be able to resist the temptation. These include but are not limited to:
If you keep rabbits and are looking to add a canine friend to your animal family, it’s a good idea to consider one of the breeds on this list to make sure your long-eared friends stay safe! Of course, no matter the breed you choose, good training and early socialization is vital for a harmonious household.
Featured Image Credit: Nalaphotos, Shutterstock
- 1. Golden Retriever
- 2. Labrador Retriever
- 3. Maltese
- 4. Coton de Tulear
- 5. Boxer
- 6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- 7. Bichon Frise
- 8. Great Pyrenees
- 9. Japanese Chin
- 10. Bernese Mountain Dog
- 11. Australian Shepherd
- 12. Basset Hound
- 13. Boston Terrier
- 14. Pug
- 15. Bulldog
- Breeds to Stay Away from If You Have Rabbits
- Final Thoughts