We all know that most dogs love to chase small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, cats, and chickens. It’s their natural instinct, especially for dogs with high prey drive.
However, there are dogs who were born with a low-prey drive, thus they get along well with small animals.
There are also dogs who were bred to protect other animals, including livestock. These types of dogs, known as “livestock guard dogs,” bring no harm and are friendly to chickens, goats, ducks, and sheep.
Choosing the right kind of dog is the key to getting the safety and security that you want for your chickens.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
1. Old English Sheepdog
The first on our list is a livestock guard dog with no known prey drive and little to no aggression. The Old English Sheepdog is large enough to protect you and your poultry from threats, and friendly enough to get along with smaller animals.
Aside from being a livestock guard dog, the Old English Sheepdog also makes a great family dog and protector of children. They are attentive, obedient, and loyal, although they will need early socialization and training to be well-rounded dogs.
However, because they have shaggy fur, this breed needs regular grooming. They are also known to be athletic, so they require daily exercise.
Although maintaining them requires a lot of effort, they can surely do the job of protecting not only your chickens but also you and your family.
2. Japanese Chin
Similar to the Maltese and Chihuahua, the Japanese Chin is a dog that’s primarily bred to be a companion. Friendly and intelligent, this breed is suitable even for novice owners. They are not very energetic and are more than happy to sit on their owner’s lap.
With their low prey drive, the Japanese Chin is safe to live with chickens. Although they can be playful, they know their limitations and would not be aggressive towards chickens or other animals in the house.
However, they are not the dog that can protect your livestock from predators. While they could play outside with chickens, the Japanese
Chin should not stay for too long since being a flat-faced dog, this breed is prone to overheating. Make sure they have access to shade and fresh water whenever they go outside.
Coming from Turkey, the Akbash is famous among farmers as a livestock guard dog. This breed is not known to harm you, or your chickens and other animals in the barn.
Friendly and intelligent, this breed should be trained while they’re still young. Although training might take some patience and effort, the Akbash make excellent guard dogs.
Not only that, but they are also suitable as family companions, thanks to them being affectionate and loving to their family, including kids. However, they tend to be wary and aloof towards visitors, unless properly introduced by their owner.
The Akbash does not require a high amount of exercise, and would be happy with short walks and simple play sessions.
Being independent dogs, this breed can tolerate being home alone, although they should be given a job to do in order for them to not get bored.
4. Maremma Sheepdog
With their large bodies and gentle personality, the Maremma Sheepdog is often considered as a gentle giant. Not only are they good at playing with smaller animals, including chickens, this breed is also popular as a livestock guard.
One thing to keep in mind is that because they are large dogs, you’ll need enough room for them to live comfortably. They also shed a lot, so expect to do a lot of regular grooming.
Also, this breed tends to be strong-willed and independent, so consistency and patience in training is very important.
Once trained, you can trust this dog to protect your livestock from predators, such as bears and wolves even without your guidance.
Also nicknamed as the “giant mop” due to their white, curly and matted fur, the Komondor is a large livestock guard that’s known for being friendly, even to smaller animals.
While they can be playful, you can be sure that your chickens are safe with this breed. However, they can be overprotective and they may harm visitors or strangers.
For this reason, they must be properly trained and exposed to various sights, sounds, people, and environments during their puppyhood.
A low-shedding dog with a low prey drive, the Maltese is suitable for allergy sufferers with other animals in the house, including chickens. But because they are small and friendly, this breed is not the type to scare off huge predators.
Instead, they are perfect for homes with small backyard farms or homesteads. Instead of guarding your home, this breed would happily spend time with you.
With that being said, you might need to pick a large livestock guard dog if you want one that is capable of protecting you and your farm.
7. Pyrenean Mastiff
Known for their great strength and loyalty to people and animals they consider as a family, the Pyrenean Mastiff is a large dog that can be highly trusted when it comes to protecting not only you, but your livestock as well.
They are very powerful, but would not use it against chickens and other smaller animals, rather, they’ll use it to defend your livestock from predators.
However, training and socializing Pyrenean Mastiff should start while they are still young in order for them to enhance their intelligence and grow to be a well-rounded dog.
Coming from Hungary, the Kuvasz was once used as a royal guard dog, making them very attentive and excellent in sensing the energy around them. For this reason, this breed will know if there’s a threat to animals that they are tasked to protect.
Towards other animals in the house, this breed is friendly, playful, and protective. They are also excellent for poultry, and would be more than happy to spend time outside with other animals, including chickens.
Although they are intelligent, this breed tends to be independent, thus making training extra challenging. Therefore, consistency and patience are the keys to properly train the Kuvasz.
Also, keep in mind that this breed is highly energetic, which means that they would require lots of outdoor activities and exercise in order to stay healthy and happy.
9. Bichon Frise
A fun-loving, affectionate, and friendly dog, the Bichon Frise completes our list for this article. Although they do not make excellent guard dogs, this breed’s friendliness extends up to the other animals in the house, including your livestock.
Not only do they get along well with anyone, but this breed is also good for novice owners.
However, they thrive in spending time with their family, therefore should not be left alone for long periods of time. Because they are small and white in color, this breed should not stay outside for too long, or they’ll get dirty easily.
Another good thing about this breed is that they don’t drool and shed a lot, making them suitable for allergy sufferers.
Can chickens and dogs live together?
Depending on the dog breed, chickens and dogs may, or may not live together. As mentioned earlier, dogs with a high prey drive tend to chase and harm chickens.
Meanwhile, dogs with low prey drive, such as livestock guard dogs, are suitable to live with chickens since they are friendly towards them. Moreover, livestock guard dogs will protect chickens and other livestock from predators.
What makes a dog kill chickens?
While most dogs would want to chase and play with chickens, they may accidentally bring harm by frightening these feathered animals, causing a heart attack, and possibly broken bones while playing.
There are also dogs who were born to hunt, and therefore have a higher prey drive compared to other dogs. These types of dogs tend to chase after chickens and other smaller animals since this is what they were bred for.
So, can you teach dogs not to kill chickens?
If you happen to see your dog killing a chicken, immediately separate him from the other chickens. However, never punish them for something that they’re supposed to do because of their natural instincts.
Instead, find a trainer or an expert that could help train your dog to lessen his hunting instinct, as well as advise you with what to do to help your dog.
Also, make sure that your dog is healthy and happy by giving him ample amounts of exercise, proper diet, and lots of attention. Remember, a bored dog tends to develop unwanted behaviors, and that includes chasing and killing your chickens.
It’s also a good idea to introduce your dog to other animals first before leaving them alone without supervision. This way, you’re confident that no trouble will start between them.
And that ends our article for today. If you find this helpful, feel free to share it with your family and friends!