Best Dog Breeds For Cats

By Roxi & Huck •  Updated: 03/15/24 •  18 min read

Many people understand that dogs and cats have different personalities. The key to making them live together happily is to find breeds of dogs that can get along well with cats.

Key Takeaways for Best Dog Breeds For Cats

One of the biggest differences between dogs and cats is their approach to territory. Dogs often like to claim and protect their space, while cats are more flexible and can adapt to shared spaces.

This means that some dog breeds are better suited to cohabitating with cats because they’re less territorial.

When it comes to creating a home where both cats and dogs can live in harmony, the choice of dog breed can make a world of difference. Not all dogs are built the same, and some have temperaments that make them better suited for life with a cat.

Finding the Best Dog Breeds For Cats

Woman in her family room holding her new puppy sitting next to her two cats - best dog breeds for catsMost Labrador Retrievers, for instance, are easygoing. Only if they’re not properly trained can they cause issues.

We’re not saying you can just throw a Labrador and a cat in a room and expect them to be best buddies. If you do that, you might end up with a chaotic scene.

If you want them to get along, you should introduce them slowly and in a controlled environment. This is because both animals need to feel safe and comfortable in each other’s presence before they can become friends.

However, the seemingly counterintuitive method of letting them sniff each other’s scent before meeting face-to-face works better than the prevailing tradition of just throwing them together.

The way you introduce them matters. Then, with time and patience, they can become good pals.

Try giving them treats when they’re near each other to make the introduction smoother. This makes them associate positive things with each other’s presence.

Also, providing separate spaces for each pet is beneficial. It makes them feel like they have their own territory. This is important for both the cat and the dog.

Understanding Your Cat’s Needs

Before you consider bringing a dog into a home with a cat, it’s essential to assess your cat’s temperament. Some cats may be more social and adaptable, while others are solitary and may not appreciate a canine companion. Another important thing is to set up spaces where your cat can escape if it feels overwhelmed.

Consider your cat’s age, energy level, and history with other animals. This will help you choose a dog breed that matches or balances your cat’s personality.

For instance, a high-energy cat might appreciate a playful dog, while a more reserved cat might prefer a calm and non-intrusive dog. Additionally, think about the physical space in your home and whether you can provide separate areas if needed, especially during the initial introduction period.

Characteristics of a Good Dog Companion

The best dog breeds for cats typically share certain traits that make them more likely to live peacefully with cats.  It’s not just about the breed; individual personality and past experiences with cats can also play a significant role. These characteristics include:

Remember, while certain breeds may have a reputation for being good with cats, each dog is an individual. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the specific dog’s history and behavior as well.

It’s important to understand that your pets may not become best friends overnight. Building a strong bond between them takes time and effort. But with patience and the right approach, it’s definitely possible.

Best Dog Breeds For Cat Owners

Now, let’s explore some of the best dog breeds known to get along well with cats. Each breed has been chosen for its typical temperament and behavior that align with peaceful cohabitation with cats.

1. Golden Retriever: The Friendly Companion

Golden Retriever facing you sitting outsideThe golden retriever is one of the best dog breeds known for its compatibility with cats. Its gentle and friendly nature makes it a great companion for cats. Golden Retrievers are often described as “people pleasers,” which means they’re eager to make friends with everyone, including your cat.

This gentle demeanor makes them a top choice for families with cats. Their intelligence also means they can be trained to respect a cat’s space and coexist happily.

However, because they are larger and quite playful, it’s important to supervise initial interactions with cats, especially if the cat isn’t used to being around dogs.

Over time, with proper introductions, Goldens can become a cat’s loyal and loving friend.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that Golden Retrievers are among the least aggressive dog breeds, which can indicate their potential to get along with cats.

2. Labrador Retriever: The Easy-Going Playmate

Black Labrador Retriever outside standing in a grass field.Labrador Retrievers are another breed that often does well with cats. They are easy-going and have a reputation for being good-natured. Labs are social animals that thrive on companionship, whether it’s with humans or other pets.

According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador Retrievers have topped the list of America’s most popular dog breeds for many years, partly due to their adaptability and friendly disposition.

Their adaptability means they can often adjust their play to be more gentle with smaller animals like cats. Proper socialization and training are still important, but Labs have a good starting point for becoming part of a multi-pet family.

3. Beagle: The Gentle Sniffer

Head of a beagle looking at you on a white background.Another breed that can easily cohabitate with cats is the Beagle. Beagles are sociable and have a playful nature, which can help them get along well with cats.

Their smaller size makes them less intimidating to cats, allowing smoother introductions. When socialized properly, they tend to be gentle.

Beagles, with their even-tempered and amiable nature, are often excellent companions for cats.

Beagles are curious and have a strong sense of smell, which might lead them to be interested in other animal housemates, but they are usually more intent on exploring than chasing.

It’s worth noting that Beagles were originally bred for hunting, so it’s crucial to ensure that they are trained from a young age to interact appropriately with cats. With their friendly disposition and love for companionship, Beagles can be a great addition to a home with cats, provided they are given the right guidance.

4. Poodle: The Intelligent Partner

Standard Poodle head facing you.Poodles come in various sizes, but regardless of whether you choose a Standard, Miniature, or Toy Poodle, you’ll find a smart and trainable companion.

Poodles are known for their intelligence, which makes them highly responsive to training – a huge plus when introducing them to a home with cats.

Their sociable nature means they are less likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors towards cats.

Poodles’ adaptable personality means they can learn to respect a cat’s boundaries, making them an excellent choice for a harmonious pet household.

Their hypoallergenic coats can be a bonus for homes concerned about allergies.

5. Boxer: The Energetic Buddy

Boxer running towards you joyfully in a city park.Boxers are playful and energetic but also have a protective instinct that can make them surprisingly gentle with smaller animals, like cats.

Boxers are affectionate and loyal, and when introduced properly, they can form strong bonds with cats.

However, due to their boisterous nature, it’s important to supervise early interactions between boxers and cats.

With consistent training and positive reinforcement, Boxers can learn to behave appropriately around their more delicate housemates.

6. Bulldog: The Laid-Back Pal

Cute Bulldog resting in the family room looking up at MomBulldogs are the epitome of a laid-back companion.

Their relaxed demeanor makes them less likely to harass or stress out a cat.

They are not particularly high-energy, which means they’re often content to lounge around the house, a trait that can suit cats’ independent nature.

That being said, Bulldogs still enjoy playtime and can engage in gentle play with a willing cat.

Their sturdy build and calm temperament can make them a stable and predictable friend for your feline.

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: The Affectionate Cohabitant

Cavalier king charles spaniel dog sitting in the grass looking at you.If you’re looking for a smaller breed, consider the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

These dogs are known for their affectionate and gentle disposition, making them ideal companions for cats and other household animals.

Their calm demeanor and willingness to please make them excellent candidates for cohabitation.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a breed that exudes affection and loves companionship, making it a great match for cats who appreciate a little extra warmth.

They are small enough not to be intimidating and have a playful and respectful demeanor. Proper introductions can lead to a loving relationship between a Cavalier and a cat, as they are both creatures that value comfort and affection.

8. Bichon Frise: The Cheerful Friend

Bichon Frise sitting looking at MomBichon Frises are small, cheerful dogs that love to play and have a friendly disposition.

Their size and playful nature can be a good match for cats, especially if the cat is accustomed to social interactions.

Bichons are also known for their patience, which can be beneficial when getting used to a new feline friend.

These fluffy companions do require regular grooming, but their need for interaction and mental stimulation can make them a lively and engaging partner for a cat with a similar personality.

9. Great Dane: The Peaceful Giant

Great Dane standing Nobley in a park Despite their imposing size, Great Danes are often gentle giants and can be surprisingly good companions for cats.

They are typically calm and composed, which can be reassuring for a cat.

Great Danes are not overly energetic, which means they are less likely to engage in rough play that could frighten or harm a cat.

Proper introductions and socialization allow a Great Dane to learn to be mindful of their size and strength around smaller animals, leading to a peaceful coexistence with a cat.

10. Pug: The Amiable Clown

Cute Pug laying on a green dog bedPugs are known for their comical personality and love of human companionship, but they also tend to get along well with other animals, including cats.

Their small size and playful nature can make them an excellent playmate for cats, particularly if the cat enjoys interactive play.

Pugs tend to become couch potatoes, which can suit older cats or those with a more sedentary lifestyle.

However, as long as they’re introduced thoughtfully and respectfully, pugs can become fast friends with their feline counterparts.

The Best of The Other Cat-Friendly Dog Breeds

While compatibility can vary depending on the individual dog’s temperament and socialization, these breeds are generally described as gentle, laid-back, and sociable. They have a lower prey drive and are more adaptable to living with cats. These breeds include:

As noted throughout this guide, always introduce them slowly and with supervision. Individual temperament and proper introductions play a significant role in the success of dog-cat relationships.

Preparing Your Cat for a New Dog

Bringing a new dog into your home is exciting, but preparing your cat for the new arrival is essential. Cats are creatures of habit and may not initially appreciate the disruption to their routine.

It’s also wise to gather any of the dog’s scent beforehand, like a blanket or toy, and allow your cat to investigate it. This can help make the dog’s actual arrival less of a shock to your cat’s system.

Keeping your pets mentally and physically stimulated can help prevent boredom and reduce the likelihood of conflicts.

Creating Safe Spaces for Your Cat

Start by ensuring your cat has a safe, dog-free zone to retreat to. This space should include all of their essentials: food, water, a litter box, toys, scratching posts, and a comfortable resting area.

Ensure these areas are off-limits to the dog. You might use baby gates or keep certain doors closed to maintain these boundaries. The goal is to let your cat decide when and how they want to interact with the new dog on their own terms.

Cats also need a safe place in the main living area where they can feel secure and in control. This means access to high perches or enclosed spaces where they can observe without being bothered. These safe spaces are critical, especially in the early days of introducing a new dog to your home.

Gradual Dog Introduction Techniques

Great Dane playing in family room with the family catSlow and steady wins the race when introducing your cat to a new dog. Start by keeping them separated, allowing them to get used to each other’s presence without direct contact.

Exchange their bedding or toys to mingle their scents.

Gradually introduce them through a gate or a crack in the door, always supervising their interactions.

Never force a face-to-face meeting; let both animals set the pace. Reward calm and curious behavior with treats and praise to reinforce positive associations.

Fostering Positive Interactions Between Pets

Once your cat and dog have been properly introduced, the next step is to foster positive interactions. Encourage playtime under supervision, and watch for signs of stress or aggression.

If either pet seems overwhelmed, give them a break and try again later. Use treats and praise to reward good behavior, and ensure both pets get equal attention to prevent jealousy.

Sustaining a Harmonious Multi-Pet Household

Maintaining a peaceful home where dogs and cats live together requires ongoing effort. You’ll need to be observant and proactive, always ready to step in and mediate if tensions rise. It’s also important to ensure that each pet has its own space and resources, like separate beds, toys, and feeding areas. This helps to minimize competition and encourages a sense of security for both your cat and dog.

Regular play sessions and exercise are vital for your dog, as a tired dog is typically calm. Engaging your dog in activities that stimulate its mind and body will help keep it relaxed around your cat.

And remember, never leave your pets unsupervised until you are certain they are comfortable with each other.

Monitoring and Adjusting for Pet Compatibility

Even after your cat and dog seem to be getting along, it’s important to continue monitoring their interactions. Look for subtle body language or behavior changes that might indicate discomfort or anxiety.

If you notice any negative changes, you may need to revisit some of the introduction techniques or provide additional training and socialization.

Adjustments may also be necessary as your pets age or if there are changes in the household. Keep an eye on their dynamics and be prepared to step in and smooth things over whenever necessary. This ongoing vigilance is the key to a long and happy life together for your four-legged family members.

Continued Socialization and Interaction Guidelines

Continued socialization is crucial for keeping the peace between your dog and cat.

Cat and family Beagle playing while mom watches while sitting on living room floorExpose your dog to other cats and animals in controlled environments, and invite people to your home to help your dog adjust to various situations. This will help your dog to be more relaxed at home and less likely to react negatively to your cat or other unexpected situations.

Interaction guidelines are also important. Set rules for playtime and enforce them consistently.

If either pet gets too rough or seems uncomfortable, end the play session immediately. This will teach both your cat and dog that safety and respect are non-negotiable in your home.

F.A.Q.

How long does it take for a dog and a cat to get along?

Sometimes, it takes a while for pets to get used to each other. So, be patient and take your time when introducing a new dog to your cat or the other way around. Rushing things can make them scared or stressed.

Just go slow and steady, and they’ll figure things out in their own time.

The time it takes for a dog and a cat to get along can vary depending on their individual personalities and the efforts put into their introduction. It could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or even months.

Patience is key when introducing a new dog to your cat or vice versa. They may need time to adjust to each other’s presence and establish a comfortable dynamic.

Be patient, consistent, and supportive throughout the process, and don’t rush their interactions. They can learn to coexist peacefully and develop a strong bond with time and patience.

What if my dog is aggressive towards my cat?

If your dog shows aggression towards your cat, it’s crucial to seek the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to address the issue. Never leave them unsupervised until the behavior is resolved.

Monitoring your pets’ body language and behavior is important for understanding how they’re feeling. This means paying attention to their ears, tail, and overall demeanor. It’s a sign that they might need some space or time apart if they seem tense or agitated.

Should I punish my dog if they show aggression towards my cat?

Punishing your dog for showing aggression towards your cat can worsen the situation and create fear or anxiety. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement techniques and seek professional guidance.

What if my cat is aggressive towards my dog?

If your cat shows aggression towards your dog, creating separate spaces for each pet and giving them time to adjust to each other’s presence is essential. Consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for further guidance.

Should I intervene if my dog and cat play rough?

While some rough play between pets is normal, monitoring their interactions closely is essential to ensure that it doesn’t escalate into aggression. If you’re concerned, separate them and redirect their focus onto more appropriate forms of play.

Can older dogs learn to get along with cats?

Yes, older dogs can learn to get along with cats, but it may take more time and patience compared to younger dogs. Slow introductions and positive reinforcement techniques can help facilitate the process of building a relationship between them.

What if my dog chases my cat?

If your dog chases your cat, it’s crucial to address this behavior through training and positive reinforcement. Teach your dog alternative behaviors, such as sitting or staying, and reward them for ignoring the cat or responding to your commands.

How can I prevent jealousy between my dog and cat?

Give each pet individual attention and affection to prevent jealousy between your dog and cat. Provide separate feeding areas and ensure that each pet has its own space to retreat to when needed. Gradually introduce changes or new additions to the household to minimize stress and jealousy.

What dog breeds are least likely to cohabitate with cats peacefully?

This list provides a general overview, and individual temperaments can vary within each breed. These dog breeds may have a higher prey drive or a tendency to not get along well with cats. This list is not inclusive.

If you have cats and want a dog that is on this list, you may be able to get them to coexist peacefully with cats. The key is proper socialization, training, and matching temperaments.

What cat breeds should cohabitate peacefully with dogs?

Some cat breeds, like the Maine Coon and Ragdoll, are known for their laid-back and sociable nature, which can make them more tolerant of dogs. However, individual personality is more important than breed, so it’s essential to consider your cat’s character and past experiences with dogs. Dog-friendly cat breeds include:

Cat Breeds where you have a 50/50 chance:

What cat breeds probably won’t cohabitate peacefully with dogs?

It’s important to remember that this list provides a general overview, and exceptions exist. Not all cats within a breed are the same. Some may have a lower prey drive or be more adaptable than others. While challenging, introducing cats to dogs during their formative stages can increase their chances of tolerating each other. Cats that tend to be more challenging to mix with dogs include:

Roxi & Huck

Hello, we're Roxi and Huck. Our passion lies in researching and understanding the compatibility between various dog breeds, both purebred and mixed, and the lifestyles and housing situations of potential owners. We work alongside Mom and Dad to uncover insights that facilitate ideal matches between dogs and their human companions.