10 of the Best Dog Breeds for Families With Cats
Friendship doesn't always come easily to a finicky feline, especially when the potential pal in question is a drooling dog eager to explore his new home and get up close and personal with his more reserved roomie. Unfortunately, not every home will be a harmonious fit for Fluffy and Fido, but dual dog/cat lovers need not fret. Cat owners wishing to add a dog to their home just have to be willing to put in the time to find a cat-friendly dog for their existing feline family member. The best dogs for cats are those with relatively relaxed personalities and a willingness to learn desired behaviors from their owners.
"The personality traits which help dogs get along well with cats include gentle nature, low energy, low prey drive, low drive to chase, trainability, easily motivated with food (this helps pet parents train the dog to be calm around the cat), and low drive to bark," says Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB, board-certified veterinary behaviorist at Florida Veterinary Behavior Service.
Though every dog and cat is different, the best dog breeds for cats on our list tend to display many of the desired traits to fit right in with even the fussiest of felines.
The golden child of many pet parents, golden retrievers are one of the first family-friendly dog breeds to come to mind, and their gentle good nature extends to other members of the animal kingdom, as well. Eager to please their owners, goldens are easy to train and are typically accepting of fellow pets in the home—in fact, these good boys and girls may go out of their way to befriend the family cat and initiate playtime if their new playmate allows. Be ready to capture sweet moments on camera!
Topping the American Kennel Club's list of most popular dog breeds since 1991, the loveable Labrador retriever is an adored family pet happy to frolic around and expend some of their boundless energy with children. They don't have a mean-spirited bone in their body (did someone say bone!?) and are a great cat-friendly dog breed to potentially bond with the resident cat.
With their crinkly faces and curlicue tails, the charismatic pug can charm the socks off just about anyone, so don't count out the family cat. Like their cat counterparts, pugs have a penchant for warming laps and prefer a lackadaisical lifestyle being doted on by their owners. Similar in size as well, weighing as few as 14 pounds, pugs and cats have a lot in common and can enjoy the same slow pace catching z's during day-to-day life. Just make sure there's enough of your lap to go around!
Don't let their meaty muscles and mean mugs fool you—bulldogs are as goofy as they are girthy. While many a bulldog mascot has faced off against a "panther" or "wildcat" on the court or field, bulldogs have no beef with cats outside the realm of sports and could make a compatible companion for your kitty, as well as children in the home.
The basset hound's prized sniffers have found many a basset pup hot on a scent trail, but cat owners don't need to worry about their cat becoming a part of the hunt. Basset hounds generally prefer the company of other dogs and cats to being left alone. Since their attention is so dictated by the scents they pick up, they're a slower breed to train but with patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement will eventually catch on.
Another scent hound, beagles love the companionship of a pack. "They are happiest when they can live and be an active part of their family's lives," according to the National Beagle Club of America. These pups definitely don't like to be left alone (no more than 4 to 5 hours a day) so a cat in the home can be the perfect companion to help keep them company during the times you can't be at home with them.
Fanciful felines will appreciate the Boston terrier's tendency to dress to the nines. Those trademark tuxedo coats ensure they are best-dressed anywhere they go, but underneath all that sophistication is a silly side that doesn't stay hidden for long. Boston terriers are social butterflies known to stay close to their owner's side and don't seem to mind if other furry friends are also along for the ride.
Comparable to a cloud or perhaps a polar bear, the fluffy, large-and-in-charge Great Pyrenees is often independent and aloof, two personality traits cat lovers are more than familiar with. Great Pyrenees dogs enjoy quiet time to explore and are happiest in homes with a large fenced-in yard, allowing free time to roam. Despite their large size, Great Pyrenees are generally documented gentle giants when it comes to their interactions with felines in the family.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Though your proud cat might protest having real royalty in the house, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel fits into almost any family, known for his ability to adapt to a variety of different lifestyles. For seniors with cats, the Cavalier King Charles can adjust to a relaxed lifestyle and is comfortable as a couch potato. However, for active families, they are always eager to join in the fun for a game of fetch or chase. Amenable to apartment life but able to appreciate a private fenced-in yard, there really is no limit to the Cavalier King Charles' flexibility, so long as he has his favorite people by his side.
If your cat enjoys being in charge, the petite Pomeranian is a poofball weighing no more than 7 pounds—he poses little threat to your cat's kingdom. In fact, the Pom's sassy streak may align with your cat's own superiority complex, and the two would be the perfect pair to keep you on your toes. And they sure would look cute doing so!
How to Find the Best Dog for Your Cat
While these beloved breeds are certainly a place to start, Radosta emphasizes each individual dog is different, and it's possible for any dog to get along with the household cat, if owners do their due diligence.
"When pet parents are searching for a new dog, they should inquire whether the dog has lived with or currently lives with any cats, or if the dog has been introduced to any cats at the breeder or rescue facility," says Alison Gerken, DVM, clinical behavior medicine resident at Florida Veterinary Behavior Service. "If the dog has a history of being aggressive toward, chasing, picking up, or fixating on cats, then the dog is probably not suitable for a home with a cat."
You know your cat better than anyone, so trust your instincts as to what she can handle.
"Much like human beings, no two dogs or cats are alike," Radosta says. "Search for the right personality regardless of the breed or mix of breeds and then teach your pets to get along."
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