All dogs need to be trained not to chase and kill chickens. Merely 'growing up with them' will not do the trick. It is possible, that with some dogs, being raised around chickens will cause them to be less tuned into their 'lunchness', but it is not something I would ever, ever depend on. Not if I liked my chickens.
Edited by welsummerchicks - 12/9/10 at 9:38am
The lightbulb will come on, at some point, and the untrained dog, whatever its breed, will some day realize, that is lunch, and it tastes just like chicken.
Dogs not acting like dogs is about training the dog. Chasing fluttering animals is an instinct. Some dogs need more work on it than others, but they all need to be trained.
That said, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamute dogs and Samoyed dogs(some people call them all 'huskies'), all pulled sleds originally, but they all, also were used for hunting, and were selected for being alert to those little fluttering motions.
Some people say Siberian Huskies have especially strong hunting instincts. That doesn't mean they can't be trained, but it does mean 'it's in there'. There have been several recent threads with people weighing in on the Siberian breed, as being particularly active, excitable, strong willed, and eager to hunt.
It is a breed I see rather often in shelters and rescues, especially considering that they aren't huge in numbers. I think they are 'too much dog' for many people. It's not just the hunting, it's the high energy, stong willed, sharp personality.
A sled dog racer once told me a summary of the temperaments of the 3 husky breeds - 'The malamutes will all start fighting the second you say, 'giddy up', the Samoyeds will smile, and start trotting, and trot until they get very slightly warm, at which point they will sit down, smile, and refuse to go any further. The Siberians, on the other hand, will be barking from the moment they wake up, will bark the entire time you harness, and will be flying the second you take the brake off, and will continue barking madly as they run you right off the edge of a cliff'.
I did look at all 3 breeds at several racing breeder's places before I chose. The Siberian pups started barking the second they were born, and never stopped, according to the breeder. In the puppy kennels, they were the ones that were yapping, howling, barnking, constantly. The Samoyeds were sitting there smiling, looking like little angels. They weren't, but they sure looked it.
Or as others say, 'It needs a job. If you don't GIVE it a job, it will find a job on its own, which you don't want'.
As a generalization, I'd say all the husky type breeds, all are better off in homes with very active, high energy, dominant, involved, and obedience-conscious owners. But I'd also say that there isnot a dog breed in the world, that is 'good with chickens', unless the owner supervises, trains the dog and confines his chickens appropriately.
I would suggest an American Eskimo Spitz, or a Shiba Inu, if the family likes the look of the nordic breeds. Those two are smaller dogs, and easier to handle than the bigger dog. No dog is free of hunting instinct, though. Training, training, training.