I was going to post this under the "breed rating" thread but decided it was way off topic and should have it's own spot. Something I've noticed is that it doesn't have anything to do with a specific breed. The Chickens set themselves up for failure, exspecially when they are raised with dogs from chicks. They completely trust the dogs. Even my "idiot" birds don't bat an eyeball when Ricca jumps at the fence to make them fly, they quit doing it, and she got bored again with them. Regardless of the breed, the chickens still act the same. It's the mind of the dog and the training level that will either keep these dumb birds safe or not. The chickens have no fear of "flock" dogs, same as their flock "people". So whehn they act like chickens, wing flapping, making "squeeze me!" noises, and looking like prey, a dog (think happy boxer for example) will feel prompted to play. That play then turns to prey as the excitement level increases. Chickens are fragile, dogs are not... dead chicken and possible killing spree of the "perfect" dog because they are, after all, dogs who live off instinct more than anything. This is why EXTENSIVE training is needed, where the training is so deep, it over rides the instincts. I've had 2 dogs like that, where I really put the time in, the Cattle Dog and one of the German Shepherds. The Cattle Dog took 2 years from starting as a puppy to going through the bullheaded "teenager" time, but at the end she could chase/herd with specific directions, almost like having a remote, in addition to advanced obedience and tricks. If I said Stay, she would, no matter where I went, what was around... she stayed. If she was running full blast after a coon she saw in the woods, I could yell "Down" and she would slam on the breaks. Or send a whistle, and she'd turn and come back either left or right, depending on the whistle I used. The Shepherd, different type of training, same result in being pushbutton. These two were 100% chicken safe because they lived to do what I said... if I didn't say they could do it, it was off limits. Some dogs though, maybe 1 in 1,000 or so... don't need training. They're so "stupidly" loyal you only have to tell them once. Again, it falls across any breed, but it's more likely in "Non-Sporting" types who's prey drive has been bred out for the most part. I don't know chickens through and through like I do dogs, I've only had chickens for a combined total of 4 years, but dogs... I've always had atleast 2, usually 3-5, all different types. I've read so many training books my brain all but exploded. I used to show/train Italian Greyhounds and Shepherds, and anything else I owned I trained to various degrees. I did it when my husband was stationed in Germany, found the local Schutzhund training club and hung around with them to learn the German style and brought two Shepherds back with me. The first Rescue case I got tried to attack me at the "No Dumping" sign he was guarding. Starved to death and awful Shepherd mix. After about 3 months his food aggression was gone, dog aggression gone... though he still had it out for the mailman. Chicken tolerant too. But he was loyal, sweet, complete turn around from when I found him. I've had several more rescues since him, all sane enough to be rehomed into a "normal" dog family. I expect a lot from my dogs, and I don't expect anything from my chickens. The dogs had better leave them alone, and you can tell through body language if they're going to or not. It's never safe to assume a dog will not play/chase/kill a chicken when you aren't there. A Dog that perks the ears up to look at the chickens... that's intent, focus, that's attention the dog is showing them that could end very badly. You don't want focus on the chickens, of any sort. It leads to play or worse. In about 2 seconds that dog will drop down in play, paw at the fence or chicken itself, whine, or bark. Stop the focus of the dog, change the direction, BEFORE the next move happens. Keep the excitment level at 0% if you can. Don't baby talk the dog to the chickens... the dog knows good things happen when you use that voice. What good will come of this human baby-talking with dog and chickens? Are they a treat? Are they a new toy? Isn't this exciting? What's going to happen? Thinks the dog. It builds anticipation and excitement, that leads no where, because you're not going to let the dog "hold" a chicken or play with it. It's ok to do with children, but not dogs. "Look at the cute wittle chickie Rufus"... translates to the dog as "Ok, what can I do with it? Are you giving me permission to do something with it?". The very best thing you can do when introducing the dog to the new chicks is to not be "nice" at all. No slack, you want those chickens alive and the dog behaving. Tell the dog to sit. If the dog doesn't sit on command... you're going to have to save the chicken introduction for another day and focus on basic obedience... Sit, Stay, Down, Come, and DROP IT. That's all a dog really needs to know. "No" is not a command, BTW, but it's turned into a catch-all phrase of anything a dog is doing that's wrong. Too much use of "No" spoils the confidence of a submissive dog, and the lack of direction in the "No" word keeps the bad dog bad. You never told the bad dog what to do instead. If your dog can sit, AND stay, hold the chick in your hand. This will grab dog's attention. Watch the ears and nose and the sit posture. If the dog starts to "lose" the sit, and begins to lift the butt up, correct it and make it sit proper. No smelling until the dog can hold the sit. No jumping! If you have a jumper, have a family member hold the dog on a leash while you handle the chicken. This training is all about personal space, respect, and learning to leave your things alone, chicken included. It's going to be more complicated on a dog who sleeps in your bed, and steals your spot on the couch when you go to the bathroom, and dogs who are fed table scraps as the humans eat instead of waiting until after. The training will need to continue in other aspects of the dog's life if this is the case. Never is the dog allowed to shove it's nose into the chicken for a sniff without permission. Never is it allowed to stick it's head in the brooder to watch in fascination without training. Perky ears and intense/excitable focus are BAD things, this is what leads to masacres. It's not "cute", it doesn't mean the dog "likes" the chickens. Don't humanize the body language of the dog. All the dog is thinking is "What is it, food or toy?". The dog needs to know it's neither, it's to be left alone because it belongs to you. Once you have the dog in a proper sit and the excitement level is "calm and sane" then you can allow a gentle sniff. Attatch a command, such as "Be nice", "Easy"... something along those lines. No licking! Keep the dog and chick/chicken together until everyone is calm. Don't talk a lot, your tone may increase excitement. The dog can sniff, look, ect. but no tasting, no excitement, no "paw slams", no play. The second the dog's intentions switch from calm/sane, issue a correction. Repeat this, until the dog accepts and ignores the chickens as no big deal and nothing fun/facinating. This point doesn't mean the chickens are 100% safe, but it paves the way for a "responsible" dog that is atleast chicken tolerant. The BREEDING of the dog will play a larger role in the dog's personality/trainability than the actual breed of the dog. With rescue dogs and mixed breeds, it's difficult to predict how they will be. But if you're looking for a dog and you currently have chickens or plan on getting some, select your new dog with your expectations in mind. Evaluate the parents of the dog, look at how the parent dogs act, ask what sort of training they've had to be the way they are. Hunting/Working dogs will have their instincts intact. Having a play/prey drive is not always a bad thing, because the drives help with training. A dog with low drives won't achieve the same training level as a dog with medium/high drives. Low/Medium/High designates the degree to which a dog has instincts/drive, catagorized by either play or prey drive. You will have more training success with a legitimate working dog, though the training will have to be more extensive to get a handle on the drives. If you've never trained a dog before, don't get a Cattle Dog, Working line Shepherd, Hunting bred Lab/Retreiver... this will require more training. If you do have training experience, these dogs are more rewarding to train. A sight hound, like a Greyhound, is going to chase chickens. You need to offer something else to chase to relieve the drive, while training to leave the chickens alone. A toy dog, is going to bark and yap at chickens, maybe be in fear of them, or will have the instincts of it's larger counterpart. Like Poodles... could go either way, but they're usually intelligent enough to train easy. Look at the parents and REALLY get to know how that particular line of dogs behave, because of all the variation that's out there within the breeding. A breeder who has a timid/shakey female bred to a yappy/nippy male... you can't predict how your puppy will act. A good breeder, bred for predictability and for a certain type, and they should be able to tell you (with a margin of error... genetics aren't an exact science) what to expect from your puppy. A good breeder can also select a puppy from the litter that best suits your needs. Yorkies, Chihuahuas... same thing. Hunting dogs... this includes the ever loveable Jack Russel Terrorist.... Terrier rather... and the Dachshund as well as Pointers, Setters, ect. Some will have a working mind intact, others are from lines where it was bred out of them to increase the "pet only" ability. Choosing a breeder is really important to get the type you want, because they are not all created equal. Research the breeds you want to find out the best and worse case scenerio. The Dachshund... worse case scenerio it will dig a hole into your coop and kill chickens every chance it gets, and will chase them every time they are loose. Best case, the hunt has been bred out of it and it could care less about chickens or fetch and the joy in it's life is barking at the mailman from the chouch and sleeping in bed with the favorite human. If you already have a dog, but no chickens yet, consider your dog's behavior to see what your risk is. Is it easily excited? This will require training. Is there current training? If not, start now on the basics. Does your dog chase anything in the yard? It will chase chickens. Has it ever caught anything it chased? (this includes baby rabbits) If yes, it WILL attempt on the chickens without training. Does your dog go bonkers with guests? Chickens will be guests... start training with the human guests, because that training will transfer over. Easier than working on chicken training only. If you have to repeat commands to get the dog to listen, add more sessions. You should only have to say it once or twice, 3 times or more... training is not finished. If your dog is pretty well trained already, adding chickens will simply be one more trick to learn and it won't be that difficult. If you have a nice population of squirrels, practice training on them. Call the dog off mid-chase. If they can do that, it will transfer to the chickens. It's your responcibility to ensure your dog is trained, or is of a personality type to accept chickens. Always assume your dog is a chicken chaser at the least, and plan for that, and you'll never lose a chicken to your own dog barring any freak accidents like kennel escapes. To ever assume your dog is "ready" to be free with chickens, or is "not the type, he's too sweet"... you're setting the dog and the chickens up for failure. To not do any training... the chickens are too stupid to know the dog is a threat, and the dog won't care if it "shouldn't" or the instinct is just too great for the dog to handle. It's your job to handle the dog's instincts and to keep it in line, the dog will not do it on it's own.