Dogs with chickens- which is best?


6 Years
Sep 8, 2013
I am wanting to get a dog but I am afraid it will eat my chickens or chase them until they have heart attacks and die. I was wondering if anyone has any certain type of dog that is exceptionally good with their chickens, or if you know a great way to train a dog to be nice to your chickens and leave them alone so they can coexist peacefully. Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)
I'm partial to Dobermans but any dog can be trained to behave and even protect chickens.
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We have a Great Pyrenees and english bulldog. Both have been really good. I think it's partly luck and partly training. Both dogs are 2.5 and just met the chickens in May...I did have a process for introductions and being around them but fortunately it was very easy...not on my part but the dogs were easy going and didn't have much interest.
My pit bull adores our chickens :) she played "mamma" to our day olds and insists on checking on every single bird every time she walks past. To be so large, she is exceptionally gentle and tiptoes around them.
If starting with an adult dog and interesting only in a live and let live arrangement, then look for a calm natured dog. Breed is not always important but your ability to control interaction is important. Weak link to making it work will most likely be you so research dog to be acquired and how to train it. Get dog under control before first introduction and be prepared to invest considerable time before having release of dog and especially before dog is left with birds unsupervised. In my opinion hunting breeds are easiest to work with because they have been selected to have capacity for ignoring animals they are not supposed to hunt. Animals they are supposed to hunt is something you have a great deal of control over. Herding dogs do have a powerful urge to herd and it is hard for them to turn it off which can be a problem if only chickens are around for herding. Dogs that do not have a well developed history with agriculture (northern sled dogs) can be more problematic and I advise avoiding those unless you are really into training dogs (and chickens).
It's not the breed that will be good with chickens, it's the dog itself. Training has big role in that. I had a border collie a number of years ago who would kill my chickens when I wasn't there, but would never touch them while I was. I now have a German shepherdXBelgian Malinios mix and he is the best chicken dog. Has never even hurt my birds. But he was socialized young, so he learned to behave early.
I believe the most essential part is to have very good control over the dog's first interactions with chickens. I have two border collies (trained to herd sheep) and a GSD/Aussie mix. They are fine when I am out there with them (one of the bc's deliberately turns so her tail is facing them she is trying so hard to be good. The other has helped me round them up to the coop.) I don't trust any of them with the chickens loose unsupervised. They can practice agility or herd sheep with the chickens running around just fine. Herding dogs are a hazard to livestock if they don't have a job to do. That said, they don't dig under the pen or obsess over killing the chickens the way other dogs do. The GSD mix goes out and does a patrol of the coop and yard to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. They can all be out with me off leash with the chickens free ranging without incident.

Another friend of mine with bc's has two that are fine and one ate a chicken. All herding bred and trained.

A friend's dog, who is a mix of cattledog, collie, and ? that is in training to herd sheep has very evil thoughts regarding chickens. The dog is very well trained - he does agility, flyball, herding, tricks, even works as a movie dog, and is around other small animals without a problem, but chicken = sic 'em.

Don't know if that is a help or not, but that is a sampling of my experience of herding dogs around chickens.

My cat has pried open a window, pushed out a screen and vaulted a 6 foot fence to stalk chickens.
My neighbors labs are terrors around my birds (i have already told him i would shoot them if they came into my yard again). Hunting dogs have a higher prey drive (thats why they are selectively bred). Well trained hunting dogs are a dream, but bred hunting dogs without proper training catch every small thing that moves. Like others said-you need to know the dog. My shepherd/husky male would grab a bird in a heartbeat. My female wouldnt bother them (she may lay down on one). My female pitbull has a "mothering" instinct and insists on grooming babies of all species and protecting older things (ever seen a dog try to groom a turtle?)

Ive had all three their whole lives and i know how close to watch each one. My suggestion? Go to a shelter-find a younger dog (not necessarily a puppy, just not a 10 year old dog) that you like. Adopt it. Teach it that chickens are off limits (Parker, my male, wont look straight at them anymore, he turns his back). Bring the dog by the chickens on leash and give it a yummy treat the INSTANT it turns its head away from the chickens. If it gets fixated-you are too close. Move further away until tge dog is consistant about ignoring them and move closer.

You eventually end up with a dog that thinks chickens should always be behind them.

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