My dog broke into the pen and killed my best hens- so sad

ma kettle

In the Brooder
12 Years
Jan 10, 2008
Riverside, CA
So I am obviously not cut out for this hobby farm life. We bought a rat terrier a year ago to deal with the gophers and rattlesnakes. He did a good job. In March he climbed a tree and ate a nest full of baby birds. Then he caught a dove and ate it. Then he dug a hole, stole two pullets and killed one. Today it really escalated. He got in to the free range yard by squeezing through the gate, then proceeded to kill birds. He killed my leghorn and ate it entirely. Killed my polish tophat and left it there. Maimed my beautiful capon and we had to euthanize him. One more--- my Americauna. Will see if it survives the night or if the ants get to the wounded thing. I am furious. I packed up the dog and sent him to a relative. He is lucky I didn't kill him. I know it is the nature of the animal, but these birds were like family members. I am so upset. I know it is ridiculous, but I cried for hours, can't sleep. Maybe I am just not cut out for this. I love my birds but it is impossible to keep them completely safe from all predators all the time. And I feel just horrible that I am the one who invited this predator into the yard. And I built the enclosure which obviously had its flaws or else the dog wouldn't have been able to get in. That dog is like Houdini. Oh, I am so upset.

Now the other issue. The rat terrier was best friends with my collie (lassie dog). My collie is so sweet and gentle, but is going to grieve the loss of her mate. If I add a new dog to our family, is there such a thing as a "chicken safe" breed? The collie has never shown any interest in the birds. I can't have another collie because the grooming fees for this one run me $80 per month and I can't afford to double it. Maybe a short haired collie though...??? Or a smaller breed? The small breed is what got me into trouble already, though.

Sorry so long-winded. I am just beside myself with grief and anger.
I have read many posts and heard many stories about peoples rat terriers doing what yours did. I am so sorry for your losses with your birds and you are absolutely doing the right thing in rehoming the dog. I have a lab/mix that I rescued as a large puppy (to late for much training at that point) that has done the same thing (never has killed a chicken though, just plucked their feathers) and I am currently working on rehoming her. That is really the best solution for the birds, dog, and you.

As far as a good guard dog for chickens goes, you won't be able to beat a Great Pyrenees. They are awesome, but long haired. Another good choice is a German Shepherd, which you will be able to avoid the high grooming costs with.

Good luck on hunting for a new dog and rehoming the rat terrier! I know how frustrating that can be, along with heart wrenching.
I am so sorry.

I have a shepherd cross who has never shown any interest in my chickens and I have a Bernese Mountain dog who is interested in the birds but in a good way. It really depends on the dog and how you raise them. My shepherd was an adult when the chicks came, and she has just always been good around ALL animals. My Bernese grew up around chickens, so he was taught to leave them alone. My advice is to get a dog with a low prey drive. Shepherds and BMDs are both working dogs, historically these breeds worked with animals. That was what they were bred for. Good luck finding the best dog for you.
Sorry about your chicken kids.
I don't think there is such a thing as a "chicken safe breed".
Like CMV said it's more about who they are and how they are raised.
Good luck with the hurt chicken too.

ETA: Although I think my dogs are great and have never shown aggression towards my chickens, I NEVER leave them loose or unattended around chickens. They are Predators. It's just that simple.
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your dog can climb trees? wow never knew they could. I dont know much but from what I have been reading livestock dogs need to be very well trained to not eat birds, and most have to have constant work to be happy. As far as finding a regular dog that wont hurt the chooks, hopefully someone will have suggestions, I know any bird dogs is out of the question, but maybe someone close to you had pups that have been born from livestock farm dogs and will already have some understanding.

so sorry about your birds.
Most people will say there is no chicken safe breed, it is all in how you raise them.

I have a collie (smooth coat) and a great dane, neither has ever given the chickens a second thought. Both of these dogs were introduced to chickens when they were adults.

I'm sorry about your loss, best of luck in figuring out where to go from here.
So sorry for your loss. You may have read my recent thread about my dogs killing my BCMs. Then they killed ALL my RIR hens over a year ago as well.

I don't think there is any certain breed that is safe for chickens. There are dogs out there that won't mess with your chickens but you just have to go through dogs to find those select few. I do not believe you can do it by selecting a certain breed. I have seen just about every breed kill a chicken. It is just in their nature. They just like to kill them. Like a big moving toy.

Don't beat yourself up. You can still do farm life. You just live and learn and take what you learn and apply it to the next set of chickens and try to prevent it next time.

Sorry, and good luck with everything.
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Thank you everyone for your kind words. The one hen lived through the night, so maybe it will survive. The yard looks like 50 birds were slaughtered. No idea how I am going to clean it up--- feathers everywhere. Maybe I will wet everything down and rake it up. OHHHhhhh, so awful. I still don't know about getting another dog. Although smooth coat collie might just be the ticket. I love german shepherds but am a little scared of them. The collie is only the second dog I've ever owned and the largest dog I have ever been around.
That is so well said ! We lost our 6 year old bunny last Tuesday and I was thinking it was a Raccoon but now after reading posts on BYC and gathering other information I think it was an Owl. I was so very upset too for not protecting her (even though I thought she was fine in our fenced yard so let her roam at night). We had a hawk situation too but was able to get outside before the hawk could make lunch of my Charolette (bared rock). Now when the crows are upset I check out the yard and usually there is a hawk around so with that said --- continue with your new knowledge of caring for your flock and don't give up! I continue to learn here in Oregon too.
Dogs and chickens can co-exist....BUT the terrier breed is difficult simply because of their nature...they were originally bred to be hunters of small game.

We have American Bulldogs and have done well with these...not saying we have not had an occassional mis-hap with a chicken, but immediate and serious attention to the culprit helps to curb dog/chicken issues.

My chickens free range in my yard and and out of my yard. The dogs range in the yard as well. The biggest problem I have had is when the out of the yard chickens come in the yard. My bulldog redognized that it was not part of the yard flock and, well...that was that. But the dog was doing what it was supposed to do...keep outsiders out...

Now, the out of the yarders have claimed inside the yard as well..and things are going fine....

My back door is open now...the bulldog is in the kitchen kids just informed me that one of my Black Star hens came in for a visit! The dog ignored that uninvited guest....

I LOVE having/raising chickens.

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