Owning a dog with low prey drive can make your life as a dog owner much less stressful. It will make walks easier, as you won’t have your dog tugging at the leash or bolting off into woods at the mere whiff of a rodent or squirrel.
But when you think of dogs with low prey drive, what comes to mind? Is it just one or two smaller dog breeds given the inherent personality of dogs? You might be surprised to hear there are more than just a couple…
What dogs have low prey drive? Dog breeds with low prey drive include the French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Papillon, Great Pyrenees, Maltese, Boxer, Old English Sheepdog, Bichon Freese, and Pomeranian to name a few (more are below including why they are like this).
However, this comes with HUGE caveat… dogs are individuals, and will all behave differently.
To give you one example, I own two French Bulldogs. This is a breed said to have a low prey drive. It’s certainly true for one of them, but the older Frenchie chases squirrels more than any other dog I’ve known.
So, the list of dog breeds with low prey drive I’ve put together below should come with a warning from me that it offers no guarantee. It’s a list of dogs including small, medium, and large breeds all of whom have a reputation for low prey drive, but it’s no guarantee.
Dog breeds with low prey drive
Dogs differ in so many things: size, shape, overall appearance, and personality, among other traits. Prey drive is also part of the equation.
I’ve categorized this list by small, medium, and large breeds, starting with the biggest of the bunch.
Large dog breeds with low prey drive
1. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family dogs, and as a large breed have a surprisingly low prey drive in many cases. This will often come as a shock to people given a retriever’s heritage as a hunting dog.
However, with this large breed there is certainly some difference of opinion in the Golden Retriever community, with others saying they do have a high prey drive… this might be a dog to carefully consider.
Another large dog breed with the lowest prey drive (comparatively speaking) is the Kuvasz. This breed originates from Hungary where it was initially used as a flock guardian dog – could be the ideal pet if you want a guard dog breed with low prey drive. It is also referenced in Hungarian history as being royal guard dogs.
Unlike other large dogs, the Kuvasz lacks the high prey drive and will to chase critters. However, don’t think they aren’t protective. The American Kennel Club say the Kuvasz will sacrifice its own life for it’s human family.
3. Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, like the Kuvasz, has been bred to protect livestock as a guardian dog. This means that his job is to protect the flock against predator and won’t be tempted to chase small animals whilst on duty. It’s another one of the guard dog breeds with low prey drive.
They are incredibly loyal dogs and have a reputation as a large dog breed with a low prey drive. But as with all dogs, individual character will play a big part in their behavior.
4. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard were originally bred for rescuing people in the Swiss and Italian Alps. They are loyal and have an exceptional sense of smell… but won’t go chasing after prey like other excitable large dog breeds.
If you want a large dog, a St. Bernard is one the low prey drive dog breeds that should fit the bill for your family.
5. The Great Pyrenees
This affectionate and well-mannered dog is popular for its calm temperament. The Pyrenees is an excellent family dog that plays the role of family protector to a tee.
This large dog breed has a low prey drive so you can expect them to willfully watch over other pets and animals in your home without wanting to hunt them down.
6. Old English Sheepdog
Famous for its head-turning, bear-like appearance, the old English sheepdog acts more like a bodyguard towards other pets or farm animals, rather than an enemy. They are also not overly reactive towards moving objects.
If you want a large dog that will protect the family and not go running towards the first squirrel, this could be the breed for you.
Medium dog breeds low prey drive
The Boxer is one of those dog breeds with a somewhat fierce look that can make you automatically assume they are the ultimate prey hunters. Strangely enough, this high-spirited dog would rather wrestle with you than chase other animals.
Don’t let that fool you that this dog will be easily manageable though. Whilst it’s a medium sized dog with low prey drive, it is very, very active and excitable.
8. English Bulldog
English Bulldogs aren’t the quickest off the mark, so even if they did have a high prey drive, they would never catch anything like a squirrel or rat.
Whilst this medium sized breed does not have a high prey drive, they are known to be very protective of family and in particular, the children.
Small dog breeds with low prey drive
9. French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is a very popular small dog breed of choice among city dwellers. The Frenchie might have a tough-on-the-outside overall look, but their prey drive is nowhere close to tough compared to others.
French Bulldogs have a reputation for being laid-back – the perfect dog version of “couch potatoes”. They relate well with other pets and would rather snooze all day than run around chasing stuff.
The Havanese is a small breed with low prey drive, but it’s still a fun dog. It’s said to have a spirited personality and a curious disposition and is known for always having a spring in its step.
It is an outgoing dog, that loves people and other dogs, but you won’t seeing it chasing other animals on walks.
11. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This charming dog breed is known for its super friendly nature and thus does well in multi-pet homes. Owners describe “the cave” as an overly sweet dog who’d choose keeping you company as you binge-watch your favorite show over running after other potential prey.
If you want a small dog breed with low prey drive, you can’t really go wrong with one of these little guys.
This small, sweet lapdog breed is more of a lover, not a hunter. It will happily co-exist with other pets since it doesn’t tend to chase down potential prey.
Let’s face it, the Pomeranian is smaller than most potential prey, so I’d certainly like to see it try!
So, there you have it, that’s 17 dogs with low prey drive for you to choose from. But before you do, below you can find out more about low prey drive dog breeds and what this actually means.
I don’t have a personal experience of Pugs, but did find this comment on Reddit.com about their low prey drive.
“Our Pug has like zero prey drive. He is the friendliest creature. He loves everyone and every animal he’s ever met. He absolutely loves our cat and plays with him very gently. I’ve never seen him even chase a squirrel. However, he will chase cars and UPS trucks.”
14. Japanese Chin
The Japanese Chin is among the most mischievous dog breeds around, best suited for anyone who fancies a small dog with a cheerful personality and a high dose of humor.
Despite its playful nature, the Chin enjoys observing the world around them without wanting to pounce on anything they set their eyes on.
Known for their beautiful, hair-flowing erect ears that resemble the wings of a butterfly, Papillons have an upbeat personality and low prey drive.
They get along with other pets and love engaging in playtime with their owner instead of chasing potential prey relentlessly.
The Maltese is another small breed dog with low prey drive. It’s known and loved for its bubbly spirit and people-oriented nature.
Though energetic, they don’t tend to run after things. You can trust a Maltese to save that energy to spend quality time with you.
17. Bichon Frise
This cute little furball isn’t likely to put their predatory skills into action every time a fellow pet or something moving grabs their attention.
I know someone who owns a Bichon Frise and I’ve never seen it even remotely interested in tackling what could be defined as “prey” – and by that, I mean chasing a ball.
What does prey drive mean?
In simple terms, prey drive is described as a dog’s in-born hunting instincts. Think of prey drive as an irresistible urge that dog usually feel when they spot prey like a bird, bunny, or cat.
It could even be a moving object like a ball. This urge makes them want to chase after their target.
Do all dogs have a prey drive?
All dogs are born with the desire to chase after prey. The only difference is that for some dogs, the prey drive is intense, while for others, it’s mild.
All dogs, regardless of breed, have prey drive whether low or high. Even a 6-pound puppy has some form of prey drive! Every dog is born with this hunting desire because our canine friends are predators by nature.
Can you stop prey drive in dogs?
That means you can’t teach your canine companion to adopt prey drive (because they already have it), and neither can you make them outgrow this hunting instinct (it’s in their genes).
You can only train them to avoid pursuing the inappropriate hunting behaviors you dislike.
Take note, though, prey drive isn’t the same as aggression.
Aggression often involves a dog trying to distance itself from prey while displaying unpleasant emotions such as anger. Prey drive, on the other hand, usually involves a dog heading towards prey (willingly) without showing any intense negative emotions.
Plus, unlike aggression, prey drive isn’t a behavioral issue but a naturally acquired instinct.
What does low prey drive in dogs mean?
Low prey drive simply means a dog’s urge to run after prey or moving items isn’t strong. If your furry friend has this type of drive, chasing prey may not always be at the top of their mind.
Sometimes they’ll spot a squirrel in the backyard and try to run after it. Other times, they’ll just sit back and watch the squirrel do its thing in your garden. Most times, though, a low prey drive dog will do nothing.
But don’t mistake this drive for laziness. It’s only that your canine friend’s urge to hunt isn’t that powerful.
If you own other pets, say a kitten, you won’t have to worry about your low prey drive dog chasing after your tiny feline friend whenever he spots her in the corridor.
But a high prey drive dog, like the Rhodesian Ridgeback or German Shepherd, will get excited at the sight of anything moving. Even something as ordinary as leaves blown by the wind! A dog with high prey drive goes after almost anything — all the time.
Why choose a dog breed with low prey drive?
A dog with low prey drive is the ideal canine companion for you if:
- You have other pets (or newborn babies) in your household and want them to feel safe around your dog.
- You’d want minimal destruction around the house (low-prey-drive dogs exhibit less destructive behaviors).
- You don’t want to spend so much time constantly trying to manage (through training) your canine friend’s undesirable preying habits.
- You’d want to enjoy peaceful walks (not like this) with your dog most of the time. A low prey drive dog doesn’t always feel the need to go after other pets or flying things during your regular strolling time.
What dogs do not have a prey drive?
The answer is none. All dogs have prey drive. They are born prey-driven because our canine friends are predators by nature.
What dogs have the best prey drive?
Common examples of dogs with superb prey drive include the Rhodesian Ridgeback, lurchers, German shepherd, greyhounds, terriers, and border collies.
What dog breeds have a high prey drive?
Dogs breeds like collies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Terriers (they love hunting rats), German Shepherd, Lurchers, and Greyhounds are some breeds famous for their strong prey drive.
Dogs with a powerful prey drive aren’t the best fit for households with other pets like cats.
Dogs with low prey will often be very happy to sit on your lap whilst you watch TV. They are also less inclined to bolt off with no warning at the first sign of a squirrel… but, just because they make my list, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Dogs all have individual characters, no matter their size and breed.