When it comes to labels, forget politics, religion, or sport — is there anything more divisive than the age-old cat-person versus dog-person debate?
For those who identify as “cat people,” certain feline qualities such as independence, cleanliness, quiet affection, and limited care needs are often high on the list of positive attributes. Maybe you value your kitty’s self-sufficiency while also appreciating their propensity for quiet couch cuddles. But even the most ardent cat owner may be drawn to the idea of dog ownership, or perhaps find yourself thrust into it by a new partner or roommate. But don’t worry — as is often the case with us-versus-them dynamics, you’ll probably discover that dog people are not so different after all. In the meantime, explore which dog breeds possess those feline qualities, which breeds are best adapted to get along with your cats, and which ones you might want to reconsider.
Table of Contents:
- Dogs with Cat-Like Qualities
- Dogs That Are Good with Cats
- Dogs That Are Not Suited to a Cat Household
- To Bottom Line
Dogs with Cat-Like Qualities
If you’re a lifelong cat lover but a first-time dog owner, you may find yourself drawn toward breeds that exhibit some of those favored feline traits. Of course, breeding is no guarantee. Every dog is an individual and will have its own personality. The good news? They’re all adorable. And don’t forget, you can explore dog ownership by first fostering a dog to see if it’s a good match.
The Shiba Inu is an ancient breed of Japanese hunting dog (its name translates to ‘brushwood dog’) that, despite being relatively newly available in the USA, has become popular among pet owners for its small size, foxy appearance, and particular personality traits. Intelligent, independent, and sometimes aloof, the Shiba Inu is a lively and friendly family pet that rarely barks or drools and tends to keep itself very clean through self-grooming— all traits that may appeal to a longtime cat person. Watching them play and hunt small insects, you may even be struck by their feline agility and physicality!
However, the Shiba is also an active and assertive pet, requiring consistent exercise and training to prevent it from becoming too dominant. For this reason, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners.
Sassy, affectionate, and an occasional scaredy-cat? Toy breeds like the diminutive Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Papillon, and Japanese Chin, among others, have many of the same characteristics we expect in cats. Weighing in at around 10-15 pounds and with long life spans, they also share some of the physical traits of a feline, too. While each dog is an individual, these toy breeds tend to pack a lot of personality into every pound, meaning you’ll have a companion with plenty of character who also likes to be carried and cuddled on the regular. Sound familiar?
Though they may appear to be the physical opposite of cats, bulldog breeds share many of the same personality traits. They tend to be strong-willed and stubborn with short coats that don’t shed a lot or collect dirt, a quality that may appeal to those used to the relative cleanliness of a kitty. A textbook couch potato, the bulldog requires limited exercise and will happily spend the day snuggled up by your side.
Sleek, gentle, and well-suited to apartment living, the whippet has a cat-like charm that will appeal to anyone who has an aversion to boisterous and pushy dog behaviors. Because of their thin coats and limited body fat, the whippet is a heat-seeker that will be drawn to warm spots in the home, just like your cat! And, unlike your cat, they will tolerate being dressed in warming layers when needed.
Averse to barking? The Basenji may be the perfect companion for you. This compact, sleek dog is shy around strangers but loyal and loving to its owners. Best of all, the Basenji has a quiet demeanor and an inability to bark, instead producing only a kind of yodel on the occasion it does wish to vocalize. Poised, independent, and intelligent, this shy and retiring dog has all the feline qualities you could want in a cute canine package.
Dogs That Are Good with Cats
If you’re looking to add a pup to your cat pack, then it’s important to think less about finding a dog with cat-like qualities and more about finding a dog with cat-friendly qualities. After all, the last thing you want to do is create a stressful environment for your existing felines by adding a territorial or prey-driven pet into the mix. These breeds are known for their laid-back and loving temperament toward other animals.
Remember: Breed temperaments are simple generalizations and won’t guarantee a dog’s character. Environment and training play a huge role in dog-cat households; if you introduce a brand-new puppy, early socialization with cats will likely lead to a calm and respectful pet sibling. However, if you have an older cat who likes to be left alone, a bouncy and inquisitive puppy might not be the best fit. Talk to the breeder or shelter to gather more information about a dog and its temperament before bringing it home.
They might look tough, but bulldogs are known for their kind and friendly temperaments toward other animals. They have a relatively low prey drive and are far more likely to enjoy cuddling up on the couch than playing chase with feline roommates.
The retriever breed, which includes golden, flat-coated, and labrador retrievers, are popular family pets thanks to their goofy, loving temperament — which extends to other animal siblings. While they can be bouncy and over-enthusiastic, retrievers are also eager to please and will quickly adapt to any boundaries set by you or your cats.
Small in stature with long life spans, toy breeds are full of personality and affection, which could make them the perfect life-long companion to your cats. A toy dog will not see a cat as potential prey, meaning they are less likely to chase or intimidate a cat. These breeds are happy to go almost anywhere with their owners, so a cat companion at home may help them settle when you’re away.
A resolute working dog with a keen hunting mentality, the beagle may not seem like an obvious cat companion. However, the beagle is also a friendly breed with a strong pack mentality, making them loyal and protective of fellow animals they view as members of the family pack.
Dogs That Are Not Suited to a Cat Household
There’s no such thing as a cat-hating dog breed, so there’s no reason to overlook a particular dog at the shelter or breeder based on generalizations. After all, we know nature and nurture are a balancing act. Early socialization and training play a huge role in how your dog will respond to cats in the home. That being said, if you know your cats are sensitive and would be easily disturbed in the process of adapting to a feisty dog, the following breed groups may prove too challenging.
Small in size but often large in ego, terriers were bred specifically to hunt small, fast prey like rats and badgers. As a result, they can be provoked to chase a frightened cat. Dogged and persistent, they will be happy to follow a cat into a small space or stand sentry to flush them out.
Sighthounds are hardwired to chase down fast-moving prey over distance. As a result, they may be prone to chase cats in the yard or off-leash.
While these skinny and snuggly breeds might embody some cat-like qualities, they are also prey-driven by design (think of the mechanical rabbit on a greyhound track). Small, fast-moving prey can provoke a chase response that is hard to break even with training. Many greyhound owners even choose to muzzle their pets when walking in public spaces to reduce the risk of injury to small dogs and cats.
Members of the herding breed, such as cattle dogs and German Shepherds, have an insatiable desire to corral family members and fellow pets. This may prove irritating to your cats, who are known to follow their own path.
The husky is a popular pet due to its otherworldly appearance and intelligence, however, it is also a prey-driven hunter with plenty of energy to direct toward hassling cats.
To Bottom Line
The real takeaway is that self-proclaimed “cat people” can learn to love dogs, just as cats themselves can learn to love a dog companion in the home. While certain breeds can check certain boxes, patience and training are just as valuable tools when it comes to creating a happily blended dog-cat household. While exciting, introducing a new pet to the household can be overwhelming for all involved. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can offer support for your cat and dog’s stress to help everyone adjust to life in a multi-pet household.