Some dogs love to run, others like to retrieve, and some can’t stop themselves from chasing anything that moves! These dogs have high prey drives, or a primal instinct to hunt. This can sometimes lead to a difficult living situation if you have cats or other small animals, or if you like to take hikes in nature, so let’s see which difficult dog breeds have the highest prey drive.
10. Siberian Husky
Prey drive is a primal hunting behavior. Not only has it been bred into certain breeds over hundreds, sometimes even thousands of years, but it also comes from the DNA of the ancient now extinct wolf-like canines that dogs originated from.
As a Spitz breed, Siberian Huskies originate from some of the oldest breeds of dogs, ones that still have much of the DNA of those ancient canids that first set foot in the camps of early humans.
Many people know the Siberian as a friendly, loving dog, even toward other dogs and strangers. Yet, at a moment’s notice, they are likely to chase down and put down a small animal without a second thought.
It is easy to see why many are drawn to the Siberian’s wolf-like looks, but be aware that this athletic, intelligent dog can be independent and challenging for first-time dog owners.
Early Siberian Huskies were often kept on a lean existence. This was especially true in summer when the tribes of its native Siberia had no use for sled dogs and often turned them loose to hunt for themselves. Because the prey drive is instinctive and cannot be ‘unlearned’, no amount of training is likely to effectively suppress this desire.
Can you have a Siberian Husky if you have cats or other small pets? In some cases, yes, and I’m sure many of you will say so in the comments, but a Siberian Husky that can peacefully coexist with cats or other small fluffy animals is indeed a rare dog.
Due to their beauty, Siberian Huskies are one of the most wrongly purchased breeds around. Many new owners don’t take into consideration their temperaments and particular quirks and are often left with an unruly, albeit beautiful, dog.
Many Siberian Huskies are either lost, killed, or given to shelters due to uninformed owners. If you are thinking of purchasing a Siberian Husky or any other dog, take a lot of time learning about the breed.
The English Springer Spaniel was bred over generations to be an efficient hunting machine. It will boldly crash through thick undergrowth to flush out and retrieve game for its owner.
To do that, like most hunting breeds, the Springer must be intelligent, able to follow commands, brave, strong, tough and possess a high prey drive.
Because of this sometimes-extreme hunting instinct, independence, toughness and high energy levels, a considerable number of Springers find themselves in rescues each year.
Springers are friendly family pets and do well with both children and other dogs. The family cat, not so much, and certainly not your guinea pig or pet bunny. While Springers certainly make great family pets, with high energy and loving loyalty, prey drive should certainly be taken into account when taking one into your family.
8. Bull Terrier
Although allegedly bred for pit fighting in the nineteenth century, the Bull Terrier has mellowed considerably over the past couple of centuries. Today it is a lovable companion dog to its humans.
But there still is a streak of fierceness where small animals are concerned.
The Bull Terrier should only be taken on by pet veterans. It is sweet natured and playful, but its instincts can make it difficult to handle.
The Bull Terrier has a strong prey drive and will chase anything, including cats. Although, the Bull Terrier can get along with cats if it grows up with them. But, it’s not uncommon for a Bull Terrier to not get along with other dogs, especially smaller ones.
7. Irish Wolfhound
First and foremost, though frequently referred to as a ‘gentle giant,’ the Irish Wolfhound is a hunter. And not just any hunter. This is an ancient breed whose origins are truly lost in antiquity and whose function was to hunt by sight, hence it will chase anything it sees.
The Wolfhound, like other members of the sighthound family, has been bred for millennium to have a strong prey drive hard-wired into their dispositions. This trait is still strong today. There is no training it out of them.
As with any dog with a high prey drive, a new owner must accept this inherent trait as a part of the Wolfhound’s heritage and it must be respected, at all times. As a hunter, they will give chase to deer, and other game such as squirrels, rabbits and more. Some may be okay with cats and others may not. Regardless of their upbringing, a wolfhound’s instincts will likely surprise you one day. In spite of their disinterest or trustworthiness over the years towards other small creatures, any such surprise will likely have very unpleasant consequences. And, the responsibility lies solely with the owner, not the dog.
6. Pharaoh Hound
Pharaoh Hounds are lively, funny, and make great additions to many types of homes, but not really those with other small pets.
There are many owners with both Pharaoh Hounds and cats. However, it is important to recognize that Pharaohs have a very strong prey drive. It is best if a Pharaoh Hound puppy and kitten are raised together but adults have been introduced successfully.
Owners should always be careful to never leave the two alone while not at home and never let the Pharaoh Hound play a chase game with the cat.
Don’t let your Pharaoh Hound run off-leash in an unfenced area. Its strong prey drive will take control and it will chase other animals for miles. Backyard fences should be too high to jump or climb, and preferably solid so it can’t see through it. Underground electronic fencing won’t stop a Pharaoh Hound with something interesting in sight.
The Saluki is an ancient sighthound breed originating in the middle east. While not a rare breed in America, this elegant breed is still fairly uncommon. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Salukis have very distinct personalities with unique needs. The Saluki is not a breed for everyone!
Not least of those unique personality traits is the Saluki’s extraordinarily high prey drive. Like most sighthound breeds they will chase anything that moves, especially if it’s small and furry.
If they can catch it, and they likely can, as the Saluki can reach a speed of 43 miles per hour, they will most definitely kill it.
The Saluki’s great speed, while awe-inspiring, also means that they are hard to catch if they get away.
Otherwise, the Saluki is a loyal dog that appreciates plenty of time on the sofa with family. And, if sately introduced at first and at a young age, there is a high likelihood that your Saluki can live with your cats, especially if introduced at a young age. Although you will most likely have issues bringing a new cat into a home where a Saluki already lives.
High Prey Drive dogs need to be well trained, but we could all use some help training them. Check out Brain Training for Dogs to learn how to use your dog’s natural intelligence to stop bad behavior.
4. Greyhound – Difficult Dog Breeds
All sighthounds are hunters, plain and simple. let no one dissuade you of this fact. And the Greyhound is likely the most well known of the sighthound breeds. At home this is a docile, and mostly lazy family dog.
But, like the Saluki, the Greyhound is capable of some pretty amazing speeds at burst up to 45 miles per hour up to about 250 meters. With speeds that quick and for that far, there are few small animals that are capable of escape.
And, you are definitely not going to catch your Greyhound until it wants you to.
Sighthound vision has evolved differently to dogs with flatter faces, with a visual streak that facilitates better peripheral vision and a propensity to chase fast moving objects. They were after all bred to give chase to foxes, rabbits, and deer. A Greyhound should never be allowed to run off leash except in a securely fenced area, because your Greyhound could be off after a squirrel before you even see what it is chasing.
3. Jack Russell Terrier – Difficult Small Dog Breeds
You wouldn’t expect the dog that played Wishbone to be among our Difficult Dog Breeds. Developed in England some 200 years ago to hunt foxes, the Jack Russell Terrier, also known as the Parson Russell Terrier, is a lively, independent, and clever little dog. He’s charming and affectionate, but he’s also a handful to train and manage. This is a dog for experienced dog owners only!
Even today, the Jack is a skilled hunter thanks in no small part to an insatiable prey drive and a fearless terrier fire.
If there is another dog that can match the drive and determination of the Jack, it’s likely another Jack.
Their strong prey drive can sometimes be a hindrance in “normal”, household circumstances when they will often see cats, and other smaller animals as prey. This is one of the reasons why they are popular with farmers who keep them around as excellent pest control.
The other animal’s welfare aside, the Jack’s unwillingness to end the chase can sometimes land them in quite a bit of trouble, such as getting lost or running into traffic after a squirrel.
2. Airedale Terrier – Difficult Dog Breeds
Often call the King of Terriers, the Airedale is the largest of all Terrier breeds with large males weighing up to 64 pounds.
While there are many reasons the Airedale should be avoided by novice owners, the prey drive of this amazing hunting breeds tops them.
The Airedale can also be aggressive towards other dogs which makes him difficult to handle at times.
It is said that the Airedale doesn’t start fights — it finishes them. Consistent, positive obedience training is a must, as is a securely fenced yard.
1. Rhodesian Ridgeback – Difficult Dog Breeds
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a medium-large dog originally bred in southern Africa to hunt large game, including lions. It was previously known as the African Lion Hound. Needless to say, that tiny lion that lays about your living room will likely not pose much of a challenge for this tenacious hunter.
That said, the Rhodesian is a loyal family companion, but that high prey drive is a good reason to consider other breeds, especially if you have small pets, cats or other smaller dogs.
Dogs that have a noticeably high prey drive can be difficult to deal with. They often chase everything that moves. This can include everything from small animals to other people.
Prey drive can not be trained out of dogs. It’s a natural instinct that can be trained away.
While you can’t get rid of this behavior completely, there are things that you can do to keep it under control.
Dogs with high prey drive will need a lot more training than those that don’t. You’ll need to be able to manage your dog when distractions are around. The goal of training is to set your dog up for success and to make your dog think before acting on instinct.
Instead of attempting to get rid of an innate behavior, you’re giving them the tools they need to move past the problem.
Also, much attention needs to be spent on training your dog to recall, so that you can get your dog back if something does go wrong.
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