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20 Dog Breeds With High Prey Drives

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

English Springer Spaniel

You may have heard people say that their dog has a “high prey drive” and not understand what that means. To understand which dog breeds have high prey drives, you first have to understand what a high prey drive is.

A dog’s prey drive is the instinctual need for a dog to chase something, usually a small animal, when they see it. For some dogs, something as simple as seeing an animal run past is enough to activate this drive.

Dogs with high prey drives are breeds that have been developed for some form of chase, like sighthounds and some hunting breeds. There are also some breeds that have a temperament that is closer to their wild ancestors than the average pet dog, which can also lead to high prey drive.

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The 20 Dogs With High Prey Drives

1. Greyhound

Italian Greyhound standing
Photo Credit: Natallia Yaumenenka, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Height: 27–30 inches

Known for their speed and racing skill, the Greyhound has an extremely high prey drive. This sighthound was bred to chase a variety of wildlife, including foxes and rabbits. Although the modern breed originated in England, the ancestors of the breed showed up around 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. When racing, the dogs are encouraged to run by chasing a lure that mimics the movements of a small animal. While Greyhounds in general have a high prey drive, this is especially prominent in retired racers.

2. Afghan Hound

An afghan hound dog walking on the lawn_raywoo_shutterstock
Photo Credit: raywoo, Shutterstock
Origin: Somewhere in modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India
Lifespan: 12–18 years
Height: 25–27 inches

The Afghan Hound is a gorgeous dog breed that’s impossible to miss, thanks to its long, flowing coat. This sighthound has been around longer than written human history, so its origins are somewhat mysterious, although it’s believed to have originated in the area that is now modern-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Although beautiful, these dogs are tough and can thrive in harsh environments, and they were frequently used for hunting large, fast prey, like the Bactrian deer and Bezoar ibex.

3. Borzoi

white russian borzoi in the forest during autumn
Photo Credit: Anastasiia Cherniavskaia, Shutterstock
Origin: Russia
Lifespan: 9–14 years
Height: 26+ inches

Borzois may be an uncommon breed, but they are instantly recognizable because of their unique appearance. These large sighthounds can exceed 100 pounds and reach speeds of 35 miles per hour when running. This breed originated in Russia, often gracing the palaces and homes of royalty and the wealthy.

Borzois were traditionally used for wolf hunting but will happily chase most animals they see running. This breed’s survival was threatened when the Russian Revolution occurred in the early 1900s, but exports to England and America kept the breed alive.

4. Saluki

a saluki dog in a meadow
Photo Credit: Elisabetta Bellomi, Pixabay
Origin: Middle East, Asia, and/or Egypt
Lifespan: 10–17 years
Height: 23–28 inches

The Saluki, like many sighthound breeds, is an ancient breed. This breed is believed to have originated as early as 7,000 BC, so its origins are a mystery, although they are believed to be from the ancient Middle East, Egypt, or Asia. For reference to the age of this breed, the Saluki is older than the Egyptian pyramids.

This elegant dog, like the Afghan Hound, is a hardy breed that can withstand unforgiving desert climates. They have been used for hunting a variety of animals in the last 9,000 years, so you can expect a very high prey drive with this breed.

5. Pharaoh Hound

Pharaoh Hound in beautiful autumn park
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: Egypt
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 21–25 inches

As the name implies, the Pharaoh Hound originated in Egypt more than 2,500 years ago. Although primarily used as rabbit hunters, the Pharaoh Hound has been used to hunt a variety of animals from the deserts of Egypt to the hills of Great Britain. Interestingly, although Egyptian in origin, this breed has been the national dog breed of Malta since 1979. Thanks to the trade routes of the Phoenicians, this breed was spread far and wide in the ancient world.

6. Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhound
Image Credit: Jana Oudova, Shutterstock
Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 6–8 years
Height: 32+ inches

The Irish Wolfhound was developed in Ireland before the Romans had control of much of the known world, coming from a crossing of the large dogs native to Britain and the sighthounds that were imported from the Middle East.

This giant breed, the tallest breed recognized by the AKC, was used to hunt a variety of animals, including the now-extinct Irish elk. When the population of wolves in Britain experienced a boom in the 15th century, the Irish Wolfhound earned its name.

7. Scottish Deerhound

scottish deerhound
Image Credit: Kim Christensen, Shutterstock
Origin: Scotland
Lifespan: 8–11 years
Height: 28–32 inches

Not to be confused with the similar-looking Irish Wolfhound, the Scottish Deerhound is a breed entirely of its own. It’s unknown just how old this breed is, but it has embedded itself into Scottish legend and lore. In fact, the Scottish Deerhound was present in modern-day Scotland long before the ancestors of the Scots arrived. They were used to hunt many types of large game, including the red deer, which could weigh around 400 pounds.

Because of their sighthound background, you can expect a high prey drive with this breed, even though they are not frequently used in hunting anymore.

8. Airedale Terrier

airedale terrier dog standing outdoors in the forest
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 11–14 years
Height: 23 inches

Don’t let the terrier name fool you; the Airedale is the tallest of all terrier breeds, reaching almost 2 feet in height at the shoulder. This dog is an athlete through and through, and it lives up to its terrier name through its high prey drive, having been bred for hunting rats and ducks. Although their prey drive is high, Airedales tend to be gentle and patient with children, but allowing them around small animals should only be done with great caution.

9. Australian Terrier

Australian Silky Terrier
Image credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock
Origin: Australia
Lifespan: 11–15 years
Height: 10–11 inches

The Australian Terrier may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude. These pups have big personalities and a rough-and-tumble temperament. They can be intolerant of other animals and are often considered to be best for single-pet homes.

This breed was developed from the crossing of multiple other breeds, including the Cairn, Scottie, Skye, and Yorkshire Terriers. They are working dogs that were primarily bred for pest control of snakes and small mammals.

10. Border Terrier

border terrier
Image Credit: Colin Seddon, Shutterstock
Origin: Scotland-England border
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 12–15 inches

The Border Terrier may be a plucky, fun dog, but it’s also a hard-as-nails working dog. This breed originated as a fox-hunting dog, but this was not the fox hunting you might imagine with the noblemen on horseback. The Border Terrier was a dog of the people, helping hunt foxes in order to protect livestock.

Modern-day Border Terriers are usually okay in multi-dog homes and are generally known to get along well with other dogs. They are likely to chase if they spot a small animal, like a squirrel or cat, running across their path.

11. Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers

smooth-haired fox terrier dog standing on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: Olga Maksimava, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 15. 5 inches

Although technically different breeds, the Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers are closely related and very similar in temperament and appearance, with the exception of the wiry coat of the Wire Fox Terrier and a slight difference in head shape. Both breeds were developed in England to participate in the beloved English pastime of fox hunting. While traditional fox hunts are banned today, the Fox Terriers have stayed popular with terrier lovers.

These tenacious dogs are iffy with other dogs, so this should be considered on an individual basis. When it comes to small animals, expect these breeds to chase at the sight of them.

12. Yorkshire Terrier

standard yorkshire terrier standing on grass
Image Credit: Imageman, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 11–15 years
Height: 7–8 inches

The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, is widely known as a high-maintenance lap dog, but this breed is just as tough as any other terrier. Before they began living in the lap of luxury, Yorkies were prized ratters in mills and mines in Victorian England. Their size and cute factor can be deceiving, though.

As terriers, you can expect Yorkies to chase small animals, especially rodents. Although a Yorkshire Terrier may not be able to do significant damage if it goes after a larger dog, don’t underestimate the damage that your Yorkie can do if it catches a guinea pig or kitten.

13. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier on mulch_Shutterstock_Tom Myers
Image Credit: Tom Myers, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Height: 17–19 inches

Often confused as being a Pit Bull, the American Staffordshire Terrier is its own breed. Also known as Staffies and AmStaffs, this breed is loyal, loving, and courageous. Although intimidating in appearance, this breed is known for its patient and tender temperament with its people. However, as a terrier, the AmStaff has a high prey drive, and it should be considered a dog to handle with caution around small animals.

This breed is not for the faint of heart and can be a lot of “dog” to handle, so make sure to do your research and seek out a responsible breeder who is aiming to improve the breed with their breeding program.

14. American Bulldog

American Bulldog running in the forest
Image Credit: Volchock, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 20–25 inches

Another dog often confused with a Pit Bull, the American Bulldog is a muscular, brave dog that can reach up to 100 pounds. A friendly temperament with people has always been an important aspect of this breed, and their original purpose was to work as utility dogs on farms, but the breed has largely been maintained by its popularity in the American South for hunting feral hogs. While these dogs are fearless and strong, you should also expect a dog that will chase other animals, including other dogs.

15. Beagle

beagle dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: Artyom Gantsev, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Height: 15 inches and below

The Beagle is a surprisingly ancient dog breed, with its origins somewhat mysterious. It’s generally agreed that the breed was fully developed within Great Britain, though. This breed was widely used for its skill in hunting rabbits and hares, but large packs of Beagles were also used for tracking deer. Known as a “foot hound,” the Beagle was popular because it could be used for hunting without the hunter needing a horse, which made them extremely popular with people who couldn’t afford horses or couldn’t tolerate being on horseback throughout a day of hunting.

As a dog bred to follow other animals, you can expect a high prey drive from your Beagle. Well, just as soon as they wake up from their nap.

16. Bluetick Coonhound

bluetick coonhound in the grass
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 11–12 years
Height: 21–27 years

Like all Coonhounds, the Bluetick Coonhound originated in the United States. This breed is tall and lanky, but also muscular and powerful. While a Bluetick loves taking long naps and having a lazy day on the couch, this breed has an extremely high prey drive.

It’s important to find ways to channel this prey drive in this breed to decrease bad behaviors, like baying all night. The prey drive in this breed often makes them unsuitable for homes with small animals, including cats and small dogs.

17. Vizsla

wirehaired vizsla dog in water
Image Credit: Shakarrigrafie, Shutterstock
Origin: Hungary
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 21–25 inches

The Vizsla breed is a loving and elegant breed that has been growing in popularity. They tightly bond with their handlers, and because of this, they are often not suitable for homes where they’ll be left alone all day. This gundog breed has a lot of stamina and makes a great companion for active people and is highly intelligent. They are typically good with other dogs, but as a hunting breed, Vizslas are likely to chase small animals, especially rodents and birds.

18. English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniel standing in field
Image Credit: Martin Christopher Parker, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 19–20 inches

The English Springer Spaniel is an affectionate and sweet dog that can show perfect manners at home without losing any skill as a bird dog. It has a beautiful, silky coat and a kind face. They are generally considered to be great dogs in a multi-pet home, often getting along with a variety of pets. However, as bird dogs, you can definitely expect a prey-drive response in the presence of birds. Since this can cause stress and excessive barking from the dog, as well as stress for the bird, the English Springer Spaniel is not a good pick for a home with birds.

19. Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky standing outdoor
Image Credit: BARBARA808, Pixabay
Origin: Northeastern Asia
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 20–23.5 inches

Siberian Huskies are extremely popular pets, thanks to their goofy but loving temperament, as well as their patience and playfulness with children. They make poor watchdogs due to their overly friendly nature, but as a breed that originated for sled pulling, these dogs thrive when given a job.

While there are major differences between Huskies bred for sled pulling and those bred for companionship, they have a similar desire to pull and a high prey drive. Because of the harsh conditions that this breed was developed and thrived in, they had to develop a high prey drive because, oftentimes, catching prey could be the difference between life and death.

20. Alaskan Malamute

alaskan malamute
Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 10–14 years
Height: 23–25 inches

The Alaskan Malamute is commonly confused as being a large Siberian Husky, but these are two very different breeds. Large and powerful, the Malamute is affectionate toward its people but largely aloof and often not patient with children. This is a sled-pulling breed that originated from the dogs that came to North America across land bridges thousands of years ago.

These dogs were also used for carrying packs, helping with bear hunts, and finding seal breathing holes in ice. While the Siberian Husky has been developed for speed, the Alaskan Malamute has been developed for pulling heavy freight. Like the Siberian Husky, a high prey drive was an essential part of survival in the harsh climates of Northern Alaska.

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Can a Dog With High Prey Drive Live With a Cat?

There isn’t a simple answer to this question, unfortunately. When it comes to keeping cats and high prey-drive dogs together, it should be considered on a case-by-case basis. While certain breeds have a high prey drive, each individual dog is different.

Breeds with exceptionally high prey drives should usually not be considered for homes with cats. However, many breeds of terriers and hounds can thrive in homes with cats. It’s extremely important to ensure proper socialization of your dog, as well as proper introductions.

Stay in control of the behavior of your pets, even when they’re in your home. If your dog is allowed to chase or play rough with the cat, then they are more likely to have a prey-drive response that can lead to your cat being injured. Ensure your cat has plenty of places throughout the house where they can quickly get away from the dog if there’s a problem. Ideally, your dog should also be kenneled when there isn’t an adult at home to monitor the situation.

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Dog breeds that have a high prey drive can make excellent pets, but you should be prepared to take proper precautions. This can mean keeping your dog on a leash in public, having a securely fenced yard, and only allowing your dog access to small animals with direct adult supervision. Also, teaching your dog the “leave it” command can be extremely beneficial when your dog has a high prey drive. Even with supervision, it’s not advisable to allow a dog with high prey drive access to small animals like rodents and reptiles.

Featured Image Credit: Chiemsee2016, Pixabay

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