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Do German Shepherds Get Along With Chickens? Compatibility Facts & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

german shepherd with chickens in the yard

If you own a farm and a German Shepherd, it’s only natural to wonder about social interaction between pets and livestock. Highly prey-driven, an untrained German Shepherd will inevitably attack your chickens.

However, with training, you can get your chicken and German Shepherd to have a cordial relationship with each other. But how do you train a German Shepherd not to attack chickens, and can you actually turn your German Shepherd into a working dog on the farm?

We answer all those questions and more here. This way, you know exactly what you need to do to bring your dog and farm worlds together!

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Why Do German Shepherds Attack Chickens?

If you simply release your German Shepherd into a chicken coop, your German Shepherd will almost always attack the chickens. It’s because your German Shepherd has strong herding instincts, and the sight of chickens flying around all over the place is stimulation overload.

When the chickens don’t do what the German Shepherd wants, that leads to nipping and other methods that your dog uses to control animals. Of course, with how small chickens are, the nips can quickly turn fatal.

But it’s not just the herding nature that you need to worry about. German Shepherds can also view the chickens as prey. If this happens, your German Shepherd won’t be trying to herd the chickens, they will actively be trying to kill them.

Therefore, you should always supervise your German Shepherd around your chickens until you’ve finished training them.

chicken droves
Image Credit: RitaE, Pixabay

Training German Shepherds Not to Attack Chickens

Yes! It takes time and a great deal of patience, but you can absolutely train a German Shepherd to not attack chickens. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight, and don’t expect the first encounter to go smoothly.

It’s a German Shepherd’s natural instinct to go after chickens, so it’s going to take a bit of work and training to keep them from attacking.

How To Introduce Dogs to Chickens?

If you’re trying to introduce your German Shepherd to chickens, always start with them on a leash. Slowly work your way toward the chickens but stop every time your German Shepherd starts to make noise or get aggressive.

Don’t force the interaction. Just continue to praise your German Shepherd every time they behave well, and stop the praise and rewards as soon as they start acting out. The immediate stop of the praise and rewards is crucial to training your German Shepherd because this is how they form the correlation of proper behavior and being around chickens.

Once you can get your German Shepherd to be next to the chickens without the dog trying to chase them, you can give them a little more freedom while still keeping them on a leash. Don’t remove the leash until you’re completely confident that your German Shepherd won’t go after your chickens.

How To Train a German Shepherd to Protect Chickens?

While a German Shepherd isn’t the prototypical farm dog, if you train them to coinhabit with your chickens, your dog will likely protect them if another animal comes over. The intent of your German Shepherd might be to protect the family instead of the chickens, but the result is the same.

Do keep in mind that German Shepherds aren’t the best farm dogs, so you might need to spend more time training them to stay on task and complete other activities around the farm.

one year old German Shepherd female
Image Credit: Lurin, Shutterstock

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What Is the Best Dog to Have Around Chickens?

If you’re looking for a dog to help out around the farm, a German Shepherd isn’t one of them. Still, there are plenty of dogs out there that can help make farm life a little easier. Here, we highlighted three popular options.

Australian Cattle Dog (Heeler)

Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

If you need a strong, loyal, and high-energy dog for the farm, the Australian Cattle Dog is an outstanding choice. These are work-oriented dogs that are extremely intelligent, making them a popular among farmers.

Border Collie

border collie
Image Credit: Lucia Horvath Photography, Shutterstock

Border Collies are herding dogs, and this is incredibly useful on the farm. The Border Collie is also an extremely intelligent breed. There are few tasks that they can’t learn. They’re high energy, extremely loyal, and nearly the perfect farm dog.

Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier outdoor
Image Credit: Annabel_P, Pixabay

While the Jack Russell Terrier is a good farm dog, they’re not a dog that you want around chickens. People bred the Jack Russell Terrier to hunt small furry animals. Unfortunately for chicken owners, the Jack Russell Terrier often conflates a chicken with a small furry animal.

But if you’re looking for a dog to help keep rodents and other small wild animals at bay, the Jack Russell Terrier can certainly help out.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking of introducing your German Shepherd to your chickens, do it with a bit of caution. The two animals aren’t natural companions, and unless you take the time to introduce and acclimate them to each other, the first few interactions can spell disaster.

Luckily for you, though, the German Shepherd aims to please, and with enough time and patience, there’s no reason that you can’t train your German Shepherd to get along with your chickens. Just take your time and keep them on a leash until everybody is well acquainted and on friendly terms.

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Featured Image Credit: volodimir bazyuk, Shutterstock

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