Top 10 Cat-Friendly Small Dogs

By Laurie L. Dove, Animal Planet

Lions and lambs. Birds and worms. Dogs and cats. There are some combinations of animals, which left to their own devices, just don’t mix. This is especially true if both species like to lounge in your living room. (Hopefully you’ve realized we’re zeroing in on dogs and cats here, and don’t have a roaring/bleating situation on your hands.)

After all, it’s only natural that dogs chase cats, right? Not necessarily. With proper socialization, dogs and cats can live in harmony. In fact, they may even become what we’d consider “friends.” Still, it pays to stack the odds in your favor, so we’ve put together a line-up of “most likely to succeed” dogs. Which breeds made our top 10? Find out, beginning on the next page.

Cats and Dogs: Togetherness Tips

10: Pomeranian

They may look like little balls of fur, but Pomeranians are 3 to 7 pounds (1.36 to 3 kilograms) of sheer confidence — a trait that makes them well equipped to befriend an equally cocky cat. The Pomeranian’s ancestors were once four times the breed’s current standard size and were used primarily to herd sheep or pull sleds. Today, the diminutive breed is known for its loyal, active personality with the intelligence to match. This is a combination that easily takes to training — especially positive reinforcement — and just one of several reasons the breed made our cat-friendly list. The Pomeranian (whose coat can be any color or pattern, but seems to most often sport orange or red) is an ideal small dog to have as a cat’s housemate. Even if the two don’t become fast friends, the Pom can be trained to offer companionable respect. Now that’s a match made in heaven.

9: Shih Tzu

How could a cat not love these dogs? We sure do. Shih Tzus are tranquil, devoted and highly adaptable. But don’t mistake these dogs for proverbial doormats. Their personalities outmatch their diminutive size and they have a persistent arrogant streak that may require extra time and attention — especially if your goal is peace between Shih Tzus and cats. Shih Tzus respond well to metered discipline, especially when it’s consistent and applied to even small infractions (this saves a lot of trouble down the road because it prevents little problems from becoming nasty little habits). With training, they develop a mutual understanding and respect with a feline companion. Plus, at just 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kilograms), your cat may end up being the larger of the two.

8: Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is a big dog in a little package. These up to 6-pound (2.7-kilogram) dynamos are confident, self-reliant and likely to challenge a dog four times their size. Fortunately, even with their terrier-like attitudes, Chihuahuas make good companions for felines. As anyone who has ever watched a Chihuahua and cat become friends must surely know, the two seem to enjoy sharing the same space — and will even curl up together for a nap. As with most dogs, it’s best if a Chihuahua and cat are introduced while still young, preferably before their first birthdays. Even if your Chihuahua is older, he could still be trained to respect a cat rather than give chase. Just make sure the cat does the same. A Chihuahua can weigh as little as 2 pounds (.9 kilograms); the cat may just tower over him.

7: Maltese

The Maltese is undeniably good-looking. She has silky white hair that if not trimmed flows to the floor, a charming little face accentuated by dark, expressive eyes and a black button nose. Weighing about 6 pounds (2.72 kilograms), the Maltese makes a perfect lapdog. But these aren’t the only reasons she’s on our cat-friendly list. The Maltese is a smart little dog that loves to please, and this makes her a fast learner (so even if your cat can’t figure out that running away will make just about any dog give chase, the Maltese can be trained to take the high road). Plus, the Maltese is quite gentle-mannered in the first place, allowing her to become a companion — rather than a threat — to equally beloved felines. It’s a win/win situation.

6: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These dogs seem like the very definition of “lap dog.” The Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a member of the English toy spaniel breed, evolved from similar dogs favored by English royalty — especially King Charles II, who reigned in the 17th century. He always had a spaniel by his side (and even decreed they be allowed in public places, like Parliament). It’s no wonder the breed bears his name. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel (or Cav) is quick to learn tricks, obey its human companion and cuddle with anyone who sits still for even a moment. Cat lovers will be especially pleased to discover the Cav has a penchant for smaller creatures. These spaniels weigh only 13 to 18 pounds (5.8 to 8.1 kilograms) and easily bow to the wishes of a household cat if introduced to this long-tailed leader as a puppy. Although the Cav and reigning cat often develop a mutual respect, it’s not uncommon to find the two playing, particularly if the cat is an outgoing and good-natured creature.

5: Boston Terrier

These lively dogs can be trained to give a cat ample space. That’s just one reason the Boston terrier, also known as the “all-American dog” is one of our top cat-friendly picks. These intelligent dogs with distinctive black-and-white markings weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds (4.5 to 11.3 kilograms) and are easy to train, in large part because of their intelligence and determination. As the name suggests, this breed was developed in Boston, Mass., following the Civil War as a fighting dog. By 1891, it officially became known as the Boston terrier. Most cats, however, simply know them as “buddy.”

4: Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested is an elegant dog that’s just 12 inches (30.48 centimeters) tall at the shoulder, bringing him eye-to-eye with many cats. The largely hairless dogs (except for a long crest on the neck and head, the lower legs and tail) are soft and smooth to the touch. A variation, known as the “powderpuff,” features an allover coat of soft, straight hair. What cat lovers may appreciate most about the Chinese Crested, however, is his loving, playful personality. One that’s just right for living with a cat or two. In fact, because the Chinese Crested can sometimes be naturally timid, it may just be the cat you have to watch out for. Generally, though, the Chinese Crested will befriend the companions he lives with over time — cats and all.

3: Shetland Sheepdog

They may look like miniature versions of the Border collie, but Shetland sheepdogs have a personality all their own. They stand only 13 to 16 inches (33 to 40.6 centimeters) at the shoulder, but have an alert and intelligent disposition. This makes them especially responsive to their owners and to consistent training attempts. Shelties are adept at everything from basic obedience to agility, and can readily understand any command that amounts to “don’t chase the cat.” In fact, the loyal affection these herding dogs show their owners is matched only by their tolerance and patience when faced with smaller species like cats– particularly if initially supervised to make sure the friendship get off on the right paw.

2: Japanese Chin

Bred as companions, it’s easy to see why a Japanese Chin would become fast friends with their human — or even a cat their human also happens to love. The Japanese Chin actually originated in China, and spent much of its time warming the laps of Chinese aristocracy or accompanying royal ladies in their comings and goings. As the breed’s popularity grew throughout the Far East, the dogs were gifted to traveling dignitaries — signifying what a treasure the Japanese Chin had become to the Far East. The Japanese Chin continues to be a treasure today, and is an affectionate (if not occasionally reserved) breed with an even temperament that can adapt to dynamic households, including playful kittens or adult cats.

1: Bichon Frise

There’s much to love about the Bichon Frise. They’re cheerful, playful and gentle — all great qualities in a companion dog. At up to 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) and 11.5 inches (29.2 centimeters) in height, this powder-puff of a dog is a perfectly packaged compadre. And that goes for cats, too. When raised together, a Bichon and a housecat can become fast friends, playing and wrestling like siblings. Even if introduced later in life, the two can learn to get along if the cat isn’t especially aggressive or flighty. Small dogs like the Bichon Frise are especially likely to be harmed by cat claws; most dogs won’t chase a cat that doesn’t run. By employing a consistent brand of positive reinforcement, even reluctant Bichons can be trained to tolerate cats.

Related:
Cats and Dogs: Togetherness Tips
Dog Helps Save Drowning Cat
Cuddling Dog and Cat are Best Friends (video)

120 comments

Cindy S
Cindy Smithabout a year ago

thanks

SEND
Ruth S
Ruth S2 years ago

Thanks.

SEND
Naomi Dreyer
Naomi D2 years ago

Thanks. Nice photos . The Pom reminded me of my TidBit.

SEND
Janet B
Janet B2 years ago

Thanks

SEND
Winn Adams
Winn Adams5 years ago

Thanks

SEND
Nickihermes Celine
Past Member 5 years ago

thank you for sharing this 9/7

SEND
Fred Hoekstra
Fred H6 years ago

Thank you Megan, for Sharing this!

SEND
Valentina R.
Valentina R6 years ago

Wow, really?
The breed and size determines how much a certain dog will get along with cats?
Do you even listen to what you are saying?

Pssst, honey, small dogs are usually the least sociable ones. A dog being small and fluffy doesn't automatically make it similar to a cat. Not all large dogs are blood-thirsty cats eaters, go figure. In fact, massive dogs like Saint Bernard and Newfoundland are gentle and loving with everything and everyone, while Chihuahuas and Terriers are better alone. Weird, isn't it?

This article, aside from being racist and discriminatory towards big dogs, is utter nonsense, and the person who wrote it is clearly a clueless, ignorant, and simple-minded small dogs lover. It's thanks to individuals like you that people keep thinking that large dogs are all dangerous and scary while small dogs are the greatest thing ever.
And even worse, keep mentioning breeds surely does not encourage adoptions from shelters (see Nicky M's post).
To sum it up, you should just shut up.

SEND
tammy B.
tammy B7 years ago

interesting post, still think it has a lot to do with personalities of all parties involved

SEND
christy s.
christy s7 years ago

I've always had mini dachshunds and cats and they all get along. I always have more than one little doxie because they need a pack, but they're happy to cuddle with a cat or two also. I will say this, the cat always rules. Maybe because my little ones, dogs and cats are always rescues, they feel like they have more in common.

SEND