15 Common Dog Breeds That Kill Rabbit

Dogs and rabbits are natural enemies as rabbits are traditional prey for many dog breeds. While some dogs are trained to coexist with rabbits, others have a strong innate hunting instinct that makes them a potential threat to pet rabbits. Dog owners and rabbit owners must be careful when choosing the right breed to ensure the safety of both animals.

In this article, we will explore 15 common dog breeds with a high prey drive that are known to kill rabbits. We will also discuss any potential triggers that may lead to a dog attacking a rabbit. This information can help potential pet owners make an informed decision when considering adding a dog to a household with pet rabbits. It is important to remember that responsible pet ownership and proper training can help mitigate any potential harm to pet rabbits and promote a harmonious relationship between dogs and rabbits.

15 Common Dog Breeds That Kill RabbitDog Breeds That Kill Rabbit

  • Greyhound
  • Saluki
  • Whippet
  • Beagle
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Basenji
  • Basset Hound
  • Otterhound
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Dachshund
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • American Foxhound
  • Airedale Terrier

1. Greyhound:

Greyhounds are known for their incredible speed and hunting abilities. Originally bred for coursing and chasing small game, they have a strong instinct to chase and catch prey, including rabbits.

2. Saluki:

Similar to Greyhounds, Salukis were also bred for hunting small game. They have a high prey drive and are known for their speed and agility, making them excellent rabbit hunters.

3. Whippet:

Whippets are a smaller breed of Greyhound, but they still possess the same strong prey drive and hunting instincts. They are quick and agile, making them well-suited for catching rabbits.

4. Beagle:

Beagles have a strong sense of smell and were originally bred as hunting dogs. They are known for their ability to track and flush out rabbits, making them a popular breed for rabbit hunting.

5. English Springer Spaniel:

This breed was developed for retrieving small game, including rabbits. They have a strong instinct to chase and retrieve, making them excellent rabbit-hunting companions.

6. Jack Russell Terrier:

These energetic and feisty terriers were bred for fox hunting, but their small size and fearless attitude make them equally adept at catching rabbits. They were even nicknamed “the rabbit dog” in some areas.

7. Basenji:

This African breed has a strong prey drive and was originally used for hunting small game. They are known for their ability to track and chase rabbits through dense brush and undergrowth.

8. Basset Hound:

With their long, droopy ears and short legs, Basset Hounds may not look like fierce hunters, but they were bred to track and hunt rabbits. Their powerful sense of smell and good stamina make them well-suited for this task.

9. Otterhound:

As the name suggests, this breed was originally bred for hunting otters, but they are also skilled at hunting rabbits. They have a strong sense of smell and are known for their determination and stamina.

10. Australian Cattle Dog:

Although not typically thought of as a hunting breed, Australian Cattle Dogs have a strong prey drive and were originally bred to herd and protect livestock. They are known for their energy and agility, making them capable rabbit hunters.

11. Dachshund:

These small, short-legged dogs may seem like unlikely rabbit hunters, but they were originally bred for hunting badgers, which require similar digging and burrowing skills as rabbits. Their long bodies and powerful legs also give them an advantage when chasing down prey.

12. Scottish Terrier:

Scottish Terriers were originally bred to hunt small game, including rabbits. Their strong and muscular build, combined with their fearless and determined nature, make them well-suited for this task.

13. Border Terrier:

Another feisty terrier breed, Border Terriers were originally used to hunt foxes and other small game in the border regions of England and Scotland. They have a strong prey drive and are known for their tenacity and courage when it comes to hunting.

14. American Foxhound:

This breed was specifically developed for fox hunting, but they are also skilled at hunting rabbits. They have a keen nose, strong and agile body, and an instinct to chase and hunt, making them a popular choice for hunting rabbits.

15. Airedale Terrier:

Originally developed for hunting otters and other small game, Airedale Terriers have a strong prey drive and were even used to hunt rabbits in some areas. They are intelligent, athletic, and have a strong sense of smell, making them well-suited for rabbit hunting.

Can A Rabbit Live With A Dog?

It is not recommended to house a rabbit and a dog together, as they have very different behaviors and needs. Dogs are predators by nature and may chase or harm the rabbit, even if they do not intend to. Additionally, rabbits are sensitive and easily stressed animals, and living with a dog may cause them to feel constantly anxious and fearful. It is best to keep rabbits and dogs in separate living spaces to ensure the safety and well-being of both animals.

Is It Normal for A Dog to Kill A Rabbit?

It is not normal for a domesticated dog to kill a rabbit unless the dog has been trained and conditioned to do so. Some dogs may have a strong prey drive and instinctually chase after a rabbit, but it is typically the owner’s responsibility to train and socialize their dog to coexist peacefully with other animals. If a dog has a history of killing rabbits or other small animals, it is important to seek professional help to address this behavior. In some cases, the dog may need specialized training or management to prevent harm to other animals.

Large Dog Breeds That Kill Rabbits

  1. German Shepherd
  2. Rottweiler
  3. Doberman Pinscher
  4. Great Dane
  5. Wolfhound
  6. Akita
  7. Siberian Husky
  8. Alaskan Malamute
  9. Bullmastiff
  10. Mastiff
  11. Rhodesian Ridgeback
  12. Cane Corso
  13. Belgian Malinois
  14. American Staffordshire Terrier
  15. Pit Bull Terrier

SEE ALSO: How Much Is It To Spay A Dog At PetSmart?

How Do Dogs Kill RabbitsBREED 1

Dogs are natural predators and have a strong instinct to chase and hunt small animals like rabbits. Here are some of how dogs may kill rabbits:

  1. Chasing and catching: Dogs are fast and agile animals, making them excellent hunters. When they spot a rabbit, they will immediately give chase and use their speed and agility to catch the prey. They may also use their sharp teeth to grab and hold onto the rabbit until it stops struggling.
  2. Crushing: Dogs have powerful jaws that can exert a lot of pressure, making them capable of crushing small animals like rabbits. They may bite down on the rabbit’s neck or body, causing severe injury or even death.
  3. Shaking: Another common hunting behavior in dogs is the shaking of prey. Once they catch the rabbit, they may vigorously shake it back and forth, causing neck or spine injuries that can be fatal.
  4. Suffocation: Some dogs may also use suffocation as a tactic to kill rabbits. They may pin the rabbit down with their paws or hold it in their mouth, cutting off its air supply, until it dies.
  5. Playing: In some cases, dogs may see chasing and attacking rabbits as a form of play. However, their natural predatory instincts can kick in, and they may accidentally inflict fatal injuries on the rabbit.

What Dogs Can Live With Rabbits?

Some dogs that can live peacefully with rabbits include:

  1. Basset Hound
  2. Beagle
  3. Boxer
  4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  5. Golden Retriever
  6. Labrador Retriever
  7. Poodle
  8. Standard Schnauzer
  9. Collie
  10. Welsh Corgi

What Should You Do If Your Dog Does Kill A Rabbit?

  • Secure the area: If your dog has killed a rabbit, the first step is to remove your dog from the area to prevent any further harm to other animals. This is especially important if your dog is still aggressive and may attack other animals.
  • Check for injuries: If the rabbit was a pet or belonged to someone else, try to locate the owner and inform them of the incident. If the rabbit was a wild animal, check for any injuries on your dog. Rabbits have sharp claws and teeth and can cause scratches and bite wounds on dogs.
  • Monitor your dog: It is important to monitor your dog for any signs of illness or changes in behavior after the incident. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, they may have been exposed to bacteria, parasites, or diseases from the rabbit.
  • Seek medical attention: If your dog has any injuries from the rabbit, it is important to seek medical attention for them. This will ensure that their wounds are properly cleaned and treated to prevent any infections.
  • Dispose of the rabbit appropriately: If the rabbit was a wild animal, consult with your local animal control or wildlife management department on how to dispose of the body. If the rabbit was a pet, inform the owner and discuss how they would like to handle the situation.
  • Prevent future incidents: It is important to prevent any future incidents from happening. Train your dog to have a good recall and always keep them on a leash when outside. Additionally, it may be helpful to train your dog to coexist peacefully with smaller animals.
  • Apologize and take responsibility: If the rabbit was a pet or belonged to someone else, it is important to apologize and take responsibility for your dog’s actions. Offer to pay for any expenses related to the incident, such as medical bills or replacement costs for the rabbit.
  • Seek professional help: If your dog has a history of aggression towards small animals, it is important to seek professional help from a certified dog behaviorist. They can help address the underlying causes of your dog’s behavior and provide training to prevent future incidents.

Why Do These 15 Dog Breeds Have A Tendency To Kill Rabbits?BREED 2

  1. Instinctual Prey Drive: Some dog breeds, particularly those bred for hunting, have a strong instinctual prey drive. This means that they have a natural urge to chase, catch, and kill small animals like rabbits. This trait was initially developed in these breeds to help them hunt and provide food for humans.
  2. Lack of Socialization: Dogs that have not been properly socialized may not distinguish between prey and a beloved pet. The lack of exposure to other animals and experiences may make them more likely to view rabbits as a threat and attack them.
  3. Past Experiences: In some cases, dogs may have had a negative experience with a rabbit or another small animal, which could trigger an aggressive response towards all rabbits. This could result in the dog seeing all rabbits as potential enemies and attacking them.
  4. Breed-Specific Traits: Certain breeds of dogs have been selectively bred for characteristics that make them better hunters, such as intelligence, agility, and speed. These traits can also make them more efficient predators, which could contribute to their ability to kill rabbits.
  5. Prey Behavior: Rabbits are known for their quick and sudden movements, which can trigger a dog’s natural prey drive. The rabbit’s darting and rapid movement can stimulate a dog’s chase and kill instincts, making it difficult for the dog to resist the urge to attack.
  6. Lack of Training and Control: Dogs that have not been trained or properly socialized may not have the impulse control to resist their prey drive when confronted with a rabbit. A lack of training and control can result in the dog seeing the rabbit as fair game and attacking it.
  7. Protective Instinct: In some cases, a dog may see a rabbit as a threat to their territory or their owners. This can trigger their protective instincts, which can lead to aggressive behavior towards the rabbit.

How Do You Introduce A Dog To A Rabbit?

  1. Keep the dog on a leash: Start by keeping the dog on a leash and make sure it is under your control. This will prevent any sudden or unwanted behavior towards the rabbit.
  2. Let them see and smell each other: Allow the rabbit and dog to see and smell each other from a safe distance. This will help them get used to each other’s presence and scent.
  3. Use barriers: Place a baby gate or fence between the two animals so they can see each other but cannot physically interact. This will give them time to get used to each other’s presence without any risk of harm.
  4. Reward good behavior: When the dog remains calm and doesn’t show any signs of aggression towards the rabbit, reward it with treats and praise. This will reinforce positive behavior and help the dog associate the rabbit with something positive.
  5. Supervise all interactions: When you feel that both the rabbit and dog are comfortable, you can start allowing them to interact under close supervision. This will enable you to intervene if any aggressive behavior occurs.
  6. Teach the “leave it” command: Train your dog to respond to the “leave it” command. This will help in case the dog shows any signs of aggression towards the rabbit, allowing you to quickly redirect its attention.
  7. Don’t force interactions: If either animal shows signs of fear or aggression, do not force them to interact. It is important to introduce them gradually and let them become comfortable at their own pace.
  8. Provide separate living spaces: It is advisable to keep the rabbit and dog in separate living spaces, at least initially. This will help prevent any accidents or unwanted interactions when you are not around to supervise.
  9. Be patient: Introducing a dog to a rabbit can take time, so be patient and don’t rush the process. It is important to create a safe and positive environment for both animals to ensure a successful introduction.

How Can You Prevent Your Dog From Killing Rabbits?

  1. Train your dog: Proper obedience training can teach your dog to follow commands and stay under control even in the presence of rabbits. This will also help establish you as the pack leader and make it easier for your dog to listen to your instructions.
  2. Socialize your dog: Introduce your dog to rabbits and other small animals at a young age to help them become familiar and comfortable around them. This will also decrease the likelihood of your dog seeing them as prey.
  3. Supervise outdoor time: When your dog is outside, keep a close eye on them and never leave them unattended in an area where rabbits may be present. This will allow you to intervene and prevent your dog from chasing or attacking any rabbits.
  4. Use a leash or fence: When walking your dog in areas where rabbits are present, keep them on a leash to prevent them from chasing after rabbits. If you have a fenced-in yard, make sure the fence is high enough to prevent your dog from jumping over and escaping to chase rabbits.
  5. Distract your dog: If you spot a rabbit while out on a walk with your dog, distract them with a toy or treat to redirect their attention away from the rabbit. This may also help with desensitizing your dog to rabbits.
  6. Teach the “leave it” command: Teach your dog the “leave it” command and practice it often. This will allow you to quickly grab their attention and prevent them from going after rabbits or other small animals.
  7. Provide enough exercise and mental stimulation: A tired and mentally stimulated dog is less likely to chase after rabbits. Make sure your dog is getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation through walks, runs, and interactive games.
  8. Use deterrents: There are products available, such as motion-activated sprinklers or ultrasonic devices, that can deter rabbits from entering your yard, reducing the likelihood of your dog chasing them.
  9. Seek professional help: If your dog has a high prey drive or has a history of chasing and attacking rabbits, it may be best to seek help from a professional trainer who specializes in working with prey-driven dogs.

SEE ALSO: Why Do Dogs Walk In Circles Before They Die?


Q. Which dogs kill rabbits?

A. Some different dog breeds are known for being effective rabbit hunters, including Patterdale terriers, Jack Russell terriers, Beagles, Dachshunds, and more.

Q. Do Rottweilers kill rabbits?

A. Rottweilers are not typically known for killing rabbits, but they are powerful and determined dogs that could potentially harm or kill a rabbit if they felt threatened. Rottweilers were originally bred as working dogs, and they are very strong and capable of overpowering smaller animals.

Q. What kills most pet rabbits?

A. The leading cause of death in pet rabbits is digestive problems, followed by diseases and infections. Digestive problems can be caused by a number of things, including a diet that is not properly balanced, not enough hay in the diet, or eating the wrong kinds of food.


In conclusion, it is important for all pet owners to carefully research and consider their dog’s breed before bringing home a rabbit. Each of the 15 common dog breeds listed in this article has a natural prey drive and may potentially harm or even kill a rabbit. It is crucial for pet owners to properly train and socialize their dogs, as well as provide proper supervision and safety precautions when introducing them to rabbits. Ultimately, responsible ownership and management are key to ensuring the safety and well-being of both dogs and rabbits.

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