Raising chickens is becoming more popular each year. These days, small chicken coops dot most suburban developments, and pet chickens have become a family norm.
Done right, chickens are relatively easy to maintain and provide a steady supply of delicious eggs. They’re a fantastic way to teach young children about work ethic and caring for animals, and they get to see the fruits of their labor in a unique way.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues with raising chickens is keeping them alive. They’re very vulnerable when they are small chicks, and then when they are fully grown they are at risk to predators.
While there are certain animals like foxes and coyotes out there licking their chops at your chickens, having dogs around chickens can also be pretty dicey.
Finding the right type of dog is key to keeping a good relationship between them and your chickens. With most dogs, it’s easy enough to keep them in check when you’re around.
However, most dogs are smart enough to do something naughty when you’re not looking. We’ve put together a list of 19 of the best farm dogs for chickens to help you choose a dog that can watch over your chickens without scaring them to death.
Some dogs are better suited for being around chickens than others. Any dog can be a threat to your chickens, so it’s critical you give them good training to set expectations. We know that certain breeds are more inclined to be peaceable and protective over other animals.
There will, of course, be some level of variance within breeds, but generally, it’s a good way to know what to expect and what kind of dog will behave best around your chickens.
Border Collie dogs are terrific farm dogs that instinctively protect animals on the farm. They’ll herd goats, sheep, chickens, and other animals.
These dogs are also incredibly smart, so they will respond very well to any training you give them. All you have to do is work with them around your chickens and introduce them slowly so they understand these animals are not to be messed with. They’ll quickly get the point.
Corgis are another dog breed that, despite their smaller stature, have strong herding instincts. They will love moving your chickens around, and typically they do not pose any danger to your birds.
Just be careful, though, because their instinct to herd too much could stress your chickens out and make their anxiety spike.
These large, fluffy dogs have gentle natures that make them ideal for being around chickens. They are also alert animals and will be attentive around your birds, warning you of any concerns or if a predator is in the area.
These dogs have been used by farmers and shepherds to move animals for years because they’re smart and typically have a very friendly temperament. You won’t see these dogs teasing your chickens or chasing them around the yard.
Protective by nature, an Akbash will watch over your chickens like they were their own offspring. Once they recognize that you cherish the chickens, they will go into guard dog mode and do whatever it takes to keep them safe.
These dogs do make a lot of noise, so expect barking if they feel like something is off.
If a chicken wanders too far or gets into trouble, they’ll bark loudly until you come to see what’s happening. They are big dogs that need plenty of space, so are ideal for farms or homes with large yards.
A Komondor is known around the world for being a strong protector with a loud bark to drive off any would-be predators.
They are extremely independent dogs, so you won’t have to worry about any separation anxiety when you go to work. They just need a lot of space to roam, and they’re great around other pets and kids.
These dogs are some of the most resilient herding dogs you can find. They have thick undercoats to protect them from the cold, and they come from climates that are very hot and dry. As such, they can be outside around your chickens in the middle of the summer and the dead of winter.
They’re decent-sized, so serve as a pretty good deterrent against chicken predators. The only concern with Anatolians is that they are extremely protective, so you’ll need to leash train them well for when you go around other dogs and people.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are massive dogs! They may be intimidating to some, but these dogs are huge teddy bears with very little instinct to hurt other animals.
They won’t consider chickens as prey. Most likely, they’ll view them with a bit of indifference.
They’re also very big, which will make any fox or coyote think twice about coming over the fence. These dogs are great with kids as well.
Pulis are known for their cord-like fur that falls over their eyes and flops around when they run. Their coats are waterproof. If you’re looking for a farm dog for chickens that can be out in the rain protecting them, then the Puli may be the dog for you.
They have strong loyal instincts and a lot of energy, so they will want to run around a lot. They are smart and stubborn, though, so training is a must!
Friendly around people and other animals, a Maremma Sheepdog will go well on a farm with chickens. They will adapt to your expectations quickly and typically won’t pose any sort of threat to your flock.
These dogs need training and a lot of space to thrive. If you’ve got a lot of green space and some time to spend with them, they’ll be a great addition.
This dog breed is one of the most popular farm dog breeds out there. Farmers love Kangals because they are smart, have good stamina, and learn quickly. They’re a good size, not too small, not too big, and they’re loyal and calm.
Kangals are also fast due to their light frames, so they can respond to chicken predators quickly and will be perfectly happy spending hours laying in the dirt or grass watching over the chickens. They love kids and do great double duty as a family pet.
If you’re looking for something smaller that won’t bother your chickens, you may want to consider a Maltese.
These fluffy dogs are very popular as house pets, and they won’t chase your chickens. You can’t expect these tiny dogs to chase chickens around large fields or fight off coyotes, but you should get peace of mind knowing they won’t try to hurt your birds.
They’re easy to teach and love to be around people and animals.
Another massive dog, Tibetan Mastiffs look imposing, but they are gentle giants. People consistently rank Tibetan Mastiffs as one of the best chicken guard dogs because they’re very protective by nature.
Once you train them, they’ll take guard duty seriously. These dogs are also nocturnal, so you won’t catch them sleeping on the job at night. Their thick coat makes them comfortable in colder weather as well.
Another tinier dog breed, the Bichon Frise is a white ball of puff that will love being wherever you are.
Most of the time, they won’t have any desire to bother your chickens, and they’re usually very easy to train. It’s a good breed for people who want to start raising chickens in their backyard and don’t have the space for some of the larger dog breeds on this list.
You’ll have a ton of fun sitting on the sofa with this puppy, and you won’t get any trouble from them as far as your chickens are concerned.
The Great Pyrenees
You can spot a Great Pyrenees dog by their fluffy, straight white coats and their constantly wagging tails. These dogs are friendly and excitable. They have a ton of energy that they’ll spend running around outside and watching over your chickens.
These are some of the gentlest dogs out there, so they are perfect for families with children and around small animals. The Great Pyrenees is a highly sought-after dog for people raising chickens.
The Japanese Chin is another dog that typically wouldn’t hurt a fly. They will usually show no interest in your chickens and may even be slightly afraid of them. For the most part, though, these dogs do just fine around chickens.
They’re playful and go with the flow. If you train them to leave the chickens alone, you won’t catch them anywhere near your birds.
Long-trained to be shepherding dogs, the Kuvasz breed is a good option for farm dogs for chickens. They are large in stature so they will drive away potential predators, and they have a strong desire to please their humans.
Kuvasz dogs respond well to training and will do whatever it takes to win your approval. They’re usually friendly with other dogs and kids and won’t hurt your chickens.
The Border Collie is at the top of this list, but the standard Collie is another terrific choice for people who raise chickens.
One of the smartest dogs in the world, Collies are dogs with protective instincts around humans and small animals. They will spend time around your chickens and keep watch over them dutifully.
They will likely require a bit more training than some of the gentler dogs on this list, but their intelligence takes them far, and they’ll pick things up very quickly.
As you can probably tell by now, dogs with strong herding and protective instincts will do best around chickens on your farm. We can add the Shetland Sheepdog to this list because of its long pedigree of helping farmers watch over animals and move them from place to place. Shetland sheepdogs are friendly dogs, making them ideal for families too.
Rounding out our list is the Spanish Mastiff, another massive dog with a great personality. It’s another gentle giant, who can’t be bothered to lift a paw to hurt any of your chickens. They do well on farms or in rural areas where there is enough space to accommodate their large size.
They’re alert to their surroundings, so will pick up on anything strange quickly before anything bad happens. You can count on them to bark loudly to alert you early so you have time to react.
Unfortunately, a lot of people learn the hard way just how difficult it can be to protect chickens. We lose them to weather, sickness, and other factors often out of our control. Chickens are tasty, vulnerable birds, and humans aren’t the only species that’s picked up on that.
If you own chickens and live in a relatively rural area, you can expect visits from:
- Birds of prey
This isn’t even a comprehensive list. There are still other predators that would love to take a chunk out of your birds.
Add to that the fact that dogs often kill chickens, and you can see why sometimes raising chickens can be a frustrating experience. There’s nothing more demoralizing with chickens than going to great lengths to protect them from wild predators only to have your dog or a neighbor’s dog come in and kill some of your animals.
To deter all predators, including dogs, you should:
- Build a strong coop that aggressive animals can’t get into
- Make sure your fences are high and install fence curtains to prevent digging
- Get a dog large enough to deter predators and one that won’t harm your chickens
- Consider getting another guard animal like a donkey, alpaca, or a llama.
- Install fence rollers at the top of your fence to stop animals from climbing over
Nothing is 100% secure, and your chickens will always be at some risk. It’s part of the gig of raising chickens. With the right dog and the right security measures, though, you can improve your chances of keeping your chickens safe and happy.