Your pooch’s happily trailing something in the yard.
So it may look like a harmless chase.
But suddenly, you hear a squealing.
Then you find your Fido with a lifeless bunny.
Now you’re shocked and left with many questions:
“Is this a normal behavior in dogs?
And should I be concerned about it?”
Keep reading to find out:
- 13 dog breeds that would likely kill a rabbit.
- If it’s natural for dogs to harm bunnies or not.
- 7 things to worry about if your dog killed a rabbit.
- And more…
Table of contents
- Is it normal for a dog to kill a rabbit?
- 13 dog breeds that kill rabbits
- Do I need to worry if my dog killed a rabbit?
Is it normal for a dog to kill a rabbit?
It’s normal for a dog to kill a rabbit. As a predator, every canine has an innate ‘prey drive’ or desire to catch animals. But this instinct might be stronger in certain dogs. Say in hounds bred to hunt rabbits and hares. While other breeds may love the thrill of chasing prey or anything that moves.
And I’ll briefly discuss each of them below:
13 dog breeds that kill rabbits
These floppy-eared dogs are usually affectionate. And they’re good with kids too.
But besides being a wonderful family pooch…
Beagles are also popular ‘rabbit dogs.’
“What are they?”
As the name suggests, those are hounds bred to hunt rabbits.
Due to Beagles’ intelligence and sharp noses…
They help hunters in catching bunnies.
Also, experts say that people in England first used them in a hare-hunting sport.
So a Beagle can easily find and track rabbits. And also a nest of bunnies.
Thus, if they’re not supervised or trained to leave those prey alone…
These dogs will likely pursue them.
Fun fact: When Beagles track prey, they let out a ‘bay.’ It’s like a mix of a bark and a howl. This unique sound can travel far in vast woods. So it helps hunters know their location in the distance.
You might also like: 17 Worst Dog Breeds Off Leash (Avoid #3 At All-Time)
Because of their size, these ‘sausage pups’ may look timid.
But oh, they have immense energy.
And they’re little beasts in hunting too.
Dachshunds are good at tracking scents. As well as digging burrows.
So these skills, along with their long, narrow bodies and short legs…
People used them to chase badgers in tunnels. And also in hunting small animals like rabbits.
So although they live in houses now as furry members of the family. …
Most of them may still have a strong ‘prey drive.’ Or the instinct to stalk and pursue other animals.
Based on a study, this is ‘predatory behavior.’
And the chase is usually followed by:
- Killing (or head shaking).
Reading tip: 5 Real Reasons Why Dogs Are Hunters
You may know this ancient Egyptian dog breed for its slender bodies. As well as their long ears with silky hair.
But apart from their elegant looks…
Salukis have better vision than other breeds.
So they belong to a group of hunting dogs called ‘sighthounds.’
Instead of following scents to catch prey…
These Fidos use their good eyesight and speed.
On average, Salukis can run up to 43 mi/h (69 km/h).
That’s why hunters bred them to track fast prey. Say rabbits and gazelles.
Thus, they’ll enjoy the thrill of chasing these animals.
Trivia: Salukis were once called the ‘royal dogs of Egypt.’ Back then, people treated them as sacred. And researchers found that they mummify the dogs too, like Egyptian nobles.
Like Salukis, these dogs hunt with their sight too.
Greyhounds are also fast and can detect motion. So they’re good at spotting prey.
Thus, they have a high chance of catching even a swift rabbit.
Now, if we talk about their desire to hunt bunnies…
Most of them may have it due to their breed as sighthounds.
But the prey drive might be higher in retired racing Greyhounds.
“What do you mean?”
To make Greyhounds run in the race…
People set up a fake lure which often looks like a rabbit running.
Doing it triggers the dogs’ motivation to chase and sprint as fast as they can.
But sadly, there’s a report saying that some people illegally train hounds using live bait.
For example, a bunny or a possum.
Also, there’s ‘hare coursing’ too. Wherein 2 Greyhounds will chase a brown hare as the prey tries to escape in a track.
Well. Some rabbits can outsmart these fast dogs, like in the video below:
However, it’s not always the case. And luckily, authorities have banned this cruel practice.
Thus, the activities above can add to the prey drive of a Greyhound, especially a retired racer.
So these dogs may chase and catch anything that moves – even cars.
#5: Afghan Hounds
These Fidos are tall, with lean heads and long silky hair.
And like Greyhounds, they move quickly as well.
So in Afghanistan, their homeland, their first job was to hunt hares and gazelles.
This breed has a sleek body and a deep chest.
Plus, Whippets can also sprint fast.
So specialists say that people used them in tracking rabbits in arenas as a sport.
Thus, this instinct might still be innate in most Whippets.
And a running bunny may trigger it.
Due to their independence and stubbornness…
Basenjis are known for being ‘cat-like.’
Aside from this, you may also know them as the ‘barkless dogs.’
However, these Fidos came from Africa. And they were hunting dogs, to begin with.
Now, this makes most Basenjis have a high prey drive too.
So they might not do well with smaller animals like rabbits.
#8: Jack Russell Terriers
Despite their compact size…
Jack Russells don’t get tired easily.
Plus, they have a sharp sense of smell too.
That’s why people first used them in hunting foxes.
Now, because of the breed’s strong prey drive and excellent nose…
They can trail rabbits too. And may harm them with their sturdy, athletic bodies.
#9: Yorkshire Terriers
They’re a toy breed with long, straight, silky hair.
People also call them ‘Yorkies.’ And they came from England.
Now, it may not be obvious with their cute looks…
But Yorkies were first used as a ‘ratter.’ Or dogs bred to hunt rats.
So with their history…
These tiny dogs can be fierce with small animals like rabbits.
#10: German Shepherds
This breed is a popular police K9 dog.
They’re large, strong, and smart.
And even though they have sturdy bodies, they still move fast.
“Are they a hunting breed too?”
People first bred German Shepherds to herd sheep.
But later on, they became working dogs who could take on many jobs.
Also, they love doing something to exercise their brains and bodies.
So if they’re bored and see a rabbit lurking in your backyard…
They may not hesitate to follow and capture the prey.
Further reading: How far can German Shepherds run?
#11: Siberian Huskies
Although they may look intimidating with their bright-colored eyes…
These fluffy dogs are often sweet. And they’re also good with kids.
Plus, they crave human interactions. So you should never leave them alone for so long.
However, despite this gentle nature of Huskies…
PetMD says they have a strong prey drive.
Now, this makes them prone to pursue and kill livestock. And also other smaller animals like bunnies and cats.
Note: Siberian Huskies are not a hunting breed like most dogs on the list. Tribe people first used them as sled dogs in Siberia.
You might also want to know: Are Huskies aggressive?
#12: Alaskan Malamutes
These Fidos have thick, fluffy coats. And they’re also friendly to people.
But like Siberian Huskies…
Most of these dogs are also motivated to chase small animals. Or any unknown pets.
Plus, they’re a working breed too.
So when bored, they might get destructive.
And they can find anything they see in the yard more fascinating. For example, a galloping bunny.
#13: Shiba Inus
They say looks can be deceiving.
And this is true for this breed.
Due to its cute and tame appearance…
You may forget that Shiba Inus were also bred to hunt small games. Say rabbits and birds.
According to experts, they’re an ancient Japanese dog breed. And they first emerged 2,300 years ago.
Now, due to Shiba Inus’ high energy and hunting instincts…
They’re not usually good with smaller pets.
So if you let them out of your sight in the yard and they spotted a trapped bunny…
Chances are, they might stalk and catch the rabbit.
Note: Thus, find a dog with a low prey drive if you have a pet bunny or want to adopt one.
Also, some Fidos listed above may get along with a rabbit if they have the following:
- Calm personality.
- Early socialization.
- Basic obedience training.
- Experience living with small animals.
But despite this, you should never leave the 2 pets together.
Do I need to worry if my dog killed a rabbit?
You don’t need to worry if your dog killed a rabbit, as it’s an instinct for most hounds – especially in hunting breeds. Although it’s best to put them on a leash outdoors or teach them commands to leave other animals. However, your dog may get sick if they ate their prey.
This is even more alarming if your pooch is behind their vaccine or not in good shape.
And it’s because wild rabbits may carry parasites, like:
Also, stray bunnies can spread diseases, such as: