It’s natural to wonder, “Will a dog keep mice away?” if you happen to own one of these loyal pets. While you probably got a dog for other reasons, scaring away mice would certainly be a nice perk!
In this guide we’ll answer that question (spoiler alert: it depends) and share some dog breeds that will actually try to catch mice.
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Will A Dog Keep Mice Away?
The relationship between dogs and mice is an interesting one. For the most part, mice shy away from any household pet. They will flee from loud noises and anything big enough to be a potential predator.
This means that dogs can keep mice away! Rambunctious pups and loyal canine companions constantly stand guard over your domain. Your pup’s everlasting presence can be enough to turn away any nearby rodents. Energetic dogs can have a lasting impact on mice if they’re constantly darting throughout your home at all hours of the day.
All that said, mice can be surprisingly aloof towards dogs after a while. Studies from the University of Florida found that mice will flee from dogs initially. Like any other safety-loving pest, the presence of a barking, active dog is enough to send house mice running!
However, those mice won’t leave the area entirely. These small pests will avoid your dog at all costs, but your pup’s presence alone isn’t enough to keep the mice away from your home forever. Instead, most will return or wait until your dog is no longer a threat to invade your space.
They might wait until nightfall when your dog is asleep to scavenge for food. Some may even learn your pup’s routine and learn how to avoid them altogether.
Interestingly enough, mice are not as afraid of dogs as you would think. The pests will do their best to stay out of their way, but their feelings towards dogs are nothing compared to what they feel about cats.
The same study covering the relationship between mice and dogs found a feline presence has a much more significant impact. If there’s a cat in the home, mice will generally never return. If you understand a cat’s predatory behavior, it’s no surprise why.
Cats are natural-born mouse hunters. They are opportunistic predators and will often kill mice for sport. For this reason, cats are a mouse’s biggest enemy.
Mice will shy away from dogs until they can find a way to return to your home. But if you also have a cat living with you, most mice will look elsewhere and never attempt to enter your house again.
Dogs That Catch Mice
Dogs might not be as effective at keeping mice away as cats are, but that doesn’t mean that your canine companion can’t make a difference!
Many breeds have a long history of mouse hunting. Some of these dogs that catch mice were actually bred into existence to tackle large-scale infestations. Canines are loyal, naturally protective, and have the killer sense of smell they need to catch pesky mice.
All that said, not all dogs will have the gusto to get the job done. Here are some of the most proficient breeds of dogs that catch mice.
Believe it or not, this iconic breed is a great dog for catching mice and keeping them away. Chihuahuas have a pretty colorful history, but many believe they are descendants of the ancient techichi dog. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that these pups grew into prominence.
The exact origins of his breed are still a little hazy, but one theory is that they were bred to address rodent problems in Mexico City. Because of their small stature, chihuahuas are perfect for finding small mice and rats.
They can fit under furniture and access areas that are difficult for humans to reach. Pair that with the breed’s sheer tenacity, and you have a skilled mouse hunter!
Lovingly referred to by many as a “weiner dog,” dachshunds are also great dogs for keeping mice away. These canines have origins as far back as the 15th century. Back then, they were popular hunting dogs in Germany.
Badgers were the game of choice for these dogs. Dachshunds would flush out burrowing badgers and other small animals, making it easy for hunters to finish the job.
Dachshunds are beloved lapdogs and family pets today, but those mouser instincts still remain. Even today, this breed can dig to catch mice and other burrowing animals!
The term “terrier” refers to a large group of dogs. Some of the most popular breeds include jack russell terrier, cairn terrier, and the appropriately named rat terrier.
Terriers are one of the most skilled dogs for catching mice because many were specifically bred to hunt rodents. Back in the early 20th century, rat baiting was a pretty popular sport in England. Participants placed terrier dogs in a pit full of mice and would bet on how many the dog could kill.
It’s a pretty violent and archaic event by today’s standards, but it built some lasting instincts that continue today. Terriers are famous for being able to sniff out rodents from several meters away.
Whether it’s a mouse in your home or a squirrel running through your backyard, terriers will find it. It’s in their blood, and most show tons of enthusiasm when hunting.
Last but not least, we have the lovable papillon. These adorable pooches have a reputation for being the ultimate lapdog. With their long fur and ears, they can be a handful in the grooming department.
But when it comes to mousing, papillons are one of the best! Like chihuahuas, papillons are small enough to get up close and personal with mice. They hunt these rodents and chase them out of your home the moment they detect their presence.
Papillons are vigilant, too. They can work hard to ensure that mice don’t return.
Do Mice Bite Dogs?
Mice are fully capable of biting dogs. However, bites are infrequent.
You see, mice are more likely to flee than anything else. They may resort to biting when they are out of options and don’t have a clear path to escape the situation. However, most would much rather run than attempt fate!
There’s a higher risk of bites if you’re dealing with rats, but small mice don’t pose much of a threat.
Quick Tip: On the off chance that your dog catches a mouse and gets bit, a trip to the vet is paramount. Mice can carry rabies and transmit bacterial diseases like Leptospirosis.
Can You Train Your Dog To Catch Mice?
Dogs are intelligent creatures that can learn to perform many tasks. That includes catching mice! Most dogs will rely on pure instinct to hunt down and keep mice away. However, some additional training can turn the instinct-driven behavior into a learned job.
All dogs are different, and the level of success you experience primarily depends on the quality of training you provide. But, it’s possible to teach dogs to catch mice with a bit of vigilance.
Start by familiarizing your dog with mice early on. Let them see a live mouse you caught so they understand the common enemy. Of course, make sure there’s some safe separation to ensure that the mouse doesn’t flee (and don’t be cruel to the mouse).
Continue with mouse exposure and give your dog plenty of opportunities to pick up the pest’s scent. Whenever they encounter one in a natural setting, that familiarity should encourage dogs to chase after it. As this happens, praise the desired hunting behavior with treats to reinforce it. You’ll soon have a dog that keeps mice away on its own!
Dogs will keep mice away, but they’re not as effective as cats. While mice will obviously try to avoid dogs as much as possible, they won’t outright leave your house (as they will if they see a cat).
With that being said, certain dogs will catch mice from time to time. If that’s something you’re interested in, consider the breeds in our list above!