Ferrets are an increasingly popular choice as pets, meaning they are coming into contact with pet dogs on a regular basis. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But how exactly will you know whether your new ferret and dog will get along and live together in harmony?
In this guide I will explain how ferrets and dogs can be friends (sometimes). It also includes advice on how you can get them to live together peacefully with a good introduction, dog breeds that get along with ferrets, and some final advice on diseases that can pass between the two species.
Do ferrets and dogs get along? Ferrets and dogs can get along, but will depend on factors such as the prey drive of the dog, the dog’s temperament and character, and how you introduce the dog to the ferret. Often ferrets and dogs can live together easily, but it’s not always the case.
Do all ferrets and dogs get along?
Not all ferrets and dog will get along, and rightly so, many pet owners will have concerns about keeping dogs and ferrets together. However, it depends on how you introduce your ferrets and dogs. It would be easier to keep ferrets and dogs together if they’ve grown up together.
You may want to consider getting a puppy and a baby ferret and let them play and do everything together. This will ensure that your dog and ferret accept each other from an early age.
On the other hand, if you have bigger dogs already established in your home you may need to carefully introduce your ferret to your dogs and gradually allow them to get used to your new pet.
Ferrets are social animals which means they love plenty of company, so might live with dogs successfully.
With a lot of work and training, you can keep your dogs and ferrets together. Furthermore, it will depend on the breed of dog which I will explain lower down the page…
Can ferrets and dogs live together?
Can you keep a ferret and dog together? Ferrets and dog can live together but it depends greatly on the breed of the dog you have and also how you’ve trained your dog. Ferrets get along with most other animals but it will be up to the dog to decide whether it’s willing to accept a ferret into the family.
Also, some ferrets can also be temperamental so it’s important to supervise their interactions.
Will a dog kill a ferret?
Whilst it’s a comforting thought to believe that all ferrets and dogs get along, it’s not the case. There are some dogs who won’t think twice about killing a ferret given half a chance.
Some dog breeds such as terriers are hunters by nature and may see ferrets as vermin. So this type of dog breed may kill your ferret because their instinct is to hunt small creatures. It’s best not to get a ferret as a pet if you know your dog has an aggressive temperament.
Handy Hint: If you want to know what dog breeds are best for keeping with ferrets, continue scrolling for low prey drive dogs.
Furthermore, larger dogs can be too rough with the ferret and may injure them during playtime. Ensure that the dog isn’t territorial because it may bite and kill the ferret if it comes close.
If you know that your dog has aggression towards other animals then it’s best not to get a ferret as a pet.
Can a ferret kill a dog?
But what about the other way around, and ferrets being able to kill a dog? The truth is, it’s very unlikely that a ferret can kill a dog. A ferret will give a nasty bite and scratch, which could become in infected,
However, given the average size of a dog, should a ferret attack a dog, the dog’s power and size would soon be the victor, possibly scaring the ferret away.
Whilst ferrets can dangerous to dogs in terms of bites and nips, the more typical case would be of a dog killing a ferret when living together.
Can a ferret kill a small dog?
Again, it’s unlikely a ferret could kill a small dog. However, ferrets are carnivorous hunters, so you do need to be careful. If newborn puppies are in the house, a ferret could mistake it as prey, and could kill a puppy if it’s small and fragile enough.
Best dog breeds for ferrets
The best dog breeds for ferrets will be those that have a low prey drive. Prey drive is the natural instinct in dogs that makes them want to chase (and in many cases, kill) smaller animals and rodents.
Whilst the ferret isn’t a rodent, it is a small and skittish enough to immediately put a dog with high prey drive into potential attack mode.
All dog breeds have this in-built prey drive, but there are certain dog breeds which have a mild version of it. These dogs with a low prey drive will be a better suited dog breed for ferret owners.
This means that the best dog breeds for will be those that prefer to be calm, placid, and won’t hare off at the slightest sign of a ferret. Breeds with low prey drives include:
- Bichon Frisé
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Japanese Chin
- Old English Sheepdog
Bear in mind though, all dogs have individual personalities. For example, I saw one website state that French Bulldog’s have a low prey drive. We own a Frenchie, and I know that’s not the case for him.
If I was to put a ferret in front of my dog, chances are he would try and kill the ferret. This is why the guide on how to introduce a ferret to a dog is so important – you can read that below.
How to introduce a ferret to a dog
Ferrets and dogs can be friends, but it won’t happen overnight. You need patience and care whilst introducing a ferret and dog together.
Before you even do it though, consider your dog’s personality. If you have even the slightest doubt that your dog won’t want to kill the ferret, don’t even bring one into the house. You know your dog best.
However, if you believe your dog will get along with a ferret, follow this short guide to introducing the two species.
1. Slowly introduce the ferret and dog
If you are absolutely sure that your dog will not want to kill the ferret, then go very slowly. You must gradually introduce the animals to each other. The first step is not to let the ferret run into the house immediately.
2. Keep the ferret caged
Keep your ferret caged at first, and your dog leashed when first introducing your animals. You will be able to tell by your dog’s reaction to the ferret whether he or she will get along with the small animal.
3. Hold the ferret and allow your dog to sniff
Through sniffing, dogs are able to learn things about other animals and their environment. Every animal has a unique scent. So it’s important to allow your dog to sniff the ferret so it can become used to the new animal.
Make sure you’re holding the ferret at all times while your dog gets a good sniff.
4. Be alert to signs of aggression
If your dog growls at the ferret you’ll have to remove the ferret from the area and try to introduce them again when the dog has calmed down. If your dog doesn’t warm up to your ferret then you may need to keep them separated permanently.
5. Only ever have supervised play
On the other hand, if your dog seems to take a liking to the ferret then you can allow them to play together. However, you should never leave your ferret and your dog unsupervised because some dogs may become aggressive when you’re not around.
Handy Hint: Have you considered getting a pair of ferrets instead of a ferret and a dog? It might be better all round!
More on ferrets and dogs living together
If you do decide to keep a ferret and dog together, then here are some other important considerations to think about, other than them simply just getting along.
Can ferrets give dogs diseases?
Ferrets are prone to a range of illnesses and diseases, some of which can be passed to dogs, and humans. So, yes, ferrets can make dogs sick in certain cases.
For example, ferrets can suffer with ear mites, fleas, and mange. These are all transferable to a pet dog. This is why it’s imperative to follow strict cleaning and bathing routines with your ferret.
One of the more serious diseases that ferrets can carry is campylobacteriosis. This disease can spread via fecal matter. Typically it occurs in ferrets with weak immune systems, and is a disease a ferret and give to a dog, and vice versa.
What animals do ferrets get along with?
Ferrets are social creatures and tend to get along with most other animals. However, each animal is unique and so their reaction to the ferret may differ greatly. Ferrets may get along with other bigger animals such as cats.
Ferrets are predatory though, and far from attracting rats to your property, they are more likely to try catch and kill them.
Cats are similar to ferrets in a way so both animals can coexist. However, similar to dogs you have to ensure that your cat isn’t a hunter or is aggressive to smaller animals – this includes snakes.
You also have to ensure your ferret is friendly toward your cat. Ferrets tend to be a little rough when playing with cats so it’s advised not to let your ferret play with kittens.
Introduce your ferret gradually to your cat and always supervise their interactions. Here’s how to introduce a ferret to a cat.
What animals don’t ferrets get along with?
Ferrets are carnivorous so they eat meat such as duck, rabbit and sometimes lizards. This means that your ferret won’t get along with most small animals. If you have the following pets you may not be able to get a ferret:
- Bearded Dragons
- Tenrec Hedgehogs
You may still be able to get a ferret if you have other small animals but you should keep your ferret away from them. Have a designated area where your ferret can play that’s away from your other small animals.
Handy Hint: Read these tips on how you can bond with a ferret.
Can you leave your ferret alone with your dog?
Some experts say that you should never leave your ferret alone with your dog… and I do agree with this. However, if your dog and ferret have grown up with each other then they may get along without your supervision.
But would I do it? No, I just wouldn’t be prepared to take that risk.
What should you do if ferrets and dogs don’t get along?
If your ferret and your dog are simply not getting along no matter how hard you’ve tried then it’s best not to force the situation. It’s still possible for you to keep both pets but they’ll have to be permanently separated.
Ferrets are social creatures so you don’t want your pet to be alone. It’s best to have two ferrets so that they can play together. Dogs are the same. It’s good to have two dogs so that your pets never feel alone. This will help your pets if they suffer from separation anxiety.
So don’t stress if your pets don’t get along. If you’re willing to get a second ferret your new pet will have another animal to play with that won’t cause it harm.
Do ferrets and prairie dogs get along?
Ferrets and prairie dogs do not get along. Researchers in South Dakota have observed how ferrets will prey on prairie dogs. They don’t just eat prairie dogs though, they also take over their burrows to make their own homes.
By the time a baby ferret is 3 months old, it is able to kill a prairie dog.
Prairie dogs make up a whopping 90% of a Black-Footed Ferret’s diet (with the remaining 10% made up of prey like squirrels, mice, and other rodents). One ferret eats a prairie dog about every three days. One Black-Footed Ferret can easily eat around 100 prairie dogs a year, and the average ferret family requires at least 250.National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov
Ferrets are fun-loving animals that are full of energy. Dogs are also energetic pets that are smart and easy to train. Having a variety of pets can be challenging because you have to learn what each pet’s specific needs are.
Dogs won’t always be nice to ferrets, and might not want to be their friend.
However, with some careful introductions and “luck”, you might be able to have ferrets and dogs living together in your home.
You might also like…
- How to get rid of that nasty ferret smell in your home
- The noises ferrets make are very funny
- How much money you need to keep ferrets
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/ferret-mustélidé-animal-putoisé-4534480/