Ask A Vet: Are There Certain Breeds That Just Can’t Get Along?


Many people can bring a new dog into their house and all is well. Some people have a dog that they know does not do well with other dogs and flourishes in the single dog environment. Each dog is an individual, but there are certain characteristics that you might expect if you know your dog’s breeding. Dog breeds have been tailored down for these characteristics over years of selective breeding. Although these might have been ideal for the original intent of the breed, they can lead to discord in our homes of today. There can be breed associated tendencies that can make it hard for certain dogs to be peaceful and friendly to each other.


If you are considering adding a dog or just trying to find friends for your dog to play with, it is important to have a little basic breed knowledge. (Plus, it’s fun to learn about our dogs and where they came from)

We can examine the histories of just a few common breeds to see if they could have been selectively bred to have a hard time getting along and possibly why.

Any bulldog type dog may have come from lines of dogs that were chosen to be tough. Some may have been originally bred for fighting rings and some were bred for bull baiting (which was eventually outlawed), hence the name. Sometimes these traits that made them ideal for their ancient professions can make them difficult to get along with other dogs. Not every bull dog is dog aggressive or discordant, but if your dog is descended from these breeds, make sure you are very tuned in to his body language at all times around other dogs.

Terrier type dogs were originally bred overseas for hunting. Their temperaments are tenacious which makes them better at their jobs. They could hunt prey like rats and rabbits (and even badgers) both in burrows and in chase. They are plucky and independent by nature and sometimes these characteristics can make them less amenable to other dogs. Dogs that are smaller then they are can trigger their prey instincts and larger dogs seem to bring out the worst even more. I have treated countless Schnauzer and terriers for attacking larger dogs or just not backing down when attacked themselves. Perhaps any dog that can handle a badger, has to have no sense of his own vulnerability!

Image Source:Andy Arthur via Flickr

Sight hounds (like Greyhounds and their crosses) can bicker with other dogs. Racing greyhounds wear basket muzzles with other dogs to head off these altercations. They can become agitated by the excitement of the chase and nip at one another. Perhaps it is a competitive nature or maybe smaller dogs remind them of their favorite prey, rabbits. Greyhounds and other sight hounds usually fare well with known members of their family group. It is not the norm for a greyhound to have issues getting along, but always smart to know your own dog and err on the side of caution with new dogs around because it can happen.

It is very important to remember that your dog might be inclined to certain tendencies, but it is not absolute and every dog is an individual, formed by not only his breeding, but his environment and training. The key is being very aware of your dog and the environment. If you are tuned in to the body language of dogs, you can wisely head off problems before they begin!

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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