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Discussion Starter #1
What breed would be good for a first time dog owner with rabbits? We have pet rabbits and I have heard Golden Retriever and Labrador, but I'm afraid they'll hunt the rabbits.

I would prefer a medium to large size dog, but do all medium to large sized dogs hunt rabbits?
 

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No, not all large dogs hunt rabbits. In fact, it's many of the smaller dogs, like terriers or the Beagle, who were bred to hunt hare. Goldens and Labs can be acclimatized to living with small animals. I would also look into a Collie, either Rough or Smooth. Bear in mind though that most large breeds require a significant amount of physical and mental exercise to thrive.

Even if you train your dog to tolerate your rabbits, please remember to never leave the two animals together unattended.
 

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I was going to say to stay away from all hounds and terriers and suggest a Collie (Rough or Smooth) but Rosemaryninja beat me to it. LOL
 

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I would suggest a Hamster:D

Just kidding, with proper training there are many dogs that could handle your rabbits. You're just gonna have to work at it.

Yes, after reading RonE's reply I do have to agree. I guess I was a little flippant with my reply as with some dogs it could be a real chore. At the very least before any dog was brought in I would be checking my rabbit pens/cages etc for rabbit safety. Prey drive is a tough rascal to conquer with some dogs. Force with some dogs is a necessary evil to get job done but I will go no further with that. I have seen quite a few bird-dogs that were ruined because of too much force and the dog would get in area of a bird, smell bird and do something called blinking the bird. The dog after smelling bird instead of pointing the bird would leave area of bird as quickly as possible. It is not a question of can it be done, it can but not by inexperienced dog owner.
 

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Goldens and Labs can be acclimatized to living with small animals.
Just a note: My black lab, in the course of his lifetime, caught and killed six wild rabbits. (Yes, I know it should not be possible for a 115# dog to run down a rabbit.)

While I think it is entirely possible to train a lab to get along with rabbits, I would have no clue how to do this and I'm not certain a first-time owner would either. At the very least, I think the rabbit body-count could be rather high in the course of the training.
 

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We have a cocker mix, a border collie mix and an australian shepherd and they are all fine with our 5 lb house bunny. The bunny lives in my daughters room, we just have a small gate to keep the rabbit from roaming all over the house. Nobody bothers the bunny. When the bunny was a baby she used to crawl all over the australian shepherd and use her as a stool to get onto the couch. We also had a lab that got along with the bunny. Our border collie mix puppy is actually a bit afraid of the rabbit as he has growled at her and charged the puppy for approaching too quickly. They can co-exist peacefully with training and supervision.
 

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randplaty, I think you will need to elaborate a little on the extent of interaction between the dog and the rabbit. Will the rabbit be in a separate room most of the time, in its own hutch? Or does the rabbit have full roam of the house?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks for all of the replies and advice.

We have 3 rabbits and 1 of the rabbits lives in a cage but when we come home we let it out so that it can roam around the house and get some exercise etc.

The two other rabbits live in a pen and they're older and bonded together so they don't like to leave the pen. They stay in the pen all day, but the pen isn't that secure compared to the cage.

I was planning on having all of the rabbits in one room so that during the day I could close the door and not let the dog in the room while we're not there, but I want to be able to let the rabbit get exercise in the evening while we are there and roam around the house and spend time will all of the pets together at the same time.

I am a first time dog owner so I am worried that if I mess up in training the dog, it will kill one of our rabbits. Also rabbits can die of shock so even if I am there and the dog attacks the rabbit and I restrain the dog before it does any damage, the rabbit could still die.
 

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Lots of dogs can learn to accept rabbits if they are raised with them from a pup. That doesn't mean all dogs will, or even that a dog so raised will accept an additional rabbit, or a replacement bunny. Dogs are predators; rabbits are prey. Ye pays yer money and ye takes yer chances.
 

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We have a smooth collie and a house rabbit and while I won't say they are friends, they get along fine and I have no problems. The rabbit has a cage with an ex-pen around it so he is free to come and go out of his cage all day long and he does spend most of his time in the ex-pen.
We got our dog at 1 year old, he was a show dog so he spent a lot of time in the kennel or out in the breeders yard with other dogs to run and play with.
He had house manners, but had never seen a house rabbit before.
It can be done.
 

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Maybe a livestock guardia breedn??...other than that you are looking at the temperament of each individual dog. I would look at adult dogs and find the right temperament for your situation. We had a greyhound that was safe with rabbits, chickens...pretty much everything (he was a fantastic racer in his day). I know a handful of greyhounds that live with ferrets and rabbits (even free range rabbits). We just keep our dogs separated from our rabbits...I've no interest in trying to rabbit-train a dog.

I'm not suggesting a greyhound, but just pointing out that a breed that's pretty much been designed to hunt rabbits can have the tempermant to live with them...it's an individual dog thing, not a breed thing.
 

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Maybe a livestock guardia breedn??...other than that you are looking at the temperament of each individual dog. I would look at adult dogs and find the right temperament for your situation. We had a greyhound that was safe with rabbits, chickens...pretty much everything (he was a fantastic racer in his day). I know a handful of greyhounds that live with ferrets and rabbits (even free range rabbits). We just keep our dogs separated from our rabbits...I've no interest in trying to rabbit-train a dog.

I'm not suggesting a greyhound, but just pointing out that a breed that's pretty much been designed to hunt rabbits can have the tempermant to live with them...it's an individual dog thing, not a breed thing.
LMG
I like that, as I have always suggested dropping the breed thoughts and paying attention to individuality in the dog that is standing in front of you. People get locked into the breed program and sometimes just cannot break out of it, I think these people miss out on a lot of things that their dogs could do.
 

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Individual dogs, yes. When I was a kid we had a terrier mix who was as efficient a killer of small furries as you'll ever see. In our ignorance, we assumed that she would naturally mother any small critter we brought home. And she did! We gave her baby ducks, kittens, rabbits, broke-wing birds, turtles...you name it. Why she didn't go on a killing spree remains a mystery, but we never gave it a moment's thought at the time. She was the kind of dog who lets you take a helluva lot for granted. It's a shame we never fully appreciated what an awesome mutt she was.

That said: you will increase your chances of successfully integrating a dog into your menagerie if you avoid breeds that have been specifically bred for tearing rabbits to bits.
 

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Although some of the replies above minimize breed characteristics, it is a fact that certain breeds were specifically developed to hunt down and kill small animals. You would be foolish to ignore that.

Can a dog be trained against its specific breed characteristics? Maybe - but unfortunately you won't know if the training failed until tragedy strikes. And this can happen in a heartbeat with some breeds.

So if you want to keep small animal house pets such as rabbits - or mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, etc, etc - it would be advisable to stay away from all the terrier breeds. And that includes toy breeds like yorkies that are derived from terriers. Terriers were bred to hunt and kill "vermin" - and a pet rabbit or rat looks pretty much the same as a wild one as far as most terriers are concerned.

I know this is a negative recommendation rather than a positive one, but I think it is important to state it.

BTW, RonE mentioned that his lab hunted rabbits. Although in the US we rarely use our retrievers on fur, it is quite common in other countries to do so. So the breed characteristic is there even if it isn't used. However, retrievers simply do not have the same prey drive toward "vermin" that terriers do and can usually be trained to leave small pets alone.
 

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I like that, as I have always suggested dropping the breed thoughts and paying attention to individuality in the dog that is standing in front of you. People get locked into the breed program and sometimes just cannot break out of it, I think these people miss out on a lot of things that their dogs could do.
I actually should have put a disclaimer, but I was answering LMG's & RonE's replies about Greyhound and Lab experiences, not advising just throwing info out here.

But then we had this,
That said: you will increase your chances of successfully integrating a dog into your menagerie if you avoid breeds that have been specifically bred for tearing rabbits to bits.
Then we have this:
Although some of the replies above minimize breed characteristics, it is a fact that certain breeds were specifically developed to hunt down and kill small animals. You would be foolish to ignore that.
Poly
I don't believe anybody is leading poster a stray just covering all bases.
 

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I agree with the individual dog. My office manager has two dobermans, a greyhound, a cat and a rabbit. The rabbit rules the house. The dogs are afraid of her as is the cat! The rabbit is a black and tan (doberman) rabbit.
http://www.urbanrabbits.net/tans.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for all your help! After reading all the replies, I'm now leaning toward getting a golden retriever or smooth collie.

We would keep the rabbits in their cages while we're not there, so that's one layer of protection. We'll keep them in a separate room and close the door when we're not there, so that's another layer of protection, and finally we'll try our best to train and socialize the dog to the rabbits while it's a puppy.
 
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