Dogs for Cat People

Tolerable canine breeds for the feline oriented.


The worst has happened. You have fallen in love with a dog person. And although your partner loves your cat, this mate with whom you now share a home has been angling for a canine pet. Or maybe your young child has reached an age at which she is making known her wish for a dog, even though she has been growing up happily enough with the cat(s) in her life.

Take heart. Not all dogs are slobberers who beg for treats at every turn and act too clingy. Granted, they do all need to be walked. But a number of breeds can fit reasonably well into a cat person’s life.

Give in on your significant other’s request with one of the dog breeds recommended here, and the gratitude may even translate into your never having to change the litter again.

Better still: your cat might enjoy the company. The truth about cats and dogs is that they often get along better than people think they will.

Shiba inu. Like a cat, this Japanese breed enjoys being petted — when she feels like it. She’ll let you know. The breed is also very independent. A shiba might not even come to the door when you arrive home. She won’t be terribly easy to train because she’s not that interested in what you have to say — but you’re used to that with your current pet. Bonus: many shibas work to keep themselves clean by licking themselves. No dog can properly be called fastidious, but this one is not all about tracking in mud and rolling in who-knows-what in the woods.

Basenji, 22 to 24 pounds
Photography © Masarik | Bigstock

Basenji. This breed doesn’t bark. It just yodels — and only sometimes. A basenji’s personality is about as quiet as its voice. It is not a dog that makes a lot of fuss. In fact, a basenji can be a bit shy, taking a while to warm up to the people in the home. But once it does, it becomes very attached to its owners. As a cat owner, you’re no doubt acquainted with that scenario.

Greyhound. It might seem hard to believe that a big, athletic dog like a greyhound could ever fit into a home with cats and their people, but greyhounds are surprisingly mellow and quite content to lie around like throw rugs. They can engage in physical activity but don’t require it to be happy. In fact, a greyhound will even be perfectly fine in an apartment as long as she’s walked a few times a day, like any dog should be. Greyhounds are very sweet and loving, too, without being over-needy.

Manchester Terrier
Manchester terrier
(toy), under 12
Photography cynoclub | Bigstock

Manchester terrier. Like an affectionate cat, a Manchester terrier enjoys nothing more than cuddling up on his owner’s lap. And a toy Manchester, at no more than 12 pounds, is actually cat-sized! (Even standard-size Manchester terriers weigh only up to 22 pounds.) Manchesters also like hunting down a small mouse or other scuttling prey. Sound familiar?

Japanese Chin
Japanese chin
Photography Credit: American Kennel Club

Japanese chin. With a history as a favorite of Japanese royalty, it’s hard not to be intrigued by this little dog, who weighs in at a mere 7 to 11 pounds. The American Kennel Club refers to the breed as “distinctly feline” in that it is “fastidious, graceful, and generally quiet.” The Japanese chin is also a true lap dog — an “indoorsy” companion, as the American Kennel Club puts it.

Whippet, 25 to 40 pounds
Photography © dodofoto | Bigstock

Whippet. Like cats, whippets enjoy lounging in warm places. They are also dignified, gentle, feline-worthy souls — unless they come across some prey they’re interested in. You might just find a whippet “on the prowl” around midnight, when you’re trying to settle down. He and your cat may even end up hunting partners. Between bouts of the late-night crazies, these dogs, like cats, will happily stretch out and chill for hours.

Papillon, 5 to 10 pounds
© Lilun | Bigstock

Papillon. The American Kennel Club describes the papillon (French for “butterfly”) as a “truly doggy dog,” but we think it belongs in the feline column, too — and not just because it weighs a scant 5 to 10 pounds. Papillons are also dainty, elegant, and super-smart, like cats. Highly self-assured and confident, a papillon makes for a great companion animal. A he-man dog lover might not like being seen walking such a little thing, but he won’t have to walk far. While papillons are active and agile, they don’t need tons and tons of exercise to have their fill.


  1. Border Collies also seem to like cats, and are friendly to them. I had both cats and a Border Collie growing up. No problems in them interacting. Later my husband and I had a black lab that got along fine with two kittens, and was protective of them.

  2. As a cat addict–7 now, & I foster kittens–as well as a woman who likes to have a dog to take me on walks, I was delighted that you named in 1st & 2nd place the 2 dog breeds that, in my experience, are ideal for cat people. The Basenji is truly cat-like, & you have characterized its personality well. In addition, Basenjis clean themselves like cats & are odorless; if you have 2, they will clean each other. They have a dog’s loyalty & protectiveness, but they are nearly as independent as cats & therefore not easy to train. Prospective buyers should be warned of this. In my experience, they relate to cats as kin.
    The Greyhound is so sweet it’s pathetic. The rescue organizations know their dogs; they test them with cats & small dogs to make sure they’re safe. My current hound has a very strong prey drive, as did my last one, but he knows cats are not prey & in fact he’s a total pushover, letting them take chunks of meat out of his bowl when he’s eating! I feel sorry for the hounds that are treated like “couch potatoes.” It’s true that they’re extremely mellow dogs, but mine have all enjoyed hiking for hours. You’ll be told they can never be walked off lead, but that’s not true; they’re dogs & can be trained. The rescue dogs are adults; they’re not hard to train but they need time to learn that they belong to someone. Oh, & they’re not stinky or slobbery!
    If you want a large dog with your cats, I can’t recommend the greyhound highly enough. If you want a small dog, get a basenji. It will almost be another cat; just remember it will be a challenge to train. Basenjis are my favorite breed, but greyhounds need homes, so I’ve had them for years.

  3. Standard poodles as a group get along well with cats. I own cats and poodles and foster for a poodle rescue group. Cats and poodles at peace.


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