Do guinea pigs get along with dogs?
June 21, 2019
There is no easy answer to the question Do guinea pigs get along with dogs? You may as well ask how long a piece of string is, or if all people enjoy songs by the Beatles.
There is absolutely no definitive answer to this question. However, there is some guidance which we will be able to pass onto you to let you know whether allowing a dog and a guinea pig is a good idea or not. We’ve covered this information point by point so you can make your own informed choice.
It Depends on the Breed
Some dog breeds have an incredibly high prey drive, remember that some dogs such as Jack Russell Terriers have been linebred for their abilities to go after small animals – which just happen to be around the same size as a guinea pig! On the other hand, dog breeds which don’t have the inbuilt instinct to chase and kill would come much more highly recommended.
The dog breeds with the highest prey drive include:
- Rodhesian Ridgebacks
- Airedale Terriers
- Pharaoh Hounds
- Irish Wolf Hounds
- Bull Terriers
- Pit Bulls
- Jack Russell Terriers
If you notice that your dog has a high prey drive while you are out on walks with them, the answer to the question of “Do dogs get along with guinea pigs” will definitely be a no for you. Dogs with strong prey drives will generally tend to chase after anything smaller than them such as birds, rabbits and squirrels.
However, that’s not to say that without adequate training you can’t reduce how strong your dog’s prey drive is. You can teach your dog a new level of control, however, it still would not be wise to let a Guinea Pig free roam around your living room while your dog is around if they have been known to struggle with their self-control around small animals in the past.
Remember, that having a strong prey drive and being misbehaved are two totally different things. Bad behaviour is being destructive or aggressive – which is completely different from following their natural instincts. When a dog with a strong prey drive is in the vicinity of an animal which they would like to chase, owners may notice that they become completely unresponsive to commands. This is because adrenaline will be coursing through their bodies gearing them up for chasing and killing the animal in sight. Some owners even report that when their dogs are in this mindset they become completely different dogs.
It is a pivotal part of the retraining of dogs with a strong prey drive that they do not have access to prey animals – such as guinea pigs.
The dogs which are likely to have lower prey drives include;
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retrievers
Generally, if a breed has a relatively low activity level, this will be a good indicator as to whether your dog will live harmoniously with other small animals such as guinea pigs.
Yet, these dog breeds are said to have the best tolerance of small animals; Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, King Charles Spaniels, Collies, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. It should come as no surprise that the golden boy of the animal kingdom has made the list when it comes to dogs who will get along with small animals.
Aside from the breed, there are other determining factors as to whether your dog will take to a Guinea pig kindly.
How Well Socialised is Your Dog?
Socialising is a pivotal part of any dog’s training, it usually starts from the age of six weeks and it is the process of introducing your dog to everything they may encounter in later life. A puppy will have a far greater chance of accepting a guinea pig as just another family pet, than a 10-year-old rescue dog which you’re uncertain of their upbringing.
Socialising helps to teach dogs when it is acceptable to fly into attack mode which they may very well do if they haven’t been introduced to smaller animals in the past.
Dogs have the potential to make friends with many other species of animals. So, if you already have a dog and you are wondering which animals your dog is most likely to welcome into their territory, the list is as follows;
- Other dogs
- Guinea Pigs
- Farm animals
- Lizards and snakes.
As you can see, Guinea pigs come relatively far down on the list. However, it is crucial that you remember that each dog and each guinea pig will have their very own personality!
Consider Your Dog’s Personality
Just because some animals can cohabit with each other, it doesn’t mean that they all will be able to. Sharing space is a big thing for a dog, especially if they are territorial.
As we covered before, some dogs can have higher prey drives than others, but there are other traits which you should be wary that your dog may possess. Some dogs are bred and born to be herding dogs, while that is brilliant for Shepherds, it is not as convenient if you are living in a modern home and your dog takes it upon themselves to shoehorn other animals around.
Tips for Keeping Dogs and Guinea Pigs in the Same Household
1. Never leave your dog and your Guinea Pig alone together.
2. Only let your Guinea Pig wander around when the dog is out of the room.
3. Keep your Guinea pig in a cage in a room which is off limits to your dog.
4. If you do make introductions do it in stages and allow the animals to become familiar with the other's scent.
5. Be prepared to split your time between your two pets.