Are Golden Retrievers Good With Chickens?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are usually good with chickens – but only if they’ve been trained. Only once they’re been properly trained and socialised can they co-exist peacefully with any other animal, including chickens. 

However, despite having a low prey drive and not being an aggressive breed, they’ll instinctively want to chase the birds, so you’ll need to supervise them at all times

Read on to find out how to train your Golden Retriever to get along with chickens, why Golden Retrievers do get along so well with chickens, and more.

Why Are Golden Retrievers Good With Chickens?

As a breed, Golden Retrievers are notoriously friendly creatures. They get along with children, cats, rabbits, other dogs – pretty much everyone. But in order to be friends, they need to be well socialised and trained.

Some of the traits that make Golden Retrievers good with chickens are that they’re:

  • Gentle: Though quite large dogs, Goldies are careful and gentle, they’ll take care not to be too boisterous and they are not aggressive dogs. This combination makes them good companions for the smaller, more fragile chickens.
  • Intelligent: As the fourth smartest breed of dog, Golden Retrievers are easy to train. They learn faster and can recall multiple commands. This means you can train them to not only leave the chickens alone but to view them as part of the pack (or family).
  • Patient: Even amongst the chaos, noise, and fast movement of chickens, Golden Retrievers have even temperaments. They aren’t spooked easily and a trained Goldie will obey your commands until you tell them otherwise.
  • Retrievers (not hunters): A Golden Retriever’s instinct is to fetch small animals and bring them back, an instinct remaining from their days hunting game in the Scottish Highlands. But their job was to carefully carry the game back, not to hunt and attack. 
  • Friendly: It’s in a Golden Retriever’s nature to be sweet. They’re happy to go with the flow and meet new friends, no matter what species! With the right training, they can get along with just about anyone. 
  • Low aggression: As a breed, Golden Retrievers aren’t usually aggressive. This is half the battle – more aggressive breeds would be significantly harder to train out of their habits, whereas Goldies are halfway there and don’t have the inclination to bite in the first place.

Does the Breed Affect How Well a Dog and Chicken Will Get On?

Yes, the traits above mean that Golden Retrievers are a good breed to have with chickens. Other breeds that usually do well around birds include Old English Sheepdogs, Maltese, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They’re similar in temperament, have low prey drive, and some of them even had roles as protectors of livestock in the past.

Some dog breeds have deep-built hunting instincts that’ll be difficult to train out of them. As a result, they wouldn’t be our first choice to cohabitate with chickens. These include Jack Russel Terriers, Greyhounds, Whippets, and Siberian Huskies to name a few.

Similarly, certain chicken breeds are better suited to be pets and to get along with family pets. These include Cochins, Silkies, and Plymouth Rocks.

Why Training Your Golden Retriever Is Important if They’re Around Chickens

Even the best-behaved and loveliest Golden Retrievers will need to be trained before you let them run around with the chickens.

Though we’ve established that they have low prey drives, aren’t aggressive, and are usually the kindest doggos, they’re still dogs. Any animal can react unexpectedly if faced with fear or danger. And sometimes they act unexpectedly. 

It’s all too easy for the chickens to get stressed (and therefore not lay eggs) or for their eggs or the chickens themselves to be injured if they’re around an uncontrolled dog. For their safety, you’ll need your Golden to be trained before they’re let loose.

But by training and supervising the pair, you can get to a point where your Golden Retriever and chickens are pals.

How to Train Your Golden Retriever to Not Attack the Chickens

It’s incredibly important to train your Golden Retriever before they’re let loose to mingle with your chickens. This covers the best way to introduce them and teach the basics like not attacking, biting, or chasing the chickens.

To train your Golden Retriever so they’re good with chickens you’ll need to follow these ten simple steps:

  1. Work on the basics first: You’ll want your Golden Retriever to learn and obey commands like ‘leave it’, ‘sit’, and ‘stay’. You can also teach them a command to ‘settle down’ or ‘go to bed’. This means you can control them if things get tense.
  2. Choose the meeting details carefully: Ideally, pick a neutral spot – that isn’t ‘territory’ for one of them. It should be secure and safe for them to be in. For timing, try and do it when both are fed and exercised.
  3. Let them see each other: At this stage, keep your Goldie on a leash and the chickens in the cage/ coop. They can look at each other through the cage but shouldn’t be able to touch. Do this for a few minutes per day for several days in a row before moving on.
  4. Walk your Golden past the cage: Let them get a little closer while still on the leash. They can smell the chickens and see them moving around. If either is scared, separate and try again another day.
  5. Assess body language: Before moving to the next stage, you want to make sure that there aren’t any signs of fear or aggression. In your Golden, if you see their hackles up, a fixed stare, or a still, stiff body, then they’re in ‘hunt mode’. If the chickens are panicking and flapping around, they’re scared or in defence mode. Only when both are cool and calm can you go to the next step.
  6. Give a little more freedom: Let your Goldie (still on a leash) approach the coop at their own pace this time. Let them explore but be ready to give the command to come back if they get over-excited. Remember to praise and reward good behaviour too.
  7. Increase the time they spend together: What used to be just a few minutes can now be increased to 5-10 minutes. Every time (if all is going well) you can gradually increase the time that they’re spending around each other.
  8. Let the chickens loose (while keeping your Goldie on the leash): Make sure your Golden Retriever is close to you and securely on their leash. By letting the chickens roam free, they can approach if they want to. If they’re baby chicks, you can hold them in your lap next to your Golden. Repeat this for 1-2 weeks, ensuring that all animals are calm and relaxed. 
  9. Take the leash off: By now, it should be around weeks 3-4 since they first met. Let your Golden Retriever off the leash, but stay within a few metres so you can jump in if necessary. Start by letting them mingle for 10-15 minutes per day, and increase it a little every day. Use verbal commands and praise as and when it’s needed.
  10. Supervise and enjoy the new friendship: Once both parties are used to each other’s presence and behaving themselves, you can relax a little. But you should always make sure that you’re supervising them, no matter how good they are together. 

It’s worth noting that sometimes these things don’t go to plan – and that’s okay! If there’s some rowdiness or over-excitement at any stage, stay calm and use their training to regain control. You can always separate them and let them cool off before trying again. Such introductions take time and patience from you and the animals.

Also, not every Golden Retriever and chicken will get on – even if the rest of the breed does. Sometimes an individual simply won’t be open to socialising despite your best efforts. Every dog is different, and while you can usually train them to a degree, some just aren’t meant for such companionship.

Extra Tips for the Introduction Between Golden Retrievers and Chickens

If you’re planning on having both Golden Retrievers and chickens at home, there are a few extra things you can do to make the situation as easy as possible for you and all your pets.

My top five tips:

  • Keep everything clean: This reduces the likelihood of your Golden Retriever eating something they shouldn’t (feed, poop, feathers) and vice versa. 
  • Be patient: It’ll take time for your Goldie and chickens to get used to each other. Try not to push them too quickly, and read their body language to see if you should back off. You can always try again another day. 
  • Always supervise: Even if your Golden and chickens have been friends for years and never had a problem, you should still supervise them when they’re together. 
  • Secure their areas: Making sure that you have a secure coop that the chickens can retreat to and a space just for your Goldie to go to will make a big difference. It’ll also boost their safety if something went wrong.
  • Meet their needs: This goes without saying, but having an exercised, fed, and mentally stimulated dog will usually equal happy and well-behaved.

Related Questions

What if My Golden Retriever Eats Chicken Poop?

If your Golden Retriever eats chicken poop (which is not out of character for the food-loving, eternally hungry Golden Retrievers) then there’s a chance they might get sick. Chicken poop can carry diseases like Salmonella which can be toxic to dogs. You need to train your Golden to not eat chicken poop as soon as you can to try and avoid the problem. 

What if My Golden Retriever Eats Chicken Feed?

If your Golden Retriever managed to eat some chicken feed, don’t panic. It’s not ideal, because the best food for them is their own dog food, tailored for their dietary requirements. You’ll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t suffering from any digestional issues such as vomiting or diarrhoea. If you’re worried about their health, make an appointment at the vet.

Can My Golden Retriever Catch Diseases From Chickens?

Yes, your Golden Retriever can catch a disease from a chicken. This could be a parasite like worms that come from parasitic eggs, or Salmonella which they can get if they eat chicken poop. Always supervise when your Goldie and chickens are together, and try to keep on top of cleaning up to decrease the chance of this happening.

Do Golden Retrievers Kill Chickens?

Any dog has the potential to kill a chicken, even the most sweet-natured, well-trained Golden Retriever. However, this is highly unlikely to happen. If anything, a chicken dying would be due to an accident rather than your Golden Retriever attacking them.

Do Golden Retrievers Eat Chickens?

It’s unlikely that a trained, socialised Golden Retriever would eat a live chicken, though not impossible. If a Golden Retriever does eat chicken, it’d more likely be cooked and served as one of their meals. As omnivores, they can eat both meat and plant-based products.

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