Will Dogs Catch Mice? (Hunting Dog Breeds with Pictures)

Dogs are lovable companions: the beautiful tail wagging, licking, and emotionally intense gazing. But can you trust this tender darling to hunt mice in your house? Are dogs proficient at catching mice?

Dogs might occasionally catch and kill mice, but they are not as famous for their hunting skills as cats.

Knowing this is not enough. Will your dog eat dead mice? Can mice transfer disease to your dog? How keen a detective is your dog at sensing the presence of mice in your house? These are some of the interesting questions this article will authoritatively answer.

Signs a Dog Can Help with Mice

Many dogs have behaviors and traits that make them excellent mousers for naturally controlling rodent infestations.

Territorial Behavior

Dogs that feel protective of their home and see it as their territory are more likely to proactively patrol for mice.

  • Terrier breeds, historically used for hunting vermin, still have a strong territorial instinct.
  • They will regularly inspect rooms, listening and smelling for any sign of intruders.
  • Any unusual sights or sounds prompt an immediate investigatory response.
  • This possessive nature makes dogs diligent in keeping their territory free of mice.

Keen Sense of Smell

A dog’s highly sensitive nose allows them to detect mouse odors and track them to nesting areas.

  • Scent hounds like Beagles have exceptional sniffing abilities and make expert mouse hunters.
  • Mice leave behind very faint traces of urine, feces, and pheromones that dogs can pick up on.
  • Dogs can detect the very faint traces of urine, feces, and pheromones left behind by mice.
  • Dogs’ scent-tracking skills surpass those of humans in finding mouse locations.

Strong Prey Drive

Certain dogs have an innate drive to chase down small, fast-moving creatures – perfect for pursuing darting mice!

  • Sporting breeds like terriers, herding breeds, and hounds are most likely to have a high prey drive.
  • They instinctively chase rodents that suddenly scurry by and hide in the ground.
  • Their obsession with targeting prey makes them relentless in pursuing mice at all hours.
  • They will patiently wait outside holes for rodents to emerge and then swiftly pounce.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Catch and Kill mice?

Not all dogs hunt and kill mice. However, there are special dog breeds that trained for hundreds of years now to hunt rats and eliminate them.

Laid-back dog breeds like the basset hound, French bulldog, and greyhounds have almost zero business with mice and wouldn’t bother chasing them in your home.

What Dog Breeds Were Bred to Hunt Mice?

Unlike the aforementioned dog breeds, some breeds violently forbid cohabiting with mice. Terriers have a historic grudge for rats and have been hunting these rodents for centuries now.

Terriers have a unique penchant for subsurface investigations and smoke a rat out of its crevice with no stress. Add this to the relentless energy and aggression they pack, and you get a dog ready to give the rat a good chase.

Let us explore some of the dog breeds bred to hunt mice.

Rat Terrier

You can confidently tell this guy has zero-tolerance for rats just from the name. This terrier’s small body stature allows it to swiftly hunt ground-level prey like mice.

It is highly energetic and is not the dog that a mouse would tire out in a race. Rat terriers are easy to train and make loyal companions for you and your family.


Oh, were you thinking the dachshund’s infamously short legs were a disadvantage when it comes to hunting mice?

These legs are robust and massively contribute to this dog’s proficiency at hunting rodents. Right from the times of the ancient Germanic kingdoms, dachshunds have been bred to keep rats and other vermins away.

That said, a dachshund will struggle to hunt (or kill) a bigger rodent. Gigantic rats can quite be problematic for the dachshund to hunt.

Yorkshire Terrier

This is another small guy who has a strong (and unresolved) beef with rats. Short, sturdy, and athletic, the Yorkshire terrier excels at catching and killing rats.

It is a very clever dog also and will waste no time in outsmarting the mouse at its own game. More than its rat-hunting expertise, the Yorkshire Terrier is a sweetheart to have around.

Cairn Terrier

You can’t talk about the oldest terrier breeds and not mention the Cairn Terrier. Indeed, this is a “professor” at rat hunting. Its small build gives its superior maneuverability when hunting smaller prey like rats.

Jack Russell Terriers

If rats have declared war on your house, there is no better way to return hostilities than with an introduction of a Jack Russell terrier to your home. It has an enormous prey drive that hunting rats just satiates.

This dog also has exceptional alertness. It picks up the slightest movement that would easily escape you and is curious enough to go investigate them. And if it happens to be a rat, pity for the rodent.

The Jack Russell is an energetic breed that needs significant physical and mental stimulation. It tires easily and would develop negative behaviors when left idle.

West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier is a favorite of American and English homeowners in agricultural communities. It may interest you to know this breed (famously known as Westies) has been bred since the 1500s to hunt rats.

This is because of this terrier’s proficiency in picking out rodents and speedily eliminating them.

But here is a caveat. This breed is not excellent at differentiating between your pet rat and a wild miscreant rat. Just being a rat is enough aggravation for this dog to declare war and kill your pet mouse.

Will Dogs Eat Dead Mice?

It is highly uncommon for a dog to make a meal out of a dead mouse. An inquisitive dog will sniff the dead mouse and explore the possibility of feeding on them. However, a starving dog will eat dead mice.

Can Dogs Get Sick from Mice?

Yes, your dog can get sick from interacting or eating mice. Dogs who come in touch with rats are commonly infected with roundworms. Admittedly, this is more prevalent in dogs that have had a mouse for snacks.

We will learn more about this shortly.

Can Dogs Get Rabies from Mice?

Yes, your dog can go down with rabies if a mouse bites it. This is expected when your dog engages in skirmishes with a rat.

In such situations, the rat commonly bites the dog’s nose, footpads, and lips. These concealed areas make it harder for you to detect the attack and forestall the damages from the infection.

Can Dogs Get Parvo from Nice?

Just like you, your dog can get parvo when it interacts with a mouse’s fecal material.

What Diseases Do Mice Carry to Dogs?

Here we will talk about the most prevalent diseases that rats can transfer to your dog.

Rat Bite Fever

There are high chances of a mouse transferring fever to your dog when it scratches or bites your dog.

The cause? Bacteria called Streptobacillusmoniliformis predominant in wild rats, pet rats, and laboratory rats.

This bacteria is transferred to your dog via the rat’s saliva. Your dog can also catch it if it touches the rat’s fecal matter. 

This disease may not manifest in your dog until a week after the incidence.


Toxoplasmosis is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite commonly domiciled in rats. The most typical way of transmission (from a rat to a dog) is when your dog eats a rat infected with toxoplasmosis.

This disease is highly communicable and can quickly spread from one dog to another (or other pets). It can be fatal in dogs.


As said, roundworm is one of the most prevalent diseases shipped from rats to dogs, even culminating in dog-to-human transmissions.

Two culprits cause roundworm: the bacteria toxascaris leonine and its counterpart, toxocaracanis.

Quite a scary name, of course, but it is a bit relieving that roundworm infection from rats rarely kills dogs. It can only get dangerous when it affects a small puppy, severely handicapping its growth.

Other diseases rats transfer to dogs include plague, flea, and leptospirosis.

Can Dogs Sense Mice in the House?

Dogs are more attentive and more responsive to physical stimuli. A little creak, a slight smell…a dog is better equipped naturally to detect changes to its environment.

This makes it an excellent detective, giving it the aptitude to sense mice in the house. While most dogs can easily pick out the presence of mice, not all will respond or bother to investigate.

How Do Dogs Kill Mice?

A dog can kill a mouse by fatally biting it. A constricting or incisive bite to a rat’s fatal organ will kill the latter. Dogs can also trap a rat in their paws and strangulate it.

Can Dogs be Allergic to Mice?

Yes, some dogs are sensitive to mice body materials like saliva and hair. This can trigger allergies in your dog. This is, however, rare.

Does Dog Urine Deter Mice?

Rats are smart at identifying dog urine. But not all mice will be put off by the smell of dog urine.

An intensely motivated rat – say one that is hungry or mothering younglings in your home – will brave entering your property despite the distinct smell of dog urine.

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