Can Ferrets & Dogs Be Friends?

"I'd prefer another ferret, but I'll settle for the dog as a playmate."
"I'd prefer another ferret, but I'll settle for the dog as a playmate." (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

For people who love feathered or furry creatures of all types, melding together more than one species in a family isn't a choice, it's a natural progression. You may already have a dog, for instance, and find yourself in love with a ferret. Before you adopt Frieda and bring her home to Rowdy, take the well-being and safety of both animals into consideration. Ferrets and dogs can be friends, but not always.

It's Possible

Ferrets are social little guys who enjoy interacting with others. They may prefer the company of other ferrets, but they'll accept playmates of other species, too -- including dogs. It's not usually love at first sight, though. It can take weeks or even longer before your dog and your ferret are friends, and even once they seem to get along peaceably, a disagreement can erupt out of the blue.

Avoid Predatory Dog Breeds

The ferret may be willing, but the pooch could be the problem, depending on his breed. Dogs with a gentle personality who typically get along with any kind of animal are good candidates to be ferret buddies. However, hunting breeds of dogs have a prey instinct that will take over, no matter how well-trained they are. At the very least that will cause an uncomfortable tension between your pets, and the worst-case scenario involves injury or worse for the ferret. Breeds such as terriers, setters, spaniels, pointers and even retrievers aren't the best choices to share a home with a ferret.

Making Introductions

Even if your dog's breed doesn't raise a red flag, you can't just set a ferret down in front of him and expect a fast friendship to form. The two need a chance to see each other in a safe environment, and you need a chance to see how they react to one another. For the first meeting, your ferret should be in her cage. There is the possibility that the two will be curious and friendly toward each other from the start, but there's also a chance there'll be growling from Rowdy and hissing from Frieda. Give it some time. All animals are different, so it could be a matter of days or as long as a month, but eventually the two should be able to be in the same room without sniping at each other.

For Safety's Sake

Your furry family could experience months, even years, of peaceful co-existence, but you should never let your guard down and assume the worst cannot happen. Frieda is a mischievous little nipper who could playfully pinch Rowdy without any real harm meant. She could draw blood without meaning to, and the painful nip could cause your dog to react violently. Also, dogs are predatory by nature and you never know when a deeply buried instinct could arise. For the safety of both your furry kids, it's best not to allow them to interact unsupervised, no matter how well they seem to get along.

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