Dogs and Snakes

| 8/29/2011 11:28:14 AM

Tags: dogs, snakes, pest control,

Dog and SnakeI’m terrified of snakes, and I’d like a dog that would kill them. Could you recommend a breed? 

First, I’d like to remind our readers that most snakes found in North America are not poisonous. The few exceptions are rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads and coral snakes. It’s well worth your time to learn if any of these poisonous snakes live in your area, and if so, how to identify them.

That leaves many non-poisonous snakes that are generally harmless to people. In fact, all snakes have a valuable place in our ecosystem, and many are quite helpful around the homestead because they hunt mice, rats and other small rodents. Also bear in mind that in most states, snakes (and most other wildlife) are protected, and you’re not allowed to kill them unless they are about to cause harm to you or your property, including your livestock and poultry.

That said, some people are simply rattled by snakes. If that’s you, then yes, you can use dogs to get rid of them. Terriers were purposefully bred to hunt and kill small predators and rodents (such as rats and mice), and terrier owners often report that their dogs are aggressive toward snakes. Jack Russell, fox, rat and Australian terriers are probably your best choices.

— Jan Dohner, author of Livestock Guardians: Using Dogs, Donkeys, and Llamas to Protect Your Herd 

Photo by Julie Zickefoose 

6/29/2013 5:26:49 PM

I live in the Florida Panhandle  (Okaloosa county)  and have had quite a problem here with venomous snakes. My Dachshund has two times been bitten on the nose out in my backyard, and while both bites made him incredibly sick, he is still here to tell the tale.  But my little pup, Kelly  (a small, sweet-natured  mix-breed) was bitten by an Eastern Diamondback, and she died a very painful death.  (In her case, I actually saw and heard the snake.)

 I got all the bitten dogs to the vet, but I could not afford anti-venom for them;  it is incredibly expensive. Anyway, even though my Dachund had been bitten twice, he was still right in the face of the Eastern Diamondback, barking his head off, as was my Labrador Retriever. So I'd say you could add Dachsunds to  the  "dogs motivate to kill snakes" list.

nora halsey
3/1/2012 5:25:01 AM

You obviously have never been bittin by a brown recluse or found a copperhead den near the house where your kids play. (Paying for a pro is not a possibility on my budget) My dog would lay her life on the line for my children and I, we would do the same, but circumstances dictate the action . Not everything is black and white. That would be ignorant to think it is. I had to learn the the hard way.

robert baker
1/30/2012 6:08:27 PM

buy a gun and shoot the snake when you see it if you don't want them around or call someone to catch it and remove if from your property

robert baker
1/30/2012 6:07:30 PM

There is no way I would buy a dog with the intention of using them for something that could cause them harm. It is our duty to protect our pets, not to put them in harm's way.

alexis drob
1/16/2012 8:10:09 AM

Keep in mind that if your dog gets bit by a poisonous snake it could possibly die, would you care?? My grandfather always told me, leave the snakes and spiders alone and most times they will leave you alone, otherwise leave the removal of these critters to the pros. Snakes and spiders are part of the eco system and are a valuable part of it and to kill them off because of your silly fears of them, well you are just asking for trouble. LEAVE THEM ALONE, WALK AROUND THEM AND GO YOUR MERRY WAY!!! DON'T BE SO IGNORANT!!!

gerald allen
12/28/2011 3:18:37 AM

My gosh, naming dog breeds to use for killing snakes?!? Mother, I'm a little surprised at you. Indeed, you should be ashamed of yourself. The majority of snake species are nonvenomous and completely harmless to humans AND dogs. The few species of venomous snakes that we have in America are quite capable of killing a dog and they've done it many times. The actor Will Smith recently lost a dog to a rattlesnake bite. It's not a joke. No snake in the US is aggressive by nature; all they want is for you to leave them alone. They will defend themselves if molested, but they won't pursue you. If you leave them alone they'll leave you alone.

dawn elrod
11/29/2011 2:25:15 AM

Granted most of the snakes are beneficial in one capacity or another and the ones you need to worry about would also possibly kill the dog.Poisonous snakes have been moving into more areas that are inhabited by people as their own territory has been dwindling due to development.A couple of snakes you definitely want around are the Indigo and the King snake as they eat the poisonous ones.One thing you could do to prevent a snake encounter is make noise as this will drive them out of sight,that is except for the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake which will alert you of his presence with the rattling of his tail.If you want a dog,get it for the right reasons.

dana hawn
10/11/2011 4:24:06 AM

This is basically a common sense sort of thing. 1. Keep your grass cut and your drainage ditches cleaned out for good flow capacity. 2. If your still seeing snakes be smart and identify what your seeing. Certain snakes eat other snakes and some eat bugs. Those are certainly worth keeping around! If you kill them you could be over run with snakes or a nasty bug population. Keep your small rodent population in check with traps. Most importantly don't buy a dog just to hurt snakes. You could face an ugly situation you may not be prepared to deal with.

sioux squeakpickle
9/27/2011 8:05:48 PM

I've saved more than one black snake from my Akitas, but one night they still brought me the gift of "snake jerky" via the dog door. Of course, they also bring me possums, groundhogs, and yes, skunks. Beware of what you wish for. Better to let the snakes go about their business of eating rodents.

jason bingham
9/25/2011 8:05:49 AM

In response to thunderkitty, it seems some what hypocritical to recommend against using dogs to control snake populations and then as a third option recommend pigs as good snake control. I should think one would run into the same problems with bites and vet bills with either species. Is canine life more valuable than porcine life?

9/6/2011 1:43:22 PM

As someone who has twice had to pay for the treatment of rattlesnake bites on one of my dogs, I would never recommend using your dog for hunting snakes, the only snakes you really have to worry about are the ones that can kill your dog. It would be pointless if everytime your dog came up against a snake it resulted either in high vet bills (and believe me they are very high) or needing to get another dog because the other one died. I would suggest a gun and snake-shot ammo, if you aren't comfortable with that, I hear pigs are great for killing snakes.

8/31/2011 1:15:23 PM

There may not be much that we can do to keep certain dogs from hunting snakes, but encouraging it is unwise if you value your pets. I have a Spanidor --- English Springer Spaniel mixed with Labrador Retriever. He is so keen to hunt snakes, he responds to them on television! Luckily for me, there are no snakes worth discussing in Alaska (we have one or two tiny variety garden snakes that are so rare nobody ever heard of them) and I don't have to constantly worry about my dog getting bitten. Please do not encourage the idea of using dogs to fight snakes. Buy a mongoose if you are desperate. These little creatures are expert snake-killers and make good house pets. If they are neutered they can be brought into this country with no problem. The mongoose is fast enough to blur past a striking rattler. A dog is not. It's that simple. If you love dogs, try to discourage their natural interest in hunting snakes.

pat jacques
8/31/2011 11:45:53 AM

As the owner of a 2-year old Cairn Terrier, I agree that a dog like this is an excellent hunter, but keep in mind that, as a pet, the dog will be well-fed and will not be interested in eating its prey. Most likely, it will bring the 'trophy' back to its owner, expecting praise. Isabel has brought me many gifts, including voles, skinks,large beetles, and snakes -- if you would not enjoy receiving these gifts, then buying a terrier is not the answer for you.

dianna allard
8/31/2011 10:55:09 AM

The article about dogs and snakes was interesting. However, I suggest that if your dog is not trained to know the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes, you try to keep them from confronting any snake. I had a yellow lab who was bitten twice by a rattlesnake, almost died and began having seizures. What's more, the experience only heightened her desire to confront snakes to the extent that she would attach the oscillating sprinkler heads, thinking they were rattlers. I could no longer leave her unattended in the yard for fear that the next bite would be fatal. I learned to dispatch the rattlesnakes who were determined to be in my yard and, most snakes would not cross the hemp rope barrier I placed outside the yard fence.

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