Dogs and Snakes

Reader Contribution by Jan Dohner
article image

I’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