Image: Ermolaev Alexander via ShutterstockBy Jessica Remitz | Pet360.com
Looking for a dog that's a little more independent? Or maybe you're a self-described "cat person" looking to expand your horizons into canine territory? Whatever your reason, there are plenty of dogs out there to fit your criteria and become a perfect, cat-like mate. We've asked American Kennel Club spokesperson Lisa Peterson to share a few breeds with feline tendencies in addition to tips for selecting and training your potential pet.
Known for their dignified appearance and long, silky coat, Afghan Hounds have become popular in the U.S. for their excellent qualities as a show dog, according to the AKC. These hounds have very individual, unique personalities and are recognized for their aloof nature. Their thick coats require regular grooming and larger size requires regular exercise on a leash or in a fenced-off area.
Originally developed for hunting in dense undergrowth in Japan, the Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). With a compact frame and a double coat that can be black and tan, red or red sesame, Shibas make excellent companions but can be reserved toward strangers.
"[Cat-like] breeds may seem independent or aloof, and prefer to approach people on their own terms," Peterson said. "They can be less eager to please than other breeds, but they're loyal and affectionate to those that earn their respect."
Because of their nature, early obedience training with Shiba Inus is a must, as is regular brushing and exercise on a leash or in a fenced-off area.
Known for their hunting skills and African ancestry, Basenjis are medium-sized, elegant dogs with short coats that can be chestnut red, pure black or brindle. Because of their history working out of sight of their owners, they tend to be independent, aloof and attentive.
"Much like cats, many of these breeds are fastidious in their habits and grooming, and also possess similar prey drive for small game," Peterson said.
Basenjis are commonly called "bark-less," but make a noise that sounds like a yodel when excited.
An active, good-natured dog that enjoys children but may be cautious with strangers, Finnish Spitz are recognized by their thick, golden-red double coat, according to the AKC. A hunting breed with a distinctive bark, the Finnish Spitz requires moderate exercise and regular grooming. While all cat-like dog breeds need regular exercise and training, they'll likely require a little more patience than other breeds might.
"These dogs can be trained and taught obedience, agility and other dog sports, but may require extra consistency from their owners due to their independent natures," Peterson said. "They may not be as willing and eager to please as a Border Collie or Labrador Retriever."
One of the oldest known breeds of domestic dogs, Salukis are known for their graceful appearance and strength in hunting, according to the AKC. With a coat that comes in a variety of colors including white, golden, red and tricolor, Salukis are popular today at lure coursing events and in professional show rings. As a member of the hound group, they will instinctively run after anything that moves and require a strong hand in training.
"Due to their prey drive, [cat-like breeds] may like to chase, so being kept in a contained area or under owner supervision is the safest thing for them," Peterson said. "It's great if you can make them think something is their own idea in training."
Historically, many cat-like dog breeds did their jobs out of sight of the hunters that owned them, so they tend to be independent and aloof by nature, Peterson said. The Borzoi, an elegant, large hound, is no different. Bred by Russian aristocracy, Borzois were created to hunt wolves, fox and hare by sight over the open plains of Russia. Although they're large and require daily exercise on a leash or in a fenced-in yard, Borzois make excellent house pets and are affectionate with their owners, according to the AKC. Their long, silky coats require regular brushing and bathing.
An all-purpose dog used in hunting, herding, pulling and protection, Chow Chows are now primarily companions and show dogs across the country. Recognized by their dark, blue-black tongue and thick double coat, they come in five colors-red, black, blue, cinnamon and cream-and require regular grooming and bathing, according to the AKC.
Though they're devoted to their families and affectionate with their owners, they're reserved towards strangers and can be stubborn. Early socialization, and training are important for Chows, as is daily exercise.
As you consider taking home a Chow, or any other cat-like breed, make sure to do your homework and take grooming, exercise needs and into consideration in addition to their temperament, Peterson said.
Known for their vision and speed, Greyhounds are one of the most ancient breeds of dog known to man, according to the AKC. They're tall, lean and can come in any color including black, fawn, red and brindle. While they have been historically used as hunters, Greyhounds are primarily used as companion dogs across the U.S. They enjoy the company of their families, as well as other dogs, according to the AKC, and require daily exercise. While Greyhounds also exhibit cat-like tendencies, it's important to understand that each individual dog will have his or her own unique traits.
"Although these breeds might have a reputation for being cat-like, a lot comes down to the individual dog," Peterson said. "It's great to meet various examples of the breed to get a good idea of what the dogs are like and, of course, the best way to ensure a happy relationship with a dog is to work with a responsible breeder or reputable rescue group."
Bred to be companion dogs since their introduction to aristocracy in Imperial China, the Japanese Chin is sensitive and intelligent, according to the AKC. Their coat varies in length, but coloring is primarily white with black or red markings. The Japanese Chin is a playful breed and devoted family companion but may be reserved in around new or unfamiliar people and surroundings. Their small size makes them will-suited for apartment living, but will still need daily walks or a chance to play outdoors.
If you're looking for a dog with a certain personality or specific trait, your best bet may be to adopt or rescue an adult or senior dog. Shelters, adoption agencies, and foster workers often have some background on an older dog's personality, and can help you determine if they'll be the right fit for your needs before you adopt.
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