What Dogs Kill Snakes? (5+ Breeds That Can Do It)

By John Martin - June 10, 2022

French Bulldog picking up snake

A lot of people often get visitors in their backyard in the form of garden snakes. Most of them are not venomous but a snake is a snake.

So, humans tend to look for pets that can keep these supposedly vicious reptiles off their property. Before you look for a list of dogs, there are a couple of facts you should know.

So, let’s start there.

Truth of the Matter

The truth is, even hunting dogs don’t actually seek and kill snakes. But this does happen and that’s why people tend to keep certain breeds of dogs around to ward off snakes.

But there is no dog that is bred specifically for this purpose. And it’s not just about snakes, but any reptile.

On the other hand, snakes don’t prefer to be around dogs either. Just like they don’t like to be around humans.

With dogs, it’s because they are loud and that’s annoying to snakes. In fact, if a dog is around, snakes are likely to stay away from them.

The tricky thing is, dogs are very curious animals. And they have an excellent sense of smell and hearing.

Snakes often emit a bad smell which is supposed to keep predatory animals away. But it’s the same smell that makes dogs curious and the canines go out on a chase.

That mixed with their innate curiosity is why they go looking for snakes without realizing that’s what they are chasing. The problem with this is that they might actually find a snake and end up with a bite on their nose or face because that’s how they investigate the smell.

So, dogs are curious and they can keep snakes away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at it. And it’s definitely not true of all breeds.

What about Specific Breeds?

But if you are looking for a list of breeds, here are some names for you.

Airedale Terrier

Young Airedale Terrier

They are often called the ‘King of Terriers’ and are a very versatile breed. They are known to be hunter dogs and they are a popular presence in dog shows as well.

These dogs were bred to kill rats and otters which means they do possess the hunting dog DNA. So when they see a snake it’s in their nature to attack it.

In fact, when they do manage to kill a snake they are known to carry the dead thing around like the victorious hunter that they are.

Also Read: 23 of the Top Curly Haired Dog Breeds

Australian Terriers

Australian Terrier on an agility course

This is a small dog, but it’s quite lively. They are very curious and you know where we are going with that.

And fortunately or unfortunately that curiosity is matched by courage, which means they don’t easily back down. They are not a good pet if you have other dogs.

These dogs are the descendants of European Terriers and were bred to be alert dogs. Back in the day, they were used to protect farms from rodents.

And since they are Australian, you can expect them to run into plenty of other wildlife too, which includes snakes. Luckily for them and for you, they know exactly what to do in those situations.

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier sitting on steps

Another terrier that’s also a small dog and also good at hunting is the Cairn Terrier. It is just about 10 inches tall and it’s a good pet to have.

You will need to prepare for a lot of physical activity because they are Scottish dogs that were bred especially to hunt small animals and sometimes foxes too. So once again, they have the hunting gene which makes them curious and good at tracking down and killing snakes.

They can’t deal with large snakes, but if it’s a small or medium one, they got this. For those snakes that show up in your backyard, this one is a great solution.

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Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier running in a field

More terriers to talk about. The Jack Russell Terrier is a dedicated dog that is also friendly and lively.

They are intelligent and good-looking dogs. They also have V-shaped ears that are a signature look of this breed.

Their gait is effortless and the dog is a confident one. They are a part of the English Foxhound family and were bred to hunt.

Needless to say, when they are face to face with a snake, they do just fine.

Also Read: 15 Dog Breeds That Can Jump High

Lakeland Terrier

Lakeland Terrier sniffing evergreen tree

And finally, Lakeland Terrier is the farmer’s dog, which means they were kept around to keep the foxes away from the sheep. These dogs are from England’s Lake District and used to operate in packs back in the day.

They are also small dogs but they look quite dominating and have a robust stance. The good news is that they don’t need a lot of exercise, but some fresh air every day is good for their mental health.

They are good at tackling threats because they are working dogs. And that’s why they can take care of themselves when they encounter a snake.

Why Terriers Are Good at This

The list above is exclusively terriers and the family is certainly good at dealing with snakes. There’s also the Norfolk Terrier, Rat Terrier, West Highland White Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier which are good at the same.

Apart from terriers, you will find that Dachshunds, German Pinschers and Miniature Schnauzers are also pretty good at the job at hand.

But the reason why terriers are specifically good at this job is that for one, they are bred as hunters. They are good with most small animals like mice and rats and from time to time deal with foxes too.

Terriers get their name from the Latin word ‘terra’ which means earth. They are bred to hunt underground animals and that’s the connection.

But in this day and age, they can handle animals moving on the ground too as a result of evolution. These dogs can also go the extra mile and dig up holes and burrows to get the underground animals out, which means they are relentless.

Terriers are also bred such that they don’t have much fear and have a lot of energy. So, once they find a snake, they will not only not back down, but will also do their best to chase and get their kill.

And since they are hunting dogs, they don’t need a lot of encouragement to get the job done. It is in their nature to chase and hunt and that’s what they will do even if they are faced with a snake, which is not an animal they were bred to kill.

Dog Poop, Dog Food and Snakes

Now, here’s what you need to do if you don’t want your dog to get into a tussle with a snake. You must make sure that you don’t leave the premises unclean in the form of dog food and poop.

This will attract smaller animals like mice and rats that love to clean up dog poop. It will also invite snakes and start a whole battle in this part of the food chain.

You might have a hunting dog but that doesn’t guarantee that it will win the fight because a lot changes based on their domestic conditioning. You also don’t want things to go south and for your pet to end up with a snake bite on their face which is not out of the realm of possibility.

Snakes don’t follow your dog’s food or poop but they certainly chase after rodents. Sometimes, they like to look for fish and if your dog food has those flavors smelling fresh, you might unwittingly be inviting trouble.

The Bottom Line

Clearly, dogs are not bred exclusively to hunt and kill snakes. So, that’s not a good enough reason to get any of the breeds mentioned above.

But if you do have snakes visiting your backyard and are looking for a pet that can help you keep them away, certain dog breeds that have a hunting lineage can definitely lend you a hand, or should we say paw.