Dogs may not be the first thing that come to mind when you think about getting rid of mice, but many breeds are actually quite effective mice-catchers. Sure, most people think about cats when it comes to controlling mice, but they aren't the only domestic mousers.
Dogs are territorial, loyal, and have an incredibly good sense of smell, all traits that make them great for ridding your house of pesky mice.
While most dogs will probably react in some manner to a mouse infestation, there are specific breeds that are better mousers than others. In fact, many dogs were bred specifically for pest control. For example, Chihuahuas were thought to be bred to rid Mexico City of rat and mouse infestations. Other breeds that are considered 'mousers' include terriers, Dachshunds, and Papillon. However, just because your breed of dog wasn't named doesn't mean Fido won't be able to keep the mice away!
Signs a Dog Can Help with Mice
There are many behavioral traits that may indicate that your dog can help control your mouse problem. Dogs that are alert, territorial, and constantly using their nose to see what's going on will undoubtedly be able to help with your mouse problem.
Have you ever noticed your dog seemingly stalking nothing in the kitchen? When you think your dog is acting weird and maybe even going a little crazy, there's a good chance they've picked up on something you haven't. Dogs have an incredibly good sense of smell, upwards of 40 times better than humans! They have more than 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose, which is why they are so good at sensing other animals and pests.
Some people have also had success in training their dog to help control a mouse problem, but this is a little more difficult. If a dog doesn't naturally jump at the chance to catch a mouse, they may just not be cut out for the job. But don't be discouraged, with a little patience and a whole lot of training, you may be able to train your dog to hunt for Fievel after all!
History of Dogs Helping with Mice
As we discussed earlier, there are many different breeds that are natural mousers. Centuries ago, many farmers bred dogs in order to keep mice and rats out of their crops, as this was their livelihood. We previously mentioned Chihuahuas being used as mousers in Mexico, but Terriers are perhaps the most famous breed of dogs for controlling mice and rats.
There are many different types of terriers, including Rat Terriers - which says it all! From Mexico to Europe and everywhere in between, dogs have been helping homeowners clear the space of unwanted pests for a long time.
Science Behind Dogs Catching Mice
Dogs are instinctual creatures who have an excellent sense of smell and great hearing. These traits are just a couple of the reasons why they are indeed good at catching mice. Sure, cats are most often associated with being mousers, but when you look at the genetic makeup of a dog, it makes sense they can also help keep your home mouse-free.
We've mentioned how incredible a dog's sense of smell is, but it is important to reiterate this point when talking about dogs sniffing out mice. Coupled with their impressive hearing ability, mice don't stand a chance in your home.
Some dogs are also built physically for the job. Being small and fast helps a lot when catching a rodent. While your Great Dane is very powerful - and once upon a time took down bears and boars - their large bodies are more of a hinderence when getting a mouse.
Training Your Dog to Catch Mice
Training your dog to catch mice may be a little more difficult than you realize. If they don't have the natural instinct to seek out and chase mice, you could have your work cut out for you. But with a little determination and a whole lot of treats, there's a good chance your dog will turn out to be a good mouser after all.
If you are thinking about training your dog to catch mice, you will need to start by familiarizing your dog with the pesky rodents. If possible, expose them to a live mouse that you've caught and let the dog sit in the same room as the caged mouse.
Repeat this a few different times, making note of how your dog is reacting. Most dogs will be naturally curious and sniff around the mouse before making any moves, which is a good sign. From there, you should encourage and reinforce your dog to view the mouse as a pest
Written by a Chihuahua lover Allie Wall
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/16/2018, edited: 04/06/2020