4 min read


Can Dogs Live with Turtles?



4 min read


Can Dogs Live with Turtles?


Dogs are highly social creatures, which has led humans to believe that they can live with all kinds of other creatures without problems. While it is true that many dogs can live with a number of different animals, there are times when you shouldn’t get certain pets when you have a dog. 

Dogs can harm small pets, and in some cases, other pets can hurt your beloved dog. It can also be hard to train animals to properly interact with one another, so you will have a lot on your plate if you decide to get two different kinds of pets.

So, what about turtles? Are dogs good with turtles? Can turtles and dogs hurt one another? Let’s find out!


Signs Dogs and Turtles May Not Do Well Together

Many dogs will do just fine with any sort of animal that you could bring into your home. Unfortunately, not all dogs are like this. It is important that you consider the temperament of your pooch before you try to introduce them to a new pet of any kind. Dogs who are aggressive or anxious may not do well with other pets.

Unlike most of the mammals you can bring into your house, turtles look a lot like many of the chew toys and treats that you purchase for your pooch. This could cause your dog to treat your turtle like a chew toy. A dog bite into a turtle shell can cause harm to the turtle, and veterinary care would be required immediately. While it seems like the shell would protect the turtle, it doesn’t make them invincible.

In addition, large turtles and tortoises can actually harm your dog, regardless of size of your dog. Small dogs, however, could be killed by a large turtle or tortoise. Since it is difficult to teach the turtle to live with the dog, in these situations, it is best to avoid interaction or pass up on getting one of the pets.

Body Language

If your dog displays any of the following body language cues, you should not leave them near your pet turtle:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Chewing
  • Stalking

Other Signs

Other signs that dogs might not want to co-exist with turtles include:

  • Attempting To Chew On The Turtle'S Shell
  • Crouching
  • Anxious Behavior

History of Dogs Living with Turtles


Historically, dogs lived with all kinds of different livestock. Since it was their job to herd and protect livestock, a dog that tried to injure or kill livestock wouldn’t be very useful. However, many dogs were also trained to hunt small rodents that caused problems for humans. You may need to consider your dog’s ancestry and their temperament before deciding on a new pet in your home.

It is likely that many people have owned both turtles and dogs, so it isn’t an impossibility. However, it can be difficult for the two to live together harmoniously. To keep both animals safe, it is a good idea to always supervise the animals when they are together. Leaving these two animals unsupervised could lead to serious injuries for either pet.

While it may seem like turtles have a natural defense mechanism (which is technically the purpose of their shell), that doesn’t mean that these shells can’t be damaged. Additionally, if the turtle can’t make it back into the shell in time, your dog could harm their body, too. If your turtle is bitten or tossed about, it can be injured and even kileed.

Even if your dog doesn’t mean any harm, stress has very negative effects on turtles. Their entire immune system can be compromised when they are stressed, which could lead to illness and infection.

Science Behind Dogs Living with Turtles


Dogs are considered great pets due to their friendly and social nature. Turtles are often considered great first pets for young children, even though they require more care than many people believe. Having both of these animals in one house can be challenging, because both have instincts that could cause them to lash out at each other.

You also need to be considerate of how each animal feels being around the other. Fear for either the turtle or the dog can cause health problems, so you shouldn’t force the two animals to interact. If possible, it may be best to just let the two exist in different areas of your home.

Training Your Dog to Live with Turtles


If you are determined to bring both a turtle and a dog into your home, you will need to teach your dog how to behave around the turtle. For your peace of mind, you will want to make sure that your dog knows basic commands before you ever bring another animal around. “Sit” and “stay” are both important, but “leave it” may be your best friend during this period of time. Your dog needs to be reliably responsive to these commands for you to make a safe introduction.

Introductions should always be done slowly. Make sure that your dog is leashed during this time. It can be helpful to have two people around during an introduction of a dog to a turtle, but it isn’t a necessity. You will want to keep your dog close to you and slowly bring it closer and closer to the turtle. After each step forward, wait until the dog is calm before moving ahead. If your dog can’t calm down, you should take a step back.

During introductions, you may want to start out with the turtle in its habitat or in an enclosed tank or cage. This will prevent either party from getting hurt, but it allows them to become more familiar with each other’s movements and smells.

This process should involve treats that reward your dog’s good behavior. You want to be sure that you are only encouraging behavior that you want to see your dog exhibit around the turtle in the future. You may want to have your dog perform basic commands for treats to take their mind off of the turtle. Capturing your dog’s attention may be difficult, but getting them to focus on you and stay calm is important.

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Safety Tips for Dogs Living with Turtles:

  1. Never leave the two animals together unsupervised.
  2. Train your dog to follow basic commands.
  3. Slowly introduce the pets to make it more likely they will co-exist in your home.

Written by a Pomsky lover Chelsea Mies

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/09/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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