Lions and lambs. Birds and worms. Dogs and cats. There are some combinations of animals, which left to their own devices, just don't mix. This is especially true if both species like to lounge in your living room. (Hopefully you've realized we're zeroing in on dogs and cats here, and don't have a roaring/bleating situation on your hands.)
After all, it's only natural that dogs chase cats, right? Not necessarily. With proper socialization, dogs and cats can live in harmony. In fact, they may even become what we'd consider "friends." Still, it pays to stack the odds in your favor, so we've put together a line-up of "most likely to succeed" dogs. Which breeds made our top 10? Find out, beginning on the next page.
They may look like little balls of fur, but Pomeranians are 3 to 7 pounds (1.36 to 3 kilograms) of sheer confidence -- a trait that makes them well equipped to befriend an equally cocky cat. The Pomeranian's ancestors were once four times the breed's current standard size and were used primarily to herd sheep or pull sleds. Today, the diminutive breed is known for its loyal, active personality with the intelligence to match. This is a combination that easily takes to training -- especially positive reinforcement -- and just one of several reasons the breed made our cat-friendly list. The Pomeranian (whose coat can be any color or pattern, but seems to most often sport orange or red) is an ideal small dog to have as a cat's housemate. Even if the two don't become fast friends, the Pom can be trained to offer companionable respect. Now that's a match made in heaven.
9: Shih Tzu
How could a cat not love these dogs? We sure do. Shih Tzus are tranquil, devoted and highly adaptable. But don't mistake these dogs for proverbial doormats. Their personalities outmatch their diminutive size and they have a persistent arrogant streak that may require extra time and attention -- especially if your goal is peace between Shih Tzus and cats. Shih Tzus respond well to metered discipline, especially when it's consistent and applied to even small infractions (this saves a lot of trouble down the road because it prevents little problems from becoming nasty little habits). With training, they develop a mutual understanding and respect with a feline companion. Plus, at just 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kilograms), your cat may end up being the larger of the two.
The Chihuahua is a big dog in a little package. These up to 6-pound (2.7-kilogram) dynamos are confident, self-reliant and likely to challenge a dog four times their size. Fortunately, even with their terrier-like attitudes, Chihuahuas make good companions for felines. As anyone who has ever watched a Chihuahua and cat become friends must surely know, the two seem to enjoy sharing the same space -- and will even curl up together for a nap. As with most dogs, it's best if a Chihuahua and cat are introduced while still young, preferably before their first birthdays. Even if your Chihuahua is older, he could still be trained to respect a cat rather than give chase. Just make sure the cat does the same. A Chihuahua can weigh as little as 2 pounds (.9 kilograms); the cat may just tower over him.
The Maltese is undeniably good-looking. She has silky white hair that if not trimmed flows to the floor, a charming little face accentuated by dark, expressive eyes and a black button nose. Weighing about 6 pounds (2.72 kilograms), the Maltese makes a perfect lapdog. But these aren't the only reasons she's on our cat-friendly list. The Maltese is a smart little dog that loves to please, and this makes her a fast learner (so even if your cat can't figure out that running away will make just about any dog give chase, the Maltese can be trained to take the high road). Plus, the Maltese is quite gentle-mannered in the first place, allowing her to become a companion -- rather than a threat -- to equally beloved felines. It's a win/win situation.
6: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These dogs seem like the very definition of "lap dog." The Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a member of the English toy spaniel breed, evolved from similar dogs favored by English royalty -- especially King Charles II, who reigned in the 17th century. He always had a spaniel by his side (and even decreed they be allowed in public places, like Parliament). It's no wonder the breed bears his name. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel (or Cav) is quick to learn tricks, obey its human companion and cuddle with anyone who sits still for even a moment. Cat lovers will be especially pleased to discover the Cav has a penchant for smaller creatures. These spaniels weigh only 13 to 18 pounds (5.8 to 8.1 kilograms) and easily bow to the wishes of a household cat if introduced to this long-tailed leader as a puppy. Although the Cav and reigning cat often develop a mutual respect, it's not uncommon to find the two playing, particularly if the cat is an outgoing and good-natured creature.
5: Boston Terrier
These lively dogs can be trained to give a cat ample space. That's just one reason the Boston terrier, also known as the "all-American dog" is one of our top cat-friendly picks. These intelligent dogs with distinctive black-and-white markings weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds (4.5 to 11.3 kilograms) and are easy to train, in large part because of their intelligence and determination. As the name suggests, this breed was developed in Boston, Mass., following the Civil War as a fighting dog. By 1891, it officially became known as the Boston terrier. Most cats, however, simply know them as "buddy."
4: Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested is an elegant dog that's just 12 inches (30.48 centimeters) tall at the shoulder, bringing him eye-to-eye with many cats. The largely hairless dogs (except for a long crest on the neck and head, the lower legs and tail) are soft and smooth to the touch. A variation, known as the "powderpuff," features an allover coat of soft, straight hair. What cat lovers may appreciate most about the Chinese Crested, however, is his loving, playful personality. One that's just right for living with a cat or two. In fact, because the Chinese Crested can sometimes be naturally timid, it may just be the cat you have to watch out for. Generally, though, the Chinese Crested will befriend the companions he lives with over time -- cats and all.
3: Shetland Sheepdog
They may look like miniature versions of the Border collie, but Shetland sheepdogs have a personality all their own. They stand only 13 to 16 inches (33 to 40.6 centimeters) at the shoulder, but have an alert and intelligent disposition. This makes them especially responsive to their owners and to consistent training attempts. Shelties are adept at everything from basic obedience to agility, and can readily understand any command that amounts to "don't chase the cat." In fact, the loyal affection these herding dogs show their owners is matched only by their tolerance and patience when faced with smaller species like cats-- particularly if initially supervised to make sure the friendship get off on the right paw.
2: Japanese Chin
Bred as companions, it's easy to see why a Japanese Chin would become fast friends with their human -- or even a cat their human also happens to love. The Japanese Chin actually originated in China, and spent much of its time warming the laps of Chinese aristocracy or accompanying royal ladies in their comings and goings. As the breed's popularity grew throughout the Far East, the dogs were gifted to traveling dignitaries -- signifying what a treasure the Japanese Chin had become to the Far East. The Japanese Chin continues to be a treasure today, and is an affectionate (if not occasionally reserved) breed with an even temperament that can adapt to dynamic households, including playful kittens or adult cats.
1: Bichon Frise
There's much to love about the Bichon Frise. They're cheerful, playful and gentle -- all great qualities in a companion dog. At up to 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) and 11.5 inches (29.2 centimeters) in height, this powder-puff of a dog is a perfectly packaged compadre. And that goes for cats, too. When raised together, a Bichon and a housecat can become fast friends, playing and wrestling like siblings. Even if introduced later in life, the two can learn to get along if the cat isn't especially aggressive or flighty. Small dogs like the Bichon Frise are especially likely to be harmed by cat claws; most dogs won't chase a cat that doesn't run. By employing a consistent brand of positive reinforcement, even reluctant Bichons can be trained to tolerate cats.