Dogs and Hamsters – Can They Live Together And Get Along?

I don’t know about you, but as a dog owner, I also like having other pets.  Luckily for me, the cat and dog get along just fine.  I mean they are not best friends, but they are civil with each other.  Most dogs get along with other pets, live together, and actually be friends, but there are some dog groups that may not get along with other animals because of their natural instincts like a sporting or hound dog. Dogs and hamsters might be a bit of a challenge.

For today, the question is can dogs and hamsters live together?  Can dogs and hamsters be friends?  I can say that the answer is both yes, and no.  Come on let’s dive in.

Hammie the Hamster nibbling on some greens. Hamsters should be kept in a safe and secure enclosure from dog.
A cute little hamster nibbling on some healthy greens.

 General Info on the Hamster

A hamster is a tiny rodent that belongs to the subfamily Cricetinae.  Hamsters are extremely popular house pets for families with small children.  The most popular hamster species are the golden or Syrian hamster. These are most commonly kept as family pets.  Other species of hamsters are the Campbell’s dwarf hamster, the winter dwarf hamster, and the Roborovski hamster.

Hamsters are more of a crepuscular animal than a nocturnal one, well in the wild anyway.  Anyone who has owned a hamster knows this does not necessarily apply to hamster pets, because we can often hear them running on the wheel late at night.  

A hamster’s diet consists mostly of seeds, fruits, veggies.  These little guys have a stout-body with adorable elongated cheek pouches that allows them to store food.  They also have a very short tail and feet are covered in fur. 

Alright, now that we all know what hamster is and some basic info, let’s move on.

How to Keep A Dog and A Hamster

Having a hamster and a dog in your home can be a bit stressful, and you may be concerned about how to keep your little hammie safe from the big dog.   You do not need to be as worried as you think. Although it is very important to keep dogs and hamsters separated, you can still keep both as pets. In order for those two to coexist in your home without any problem, you must invest in a proper enclosure for the hamster, and of course, there will be rules for safety purposes.   Let’s take a look at this step by step method to use in order to keep your hamster safe.

Step 1

Selecting A Safe Enclosure for Your Hamster

This is a very important step.  You do not want to go out and pick up the first one you see.  It is recommended to get a glass enclosure over the caged ones because a dog cannot just reach in between the openings.  Hamsters are very small and because of this, they are able to fit through very small openings. So, having a glassed enclosure will ensure there are no Houdini vanishing acts!  There are however a few this to consider with a glass enclosure.

  • The temperature in a glass enclosure can heat up very fast.  The enclosure should not be anywhere near heating vents or direct sunlight.  There are hamster safe thermometers that you can purchase to make sure the temperature does not get higher than 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Make sure to remove moist bedding on a daily basis as glass enclosures can get a buildup of ammonia, which can result in respiratory health issues for your hamster.

Step 2

Spacing in a Wire Cage

Okay, so you have decided on a wire cage.  That is okay, but you have to measure the spaces between the bars.  This is very important. If you don’t get this right, you can definitely expect some Houdini action going on, and your dog may be able to reach in.   A good tip is the spacing between the bars should never more than 0.5-inch (1.27-cm).

  • If you live in a very hot climate, then a wire cage is probably the best way to go because remember the glass enclosure can heat up fairly quickly. 

Step 3

Avoid Any Tunnel Attachments On Hamster’s Home

Tunnels can be very fun for the hamster, but the tunnels are out of the enclosure and leave the animal exposed to larger curious animals like the dog. 

Step 4

Placing The Hamster’s Home In a Safe Place 
  • Make sure to keep the hamster’s home high enough so that a dog cannot knock it over.
  • Keeping the hamster in a room with a door is highly recommended.

Your hamster now has its home and it is in a safe and secure place.  Now we can move on to the next part.

Is your Dog Too Interested in the hamster?

Dogs have great senses such as smell and hearing, which can pretty much guarantee that the dog knows the hamster is in the house.  The dog will be curious and want to check out the new family member.

Remember that dogs have a natural hunting instinct, some more than others.  The little hammie may just be the thing to get those instincts in motion. It may seem like the dog is being playful around the hamster, but in fact, it could be the hunter in them trying to locate the small pet. 

Keep watch of your dog’s body language for signs that it may be quite interested in the newest family addition.   Is your dog focused and often staring at the hamster?   

Dogs have a great sense of smell, so you may observe your dog sniffing a lot in the area of the hamster’s home. They may wag their tail in excitement and will keep a close eye on it and follow the hamster’s every move. 

These are all non-aggressive signs that your dog is indeed very interested in the hamster.   These signs are not ones to be overly worried about. 

Here are some signs that could mean your dog is stalking the hamster as prey and will become aggressive

  • Growling or barking
  • Panting and raised ears- a sign of a potential pounce
  • Lunging towards the hamster’s location 

Summary of Signs That Your Dog Is Too Interested 

  • Staring 
  • Alert
  • Tail wagging 
  • Sniffing 
  • Barking 
  • Growling 
  • Panting 
  • Raised Ears 

You may find your hamster hiding, shaking and showing signs of stress if the dog is paying too much attention to it. 

Dogs- Natural Hunters 

Let’s get into dogs for while, shall we?  We all know that dogs have a hunter instinct and they can sometimes act on those instincts. They are hunters, and they like to hunt.  There are breeds that are more likely to hunt a small pet animal you may have. These breeds would be the ones that are in the sporting group like the Pointers or the Setters.   Then you have the Finnish Spitz and the Malamute who gets along with just about anyone and any animal.  

Training Your Dog To Be Gentle and Calm Around Your Hamster 

Dogs can be trained to be gentle around a hamster.  It is said that these two can be really great friends, however, it can dangerous for the hamster.  Your dog will have to be taught to respect your hamster and to be its protector.  

When introducing the dog and hamster to one another, it should be done slowly. Put your dog on a leash when before you enter the hamster’s room.  Their first interaction should be allowing your dog to sniff the hamster while it is in its home. Do not take the hamster out of its enclosure for their first interaction.   Keep your dog about three feet away from the hamster, and let the dog take in the smell for a few minutes, then leave the room with the dog. Repeat this a few times until it seems the dog is losing interest.   Do this three to four times a day, and remember to reward your dog for remaining calm around the hammie. 

Always remember to keep the hamster’s enclosure in a safe place in the room where it cannot be knocked over. 

Some Tips and Tricks When Dealing With Hamsters and Dogs 

  • Reward your dog for behaving around the hamster 
  • Keep the dog on a leash when you are introducing them 
  • Never leave a dog and hamster alone together 
  • Teaching your dog “gentle” “leave it” goes a long way

Keeping Your Hamster Safe Around A Dog

  • Interact with your hamster in its room with the door closed 
  • Purchase a good hamster enclosure 

Conclusion

The question was- can dogs and hamsters live together. We have discovered that yes, dogs and hamsters can live together, but not so much best buds. It can be too dangerous for the hamster due to dogs having a hunter instinct. Even my own dog Kiki who is a little Yorkie was paying way too much attention to a pair of guinea pigs that were over at my house visiting. She was trying to get into their cage and was barking at them. She may have just wanted to play since she loves meeting new people and animals, but I was not willing to chance it. It is best to keep these apart, but still teach the dog to be calm around it and to protect it.

FAQ

Can Dogs and Hamsters Be Friends?

Dogs and hamsters are very different in size. Even if you have the friendliest dog, accidents can happen. A dog may think it is just playing and pounce on the hamster, and that would not be a good thing for the hamster. You also need to be aware of the hunter instinct in a dog. Can they be friends? Sure, but from a distance. However, a dog and hamster can live together given the hamster is safely secured in a room with a door and a good enclosure.

Can Dogs Learn To Get Along With Hamsters?

A dog can learn to be gentle and calm around a hamster. They will learn this by repetitive training of introducing the dog to the hamster from a distance. The dog should be given a treat as a reward for staying calm around the hamster.

Can A Dog Eat A Hamster?

Not necessarily. The dog will see and smell the hamster as prey. So the dog will hunt the hamster. If the dog somehow gets inside the hamster’s enclosure it will most likely grab it and bring it to you. Most likely it will probably have mortally wounded it since hamsters are very small and dogs well very large. Remember to keep your hamster safe by keeping in a well secure enclosure and closing the door to the room that you are keeping it in. This way the dog and hamster can live together in the same house without any problems.

Bibliography 

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