Do Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers Kill Rats?

We know that some cats kill cats and bring them to their owners as gifts, but have you ever wondered if dogs do the same things?

I mean, dogs were used for pest control for centuries, and they do like to chase small animals every now and then, but do all dogs do that? What about sweet dogs like goldens and labs?

So, do golden retrievers and labrador retrievers kill rats? Yes, golden retrievers and labrador retrievers do kill rats, even though they were bred to retrieve and not to hunt, goldens and labradors still have the instincts to kill pests like rats. However, rats carry parasites and viruses that can be transmitted to your dog so try to stop them when possible.

So, yes, even though they are probably the sweetest dogs you can ever find, golden retrievers and Labradors can kill rats and other pests that get into your house or in their territory. To learn more about why they do it and what you should do about it, keep on reading…

Why Do Goldens and Labradors Kill Rats? 

Image of golden retriever in a field to illustrate why do golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers kill rats

Your golden and labrador retrievers could kill rats out of boredom. Goldens and Labs are both energetic breeds and if they don’t exercise enough, they could act abnormally to find other ways to let out their pent-up energy.

It’s also in their nature; the ancestors of goldens and labs were hunting dogs, and even though they were both bred to retrieve and be companions instead of hunters in the last couple of centuries, the hunting gene is still embedded deep in their DNA and sometimes it will kicks in.

If you’re not familiar with the history of goldens, I have discussed it in detail in my post on why are golden retrievers so gentle here so make sure to check it out.

Also, do not forget that when dogs lived in the wild, they used to hunt prey and small animals such as rats and squirrels. 

Similar to cats, it could also be that your golden or Labrador killed a rat as a gift for you.

Whatever their motive is, you need to make sure that your dog is up-to-date with vaccines because they can get a number of diseases from rats.

Should you be worried when your dog kills a rat? 

Yes, rats can transmit many diseases to your dog through blood or through their mouths such as bacterial infections, they can even catch leptospirosis which is caused by leptospira bacteria and it can be transmitted to humans as well so not only that your dog will be at risk but you will be too.

So if your dog killed a rat, you should take them to the vet just to make sure that they are fine.

Can dogs get sick if they kill a rat? 

Yes, dogs can get sick if they kill a rat, dogs can easily be infected by direct or indirect contact.

Direct contacts such as a bite from the rat, interacted with the rat’s blood, or if your dog ate the rat and indirect contacts such as licking contaminated soil or drinking urine-contaminated water.

However, your dog catching a disease from a rat is a serious thing, and you should not let it pass without making sure that your dog is completely fine because if they had a bacterial infection such as leptospirosis, it could cause liver disease and acute kidney failure.

So here are some early signs of illness to look for them in your dog.

  • Vomiting 
  • Fever 
  • Soft cough 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Lethargy 

If you notice any of these signs, you should take them to the vet immediately.

Can golden retrievers live with pet rats? 

Yes, your golden retriever can live with pet rats if you introduce them to each other in the right way.

Just like any new pet, you need to introduce your golden retriever to the new pet rat and let them smell each other to collect the information they need to know.

You need to tell your golden retriever to be careful with the pet rat and baby talk to it.

Maybe play with the pet rat in front of your golden retriever to let them know they are friendly and not intruders. 

To learn how to introduce them to each other in much more detail, you must check out my guide on training golden retrievers to live with smaller animals here as I go into the details of each step on how to make sure they get along well with any small animal.

Can Labrador retrievers live with pet rats? 

Yes, Labrador retrievers can live with pet rats but just like golden retrievers and any other friendly dog, you will need to introduce your pet rat to your lab, also, make sure to protect your pet rat in the first few days in their new home.

Here is a very simple version of how to introduce your pet rat and Labrador to each other:

  • Play with your rat carefully 
  • Make sure that the rat is comfortable
  • Let them smell each other carefully 
  • Introduce them on neutral ground 
  • Watch them closely during the whole process 
  • If they are not getting along keep your rat away

Let’s get into each of these steps briefly;

Play with your rat carefully 

Playing with your rat in front of your dog will let them know that the rat is a friend and welcomed in your house, also treat the rat carefully and you can also talk baby talk to the rat in that way your dog will know that they are very delicate.

Make sure that the rat is comfortable 

If the rat is new to you and your family, you need to make sure that they are comfortable before they meet the dog because it might lead to the rat being insecure and frightened.

So it’s really important to keep them calm when you are introducing them to each other or they will be too frightened to be friends with the dog.

Also, if the rat is scared they might flip out and bite or scratch the dog and it will ruin their friendship for a long time. 

Let them smell each other carefully 

Just like any two animals meeting for the first time, you need to let them smell each other but keep your pet rat in their cage first (for safety) and introduce them into the same room.

You can leash your dog to make sure that they keep their distance from the cage because the rat might try to attack the dog if they get too close.

However, they should be close enough to smell each other but if your dog started to get a little aggressive in this step then it’s a sign that your two pets may not get along.

You can repeat this step for as long as you want, it might take a day or two to get it right, but make sure to give them both a break to calm down between trials.

Introduce them on a neutral ground 

Now that you completed the smelling each other step, it’s time for some face-to-face meetings.

This time you will have the rat in your hand while introducing them to each other again but first, you need to choose a place for them to meet and this place needs to be on neutral ground.

So if your dog has a spot or a room they like to spend most of their time in, stay away from it, instead go to a place that your dog isn’t usually allowed to be in.

You can ask someone to be with you in this step to either hold your rat or to hold your dog and make sure that the dog doesn’t do any sudden moves.

Watch them closely during the whole process 

After seeing each other closely, your pets will feel more comfortable around each other so now, you can allow your dog and your rat to smell each other at a closer distance than before.

Watch them closely and observe any signs of aggression in your dog such as exposed teeth, raised hackles, and pricked ears. You can learn about all your dog’s aggression signs here.

Your pet rat can show signs of aggression as well such as chopping their teeth, fluffed up fur, and whipping their tail from side to side.

If you noticed any sign of aggression then you will have to remove your pet rat immediately.

If they are not getting along, keep your rat away

If your dog showed some aggression signs to let your rat know that they are not at all welcome in their home, remove your rat to avoid any injuries and separate them.

You can keep your rat in a part of the house that your dog cannot reach and never leave them alone together, or you can try again in a few more days. Things can take a while, but with patience, I’m sure you can get them to get along really well because goldens and labs can be friends with literally any living being.

If you liked this article and it was useful to you, you can share it with your family members and friends, they might be experiencing the same thing with their dog. And I will certainly appreciate it.

Related Questions 

Do dogs keep rats away? 

Yes, dogs keep the rats away, when it comes to rats, dogs are unbelievably fierce and they always want to please their owner so if they noticed that you are scared of that rat, they will kill it for you just to make you happy and when dogs team up with cats, the rodents wouldn’t dare to enter the house.

Will rats enter a house with dogs? 

Yes, rats will enter a house with dogs, they will enter your house and only come out at night, however, your dog will do his best to get rid of them, and even if they couldn’t catch them, they will make a lot of noise trying to catch them and will disturb the rat to the point that the rat will leave peacefully.

If you liked the article, you can share it using the share and pin buttons at the end of the post. I’ll really appreciate it ♥️♥️

Helpful Resources 

Why Do Dogs Kill Rats

7 tips to keep your dog safe from rats and fatal toxins


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting and being part of our vibrant community.

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