Do Golden Retrievers Kill Squirrels? What If They Catch’em?

There is almost nothing as embarassing as you walking your dog only to fall on your face as your dog launches towards a squirrel to chase it while dragging you behind.

Ignoring the embarrassment, I have always been concerned about what would a golden retriever actually do if they get to the squirrel. Dogs are good hunters, but can golden retrievers kill squirrels if they catch them?

I did my research, and here is what you need to know;

So, do golden retrievers kill squirrels? No, golden retrievers do not kill squirrels, they may love to chase them but they are just being playful and don’t have the intentions to actually harm them, golden retrievers are eneregetic, they love chasing fast-moving objects but they don’t actively hunt to kill squirrels or other small animals.

So, no, you don’t really have to worry about your golden retriever hunting down squirrels to kill them, but you do have to train them to not launch mid-walk towards any small animals.

To understand more about why golden retrievers don’t kill squirrels – or any small animals but still love chasing them as well as what you need to do, keep on reading….

Why Golden Retrievers don’t kill squirrels or small animals

golden retriever looking at a squirrel to illustrate the answers to do golden retrievers kill squirrels

Golden retrievers were bred to retrieve and it means that they used to only bring the preys and the small animals to their owner. In this case, the dog is simply a companion to the human who does the hunting, unlike other hunting dogs that do the flush the prey or catch it themselves.

They used their soft mouths to carry the injured birds and animals so they didn’t harm the game while bringing it back to the owner. In a way, golden retrievers have lost their urge to hunt and kill over the years.

Actually, most pet dogs have no urge to kill but they still have the hunting gene deep in themselves, and sometimes it will kicks in so they will chase the squirrels but they are not going to kill them. 

Why Your Golden Retriever Chases Squirrels 

Golden retrievers are known for being one of the most playful breeds and chasing a squirrel is fun for them so technically they are playing.

It could also be that your golden retrievers just have the desire to chase smaller creatures such as squirrels or cats.

If you don’t know how a dog’s brain works, here is the short of it: their brain is wired to respond with a chase reaction whenever they see an animal running away or literally any moving object. 

The scent of squirrels probably high them up and gives a little push to act the way that they do.

However, you shouldn’t let them chase the squirrels in the park or even in your backyard because they can end up getting hurt, plus, they can catch parasites and diseases from the squirrels.

However, golden retrievers can get along well with any small animal. You can learn the steps to train your golden retriever to live with any small animal under the same roof on my article on why golden retrievers get along well with small animals here.

How to stop your golden retriever from chasing squirrels 

You can stop your golden retriever from chasing squirrels. The first thing that you need to do is some basic obedience training because you need them to keep their focus on you.

Here is how to train your dog to keep their focus on you:

  • Step one, take them to an obedience training to give you more control to tell them “no” and “sit”
  • Always reward your dog whenever they are focused on you or listening to you.
  • Walk them on a leash to have them under control
  • Avoid taking them to parks with lots of squirrels while you are still training them 
  • Start the training in a place where you are sure it’s squirrel-free and move closer to a squirrel zone as your golden retriever is more focused on you. 
  • You can also distract your dog from the squirrels with noise such as whistling or even shaking your keychain 

Whenever you are in a public place, you will need to watch your golden retriever closely because chasing squirrels is so much fun for them and sometimes it can be impossible to stop them, so try to distract them as much as you can.

Remember that your golden retriever running through the park to chase a squirrel can not only hurt them but also other people in the park and even you.

Can my golden retriever get sick from killing a squirrel? 

Yes, Golden Retrievers can get sick from killing a squirrels but this is rate, most golden retrievers that get sick from squirrels are infected by the parasites the animal is carrying when the squirrel bites the golden retriever which is much more likely than the golden killing the squirrel.

Here are some signs to know if your dog got infected from the squirrel:

  • Vomiting 
  • Red eyes 
  • Warm ears 
  • Coughing 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Shivering 
  • Dry nose 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Warm nose 
  • Redness around the bite 
  • Pus drainage from the wound 
  • Localized warmth at the bite site 
  • Swelling 
  • Increasing pain 
  • Fever 
  • Red streaks leading away from the bite 

Also here are some signs to help you know if your dog caught the squirrel’s parasites 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Weight loss 
  • Dull coat 
  • Scooting 
  • Distended abdomen 
  • Blood in their poop 
  • Decreased activity 
  • Mucus in their diarrhea 

If you notice one or a few of these signs, you need to take your pooch to the vet immediately and get them checked up.

What can golden retrievers catch from squirrels?

Your golden retriever can catch the plague, Lyme disease, and rabies from squirrels if the animal is carrying the parasites that cause the disease or the fleas or ticks that are carrying these parasites. Your golden retriever can get infected if the squirrel bites your dog or if your dog bites them.

The plague is a bacterial disease found in rodent fleas and this disease can be transmitted when a rodent such as squirrels bites your dog or is bitten by the dog.

Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that can be transmitted to dogs, other animals, and even humans by some species of ticks.

These ticks carry something inside of them called a spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and it can get into the dog’s bloodstream through the tick’s bite and the same thing with humans.

Finally, rabies is one of the worst viral diseases affecting dogs and humans, unfortunately, it’s a fatal disease.

Rabies is caused by infection with the rabies virus and even though squirrels do not usually carry rabies, some squirrels can carry it so that is why you need to take your dog to the vet anyway.

What are the signs of rabies in a dog? 

Here are some signs to help you out.

  • Pica 
  • Lack of muscular coordination 
  • Fever 
  • Paralysis 
  • Seizures 
  • Hydrophobia (an irrational fear of water)
  • Abnormality in their behavior 
  • Jaw appears dropped 
  • Unusual aggression 
  • Constant irritability 
  • Unusual shyness 
  • Excessive excitability 

Why do squirrels taunt dogs?

Squirrels taunt dogs to entertain themselves, they are just bored and looking for something fun to do, and being chased eliminates boredom and they are sure that teasing your dog guarantees some fun.

The squirrels will tease the dog because they know that he wants to protect his house and territory and the squirrel wants to protect its territory from dogs as well.

If you liked this article and it was useful to you, please share it with your friends and family members, it may be helpful to them and I will definitely appreciate it as well.

Related Questions 

Do squirrels carry diseases to dogs? 

Yes, squirrels might be carrying diseases or parasites that your dog can catch, squirrels also carry ticks and fleas that are not harmful to them but can definitely be harmful to your dog, so if your dog is carrying a squirrel in their mouth whether it’s alive or dead, take them to the vet to make sure that they are fine.

Why do dogs hate squirrels so much? 

Most dogs are born with an instinctive desire to hunt, especially small breeds such as terriers. They are natural-born hunters, they get the scent of a little squirrel and become crazy, however, their uncontrolled chase needs to be stopped because they can get hurt.

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 You Don’t Want Your Pet to Catch that Squirrel

Why Dogs Chase Squirrels


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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