I have a Golden Retriever who has killed 4 small dogs. Is this natural?

Our question this week was:

I have a Golden Retriever who has killed 4 small dogs. Is this natural?

Ruth Mercado


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your Golden retriever has killed four small dogs and your question was – is that natural?

The answer is yes and no. Generally, Golden retrievers are great dogs that love to play but don’t have a super strong predatory aggression instinct.

According to our behavior expert, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, all dogs have some level of prey drive (the motivation to chase, catch and kill small furry or feathered creatures) because hunting and killing was a way of life for their ancestors and the means for their survival.


Predatory aggression by dogs does not reflect a psychological problem and neither is the perpetrator vicious, malicious or vindictive. Predation is a natural survival-related behavior that may sometimes alarm or disgust us. The entire predatory sequence involves searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing and then eating. Predatory behavior is not preceded by a significant mood change or threatening gestures because either would be counter-productive to the objective – to catch and kill the prey. The absence of warning signs plus the fact that killing is the natural end point for the behavior makes it dangerous for target animals and prey facsimiles.

So…it is natural but obviously not ideal. I’d recommend that you read his complete article – go to: Predatory Aggression

You may need to do some training and ensure your dog is never alone with a small dog.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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