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Do Hawks Eat Dogs? Let’s Find Out in Details!

Do Hawks Eat Dogs

Are you wondering whether your dogs are safe from the hawk? Here is all that you need to know. Hawks will eat your dog when the opportunity presents itself. However, the good news is that you can keep your pet from being attacked by the hawks.

So, do hawks eat dogs? Hawks are opportunistic predators that will eat various prey. Hawks will feed on your dogs, especially on the young puppies and pets. The large mature dogs fight back, making it hard for them to be predated.

Please stick with us and learn more about the hawks’ hunting skills. This article will also cover the various techniques a hawk uses to kill its prey.

Do Hawks Eat Dogs?

Hawks are known to be one of the fiercest predators among the bird population. The hawk can feed on some solid and brave animals with a unique adaptation.

Being an opportunistic carnivore, this bird will not spare your dog once the chance presents itself. The young pets and puppies are at a greater risk of being hunted due to their small size and might not put up a spirited fight.

Hawks Eat Dogs

Aerial predator hawks will swoop down from their perching nests and strike dead your dog within no time. Little dogs barely survive such attacks.

The hawks try to lift the carcass off the ground upon killing the dog. If the dog is light enough, the hawk will fly back to its safe nest to feed. However, some dogs are heavy to carry, and the hawk, with the help of other hawks, will drag the carcass to safer ground and feed. While attacking such giant prey as the dog, they always do it in groups to ease the task.

Can Hawks Pick Up Small Dogs?

Hawks are predators, so it’s not surprising that they would be interested in picking up a small dog if they saw one. While a hawk could technically pick up a dog, it’s not likely to happen. Hawks typically prey on small animals like rodents and birds, so a dog would be too big and heavy for most hawks to lift.

Additionally, dogs are not typically found in the same habitats as hawks, so the chances of a hawk coming across a dog are slim. If you’re worried about your dog being picked up by a hawk, it’s important to keep them in a secure area where hawks are not present.

Small dogs are at risk of being picked up by birds of prey, but it’s not as common as you might think. Birds like hawks, eagles, and owls hunt by sight, so they are more likely to go after smaller prey that is easier to spot.

Larger dogs are also less likely to be targeted because they are more difficult to lift and carry off. That being said, there have been reports of birds picking up small dogs and cats, so it’s important to be aware of the risks if you live in an area with a lot of bird activity.

The best way to protect your small dog from being picked up by a bird is to keep them on a leash or in a secure enclosure when they are outside.

See also:  The Anatomy of a Hawk: Understanding Their Physical Features

If you see a bird of prey in the area, it’s best to bring your pet inside until the danger has passed. You can also train your dog to come when called, which can be helpful if they ever get loose and are being chased by a predator.

Which Hawks Eat Dogs?

  • Red tailed hawks: Red-tailed hawks weighing about 2.5 to 3.0 pounds pose the greatest threat to little dogs such as the chihuahua with less body weight than hawks. They can swoop down and carry dogs with even more than their weight with ease. Red-tailed hawks hunt the dog family and mammals such as mice and rodents.
Red tailed hawks
  • Cooper’s hawk: The cooper’s hawk bird species also eat dogs. Cooper’s hawk is well adapted to feed on large prey with ease. Its primary food source is small-sized mammals and insects. However, they kill dogs in extreme conditions and drag them away to munch on.
  • Ferruginous: These hawks will not spare your dog. Being one of the giant birds in North America, it can quickly attack a dog to kill and eat. Sharp-shinned hawks are one of the formidable birds for killing big animals such as dogs and snakes.

Other wild birds that will eat dogs include the red-shouldered hawks, Northern goshawks, and the great-horned owls. 

Hawks being opportunistic carnivores, will feed on everything that has flesh in it. As birds of prey, they don’t feed on live animals. The hawks first kill and then feed on the meat in their natural habitat.

How Does A Hawk Kill Dogs?

Ever watched a hawk kill its prey? It is a fascinating experience to watch a hawk swoop down and fly off with its target. The bird population has several hawk species with different feather patterns, but a common factor is their hunting skills. Hawk attacks larger animals during the day for a better sight.

Hunting hawks will first spot prey on the ground using their strong eye-sight as it pans from trees. The hawks regroup and fly high above the earth using the thermal effect to avoid potential threats for efficient hunting. You will see them hovering up in the sky, making no move. Upon successful spotting of the prey, the birds of prey will swoop down at lightning speed and attack the unsuspecting dog.

Below are some of the techniques that a hawk will use to kill dogs.

How Does A Hawk Kill Dogs

Use of talons

Hawks have sharp, strong talons that are curved to allow for the grabbing of the dog. The hawk punches the dog at critical body parts such as the neck or the spine to kill the dog. The sharp claws tear through the flesh and crush the animal to death.

For the young dogs, the hawk has the carrying capacity to fly off the ground and perch on tall adjacent trees or buildings to enjoy its meal.

Use of the beak

The red-tailed hawks are known to have the most robust sharp beak. The beak is curved and short, ensuring a better grip on flesh. Hawks use the brim to strike down the dog leaving it unconscious.

With its powerful talons, the bird will use the beak to tear the prey’s flesh. The hawk uses the beak to stub the prey when the target is not yet dead upon capturing.

See also:  Do Hawks Eat Eagles? Let's Find Out in Details!

Use of the wings

It’s excellent how a hawk will use all its body parts to coordinate a kill. These wide wingspans are strong enough to strike down your dog. Consequently, the hawk now picks the dog with the claws to a hidden place.

The bird rarely uses the wings as they can easily be broken if struck during a fight.


Some wild dogs that are well trained are hard to kill. With their fast speed, the dog can run away from a hawk. The dog will often put up a fight and resist the hawk. To avoid resistance, the hawk strikes once to kill, eliminating the threat from the dog. Adult hawks remain a threat to dogs.

Watch this video to see how a hawk kills a dog.


The majority of dog owners have unanswered questions about the relationship between their dogs and hawks. Here are some of the answers to some of your burning questions. You should find them quite informative and satisfying.

1. Can a hawk pick up a 12-pound dog?

Rumors have been spread over many years of how big hawks lifted heavy dogs’ weights ranging from 10 to 15 pounds. Surprisingly enough, these have remained to be rumors.

Hawks cannot lift more than their weight. Mature adult hawks and other birds of prey can grow up to 3 pounds in their lifetime. Therefore, a hawk can’t lift a dog weighing 12 pounds.

However, birds of prey may attack a dog weighing 12 pounds and kill it while still on the ground. If it reaches maximum capacity, the hawk drags the carcass to a hidden place to feed and only carries less heavy chunks.

2. How can I keep my dog away from the hawk’s eye?

As pet owners, you definitely can’t keep your dog enclosed in the house all day. To keep your dog safe with minimal monitoring, have your compound fenced and with a covered enclosure by tall trees. The bushy environment will help hinder the hawk’s sight.

These bushes will also act as hide-outs or animal shelters for your dog during an attack. Consider removing bird feeders that may attract hawks.

3. How do hawks choke their prey?

Yes. It is interesting how the hawks choke their prey. These opportunistic hunters use their muscular feet to choke the target by its neck. At times, the hawks will use their claws to strangle the prey.


Hawks will swoop down at high speed and kill your unsuspecting dog. Young dogs are most vulnerable as they lack the skills to fight back. If attacked by mature hawks, they rarely survive the attack.

The adult dogs tend to put up a fight. If the dog loses, hawks will drag it far away to feed. Keep your dog in enclosed areas to reduce the chances of being spotted by the hawk. Consider training your dog basic attacking skills to help fight back in an attack.

Do you want to know if hawks eat bunnies or cats? Read our articles about it to learn more.


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts