From insects to small mammals, the diet of various owl species is diverse. Being a well-known bird of prey, owls are notorious for hunting domesticated pet birds and animals. As a dog owner, the presence of preying owls in your neighborhood can be concerning. But do owls eat dogs?
Yes, owls are carnivores and they will eat dogs if available. However, when it comes to hunting and eating, only a few owl species are known to prey on dogs. Great horned owls, eagle owls, snowy owls, and barred owls are some larger owls that can pick up and swallow small dogs.
Chihuahua, Pomeranian, and Yorkshire terrier are the common targets of preying owls. Let’s get into the details and find out whether dogs are a common item on an owl’s menu.
Do All Owls Eat Dogs? – Exploring the Possibilities
While most owl species consume meat, not all of them are capable of hunting and eating dogs. That’s because typical owls are smaller than most dog species. So, owls in general can’t carry a full-grown dog.
However, if you present owls with dog meat, most owl species will have them as owls are strictly carnivores. But what about dead dogs? For many years, it was believed that owls don’t scavenge on dead animals.
Yet, recent studies and observations have revealed that owls routinely eat roadkill animals. Therefore, some owls may eat dead dog’s meat if hungry. Here’s a list of owl species that are large enough to hunt and eat dogs:
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
One of the most notorious species known for preying on dogs is the great horned owl. You can find many news and CCTV footage online showing great horned owls capturing dogs. Although the owl weighs only 2.2 to 3.8 pounds, it can carry animals 3 times its body weight.
In general, the great-horned eagle can hunt prey weighing up to 9 pounds. What’s more worrying for dog parents is that this owl is one of the most widespread species in North America.
Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)
As the Eurasian owl has a huge body, it can easily lift a small dog without much effort. Adult owls of this species weigh 3 to 9 pounds and they can carry 5 pounds on average. When hungry, the owl might hunt small to medium mammals including foxes, dogs, and cats.
Apart from this particular species, other eagle owls are also known to attack dogs on rare occasions. However, eagle owls aren’t common in America, they are mostly found in Europe, Asia, and Middle Eastern countries.
According to some sources, about 20 eagle owl attacks have been recorded causing the death of at least three dogs in Finland.
Barred Owls (Strix varia)
Although rare, barred owls can also catch small dogs or puppies when left unattended. The species is spread all over North America and Canada.
An adult barred owl weighs only 1 to 2.3 pounds, so they are less likely to lift full-grown dogs. However, if you have a small puppy, barred owls can easily capture and eat them if it’s hungry.
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
A typical snowy owl doesn’t take pet animals as its food, but the owl can grow interest in them when it’s hungry. Commonly found in North America, snowy owls are one of the largest owl species weighing 3 to 6 pounds.
Due to their size and incredible hunting skills, snowy owls are considered a threat to dog owners, especially during the winter.
What Dogs Do Owls Eat?
When it comes to eating dog meat, owls don’t usually distinguish among species. As for preying, most dogs are too big for an owl to pick up. Hence, only the smaller toy species and puppies are more likely to be attacked by owls.
The prey selection of owls depends on a large number of factors including the environment and characteristics of the prey. However, the general rule is that you must be alert against owl attacks if your dog weighs less than 10 pounds.
Below is an overview of small dog species that owls might be able to hunt and eat:
|Dog Species||Average Weight||Threatened by Owls|
|Chihuahua||2 to 6 pounds||Great horned owls, snowy owls, barred owls, and Eurasian eagle owls|
|Pomeranian||3 to 7 pounds||Great horned owls, snowy owls, barred owls, and Eurasian eagle owls|
|Yorkshire Terrier||4 to 7 pounds||Great horned owls, snowy owls, barred owls, and Eurasian eagle owls|
|Maltese||4 to 8 pounds||Great horned owls, snowy owls, and Eurasian eagle owls|
|Papillon||5 to 10 pounds||Great horned owls and snowy owls|
Tips to Protect Your Pet Dog from Owls
Now that you know owls are a threat to your beloved pet dog, you must find a way to deter them. Below are a few useful tips to protect your dog from hungry owls:
Always Monitor Your Dog When Outdoors
You can’t stop your dogs from going outside, so the best thing you can do is to supervise them. If you live in a location where owls are a common sighting, you must always monitor your pets as they go out. Owls are less likely to attack a dog in human presence.
Also, avoid leaving your dog outside at night, especially during dusk and dawn. Most owls are nocturnal and hunt in the night. Skipping the late hours will make sure your pet dogs are safe.
Make an Enclosure with Roof
A proper dog enclosure for the outdoor activity area will be a patio with a strong fence and roof. The fence should be tall enough to stop an owl from flying over. In case it’s too costly, you must arrange a roof to protect your dog from a preying owl.
Install Outdoor Lighting
Bright lighting can easily distract and deter owls and other predators. Motion detector lights are the best choice to keep owls away from your property.
Even if you can’t lighten up the whole area around your house, you can simply arrange regular lighting or an LED collar for your dog.
Remove Food and Water Sources
If you don’t want owls anywhere near your pet dog, you must remove everything that attracts owls to your house. Bird feeders and water containers are such things that bring in small birds.
As owls hunt these birds, removing your bird feeder and other food sources will keep owls away. Also, try to find and destroy owl nests by contacting the local authority.
Use Owl Decoys
Some pet owners have found owl decoys helpful in keeping owls away from their dogs. When an owl notices the decoy, it avoids hunting in the neighboring area. Also, other small birds don’t come anywhere near the decoy. So, there’s no prey for the owl to capture.
Install Protection Gear
Thankfully, there are many safety gear available for small dogs and puppies to protect them from predators. Protective gear such as a raptor shield or coyote vest covers the sensitive area of your dog’s body.
Even if an owl attacks your pet dog, it won’t be able to grab or kill it, thanks to the strong protective material of the gear.
Still worried about the safety of your little pet dog? Let’s get to know more about owls preying on dogs and how to deter them.
Owls are opportunistic predators, so they will attack a dog whenever the situation is right. In general, owls are more likely to hunt unattended dogs when they are hungry and if the dog enters their territory.
Yes, loud music and noise will keep owls away from your dog. Intense music such as heavy metallic sounds will scare away owls from the area. Apart from that, loud clapping or shouting will also make them leave.
When dog owners see majestic owls flying in their area, one question will cross their mind: Do owls eat dogs? In our guide, we’ve discussed how some large owl species can carry away and eat a small dog. The great horned owls and eagle owls are the two predator species you need to be careful of.
If your dog or puppy weighs less than 10 pounds, follow the pro tips we’ve provided to deter these hungry predators. In any case, the best way to safeguard a dog from preying owls is to supervise it, especially during the night.