Dogaspet is reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn from qualifying purchases.

Do Owls Really Attack Dogs? (The Truth Unveiled)


Explore the truth behind the rumors of owls attacking dogs. In this post, we'll dive deep into facts, myths and useful knowledge about dog-owl

Have you ever heard an owl hooting at night and wondered if it was out to get your unsuspecting pup? Maybe those piercing, glowing eyes are just waiting for the right time to swoop down and snack on your pet. You might begin asking yourself – do these birds of prey have a taste for canine flesh, or them attacking dogs is just one big myth? 

In this post, we’ll dig deep into whether owls target dogs, among other fascinating facts you’ll find helpful. Buckle up and prepare to jump into an exciting journey about dog-owl relations! 

Table of contents

Will Owls Really Target Your Dog?

Sharp beaks, intimidating talons, and the perfect vision make owls such formidable hunters that most prey can’t escape from. However, will you ever find these predators’ natural weapons pointed at your beloved pup? 

Will Owls Really Target Your Dog

The quick answer is no – not usually. These birds of prey may be one of Mother Nature’s well-endowed aerial hunters, so your fear is understandable. However, they’re made to target smaller game, the likes of rats, frogs, lizards, fish, and insects. This means owls won’t attempt to put their talons on your four-legged friend – except on rare occasions.

You see, these birds of prey tend to shy away from larger animals like dogs. Why? Because they are smart hunters and won’t attack unless they know they can easily fly off with their food. And, of course, your pup definitely won’t go down without a fight; in fact, he may even ward off owls simply by barking! 

On top of that, remember that these feathered predators are nocturnal and hunt at night. There’s little chance your beloved pet is out and about while they’re patrolling the sky looking for a tasty morsel. Even if that is the case, likely, your pup is together with you for his evening stroll, so they’ll stay out of your way.  

But, as we’ve mentioned, there’s still a teeny weeny possibility that owl attacks on your dog may occur. Curious as to why these out-of-norm happenings take place? Check out the list below to get why these birds of prey can target your pup: 

3 out-of-norm reasons a owl may attack your dog

What Types of Owls Are Most Likely to Attack Dogs?

If you’ve ever seen an owl swooping in low to land on a tree branch, chances are it made your heart skip a beat. These nocturnal birds of prey are nothing short of majestic, but you can’t deny they pose a danger to your unsuspecting canine. No matter how rare the occurrence is, there is still a possibility that they’ll swoop down on your beloved pet. 

And, of course, as a certified fur parent, you can never compromise on your dog’s safety. We understand that all too well, so we’re here to help. Read on if you’ve ever wanted to know which types of owls will most likely pick a fight with your pup! 

Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owls

Out of over 200 owl species to ever exist, great horned owls are the most plausible to launch an attack on your canine. It’s nothing personal; they’re simply among the largest of the species. As such, they find it easier to target dogs, particularly those on the smaller side. 

In fact, they can reach a general length of 2 feet with a body weight of 5.5 pounds. They’re fierce predators that attack animals larger than them and are even aggressive enough to fight off other birds of prey. These include Peregrine falcons, prairie falcons, and, yes, even other owls.  

Barred Owls

Barred Owls

Yet another owl species most likely to attack your beloved pet are the barred owls. They’re extremely known for being territorial, especially during the mating season. These birds of prey won’t hesitate to swoop down on anything, be it a dog or other animal if they feel threatened. 

Barred owls weigh only two pounds and are one and a half to two feet long. Think that’s not too heavy? Well, they might not be strong enough to carry your beloved pup away. But this owl specie is more than capable of injuring your canine in exchange for their nests’ safety. 

Northern Hawk Owls

Northern Hawk Owls

Unlike others of the same species, the Northern hawk owls are known for being daytime hunters. They hunt primarily by sight and can detect prey up to a mile away. However, the unique thing about them is that they can be wanderers, invading areas away from their normal territories in search of food. 

They’re the tiniest on the list, measuring only an average of one foot in length and one pound in weight. However, don’t be fooled by this – these owls become nomadic due to the decline of small-mammal populations in their area. So there’s a small possibility they can target your pet due to food shortage, particularly if your dog is smaller than most.

These are the owls most likely to target your dog when they’re frolicking outdoors. However, there’s no need to immediately fret when you see one of these species within the vicinity. As we’ve mentioned, the chances of them swooping down on your canine is almost zero. 

Owl Attack Signs You Should Watch Out For Your Dog’s Safety

Do you ever look at the night sky and spot a full-size owl circling around your neighborhood? That can be a pretty intimidating sight, especially if you have a pup that loves to roam freely in your yard. But don’t worry – that’s not an imminent sign that this aerial predator is after your canine. 

Before concluding that these birds of prey are after your dog, you might want to make sure of it first. After all, your pet definitely won’t appreciate being snatched away from their playtime, right? To help you with this, we’ve compiled a few signs of owl attacks you should watch out for. Read on below: 

5 Owl Attack Signs You Should Watch Out For

Top Tips for Keeping Owls Away From Your Beloved Dog 

There’s no denying that witnessing owls in action is a magnificent experience. Every movement from them is graceful, from the beat of their wings to even the simple turning of their heads. However, no matter how lovely they look, one thing’s for certain: you should keep them away from your beloved dog.

Yes, there’s only a low possibility they’ll go after your precious four-legged friend. But if you’re a full-fledged pet parent, you won’t take chances, especially if you can help it. As such, we’ve compiled top tips you can do to keep these birds of prey away from your innocent pet. Check out these tried-and-true tactics:

Bring Your Canine Indoors After Dark

Bring Your Canine Indoors After Dark

Most owls are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and begin their hunt after dark. As such, bringing your pet indoors is one of the foolproof ways to prevent these birds of prey from ever targeting them. After all, they can’t really attack what they can’t see or watch, right? 

If you can’t bring your pet indoors or they need to go potty late in the evening, avoid leaving them unattended. This ensures they won’t wander off alone and mistakenly go to an owl’s nesting place. Plus, owls will think twice about targeting your pup with you by their side. 

Cover Your Backyard Enclosures

Cover Your Backyard Enclosures

It’s almost impossible to leave your canine supervised for the whole day, especially if you’re working. However, it’s unwise to leave them hanging around your yard even when the sun is out. Remember, while most owl species are nocturnal, some exceptions exist, including the Northern hawk owls. The solution? 

Take the time to reinforce your backyard enclosure with sturdy roof barriers. It’s a great way to have your canine enjoy the outdoors even while you’re away. However, ensure that the backyard enclosure you’ve built is fully covered; hence owls and other predators may find a way in. 

Rely on Lights and Music

Rely on Lights and Music

Yet another way to keep owls away from your beloved pet is by installing lights in your outdoor area. It’s a great technique to deter owls and other birds of prey, especially if you’re using a motion light. Due to their near-perfect vision, bright lights often put out these aerial predators. 

Aside from utilizing light to your advantage, you can also play background noises to distort their hearing. It’s best to play non-classical tunes to disrupt the owl’s hearing, such as heavy metal, pop, or bass-heavy rap. You can blast your speakers while your dog is lounging outdoors, rest assured, no owls will swoop down on them. 


Equip Your Canine With Protective Gear

Equip Your Canine With Protective Gear

If you want to take your dog’s safety outdoors to the next level, invest in protective gear. This will ensure their well-being in case they catch the eye of owls or any birds of prey in general. 

There are plenty of options in the market, so you (and your dog!) only have to take your pick. You can choose from those made with reflective properties to materials like Kevlar for extra protection. 

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

You may have a few questions before we wrap things up; here are some of the most frequently asked:

Most owls pose no danger to dogs during the day. This is because these birds of prey are nocturnal, except for some select species that function during the daytime. 

Owls attacking dogs are a very rare phenomenon. However, if you have to know, they can target your beloved pet any time of the year. Some owls can swoop down on your pup when there is an extreme food shortage or during the peak of the breeding season. During these times, it’s best to keep your dog indoors or supervised to avoid unfortunate events. 

Owls, by nature, only attack prey that is smaller than them. These include rats, frogs, squirrels, snakes, and lizards. However, in extremely rare circumstances, they may target your large dog. This only occurs if your canine has trespassed on their territory, particularly during the nesting period. 

In Conclusion – Is Your Pet Safe From Owl Attacks?

There’s no denying it can be unnerving to come across an owl or even hear its hooting while on routine nighttime walks with your pet. However, no need to fret because one thing remains clear: these birds of prey targeting your canine isn’t something you should lose sleep over!

Owls are smart hunters, so they generally won’t attack something they’ll struggle with. Plus, there’s plenty of other smaller, weaker prey out there that they can easily munch on. So long as you take the necessary precautions and stay alert when exploring with your pet, all will go well. 

Written by

Tim Smith
With years of experience writing about dogs, this author is a go-to source for insights on the furry friends. A lover of all animals, this writer's work has been published in many respected publications.
The Ideal Dog Routine Written By Vet
Add Years to Your Dog's Life With Our Free E-book!

Not only does this routine build their confidence and reduce the likelihood of behavioral disorders, but it can also result in a longer, healthier life!