Should I worry that my small, five-pound dog might get attacked by a hawk or owl?

April 1, 2009
The powerful talons of a Great Horned Owl can take prey over five pounds. Photo by Matt Cuda via Birdshare. The powerful talons of a Great Horned Owl can take prey over five pounds. Photo by Matt Cuda via Birdshare.
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Most dogs (and cats) are large enough to be safe from hawks and owls. Even very small dogs may be too heavy for a hawk or owl to carry, although it’s still possible that large raptors might attack them. For instance, black-tailed jackrabbits can reach the weight of a small dog (6 pounds) and are a fairly common prey item for Red-tailed Hawks in the western United States. (It’s worth noting that Red-tails top out at just over 3 pounds themselves.) Golden Eagles, though far less common than Red-tailed Hawks, have been reported to hunt small dogs and cats occasionally, according to Birds of the World.

It’s useful to remember that small dogs are also in danger from foxes, coyotes, bears, raccoons, and even other dogs, so it might be wise to let your dog out only when accompanied by you. A kennel with a wire roof can also protect small dogs, not just from hawks and owls but also from other predators and human dognappers.

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