Do Hawks Present a Danger to Small Dogs?


This question never before occurred to Cheryl, Corky’s and Darcy’s Mom, until she heard the story of the two-three pound Yorkie in Mississippi that was allegedly snatched from its yard by a Hawk last week. Cheryl was understandably alarmed and concerned for her small pups, and all the small dogs on Dogpawfile.

Can a hawk snatch a small dog?

Internet reports on the likelihood of a hawk attacking domestic animals are contradictory. Snopes.com, for example, reports that many of the news items about predatory hawks or owls snatching small chihauhuas, etc., are nothing more than folklore.

“Whether eagles could carry off dogs…is problematic,” Snopes reports. “These large birds of prey generally aren’t capable of flight with much more than three or four pounds clutched in their talons; although they might be able to carry a full-grown dog or cat a short ways, soaring into the heavens with one would most likely be beyond their capabilities.” According to Snopes, a bald eagle does not possess the lifting power necessary to carry away a dog or cat; domestic animals are not regularly part of a bald eagle’s menu.

Yet Snopes goes on to report that in 1995, a great horned owl terrorized a Maine town, and flew off with a 20-25 pound poodle-Pekingese mix. In 2000, a Jack Springer Spaniel was scooped up by an eagle owl in the United Kingdom, and in March, 2002, CNN reported that a bald eagle made off with a thirteen pound dachshund in Maine. Obviously, while these reports, and the recent Mississippi report, are exceptions to the rule, the bald eagle is, in fact, capable of lifting a small dog or cat into the air, and inflicting fatal wounds. While an eagle’s diet consists of wild rabbits, mice, hare, birds, squirrels, frogs, and snakes, an eagle in flight can’t differentiate between its traditional small prey and a small dog.

Snopes.com concludes: “Some (eagles) may attack a dog on the ground, and some may even get it temporarily airborne, but they do not ultimately succeed in making off with it.”

Despite Snopes’ conclusion, pet owners of small animals be wary! If a hawk can lift and kill a rabbit, they can lift, injure, or kill a small Chihuahua, Yorkie, or pet of similar size.

Be on guard. Take care of your beloved pets this summer.

22 responses to “Do Hawks Present a Danger to Small Dogs?

  1. the thought of this makes my blood freeze ~~

  2. I have experienced this firsthand, and I can state the threat is real. Two summers ago my wife and I were walking our Jack Russell and our Chihuahua at the Cheraw State Park near Cheraw, SC. My wife and our Jack were about 100 yards ahead of me and Daisy, the Chihuahua. I had her on a 16 foot retractable leash which was fully extended. We were entering a thick grove of pines that my wife and Jingles had already passed through. This grove was dark and cool, and because Daisy was 16 feet ahead of me she entered first. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a blur of movement, and the realized it was a red-tailed hawk swooping down on my dog. Its wings were back and its talons were fully extended. Before I could even think what to do, I reflexively yelled HEY! This startled the hawk and it aborted its attack, and with one wingbeat, rose and perched on a tree about 20 feet away and watched us intently. Poor Daisy never noticed what was happening and just went prancing along her merry way.

    I am convinced that had I not happened to yell and distract the hawk it would have made a quick meal of Daisy. She is only about 4 pounds and would be no match for a hawk.

    After this ecperience we are much more careful when we are outdoors with Daisy, especially in wooded areas.

    Now I am beginning to worry about alligators when I let my Labs swim in the lake at the park…..

  3. BARBARA AND SUSIE LOBO

    WE ALL HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR OUR BABIES.THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE

  4. This really opens your eyes to what can happen when wildlife decide to strike! great article!

  5. My dog is a Chow mix and very furry. Ticks are impossible to find under her two layered coat until it’s too late. At first, I tried cheaper brands. They work on ticks but do nothing for fleas. Then my vet recommended Frontline. I later tried K9 Advantix since they claim to also kill mosquitos, but I didn’t notice any difference with the little bloodsuckers. And the protection from K9 Advantix didn’t seem to last as long so I switched back to Frontline.

    Frontline works great for us. My dog is an outdoor dog and our county reportedly has more deer than people. And with deer come deer ticks. I’ve seen deer in my back yard and my dog’s house is very near the woods for shade. And she likes to take the occasional jaunt through the woods. Still I rarely find a tick on her. And when I do, they’re usually dead (or soon will be).

    I wish I’d known Amazon was selling Frontline for a better price sooner. I’ve been purchasing only 3 months worth for about $50 from another site for the last 2 years. Very frustrating since before you know it, you’re out. With 6 months worth I only have to remember 2 times a year instead of 4.

  6. Our 1 year old Yorkie was killed by a bird of prey 2 days ago. I did not witness the attack, but I found her a short while later, lifeless, with deep talon marks in her abdomen and chest. She only weighed 5 lbs., was a silver colour and moved not unlike a rabbit as she bounded along. Have always kept a close eye on her in fear of this, but failed to keep her safe that day.

  7. This did happen to us today. We live in Sportsman’s Paradise in Louisiana. I had been fearful of this happening.

    This morning my oldest son was walking our pug puppy. He turn to head back to the porch and thought she would follow the way pups do. He heard screaming and looked back, still thinking pup was behind him. He saw a hawk on the ground with its wings spread out. He stomped at it and yelled and the hawk flew off revealing our puglet puppy bleeding and screaming. We rushed her to the vet. She is now on pain meds and antibiotics and resting. :( I am so thankful my son scared it off. You can see where one whole (hand) talon was wrapped and stuck inside of her little head. It almost took her eyes!

    This is very true and even the vet tech told me stories of this happening to other patients. They have seen this ALOT. I don’t really care what snopes.com says. This happened to us!

  8. Good article, ty for posting it. I wanted to mention that eagles have attacked and successfuly carried off small dogs in south central Alaska. It’s good to never let them out without a leash. In one instance however, an eagle did attack (unsuccessfully) a small dog on a long leash.

  9. I have 2 Chihauhau’s and just this morning a hawk tried to get one of them with me standing 10 feet away. Not the first time this has happened.

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  11. A red-tailed hawk had every intention of attacking my shih tzu this morning. My wife screamed at it just before it got to the dog and the startled hawk flew away. My shih tzu weighs about 12.5 pounds, making it much to heavy to carry. But, I have no doubt it could have injured or killed the dog.

  12. Happened in Lake Charles, Louisiana last year; small weeny dog with a jacket on was snatched by a hawk. The lady/owner was outside at the time and witnessed it and was able to grab a hold of her dog and save it. It was shown on evening news, so it is definitely true!!

  13. Owls can carry their own weight. Other birds of prey cannot. This is for N. American birds only.

  14. Even though we keep our 4 lb. yorkie on a lease when outside, we dress her in bright and often reflective colors. Based on same theory that pie pans and old reflective CDs scare birds away from crops and trees, we wonder if this practice might keep hawks at bay.?

  15. Be aware I was in dexter mo 2 years a ago a a hawk Carried off a small 8 pound dog . We found a day later what was left . That can an will feed

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  20. Hi I’m new to this site. Last week a neighbor who has a chicken coop said that some Hawk’s were trying to get into his coop I asked him are you sure it was not an Eagle and he said pretty sure it was not.
    Well it was an Eagle this chicken coop is only 25 yards from the back door of our house. Today I was outside with my 5lb Chihuahua Scooter and I saw a shadow circling around my dog I looked up and this very large eagle was about 12 feet from my baby I ran to him and snatched him up The eagle circled around us for about three minutes and then left.

  21. This is a youtube video of a dog being carried by a eagle.

  22. I’ve seen a bald eagle carrying a fawn. It could actually carry a dog easily.

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