Doggy Purr-sonality. Which Canine Breed Acts Most Like a Cat?


While cats and dogs are generally considered opposite pets, certain dog breeds surprisingly share many traits with felines. From the regal Chow Chow to the playful Papillon, these dogs have personalities, behavior, and physical attributes more similar to cats than other canine breeds. Their smaller size, grooming needs, vocal tendencies, independence, and affection levels make them comparable to their aloof kitty cousins. Though no dog is exactly like a cat, some are much closer counterparts than one may assume. In this article, we will explore dog breeds that defy expectations and have earned reputations as “cat-like” dogs. Some are long-established types hailing from Asia or England, while others are relatively new American breeds. All are intriguing hybrids of cat and canine characteristics.


When it comes to personality traits, the dog breed that is often considered most similar to cats is the Basenji. Basenjis are independent, aloof, and not overly demanding of human affection and attention, much like cats.

Basenjis like to be near their owners but don’t necessarily need constant interaction and petting. They are content to quietly observe from a short distance away. Basenjis are not “needy” in the way some dogs are. While they enjoy and seek out human companionship, they don’t crave it at all times and are satisfied relaxing on their own as cats do.

The independent nature of Basenjis is a key similarity with cats. Basenjis like to make up their own minds about things, much as cats do. They can be clever and manipulative in getting what they want, and they have a strong stubborn streak. Proper training and socialization from an early age is important to temper these more feline tendencies.

Overall, the Basenji’s independent, reserved, and aloof personality make them one of the dog breeds most closely aligned with typical cat traits and temperament. Their cat-like attitude is part of the appeal for those seeking a dog with some cat-like qualities.


When it comes to intelligence, there is an ongoing debate about whether dogs or cats are smarter. Dogs tend to be more adept at learning commands, tricks, and tasks through training, while cats are known for being independent problem-solvers. According to the American Kennel Club, dogs have about twice as many neurons as cats in the cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain associated with thinking, planning, and complex behavior. This gives dogs an advantage for trainability and following human directions. However, cats have a reputation for being able to creatively solve puzzles and challenges on their own without human guidance. For example, cats are skilled hunters that methodically figure out how to catch prey. So while dogs may have an edge when it comes to working with people, cats can be quite intelligent in how they navigate their environment independently.

Activity Level

Some dog breeds have a relatively low activity level compared to other breeds. For example, according to Country Living, Japanese Chin dogs require only 30 minutes of walking per day, making them one of the laziest dog breeds (The Most and Least Active Dog Breeds Revealed). Other low energy dogs include Basset Hounds, Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, French Bulldog, and Shih Tzu. These breeds tend to be calm, laidback, and content with shorter, less frequent exercise sessions. Their lower activity needs make them well-suited for less active owners or smaller living spaces.


Many dogs that act like cats minimal shedding. For example, the Basenji has short, fine hair that does not shed much and only needs occasional brushing, making it a very cat-like dog in terms of grooming needs (Source). Similarly, the Shiba Inu has a coarse outer coat and soft undercoat that sheds minimally, requiring only occasional brushing (Source). The Chow Chow also has a dense double coat that sheds minimally and needs brushing once or twice a week to remove dead hair (Source). Overall, many cat-like dogs have coats that require little maintenance, making grooming easy just like a cat.


When it comes to size, the dog breeds that are most similar to cats tend to be on the smaller side, usually ranging from small to medium in size. Some of the smallest dog breeds include Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Papillons, which can weigh as little as 3-6 pounds when full grown. These toy breeds are comparable in size to many domestic cat breeds.

Some other small-to-medium sized dogs that share size similarities with cats include Cocker Spaniels, Pomeranians, and French Bulldogs. These breeds typically range from about 10-25 pounds as adults. Their petite frames make them well-suited for living in smaller homes and apartments, much like cats.

In general, small and medium sized dog breeds tend to be more cat-like when it comes to their physical size. Their compact stature means they take up less space than larger dogs, and their exercise needs are often more moderate, similar to many cats.


Certain breeds tend to bark less frequently than others, making them better suited for quieter homes and environments. According to The Quietest Dog Breeds That Aren’t Likely to Bark, some of the quietest dog breeds include the Akita, Bernese Mountain Dog, Borzoi, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and French Bulldog. These breeds are known for their infrequent barking and more docile temperaments. The Basenji is another famously quiet breed that does not bark, but rather makes a unique yodel sound. Overall, seeking out breeds described as “aloof,” “mellow,” or “placid” can be a good way to find dogs that are less vocal.


Some dogs are more selective about giving and receiving affection compared to others. According to Rover’s “The 11 Least Affectionate Dog Breeds” article, aloof breeds like the Afghan Hound, Basenji, and Shiba Inu tend to be very discerning when it comes to physical touch and cuddling. They often prefer bonding through play or training activities rather than petting. While they can form close bonds with their families, these independent-minded dogs may not constantly seek affection and are typically finicky about being handled by strangers.

The Chow Chow is another breed known for being selective with its affection. Per PetHelpful’s “10 Least Cuddly and Affectionate Dogs” list, Chow Chows are usually reserved and suspicious of unfamiliar people. They will often choose one special person to bond closely with in the family. With proper socialization, Chow Chows can become loyal and loving companions, but they likely won’t be begging for belly rubs from every visitor.


Some dog breeds are more independent and able to be alone for longer periods of time than others. According to K9ofMine, the top 5 most independent dog breeds are:

  1. Basset Hound – Basset hounds are very independent and able to entertain themselves. They are low energy and do well when left alone for 8-10 hours.
  2. Shiba Inu – Shiba Inus are an ancient Japanese breed known for their independence and ability to be alone. They can go days without needing much attention.
  3. Chow Chow – Chow Chows are very cat-like and aloof. They are independent and can be left alone all day without issue.
  4. Chihuahua – Chihuahuas are bold, confident little dogs. They are fine being left alone and sleeping most of the day.
  5. Basenji – Basenjis are intelligent, quiet dogs originally bred for hunting. They are clean and can be left alone for long stretches.

The top independent breeds are able to occupy themselves when alone through sleep, play, or just relaxing. They require less attention and affection than clingier breeds. Their independence makes them good choices for owners who work long hours.


Based on the analysis comparing dog breeds to cat personality and characteristics, the breeds that consistently rate as most cat-like are the Basenji, Shiba Inu, Akita, Chow Chow, and Shar Pei. These breeds tend to be quiet, clean, independent, and less affectionate or playful compared to a typical dog. While no dog is exactly like a cat, these breeds share many similarities in temperament and behavior that make them good options for households with cats or cat-loving owners.

In the end, any breed can potentially get along well with cats if properly socialized. But cat owners looking for a dog who can seamlessly fit into a feline-centric home may find the best match with the Basenji, Shiba Inu, Akita, Chow Chow or Shar Pei due to their cat-like personalities. With an understanding of each breed’s traits and needs, you can make an informed choice to find the ideal dog breed for your home and lifestyle.

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