Home » Do Tortoises Get Along with Dogs? [Compatibility Guide]
can you have a tortoise with a dog?

Do Tortoises Get Along with Dogs? [Compatibility Guide]

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2023)

Pet owners regularly keep different animal species together in their homes. Tortoises are docile creatures, and dogs are friendly and welcoming. However, it would help if you remembered that these two animals have vastly different body language, behaviors, and instincts.

While there are exceptions, tortoises and dogs don’t get along well. Dogs are loud, energetic, fast-moving, and playful, which can scare or stress tortoises. Tortoises are slow-paced and interestingly shaped, making dogs think they’re toys. So, dogs can bite, scare, or kill tortoises.

To stand the best chance of a tortoise and dog getting along, you’ll need to introduce them carefully and train the dog. Use a dummy tortoise and teach your dog to avoid biting, throwing, or picking up the tortoise. Keep the tortoise in a secure enclosure, and let them smell each other from a distance.

Do Tortoises Get On With Dogs?

Tortoises and dogs aren’t natural enemies, but they rarely get along. As intimated, they have vastly different temperaments, body language, and smells.

There’s no cross-over in their social habits, and they’re not friends in the wild. The best you can hope for is the dog and tortoise will ignore or tolerate each other.

With supervision, a tortoise and a dog can spend time in the same room together. However, they can’t safely play together, as the dog will likely get too excited and annoying, which will stress the tortoise.

However, you can train your dog and tortoise to tolerate each other. According to Animal Behaviour, non-social tortoises can learn to use social cues, improving their interaction with other animals.

Your tortoise can sometimes make adjustments to how your dog acts. It may be able to learn its body language and interpret certain actions as harmless instead of scary.

Do Dogs Like Tortoises?

There are many videos online of dogs curiously sniffing at tortoises.

They may rest in the sun together or engage in playful chasing. This proves that some dogs find tortoises interesting and enjoy being around them.

However, this level of affection is unlikely, and there’s a high chance of things getting out of hand.

can tortoise and dogs live together?

First Impressions

Dogs may like tortoises as toys or prey, not as friends or companions. Also, your dog may find the tortoise scary and refuse to be around them.

Your dog’s age, temperament, and breed will determine whether it likes your new tortoise. Puppies and juvenile dogs are easier to train than older dogs.


Dogs all have different personalities, depending on environmental factors.

According to Applied Animal Behaviour Science, dogs adopted from animal shelters tend to be more aggressive toward humans and other pets.


Genetic factors can influence whether your dog will like your tortoise. Certain breeds, like pit bull terriers, rottweilers, and Dobermans, can be aggressive toward smaller animals.

Are Tortoises Scared Of Dogs?

Most tortoises are frightened by dogs, especially if it’s the first time they’ve encountered one. Tortoises are prey animals and naturally feel wary of animals that are bigger than them.

A creature that bounces around, barks, or invades its space to smell it will be alarming. In response, most tortoises hide in their shells or burrow into their substrate.

Continuous interactions with dogs can make your tortoise stressed, sad, or depressed. Your tortoise may hide for hours or refuse to drink or eat meals.

Can A Dog Kill A Tortoise?

Although tortoises have strong protective shells, a fatal wound can be inflicted on a tortoise’s exposed face, neck, and legs.

This could happen before the tortoise has time to retreat into its shell. Some dogs have a strong bite force that can cut into the shell or crack it, even if it successfully hides.

Depending on the tortoise’s size, your dog may be able to fit most of it in its mouth. Your dog could mistake the tortoise for a toy and chew or toss it around while playing.

A single dog bite might tear through the shell, puncture the tortoise’s internal organs, or cut into the limbs tucked against the shell.

Can Tortoises And Dogs Live Together?

Tortoises and dogs can live together, but only in separate rooms. They should never be allowed to free-roam unless you’re present and within arm’s reach to step in when necessary.

Don’t let your dog access your tortoise’s enclosure or tank. Likewise, don’t let your tortoise freely explore the backyard if your dog’s present or has access to the yard.

No matter how calm and friendly your dog is, its natural predatory instincts can be triggered anytime.

How To Introduce A Dog To A Tortoise

You can train your canine not to harm your tortoise.

According to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, dogs are socially intelligent animals and can be taught new social and cognitive skills.

Here are tips for introducing a dog to a tortoise:

Use A Dummy

You can get a plastic tortoise and introduce it to your dog first.

Don’t let the dog bite, play, or act aggressively with the toy. Teach it that an object of this shape and size is off-limits. That’ll ensure that the dog reacts to a tortoise with a similar response.

how to introduce a dog to a tortoise

Keep The Tortoise in A Secure Area

Place the tortoise in a secure enclosure covered with mesh to allow the dog to see what’s inside. This can be a tank or travel carrier. The dog will attempt to access the tortoise out of curiosity.

The secure cage or tank will allow the dog to investigate without injuring or otherwise harming the tortoise. Both pets can smell, see, move, and get used to each other’s presence.

Reinforce Command Training

Make sure your dog is trained to obey and respond to basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “stop.” Reward your dog with treats for good behavior.

Keep Both Pets Are Calm

Before allowing physical interaction with a real tortoise, ensure that both pets are calm and well-fed.

A well-fed dog is less likely to be aggressive. Allow the dog to move closer, but keep it on a leash so that you can control its actions.

As long as they can calmly investigate each other, you can let the two animals walk gradually closer. Avoid letting them get nose to nose, as a sudden lunge can be dangerous.

Interaction Together

Once they’re familiar, you can let the dog and tortoise interact in the same room. You’re aiming for peaceful coexistence, not chasing or playing.

Tortoises and dogs can live in the same house, but they’re unlikely to ever be friends or play together. Instead, it would help if you kept them apart or aimed to get them to coexist under your supervision.