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7 Dogs With Strong Digging Instincts And A Knack For Landscaping

7 Dogs With Strong Digging Instincts And A Knack For Landscaping

Dogs will dog regardless of breed. How you take care of your dog is enormously important when it comes to their behavior. Digging instincts have been present in dogs for tens of thousands of years, but with selective breeding, some retained a higher likelihood of digging than others.

The Terrier group of dogs has the most expertise and drive to dig, but you will be surprised to find Hound dogs, and Spitz type representatives as well. To put an end to your curiosity, let me start off by introducing the prime digging prospect, and continue toward the least expected ones.

1. Dachshunds Are Half Shovel, Half Sausage

dachshund puppy is digging hole in the sand

Short legs, a broad chest, and sizable feet are the trademarks of the Dachshund. The badger-hunter turned dog has the anatomical advantage of fitting into small holes in the ground, navigating complex underground tunnels, and making some themselves.

The length of the Dachshund’s legs paired with muscular shoulders and thighs gives them the ability to dig deep and fast. Additionally, their wire-haired coat variant is equipped to handle dirt, debris, and all kinds of weather, so rest assured a Dachs will be efficient during deluges as well.

2. The Staple Russell Terrier Is Double Jeopardy

jack russel terrier digging a hole in the garden

Despite being bred for foxhunting, the Russell Terrier is a proficient digger even when no fox dens are around. Its square body frame and compact size provide more than plenty of power for excavation work.

Unlike Dachshunds, Russell Terriers can both dig deep and jump high. Their versatility can be a source of additional headaches for owners, considering they need deeply rooted tall fences to avoid escape attempts.

If you want to give a short-legged Russell a chance to dig, but remove the prospect of getting over your fence, there is a Jack Russell and Dachshund mix that could solve your problem.

3. West Highland White Terriers Get Brown Quickly

white west highland terrier digging in the garden

Whenever you see a dog breed with short legs, you can expect a holey yard. Other than the Dachshund, the West Highland Whitey takes the second place for most vigorous short-legged digger of the canine world.

Topping at eleven inches of height, their stature makes them the perfect rat catchers. Not only are they bred to flush out rodents, but a favorite pastime of the breed is, “coincidentally”, digging until brown. 

At least it is easy to know how deep they dug based on how far the dirt reaches on their white coat. 

4. The Skye Is The Limit

skye terrier lying on the lawn

I did not misspell that. Skye Terriers are earth dogs of the first degree. Whether catching rats, digging for a long-forgotten bone, or simply venting, the only way to prevent them from digging is to exchange them for a dog less obsessed with excavation.

Even smaller than the West Highland White Terrier, a Skye will only grow up to ten inches. This makes them the ideal size for squeezing through any small hole in your fence or self-made tunnel under it.

Depending on the hairdo you got your Skye Terrier, it might appear as though it hovers over the ground. Hovering dog-drills with high fashion potential? If you ask me, the house foundation is well worth the risk.

5. A Snow Plow Named Alaskan Malamute

alaskan malamute is digging a hole in the ground

Burly, powerful dogs are no strangers to digging deep. Freezing temperatures and deep layers of snow allow the Malamute to stay warm and camouflage itself from unwanted social contact. The strength gained from pulling sleds for ages translates really well into digging holes, too.

Obviously, the Malamute is so fond of holes in the snow, that spending time in a warm house with the humans ranks very low on the list of priorities. This Twitter user’s photo confirms the crime.

Unrestricted power provided by their muscular bodies results in deep burrows of snow, or piles of soil if you own one in a warm climate. Although digging a burrow is a skill that can help them avoid getting hypothermia, it can also provide cooling in the hellish summer days.

The Malamute’s cousin, the Husky, is equally adept at bulldozing downward, which makes either an incredible choice of dog for landscapers. The bad thing is they will dig wherever they want, so you will have to work around their design ideas. See which one of the two is better.

6. Australian Shepherds In The Earth’s Crust

australian shepherd digging in the sand

It has been confirmed that no sheep live inside the ground, but the Australian Shepherd seems to be on a completely different mission. Most people would never expect it to find its spot on this list, but boredom can make you do extraordinary things.

Any shepherd group dog will dig without a job to do, but the Aussie sheep manager has the energy level most of the other herding dogs can only dream of. This is the main reason why they do not make the best family pets, unless you have some sheep they can attend to.

7. The Norwegian Lundehund Digs Until It Fits

norwegian lundehund in forest

Counted among the rarest dog breeds on the planet, the Norway-born Spitz dog has a world-renowned rotary gait and mind-bogglingly flexible neck. Hunting puffins might not sound like a job for a digger, but living in the arctic region calls for some special skills.

Avoiding the piercing cold winds of the cliffed Norwegian coast, the Lundehund can dig a hole the size of its body within minutes. A six-toed foot with additional padding is key to excavating snow, soil, and swimming at speeds no other dog breed is capable of.

Puffins have been an endangered species for some time now, meaning the Lundehund’s efforts are now mainly focused on being an exemplary athlete in agility and dog sports competitions.

Here is a video showcasing that athleticism through focused digging. I guess the six and more toes on feet really do help.

For Those Wondering What Makes A Dog Dig

Although the breeds in this article are avid diggers primarily due to their strong instincts, almost every dog can become a nuisance in terms of destroying your impeccable lawn.

The key factor that promotes such behavior is inadequate physical activity. According to the MSPCA, destructive behavior is generally associated with excess energy, so keeping your dog exhausted by regular walks, agility, or strength training is crucial.

Similarly, a dog with separation anxiety will try to compensate for the stress by digging hardwood floors, furniture, or even the door. The next time you arrive home to find the place in ruins, consider whether your dog is one of the breeds more prone to separation anxiety.

Final Word

Instincts are a strong driving force behind dogs’ behavior, and digging might be one of the simplest ways to relieve stress and spend that pent-up energy. These seven dog breeds are by no means the complete list of canine excavators, but it is definitely a worthy top seven.

Every instinctual behavior in dogs is expressed in moderation, which can imply that your dog digging excessively is a sign of anxiety, stress, or boredom. In the dog world, being bored means not being tired. 

Always keep your dog tired by incorporating mental and physical exercise that includes obedience training, obstacle courses, etc., but do keep in mind its nature. If digging is deeply embedded in the dog’s genetics, you will need to accept it and move on.