12 Dog Breeds That Might Turn Your Yard into a Dig Site

Gardening enthusiasts, beware: Some dogs see your meticulously tended flower beds and lush green lawns as the perfect excavation sites. While digging is a natural instinct for many canines, certain breeds are especially prone to this behavior.

These twelve breeds might be more likely to disrupt your garden and here’s how you can help manage their burrowing habits.

1. Dachshund: The Expert Burrowers

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A Hunter’s Instinct: Dachshunds were originally bred to pursue burrowing animals like badgers and rabbits, which explains their strong instinct to dig. Their elongated bodies and robust legs are perfect for diving into the ground. (ref) Unfortunately for garden lovers, this means they might see your landscaping as an ideal place to practice their ancestral skills.

Yard Strategies: Combatting a Dachshund’s digging habits can be challenging, but redirecting their energy to other activities helps. Consider setting up a designated digging area filled with soft soil or sand. Engage them with digging-related games or use buried toys for them to find, which can satisfy their digging urges in a controlled environment.

2. Siberian Husky: The Arctic Digger

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Born to Run—and Dig: Siberian Huskies dig for several reasons: to uncover cooler spots during warm weather, to burn off excess energy, or simply for entertainment. Their history as sled dogs in cold climates means they are used to altering their environment to suit their needs, which can translate to recreational digging in your yard.

Exercise is Key: Keeping a Husky busy is crucial. They require ample physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors, including digging. Engaging them in high-energy games, regular runs, and agility training can help mitigate their need to excavate your garden.

3. Beagle: The Scent-Driven Excavator

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Scent-Driven Excavation: Beagles have an extraordinary sense of smell and were originally used for hunting small game. This can often lead them to dig enthusiastically as they attempt to track the scent of critters visiting your garden. Unfortunately, their powerful noses might lead them to disrupt more than just soil.

Scent Work and More: To deter unwanted digging, engage Beagles in activities that use their sense of smell, such as scent work classes or hiding treats around your yard for them to find. Providing them with physical and mental stimulation is vital to keeping your garden intact.

4. Jack Russell Terrier: The Tenacious Terrier

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The Energetic Excavator: Jack Russell Terriers are lively, energetic, and have an innate desire to hunt and dig. Originally bred to flush out foxes from their dens, these dogs often use digging as a way to relieve boredom or excess energy. If they’re not given enough to do, they might start seeing your garden as a source of entertainment.

Redirecting Their Energy: Routine and rigorous exercise is essential. Consider involving them in dog sports like agility or flyball, where they can channel their energy constructively. Puzzle toys and regular training sessions also help keep their minds occupied and away from your flower beds.

5. Border Collie: Brainy Burrower

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Intelligence That Digs: Border Collies are incredibly intelligent and active, often needing more mental stimulation and physical activity than other breeds. If they don’t receive enough mental challenges, they may resort to digging to keep themselves entertained or to burn off the buildup of energy.

Mental Games and Activities: Training is a great way to keep a Border Collie’s mind sharp; teach them new tricks regularly and engage in activities that require mental and physical dexterity. Sports like disc games, herding, or obedience competitions can provide the stimulation they need to prevent destructive behaviors like digging.

6. Labrador Retriever: Playful Digger

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The Playful Excavator: Labradors are known for their friendly and playful nature, and their digging often stems from seeking fun or following intriguing scents. Their high energy and strong build can make them formidable diggers. Labs are sociable animals who often dig when they lack company or stimulation.

Consistent Companionship and Play: Ensure your Labrador has plenty of interactive playtime with humans or other dogs. Regular exercise and training sessions help manage their energy levels. Consider also setting up a sandbox where they can dig freely without harming your garden.

7. Golden Retriever: Joyful Excavator

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Digging for Joy: Golden Retrievers are not only one of the friendliest breeds but also some of the most enthusiastic diggers. They often dig out of joy or when trying to hide toys or find cool spots during warmer days. Given their strong, muscular build, a Golden Retriever can turn a patch of lawn into a hole quickly if left to their own devices.

Strategies for Management: To prevent your golden retriever from turning your yard into a series of holes, ensure they have plenty of physical and mental exercise. Goldens thrive on interaction, so playing fetch and other retrieving games can help them utilize their energy productively. Consider training sessions that challenge their brain and reinforce commands that interrupt and redirect digging behavior.

8. Australian Shepherd: The Herding Digger

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Herding Energy into Digging: Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and energetic with a strong herding instinct. Without proper outlets for their energy, they may resort to digging. They are also known for their problem-solving skills, which they might, unfortunately, apply to find new ways to dig under fences or into gardens.

Engaging Their Minds and Bodies: To keep an Aussie from becoming a backyard landscaper, engage them in activities that stimulate their minds and satisfy their work-oriented nature. Herding activities, advanced obedience training, and agility courses are excellent ways to burn off energy. Regular interaction and puzzle toys can also keep their brains busy when you’re not around.

9. Alaskan Malamute: Arctic Excavator

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Built for the Cold: Alaskan Malamutes are robust dogs with a history of living in harsh, cold climates, where they often dug into the snow to create shelter. This instinct can translate into digging into your lawn or garden to find a cool resting place during the summer months or just for fun.

Cool and Occupied: Provide your Malamute with a designated cool resting spot, like a shaded sandbox, where they can dig without destroying your garden. Regular vigorous exercise and activities that cater to their strength, like weight pulling or hiking, can help them manage their natural digging instincts.

10. Boxer: Bouncy Burrower

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Bursts of Energy Leading to Digs: Boxers are known for their boundless energy and playful nature. Their digging is often an extension of their need to expel energy or seek entertainment, and their strong legs can make quick work of soft earth.

Active Play and Training: Regular, structured playtimes and plenty of exercises are key to keeping a Boxer happy and less likely to dig. Training them to respond to commands and engaging them in sports like agility can help them focus their energy away from destructive behaviors.

11. Cairn Terrier: A Determined Digger

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The Tenacious Terrier Digger: Like other terriers, Cairn Terriers have a strong prey drive and were bred to hunt small burrowing animals. This makes them naturally inclined to dig. They are persistent and can become obsessed with the spots where they smell or suspect the presence of critters.

Proper Outlets for Prey Drive: Engaging their hunting instincts in a controlled manner can prevent unwanted digging. Activities like Earthdog trials, where terriers navigate tunnels to search for a scent, can be a great outlet. (ref) Providing a digging box where they can dig freely will also protect your garden from their tenacious paws.

12. Miniature Schnauzer: Curious Excavator

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Curiosity and the Hunt: Miniature Schnauzers have a high prey drive and are incredibly curious, often leading them to investigate under bushes and dig around fence lines. Originally bred to catch rats and other small animals, they might dig in pursuit of local wildlife or out of sheer curiosity.

Engagement and Supervision: Keeping a Miniature Schnauzer mentally and physically engaged is essential. Regular training sessions, supervised play in safe areas, and interactive toys can help satisfy their curiosity and reduce the impulse to dig. Creating an environment where they can fulfill their need to explore safely is crucial.

By understanding and addressing the specific needs of these breeds, you can help direct their natural behaviors in positive ways, ensuring your garden stays beautiful and your dog remains happy and healthy.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.