Advice for First-Time Owner With Small Dog?

Hello! I’ve been stalking morphmarket for nearly two years now, researching animals and would have gone to a reptile expo a few months back to ask this question in person and maybe buy a snake (or at least get to hold one) before covid ruined everything.

So instead I thought people here might have the advice I was seeking. I have a very small dog (Japanese Chin). He’s generally well-behaved. An apartment breed which means he spends most days sleeping. I want to make sure whatever snake breed (or otherwise, I’ll get to that) will be safe for him and also not stressed out by his existence. There is a husky in my house as well, but on top of me not being worried about her because she’s big and seemingly indestructible, she is my roommates dog and won’t be in the room much at all.

I adore the look of hognose snakes, but their minor venomous bite is a concern. Obviously, in a perfect world, the dog and snake should have no interaction at all. But I feel like it’s better to plan for the worst. Would hognose venom be a big concern when considering a dog that is around five pounds?

If not a hognose, I was also considering a ball python? I know they do not have fangs or venom, but get quite a bit larger in the long run usually. Would that be a safer option?

And if not any of that, I thought… maybe a turtle. But obviously that’s a much higher financial investment both short and long term so I’m not certain about that. But if that’s the absolutely best option for owning a reptile without putting my dog or the reptile in danger/stress, I’d be willing to do that because turtles are also pretty great.

My setup would be keeping the snake (or turtle) in my closet on top of the dresser, and I’ve done a lot of research into making sure that the setup is correct. (Though most of my research has been for hognose so I’d have to research further into ball pythons, which I would). My dog is rarely left alone in my room, and the closet has a sliding door for cases where that would happen. I don’t plan on my dog and snake hanging out by any means.

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I have heard of one lethal interaction with a cat and a hognose. The reptile store I go to up here in MN mentioned that to me. I’m good friends with the owner of the store and suspect what she told me was the truth.
Apparently the cat got ahold of the snake somehow, got bit and then died 4 hours later.
Take that with a grain of salt because this is the only time I’ve ever heard of something like that happening.

I think a ball python would be a safe bet. They are very shy snakes, and don’t even defend themselves when they are attacked.


In both a perfect world and the real world, your dogs and reptiles should not be interacting at all. A husky is a dog with a high prey drive and can easily kill a snake, and even a small dog could seriously injure one. Any reptile you get should be in an enclosure that is dog proof, and if necessary, locked in a separate room.


I have multiple of both species with cats and dogs. My dog watches during feeding time and none of the snakes ever care. Cats are in the room as they please and nothing cares. In the very beginning I had a ball python escape. He was missing for a week when my cat found and attacked him. He ended up with very minor scratches that healed by the next shed. Even he doesn’t mind the other animals around. My hognoses are a little more shy about being watched when eating but don’t hesitate.

I’d say as long as your pup isn’t licking the snake or maybe the husky trying to get into the enclosure you’ll have no problems! They likely won’t notice each other’s existence besides smell.


Thank you so much! I was hoping some people here would have dogs and snakes, because most of the people I’ve watched on youtube for advice or post on reddit seem to just keep snakes so their advice was mostly speculation I think.

If I can, I’d like for the husky to be entirely unaware of the snake, which is something I’m pretty sure I can do. I have a toddler fence constantly keeping her out of my room and keeping my dog in, and you can’t see the closet from the door at all as they’re on the same wall. Most of my concern comes from some snake keepers I’ve watched for tips and tricks saying that any snake keeper who says they’ve never had an escapee is lying or hasn’t been keeping long enough.

If the snake did escape I’d worry more about it reaching the rest of the house where the husky is, because she could do serious harm. She’s good at playing gentle with Pippin (my dog) but I don’t want to risk that. If Pippin saw the snake out after an escape, he’d probably just bark to tell me about it.

The container I chose has a locked lid at four points so again, I’m doing everything possible, I just wanted to be sure. I think I’ll start looking more into ball python care based on mnroyals advice.

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Tysm for your advice! I think I will continue educating myself on ball python care in that case, and backburner a hognose for the time being.


Of course :).

Take a look into Rosy Boas. Their care is very straight forward and they are a very small snake. Much better feeders than Balls too.

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I second the rosy boa recommendation. I’m biased, because I breed them, but I think they are the absolute best beginner snakes. Good temperament, small size, ease of care and great feeding response. Also, there are a lot of localities to collect if you get hooked.


Rosy boas are great beginner snakes, but there is one thing they are known for. Being very good eaters. To the point where they sometimes, while you hold them, might suddenly start trying to kill and eat a finger. My rosy did this to me a few days ago (again). Good for beginners that are prepared to possibly be looked at as food, not great for children or anyone with small fingers. They might also try to tag you when you go to pick them up when they aren’t used to handling yet. Everything that moves is potential food in their minds lol.

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I am very happy for you to get ready for your first reptile but just one small and quick friendly correction :grin:. We do not call different colored specimens of the same species breeds but instead call them “morphs”. All differently colored ball pythons or other species of snakes that are commonly worked with are the same species but each one just has a different phenotype meaning the color and pattern can be different but they are exactly the same species. Breeds would refer to more something like a dog or cat.


I have Ball Pythons. But also found another species of snake I like.
It is Kenyan Sand Boa, they are a lot smaller than BP’s and have some pretty morphs. I don’t have any yet but it is something that I would like to purchase later on. If you want something smaller you might want to check them out also. I think Westridge on here has them. He can tell you more about them than I can.


You got alot of great recommendations. As someone who owns sand boas, rosy boas, reticulated pythons, ball pythons, and monitors…
When it comes down to someone first reptile I would suggest ball python or sand boa.
Depending on what your interests are, there are many colorful morphs of both species.
And there are also many resources for Information ans even mentors for both of those species as well.
If you have a door on your closet, and locking lid it sounds like you are just fine as far as your concerns.
When ball pythons do escape they usually stick close to the area they escaped from for a while and would probably be content in your closet until you found them.


Lol I second that! My local exotic pet store used to have a rosy boa that would do exactly that. I would joke that it had brain damage because when being handled it would try to bite you every 30 seconds or so. It was almost cute about it too, with its super slowmo I’m going to eat you bite over and over!


Welcome to the community and this terrific pet hobby. I agree w the above 1st snake recommendations(BP would be my #1) but no matter which one you start w the absolute most important thing is a safe proper enclosure setup. Escape and entry proof(dogs) and proper husbandry elements(heat/humidity/thermostat etc). Based on your question about living conditions I’d probably recommend you look into some type of pvc enclosure vs the traditional glass tank w screen top of most beginner setups. It will be better conditions for the snake and more dog proof from outside for you to feel comfortable when left alone.


I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest a corn snake. They are as variable in colors as ball pythons, are super easy to care for, and pose less threat to small dogs. We have two Miniature Pinschers. Dogs that crave our attention and they get jealous if I am giving any verbal attention to any of our snakes while handling them.

I have taken the initiative to familiarize the dogs with the snakes. A dual interaction that lets the dogs know that snakes are Okay, and reinforce snake behaviour when exposed to our dogs. We use positive words that the dogs know. “Good”, “sweet”, “love”, etc. Use your imagination, especially if you sweet-talk your furry loved ones.

Our goal is that a snake gotten loose, might not get attacked by the dogs. And that a loose snake might not recognize a dog’s scent as food-related.

This is just something silly we do, that takes no effort. The dogs are allowed to sniff snakes we are holding, as well. This far, we haven’t had any bad experiences, and we feel it can’t hurt to make this little effort when we are working with our reptiles.

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If I were to do this with my German shepherd, she would instantly try to bite my snakes. The dogs in my house are not allowed to go anywhere near my snakes or bird because I either know what will happen, or don’t want to chance anything. I keep my snakes in rooms that the dogs and cat aren’t allowed in unless I am in them, and I keep the doors closed otherwise. All it takes is one bite from even a small dog to do potentially fatal damage to a small to mid-sized snake.


BI or a common boa…enough said
But I also have two smaller dogs they’re both Shih Tzu x Maltese. While I do not let my snake get near to my dogs nor my dogs near my snake, but I would say them being bigger and more robust. they are less likely to get injured than a thinner or smaller snake. Edit* by saying they’re less likely to get injured it is a reference to them getting lost, obviously have proper caging so the animal is not getting out of it’s enclosure.

I currently have a 15yo, 2.7kg chihuahua (and, before my ex took her, also had a 2.2kg chihuahua).

I have:
~60 ball pythons
2 bredli
1 chondro
1 blackhead
1 Dumeril
4 kukri
2 Calabar
3 rubber boa
2 alterna
3 Rhamphiophis
3 hognose

The majority of the snakes are in their own room but hognose are in my eldest’s bedroom which is where the dog’s bed is. And the chondro is in the master bedroom and the dog will occasionally hang out in there with us. The snakes and the dog have no real interaction with one another. When we get a snake out we are conscious of where the dog is but we do not put the snakes down on the floor and, since handling a snake is a two hand job, the dog is never up near the snakes.

The only snakes I would be worried about would be the blackhead and the Dumeril because of their size. But again, they are in the snake room and the dog is not allowed in there so that prevents any possibility of them encountering one another