Dog Ownership vs Ferret Ownership (Pros and Cons)7 min read

To decide between dog ownership vs ferret ownership, there are a few things to consider. 

From eating to playing habits, you should take everything into consideration to ensure getting a pet that suits your lifestyle. 

If you are an indoor person who happens to travel a lot, a pet ferret is the way to go. However, if you’re outdoorsy and have extra time on your hands, nothing beats the companionship and affection of a dog.

Let’s take a look at the major similarities and differences between dogs and ferrets, and how you can make a decision based on your needs.

What Are the Main Differences Between Owning a Dog vs Owning a Ferret? 

SizeDepending on the breed, dog sizes can vary a lot.Large: 50 to 230 poundsMedium: 30 to 50 poundsSmall: 2.5 to 30 poundsFerrets’ sizes don’t vary much across breeds.Average: 1.5 to 6 pounds
ExerciseIndoor and outdoorMostly indoor
Life Span10 to 13 yearsFive to 10 years
SupervisionCan leave alone for a few hoursCan leave alone over the weekend with enough food and water
Pet ProofingNot much proofing requiredA lot of careful proofing required
House TrainingFairly simpleTakes a lot of work
NoiseCan be very loudQuiet
Behavior With ChildrenIncredibly child-friendlyCan be rough with children and cause injury

Are Ferrets Like Dogs?

Dogs and ferrets come from the same suborder of species, Caniformia. This means that they have a lot of things in common.

Both are omnivores that have tails. They also have non-retractable claws and can grow fur.

There are also a lot of biological similarities. Like, they have a similar bone structure and both have extended jaws.

While they do share the same subspecies, each one comes from a different family. Dogs are from the Canidae family and ferrets are from the Mustelids family.

The Canidae family includes members like dogs, wolves, and foxes. Mustelids include ferrets, minks, and weasels.

Size is the most notable difference between the two families, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Canids have long legs and are limber. Adding to that, their incredible stamina makes them especially adept at being hunters.

They can chase their prey for miles, and not even break a sweat! And with a keen sense of smell, prey rarely escapes.

Family bonds are also an important part of Canids’ lives. For protection and companionship, they prefer to group and form packs.

Females of the family can have three to seven pairs of offspring at a time, gestating an average of 50 to 80 days.

Mustelids tend to have shorter limbs and elongated bodies. With tiny bodies that are far better suited for foraging than for chasing.

Except for the sea otter, they all have anal scent glands. By producing a scent, they can signal to mates or mark their territory.

Usually, mustelids are solitary, nocturnal creatures. This means they like to be alone and hunt at night.

Although solitary, females tend to have large litters. They can carry anywhere from one to 15 young at a time. 

Gestation times vary greatly, some are as little as 30 days, while others can last up to 280 days.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dogs vs Ferrets?

When deciding on an animal companion, it’s crucial that you find one that matches your needs. Like humans, no animal is perfect. 

So, before you adopt, it’s best to know what you’re getting into.

Dog Pros

There are many reasons why dogs are the most common household pet in the US. Some of which include:

  • Great companions
  • Help us stay active
  • Some breeds can be great for security
  • You can train them to help with disabilities
  • Excellent with children
  • Very affectionate and playful
  • Can help you meet new people
  • Playing with them can relieve stress and help regulate hormones
  • Reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease
  • In some cases, they can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally
  • Can be a great help to aging owners

Dog Cons

Yes, they’re popular, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their fair share of issues. 

  • Depending on the breed, dogs can be really messy
  • Require a lot of attention
  • Food and grooming can be quite expensive
  • Need regular visits to the vet
  • Will need outdoor time every day, with no exceptions
  • If left alone for too long can take it out on your shoes and furniture
  • Big dogs need lots of space
  • They shed everywhere
  • You need to get a pet-sitter any time you’re away for any time
  • Training is not optional, and it takes a lot of time

Ferret Pros

While ferrets may not be the number one most common pet, they’re still in the top ten. The reasons why ferrets are popular may include:

  • Ferrets are incredibly intelligent
  • They always have energy and are ready to play
  • Don’t require lots of hands-on care
  • Social and like to make new friends
  • Can train at a young age, most of the time they are before they’re even adopted
  • If they have a ferret buddy and food, you can leave them for days at a time
  • Capable of learning many tricks because of their high dexterity
  • They are very quiet, other than a few squeaks, they don’t make much noise
  • Small and generally doesn’t take up much space
  • You don’t need to leave the house for them to exercise
  • Litter box training is possible
  • Will eat anything that’s mostly protein

Ferret Cons

They may be adorable, but there are quite a few cons to having a pet ferret. These can include:

  • If you have small children, they can bite and scratch them and cause serious injury
  • They have a scent producing gland that can be very pungent
  • You have to spay females to avoid health issues
  • Health and care services are not readily available
  • Need plenty of space indoors for exercise
  • Ferrets like to ‘collect’ things all the time
  • Can be very territorial and don’t like being around other animals
  • Ferret-proofing takes a lot of work
  • You might need to buy expensive, specialized food products
  • They’re escape artists and will constantly get out of their cage

Is It More Expensive to Keep a Dog or a Ferret?

Both Pets can be expensive to maintain. Some of the main expenses are as follows.

Food$250 to $700 /year$120 to $600 /year
Toys$25 to $50 /year$20 to $50 /year
Vet$700 to $2,000 /year$100 to $300 /year
Accessories$20 to $1,000 /year$20 to $300 /year

Those are just some of the main expenses that your pet will need annually. Depending on age and breed, these will change.

Which Pet Takes More Commitment, a Dog or a Ferret?

Usually, dogs will require much more financial and time commitment. You have to walk them on a daily basis regardless of the weather and how much energy you have.

They also need plenty of playtime. Dogs need attention all the time and can be destructive if they don’t get it.

Ferrets need less attention. If you provide them with a mate and enough room to play, they can go days with no human interaction.

The only area where ferrets will need more attention is when it comes to pet-proofing your place.

Is a Dog or a Ferret Easier to Take Care Of?

The answer to this question will depend on your personal preferences.

Dogs do need more attention but can give you so much love and affection back. While ferrets are playful, they don’t tend to show outward signs of affection.

How much time you like to spend outdoors will matter. Dogs like to play outdoors and will need it to stay healthy. Ferrets rarely need to go out and prefer to stay inside.

Can You Keep Dogs With Ferrets?

The short answer is no. Ferrets can be territorial and aggressive, and a dog will certainly stand its ground. This could lead to major fights and injuries.

In some cases, if they are both really young, they can learn to coexist. But this is very rare and requires special training.


Both dogs and ferrets can be great pets. They’re adorable, playful, and fun.

When deciding between dog ownership vs ferret ownership, there are a few facts to think about.

Dogs need constant attention and a lot of space to run around and play, but they’re great companions and you can teach them to help out around the house.

Ferrets are highly intelligent little creatures that love to play. They don’t need much space, but if given the chance will take over the whole house. And they’re notorious for having sticky fingers.

Depending on the breed, dogs do tend to cost more on average. Mostly because they need plenty of food and regular visits to the vet.