Can A Hawk Pick Up A Dog? [Even If They Are Heavy]

Can A Hawk Pick Up A Dog

About the Author: Emma loves to have dogs as her pets and with so much knowledge about dogs, she started to share it with other dog lovers and parents. She is a Pet Specialist and Pet Behavior Analyst, who studied at the University of South Dakota.

As a dog owner, you might think, is my dog safe outside the home? There is always a threat in your heart of the front attack of some foxes, raccoons, etc. But what about the danger from the sky? Are you prepared for it? 

You will be thinking, Is there any threat from the sky,  what is it? It’s Hawk buddy. Again confusing? Thinking that: can a hawk pick up a dog? Asking me, my answer will be “Yes”, there is a chance of the sky attack from the Hawk. The Hawker are the aerial raptors of prey in the USA, covering the 25 species of the country.

There are many incidents where hawks pick up an animal and carry it away.

In 2019, ABC News covered a 2-pound pooch YORKIE who was attacked by a hawk in the Vegas Backyard, Luckily the pet was saved by his pet owner. But, not every time Luck wins. (source)

Hawks can easily attack prey that weigh 6 pounds, the weight lifting depends upon the type of hawk species, Some hawks like, black-tailed jackrabbits can hold the weight of 6 pounds while red-tailed hawks can not hold more than 3 pounds. On the other hand, In 2019, a hawk attacked a Samoyed, a breed that is more than 65 pounds.

Most cats and canines are large enough to be held by hawks and owls and sometimes, very small animals are not even easily gripped. That means some small breeds are also in safe zones.

In 2018, a hawk attacked a 7-pound weight dog in New Jersey. In response, the local Country Animal Clinic of Englishtown warns all the citizens of hawks attacking dogs that weigh under 12 pounds. 

Not just hawks but other raptors like Great Horned an Owl are also noticed as attacking dogs.

What Kind of Species of Hawks are they?

hawk (1)
A Hawk shows his aggressive looks

Hawks are birds of prey which means that they are predators that depend for their food on other animals. Therefore, they love to hunt small mammals, reptiles, and even small birds. The numbers are increasing in Suburban areas day by day.

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Why are Hawks Killing Small Animals?

Your small animals will look tasty to him, he kills small animals for his hunger. They love to eat meat as they are predators they rely on other animals for their food.

Can a Hawk Pick Up Canines?

You will be thinking that hawks are small, and wouldn’t be strong enough to pick up heavier Canines. They are strong enough to pick up small animals that weigh equal to or below 6 pounds.

A hawk tries to hunt a snake

Hawks are opportunistic hunters. That means your pet is not safe outside, a visiting hawk may see him and attack him as an easy feed. If he notices your pet as a good meal, he may swoop down and pick him up in his very sharp talons. If the dog is small the hawk will squeeze him to death. However, if the dog is too heavy for the hunter to fly with, the hawk will use its talons to the spine of the dog and paralyze him. Or drop it in a mid-flight due to heavy weight, causing serious injuries. They cannot see weight while attacking. That means if a hawk picks up a  dog and flies away, it’s usually fatal.

Why would a Hawk Attack your Canine?

More often, a hawk may be protecting her young from strangers, if it’s nesting in a nearby tree. They are protective enough for their baby hawks. Moreover, she is also known as a Dive-bomb for humans if she detects any danger for her young. 

Another reason they rely for their food on other animals.

Which Species of Hawk is Most Likely to Attack Dogs?

As I mentioned above, they have covered 25 species across the US. But, which species is considered most dangerous?   Well, scientific knowledge has claimed that Red-Tailed hawks are the most dangerous hawks.  

A dog tries to hunt the dog

They are known as the deadliest raptors in North America. Weighing around 3 pounds, they are among the biggest hawk species, which means they are more likely to see your small dog as a perfect meal. 

Other noticeable hawk species are Red-Shouldered Hawks, Harris’s Hawks, and Northern Goshawks. Some owls like the Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginanus) are also known as the deadliest sky bird with the highest number of attacks on dogs.

Are Hawks Able to Carry Any Weight?

Logistically, they can carry a small weight under 5 pounds. This is because hawks are not able to hold anything heavier than their own body. Their wings are not strong enough to hold excessive weight. But, weightlifting also depends upon the bird species.

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How Much Does it Cost to Treat a Dog with Injuries from a Hawk Attack?

Hawks attacks are easy to recognize. A hawk attacks each time in the same way, they will try to pick up the animal from the back or neck using their talons. Therefore, most hawk injuries require stitches to treat the wounds.

Hawks have bled-sharp talons and beaks and can cause serious injuries to your pooch in a few seconds. If your dog is attacked by a Hawk and dropped. They may have serious head trauma, broken bones, and a variety of internal injuries.

If a hawk attacks your pooch, immediately take him to the vet. Even if there are no apparent wounds. A fall from height could cause severe injuries internally.

The cost of treating your pooch injured by a hawk depends on the type of attack. If your dog only needs stitches, the average cost may be between 100$ 400$. But, if your dog has broken bones or serious internal injuries, the cost may be somewhere 1500$ to 3000$ or more.

Will hawks attack small dogs?

Some dogs are large enough for hawks to carry, and even very small dogs are also hard enough to hold, but there are still chances that large raptors may attack. For example, black-tailed jackrabbits can hold dogs that weigh up to 6 pounds, and red-tailed tops can hold up to a weight of 3 pounds. Golden Eagles have been reported as a species that hunt more small dogs and cats occasionally.

dog hawk
A dog buries his head in the forest

Which type of birds can lift heavy-weight dogs?

Great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, and northern goshawks are the most common birds that can hunt dogs and cats weighing under 20 pounds. 

How big of a dog can a hawk pick up?

It is possible to pick up a small dog for a hawk, it is not a harsh activity for them. Hawks prey on small animals and birds are not equipped for large animals. The size of different dogs depends upon the type of hawk’s species and also the size of the dog. 

For example, the Red-Tailed hawk can weigh up to 4 pounds and have a wingspan of 4 feet, so this trait enables him to pick up small dog breeds. However,  Golden Eagle can pick up 14-pound dogs and they have a wingspan of up to 7.5ft. 

Is it possible to catch a hawk?

Hawks can cover 120 miles/hour, so you can’t stop him. Generally, hawks are fearful of humans and keep their distance from them.

Protecting Your Pet is not a Solid Justification

It is also important to note that killing or injuring a hawk is illegal under the MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT OF 1918. So, killing the hawk without any solid permission may lead you to a 6-month prison punishment and around 15,000$ fine. So, protecting your pet is not a solid justification.
If you notice a hawk nearby and attacking your dog, run towards it. Make lots of noises and move your arms.

How to Protect Your Small Dog from Hawks

There are enormous species of Hawks so recognizing them can be tough, but it is best to research your local area to see if there are signs of hawks there. Generally, Hawk’s behavior is not easy to predict. So, it can be harsh to take some action during the attack. I believe “prevention is better than cure”, by taking several steps we can reduce the chances of a hawk’s attack.

A dog wears the hawk proof harness


Don’t leave your dog unsupervised, especially during the daytime. Hawks have the sight to attack quickly at the prey. Keep him under supervision outside the home.

Use Leash and Harness

When you both are on an outside walk in an area where hawks are common, keep your pooch on a leash. This action means your dog won’t leave your side, and he will be safe. Using it also means that the hawk won’t carry your dog during the attack.

Secure Outdoor Space

It is easy for raptors to attack small animals in an open wild, it’s your responsibility to make arrangements to secure him. Look at your area and make changes according to it. Make barriers to stop other animals.

Limit Outdoor Time

Limit outdoor activity during the daytime, during this time there is a 50% chance of hawk attack if they live near you. Clean the waste food, which may attract small birds and then hawks. If your pooch is outdoors, make sure someone is with him.

Noisy Environment

Hawks don’t like noisy environments, but they sometimes get used to it. Use various sources of noise for up to some time of the day, which will keep them away from your side. The most unfriendly voices are wind chimes, radios, and other mind-distracting sounds.

Visual Deterrents

A shiny hanging object in your yard will deter the hawk, they mostly rely on their eyesight for hunting. A sudden flash of light from some reflective surface will keep them away and scare them. These shining objects are called Scare Tape which is available in the market and can be easily stuck around your yard.

Provide Shelter

If your dog loves to spend most time outside of the house, then build him a covered enclosure. There they will enjoy security and seclusion at the same time. Made his shelter from a wire mesh, so they could still gain sunlight and also be protected from various attacks.   

Avoid Dawn and Dusk

Avoid the dog’s outings during the dawn and dusk, most hawks hunt during this time. The Dawn and Dusk time is a preferred one. This time they rely their laser-sharp eyesight on the small dog and then either suffocate or attack with his talons.

Dog Clothing/ Hawk Vest

Pet protection vests can protect small dogs from hawk attacks. This protection is introduced after detailed research of the science behind the bird vision. These vests are tested and proven to be effective in various hawk attacks. The reflections from the vest will confuse him. 

Training and Recall

Give them proper training on how to react in various situations and make them used to your command of recalls. When they hear that you recall, they will come to you. The benefit of recall is hawks will not easily attack them, because when they hear you, they will immediately reach you. 

Educate Your Neighbors

Educate your neighbors to watch your dog if you are busy somewhere.  Properly trained your dog to listen to the neighbors correctly and act accordingly.

What do I do if a Hawk Attacks my Dog?

If you notice a hawk nearby or attack your pooch. Try to run towards him and follow any of the following steps. Some people simply try to knock it to get off from Pet, I would not recommend it because it can maim the hawk. Note that: you can not kill any hawk, even if he killed your pet. If you do so, you will be arrested. 

Make Noise and Yell

Most Hawks don’t like screaming. So if you are facing this type of situation. Then don’t panic and try to scream as loud as you can to frighten Him. 

Move Toward Your Dog

If the dog is attacked by a hawk or some other raptor. Then try to rush towards him screaming. Hawks fear humans. Maybe he left your pet and ran away. But, if he flew your pet away that means, there are no chances to take him back.

Wave Your Arms

This is the old technique of frightening the hawks when they see you are moving toward them and waving your arms. That will confuse them and this confusion will force him to leave the prey and run away.

Use an Umbrella or Large Object

If he is trying to attack your dog, hold some large object like a stick or umbrella. After holding it, run towards him and move that object in your hands while running. This action will frighten him that you’re coming to kill him and he will run away to save his life. This trick gives 100% results.

Throw Objects 

If you are also afraid of the hawk, then throwing objects like stones or something that is in your hand range could be beneficial. But, keep in mind, throw the stones carefully so that they would not hurt the bird.

Protect Your Dog 

Protect your dog from outdoor threats. Use a leash at outdoor walks and train him how to behave in these situations. If he detects any threat then he has to run towards you and if you are not in range, then he has to find some shelter.

Move Indoors

It is better to move indoors if you see any raptors in the sky. Limit his outdoor timing, especially during dawn and dusk. You might be asking “What to do inside then” You can find dozens of indoor activities for your pooch. 

Seek Veterinary Care

If your pooch gets hurt during the hawk attack, then it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Place a clean towel on the injury, visit the hospital, and make sure your dog is still conscious, if he lost it this may cause problems.

Contact Wildlife Authorities

If you notice any hawks or raptors that hunt animals. Immediately informed the wildlife authorities to check in. Now they will deal with these hunters legally.

Prevent Future Attacks

If your dog is killed by a hunter, then again follow the previous steps to save the life of your new one in future attacks.

What are the best Hawk-Repellent products?

A hawk is ready to fly in the sky

To save the life of your dog some precautions are necessary. There are hundreds of products that will help you in this regard. Some of them are mentioned below:

Hawk-proof vest

If you’re concerned with the safety of your dog, then buy a Hawkproof vest. These vests usually feature armor and spikes, which will prevent attacks on small dogs.


The other benefit of this vest is that it will also help in keeping away other hunters like foxes and raccoons. Along it, it will allow sunlight to reach your pooch.

Ultrasonic bird repellent

Birds get frightened with high-pitched frequencies that humans and other mammals or animals can’t hear. If you are continuously facing hawk attacks in your yard then invest some money at Ultrasonic bird repellent. These small electronics play erratic, high-pitched frequencies that hawks and other birds can’t hear out. 

Fake Owl

Birds don’t like competitors, so fake decoy is a popular method of preventing these hunters. Just buy one fake owl and place it at the top of the roof or somewhere, where it can easily be seen off. You have noticed these types of chickens standing on the roof in most animated cartoons.

Dog Breeds That Are Mostly Target By Hawks

Not all dog breeds are targeted by hawks, only those that are easy to carry can be hunted. Some of these breeds are;

dog attack
A dog sits peacefully on his bedsheet


These dog breeds are small enough to get targeted easily. Their hunting is very common among hawks in the US.

Yorkshire Terrier

They are also the smallest dogs weighing 2-6 pounds. Which can easily be held by hawks. They have small heads, and hawks can pick them up directly in a few seconds.

Toy Poodle

They weigh about 4-6 pounds, and black-tailed jackrabbits can easily hold dogs that weigh up to 6 pounds. See, it’s not a big deal for them.


With an average weight of 1-3.5 pounds, they can be a perfect target for raptors.


Their weight is about 3 to 10 pounds. Which is easy enough to be lifted by hawks.

1,000 dog breeds can be easily hunted by hawks. Just keep in mind that every small pet that weighs under 12 pounds may be in a danger zone.

Which States in the US Have Most Hawks

In the US, Hawks have covered 25% of the total species. That means they are everywhere. Some main states are;


Texas has a multiple range of hawk species. Some hawk species remain in the state all year round, others may migrate for winter and some visit the state to breed in summer. No matter what time it is in Texas, a hawk can be seen in Texas.


A common sight for the Red-Shouldered Hawk, which is mostly seen in North America. 


There are about 13 species of hawks in Florida. The most common in both winter and summer are Red-Shouldered Hawks, The hawks that are more common in winter are Red-tailed hawks and northern harriers.


The most common raptors are Red-Tailed Hawks. These hawks feed on small birds, mice, lizards, and small mammals.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, the sharp-shinned hawks are more common in forested areas. These raptors patiently hunt their prey, which make up 90% of their diet.


This city also has sharp-shinned hawk species, who patiently wait for their prey to come near and then they attack them.

North Caroline/Georgia

Red-tailed hawks are common in North Carolina and Georgia all year. Covering the 9% of sightings in both states.

Common Question:

What size dogs can hawks pick up?

It is possible for hawks to pick up small breed animals or dogs that weigh less than 6 pounds. Anything larger than this can be physically hard to fly away. But some hawk breeds can hold up to 12 pounds of animals very easily.

Can a hawk kill a dog?

Yes, it is possible for a hawk to kill your dog or pick up and fly away. If a hawk picks your dog, it’s usually fatal.

Are there any incidents of hawks picking up dogs?

Yes, hawks do attack dogs, but it depends upon their size and weight. It is hard enough to carry a dog who weighs more than 6 pounds. But, there are a lot of incidents of smaller dog breeds getting killed by hawks.

Can a hawk pick up a 15-pound dog?

Hawks can attack small-breed animals or dogs that weigh less than 6 pounds. Anything larger than this can be physically hard to fly away. But some hawk breeds can hold up to 12-pound weight animals very easily.

Can a hawk pick up a 20-pound dog?

Hawks can target animals or dogs that weigh less than 6 pounds. Anything larger than this can be physically hard to fly away. But some hawk breeds can hold up to 12-pound weight animals very easily.

Do Hawks Eat Pets?

Hawks, owls, and other raptors do not know the difference between rabbits, chickens, and dogs. It is fairly common for dogs to get attacked by raptors. These animals may be proved as a fresh meal for them.

What are hawks afraid of?

Hawks are raptors of prey, which means that they rely on other animals for their food. However, there are few animals that hawks are afraid of, these include owls, eagles, raccoons, snakes, and crows.

Final thought on Can A Hawk Pick Up A Dog

The confusion for can a hawk pick up a dog? Has invented a lot of answers and some misunderstandings. While it is proven that they can pick up dogs that weigh less than 6 pounds.

Surfing from hunger they can still target large dogs and when they notice they can not bear their weight they throw it. It is very easy for them to kill any mammals. Originally hawk breeds depended on others for their food needs. Just following the ecosystem rule.

 It’s upon us to protect our lovely small poochs from hawk attacks by following some major precautions. Feeding your dog inside the house, buying a vest for him, and keeping him under your supervision may be helpful. 

At the end, I will recommend gathering information about hawks and how to deal with their attacks without hurting them. Remember that hawks are protected by wildlife law and harming them can cause issues. Hope this information solves your problem. Good luck!

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