Unveiling the Truth: The Pros and Cons of Keeping Doves as Pets

Unveiling the Truth: The Pros and Cons of Keeping Doves as Pets

Ever thought about inviting a feathered friend into your home? Doves might just be the perfect fit. Known for their gentle coos and peaceful demeanor, these birds have been capturing hearts for centuries. But do they make good pets?

In your quest for a unique companion, you’ll want to consider a few things. Doves, like any pet, require specific care and attention. But what sets them apart? And what should you be prepared for?

This article aims to guide you through the ins and outs of dove ownership. Let’s delve into the world of these fascinating creatures and find out if a dove could be the newest addition to your family.

Key Takeaways

  • Doves are known for their gentle and peaceful demeanor. They are social creatures that crave companionship and exhibit a strong desire for social interaction, making them potentially excellent pet companions.
  • They require specific care in areas of diet, housing, social interaction, and health. A balanced diet for doves includes pigeon pellets, grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Spacious cages and daily short supervised flights contribute to their physical well-being.
  • In terms of health, doves have a life expectancy between 10 to 20 years under optimal conditions. Regular vet check-ups are crucial in maintaining their health. Moreover, their housing needs to be kept clean and free from various potential hazards.
  • Training and interaction are essential for doves. They are intelligent birds, easy to train, and receptive to learned behaviors. It’s significant to spend quality time and interact frequently with them to build a bond.
  • Anticipate challenges related to noise levels, mess, maintenance needs, and longevity of care when considering a dove as a pet. They’re not naturally clean or organized, so regular cleaning routines will be necessary.
  • Costs tied to dove ownership divide primarily into initial setup and ongoing expenses, and healthcare and unexpected costs. Budgeting for these expenses is crucial.
  • Be aware of wildlife regulations and ethical considerations before owning a dove. Doves fall under some regulations at different levels and it’s crucial to research your local wildlife regulations.
  • Most dove owners find their dove’s peaceful demeanor appealing. On the other hand, the commitment to care for a dove can be challenging, so one should be prepared for taking responsibility.

Understanding Doves as Pets

In the realm of avian companions, doves figure prominently for their gentle character and serenity. This section delves deeper into the innate nature, behavior and health considerations relevant to doves as potential pets.

Their Nature and Behavior

Doves, known for their tranquil nature, tend to be quiet, calm creatures. Unlike some bird varieties, doves aren’t known for their high energy levels or boisterous behaviors. They’re far more akin to loafing around their cage, cooing softly, and enjoying their surroundings. However, they do relish social interaction. Interaction with their owners becomes a part of their routine, as they display a strong desire for companionship. Doves are also intelligent beings, just like parrots who stand uniquely among birds for their cognitive skills. They’re easy to train and receptive to learned behaviors, as evidenced by their use in magic acts and tricks throughout history.

Lifespan and Health Considerations

When considering a dove as a pet, it’s important to note these beautiful creatures on average live between 10 to 20 years under optimal conditions. They’re relatively robust – health issues are typically rare, provided they are kept in a clean environment and fed a balanced diet.

Regular, routine vet check-ups contribute significantly to the preventive health care of doves. It helps detect potential problems early, ensuring your feathery pal leads a healthy, good quality life. If conditions such as mites or lice are detected, your vet will suggest appropriate treatment.

On the dietary front, a blend of pigeon pellets, grains, and seeds make up a nutritious meal. On occasion, supplementing their diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables adds necessary vitamins and minerals. As with any pet, hydration remains crucial; thus, a constant supply of fresh, clean water is non-negotiable.

The space they’re kept in also has a significant impact on their health. Doves require spacious cages to stretch their wings, and short flights within the home supervised by their owners would make them lively. Moderate temperatures, away from drafts and excessively loud noises, contribute to their well-being. However, care must be taken not to expose them to a bevy of indoor pollutants, as dove respiratory systems are more sensitive than humans to airborne contaminants.

In sum, understanding a dove’s nature, behavior, and health considerations proffers valuable insights into maintaining them as wholesome pets.

Housing and Space Needs for Doves

Housing and Space Needs for Doves

As the caretaker of a dove, the proper arrangement and adequacy of their housing space matters significantly. Correct housing conditions adhere to the birds’ inherent behavior, caters to their physical needs, and grants them a conducive environment for their well-being. Two critical aspects of housing a dove stand out – the cage size and the importance of flight space.

Cage Size and Placement

Remember, doves aren’t tiny creatures. They require spacious cages to feel comfortable and express their natural habits freely. A cage of around 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches serves a single dove right. For a pair, amp up the size to 36 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches. These dimensions allow the doves ample space to move around and stretch their wings.

Placement of the cage plays an equally essential role. Be mindful of temperature fluctuations, draughts or direct sunlight which can harm your doves. A quiet area with medium sunlight and consistent temperature is ideal. Also, the cage’s height matters. Set the cage at your eye level. This placement aids in trust-building and gives the doves a sense of security, as they perceive no threats from above.

The Importance of Flight Space

While their cages form their primary living space, doves also need time to fly and explore outside their cages. Flight enables them to exercise, prevents obesity, and promotes healthy living, given their sedentary lifestyle in captivity. So, reserve a safe, dove-proof area in your home for their flight sessions daily. Remember, supervision is key during these sessions; remove potential hazards, watch for other pets and keep doors and windows secured. Doves are gentle and quiet birds, and their flight time contributes greatly to their emotional health and physical well-being.

Diet and Nutrition for Doves

Diet and Nutrition for Doves

The diet forms a crucial part of a dove’s life, significantly impacting its overall health and well-being. An unbalanced diet could lead to nutritional deficiencies, weakening the immune system and opening the doors for various health issues. Providing your dove with the correct diet is, therefore, indispensable and contributes directly to the bird’s lifespan, behavior, and happiness.

What to Feed Your Pet Dove

Primarily, a dove’s diet consists of seeds, which contribute roughly 50% of its nutritional needs. To meet the bird’s dietary requirements, seeds alone don’t suffice. They should be complemented with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, carrots, and lettuce, which provide essential vitamins and minerals. Providing a mix of seeds, such as millet, barley, and safflower seeds, can add variety and meet the bird’s need for different types of nutrition.

In addition to seeds and fresh produce, protein-rich foods also form a significant part of a dove’s diet. Small amounts of boiled eggs and legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas, offer much-needed protein. Additionally, it’s crucial to provide your dove with plenty of fresh water every day, always keeping it readily available.

Pelleted diets are also recommended, designed specifically for birds and packed with a balanced mix of nutrients. When feeding pellets, ensure they make up around 25% of the bird’s total diet.

Foods to Avoid

Despite their uncritical nature, some foods pose risks to doves and must be avoided. Certain fruits, like avocados and cherries, contain toxic elements harmful to doves. Similarly, while they’re fond of seeds, certain ones, such as apple seeds and apricot pits, can be toxic.

It’s also recommended to avoid giving your dove caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, chocolate, or any processed human food. High-sodium foods can cause serious health issues in doves, too, as their bodies aren’t equipped to handle a lot of salt. Moreover, dairy, while commonly thought to be beneficial, doesn’t sit well with doves. They lack the required enzymes to digest lactose and so, feeding them dairy can lead to severe digestive issues.

Maintaining a balanced diet and being vigilant about what to feed and what to avoid are the keys to keeping your pet dove healthy and thriving. Providing the right diet can significantly enhance your dove’s life quality and longevity, making them an even more delightful companion.

Social Interaction and Training

Social Interaction and Training

Following a rigorous dietary regimen, it’s also important for your pet dove’s well-being to consider their social interaction and training. Just like in humans, socializing and training impact a dove’s behavior, communication, understanding, and overall happiness. It’s essential for your dove to feel comfortable and safe with you, fostering a bond that enhances their emotional wellbeing and creates a rewarding experience for both of you.

Taming and Bonding With Your Dove

If you’re keeping doves as pets, forming a bond contributes to their healthy lifestyle. Start by spending quality time with your dove, allowing them to get familiar with your presence. Maintain a peaceful environment, since sudden loud noises or movements cause stress for these gentle creatures. A simple yet effective way of bonding involves hand-feeding them their favorite treats, like seeds or fresh fruits, which both satisfies their nutritional needs and enhances trust. Avoid forcing interactions if they seem uneasy or show signs of discomfort. Instead, respect their space and give them time to adjust.

Can Doves Be Trained?

Doves boast a high level of intelligence, showcasing their ability to be trained with patience and consistency. Teach them basic commands, for instance, perching on your finger or returning to their cage, using positive reinforcement—rewarding good behaviour with their favorite food. Auditory cues also work well with doves, and they can recognize repeated whistle patterns or sounds. Remember, patience remains the primary virtue here—training a dove isn’t an overnight job but a process that cascades over time. Consistent training sessions each day, combined with a kind demeanour, will ensure your dove’s overall cognitive development.

Challenges of Keeping Doves

Challenges of Keeping Doves

Caring for doves as pets might not be as simple as it first appears. There are several potential challenges that you could encounter during your journey as a dove owner. Understanding and anticipating these challenges can help ease your journey and ensure a healthy, joyful life for your winged companion.

Noise Level and Vocalization

Doves might not possess a harsh squawk like parrots, but their coos, while soft and soothing, occur frequently and noticeably. They communicate and express emotions through these vocalizations. Prolonged periods of cooing, common during breeding season, for instance, might disrupt your quiet living environment. You could wake up early due to these vocal sounds, especially if the cage is situated in or near your sleeping area. But remember, the location and choice of cage placement becomes crucial, especially if noise is a point of concern.

Mess and Maintenance

Doves aren’t naturally programmed to be clean and organized pets. The removal of food debris and bird droppings forms an integral part of your daily cleaning routine. Besides the cage floor, their flighty nature often results in scattered food or debris outside the cage, warranting regular sweeping in the nearby vicinity.

In addition to this, doves enjoy splashing in water. Care should be taken to provide fresh water for their bathing needs and replace the soiled water. Furthermore, cages demand routine deep cleaning, which involves dismantling the entire setup for thorough washing. Considering their shedding during molting season, you must be prepared to deal with feathers dispersed around their living area.

Consider these factors critically when deciding to own a dove as a pet. Understanding the demands and dedicating time to fulfill them ensures a comfortable, loving home for your potential feathered friend. In the end, the joy and companionship they offer justifies the challenges you may face.

Cost of Ownership

After familiarizing yourself with the basic needs and challenges of keeping pet doves, it’s pivotal to understand and anticipate the costs tied to their care. A pet dove’s cost of ownership primarily divides into two categories: Initial setup and ongoing expenses, and healthcare and unexpected costs.

Initial Setup and Ongoing Expenses

When getting a pet dove, the initial setup cost includes purchasing the bird, a cage with sufficient space, perches, feeders, bird toys, and initial food stock. On average, a dove won’t cost more than $100, but breed and location may affect this figure. Equipments like the cage can range from $50 to $200 depending on the size and quality. Lining the cage with bird safe substrates is a routine task and can amount to $15 per month.

Furthermore, ongoing costs will run throughout the dove’s lifetime. They encompass feeding, grooming, toys, cage cleaning supplies, and possibly heat lamps for cooler climates. For example, a month’s dove feed — a mix of seeds, veggies, and pellets — brings the costs to roughly $10-$20. Maintaining a constant supply of bird toys keeps your dove mentally stimulated and costs approximately $5 to $15 monthly.

Healthcare and Emergency Costs

Maintaining your dove’s health involves regular check-ups, vaccinations, and inevitable veterinary emergencies. General vet check-ups, depending on the veterinarian’s fees and the location, can cost around $50 to $100 per visit. Vaccinations and treatments against parasites or diseases might add another $20 to $50 per year.

Unexpected situations, such as incidents, accidents, or sickness, can lead to hefty bills. Average emergency veterinary costs range from $800 to $1,500 depending on the condition and treatment, making it crucial to set aside a fund for these unforeseen circumstances. Remember, a healthy pet dove is not just a privilege, it’s a responsibility.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Legal and Ethical Considerations

When it comes to the idea of sharing your home with a dove, it’s not just about the costs and maintenance requirements. You also have to consider certain legal and ethical aspects. This section will unfold these significant points you must be aware of before acquiring a dove as a pet.

Wildlife Regulations

Considering how wildlife regulations affect pet ownership becomes indispensable. Doves, regardless of being wild or domestic species, all fall under some regulations at different levels: local, state, and federal. For instance, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits the ownership, sale, or purchase of migratory bird species and their parts, such as feathers, in the United States.

However, regulations might differ from area to area. In some regions, you may not face restrictions when owning a pet dove, while in others you might be obliged to possess a special state permit. For example, Alabama has no restrictions on owning Ringed Turtle Doves, but Wisconsin mandates a state permit for all pet doves. Make sure to conduct comprehensive research or speak with your local wildlife agency to understand all legalities before welcoming a dove into your family.

By following regulations, you avoid any illegal practices, contributing to biodiversity conservation and ethical pet ownership.

Ethical Implications of Keeping Doves

Moving beyond the realm of the legalities, pet ownership―including pet doves―has its own set of ethical implications.

Primarily, remember that doves are social creatures. They thrive well in pairs, so it’s recommended to have at least a pair of doves for their physical and emotional well-being. One dove living alone can lead to stress and depression in the bird, showcasing that ethical pet ownership isn’t limited to just providing food, water, and shelter.

Moreover, avoid purchasing doves from illegal breeders or wildlife traffickers. Not only could this land you in legal trouble, but it also supports a harmful industry that propagates animal cruelty, disrupts ecosystems, and threatens biodiversity. Always opt for reputable breeders or consider adopting from a bird rescue organization.

Finally, remember that owning a pet includes committing to their lifetime care. For a dove, this can mean up to 15 to 25 years. It’s essential to consider your longevity and consistency of care, as sudden changes can negatively impact a dove’s life.

Following these ethical guidelines ensures that you’re not just a dove owner, but a caring and responsible pet parent, promoting an improved quality of life for your feathered friend.

Real Owner Experiences

Diving into real owner experiences throws light on the real-life challenges and enjoyments of owning a dove as a pet. It’s an integral part of researching before deciding if doves make good pets.

Testimonials and Stories

Many dove owners recount stories of bonding and friendship formed with these gentle birds. It’s not a rarity to hear about doves recognizing their owners, greeting them cheerfully as they return home, or seeking comfort from their owner’s presence during thunderstorms.

One owner shares a tale of their dove’s mystical cooing, turning the house into a relaxing haven. Another narrates how their dove learned to fly over to them on command – a testament to their intelligence and trainable nature.

As part of the community, make use of forums, pet-owner groups, and social media platforms specialized for dove owners. They provide a treasure trove of personal experiences and advice that you can tap into, lending insight into what life with a dove may hold for you.

The Pros and Cons According to Owners

Owners typically underscore the quiet, peaceful demeanor of doves as a standout advantage. Comparatively quiet birds, their cooing provides a soothing background noise, unlike the shrill squawks of parrots. Moreover, their friendly and sociable nature establishes an emotional connection, making them delightful companions.

On the flipside, the commitment required to care for a dove is considered a challenge by many. You need to provide ample out-of-cage time, clean their cage diligently, and ensure they have a balanced diet. Furthermore, they’re social animals, so loneliness can cause stress. Pet owners strongly recommend having at least two doves for companionship.

Remember, every pet brings different experiences –they depend on the particular bird, the care you offer, and the investment you make. Consider real owner experiences as a valuable guideline, but also personalize your understanding for this potential feathered friend. Explore multiple sources for these insights – from testimonials to forums – for a more comprehensive outlook. And remember, being a pet owner is as rewarding as it is challenging.


So, are doves good pets? Absolutely! But they’re not for everyone. They require your time, commitment, and a deep understanding of their needs. They’re social creatures, so they need companionship. They’re intelligent and trainable, but require patience and consistency. It’s crucial to respect local wildlife laws and to commit to their lifelong care. Joining a dove owner community can provide valuable insights and support. Ultimately, owning a dove can be a rewarding experience, but it’s one that requires dedication. If you’re ready for the commitment, a dove might just be the perfect pet for you. Remember, every bird is unique and deserves personalized care. Make sure you’re ready for the challenge, and you’ll find a friend in a dove.

Unveiling the truth about keeping doves as pets involves weighing the pros and cons to determine if they are the right fit for your household. The Spruce Pets highlights that doves are gentle, easy to care for, and can form strong bonds with their owners. However, PetMD points out that they require a spacious cage and regular social interaction, which may not suit all potential pet owners.

What basic care is necessary for pet doves?

Pet doves need a balanced diet, social interaction, and training for a healthy life. They require regular maintenance and can be quite noisy, so it’s important to be prepared for these challenges.

What are some legal and ethical considerations when owning a pet dove?

Potential dove owners must consider wildlife regulations and local laws, ethical implications of pet ownership, and the commitment to lifelong care. Some areas may have specific rules or bans on owning certain types of birds, including doves.

Can you share some experiences of dove owners?

Many dove owners report forming deep bonds with their pets, appreciating their intelligence and trainable nature. They enjoy the quiet and peaceful demeanor of doves but emphasize the need for commitment and companionship.

What benefits come with joining dove owner communities?

Joining dove owner communities can provide valuable insights from experienced owners, creating a support network that can guide you in caring for your pet and dealing with any challenges that arise.

Does each dove require personalized care?

Yes, each dove’s experience is unique and their care should be personalized based on individual needs. While some information and tips are generally applicable, understanding and attending to your specific bird’s behavior and preferences is pivotal to establishing a rewarding pet-owner relationship.