Are Doves and Pigeons Good Pets? (Let’s Find Out)

You want a new companion bird that you can enjoy spending time with, train really fun tricks, and show loving care for, but not one that requires endless amounts of attention. You come across a domesticated dove or pigeon and want to learn more.

Do they make good pets?

Due to their calm and quiet nature, domestic doves and pigeons make exceptionally good pets. If you want a pet bird that is gentle and doesn’t require the same high level of attention as birds in the Parrot family, these sound soothing cooers from the Columbidae family should come as great consideration.

Why Pigeons and Doves Make Good Pets

Pigeons and doves belong to the group of birds known as the Columbidae—they are the same bird, but in English, we decided to call them two different names.

In other languages, they use just one word to describe both birds. For example, in Spain, people refer to them as “palomas.”

In this article, I’ll interchangeably use both words.

There is no taxonomic distinction between the two birds. The main difference is usually the color and size. Doves tend to be smaller with a whiter shade of pale, and pigeons tend to be larger with a greyer shade of pale.

Pigeons have a long history with humans and were domesticated over 2000 years ago. They are a great choice for someone looking for a beginner bird.

Some in the bird world argue that there is no such thing as a “good beginner bird” since all pet birds require a fair amount of care.

However, one can’t argue that a dove isn’t easier to care for than a parrot.

Doves are peaceful companion animals and don’t show much aggression. When they do, they aren’t likely to break your skin or hurt you as a parrot would.

They can be kept with other doves. Males can be territorial and is something to watch out for if you decide to own more than one.

Invest in a large-sized cage with a good view to give your bird plenty of room to enjoy and to spread their wings and legs.

It is a better idea to keep an indoor aviary to protect your dove from predators.

Unlike parrots, doves and aren’t big on toys. Instead, their stimulation comes from sitting and watching.

They breed easily, so be prepared for a lot of squeakers when housing a male and female together.

To quickly bond with your new pet pigeon, consider buying a desktop perch. By planting this device on your desk, your new friend can then spend more quality time with you.

This allows you to be hands-free with the feathered creature while you gain his trust.

Do Doves Like To Be Handled?

Doves have many great qualities and are often affectionate towards humans when treated with care. They do like to be handled once you’ve both established a trusting relationship.

And because all pets are unique, nothing is ever guaranteed. It may take a bit of patience, and a lot of trust-building before your dove is willing to sit in your hand or on your shoulder.

How Long Do Pigeons Live As Pets?

Pet pigeons can live until around age 30, but it is more common for them to live up to age 15. Anything can happen to a bird during his lifetime.

A female pigeon’s lifespan is often cut short due to egg laying problems. Accidents can cut any pet bird’s life short—maintaining a birdproof home may save your bird’s life.

Diet and Health

The diet you choose for your pigeon will have a great impact on his overall health. Diet and Health go hand in hand.

You can either buy a bag of birdseed specifically formulated for pigeons and doves, or you can create your own mix.

Many bird owners buy a base mix bag of wild bird seed containing corn, white millet, milo, and black oil sunflower seeds. They are very picky eaters and will sort out their favorite seeds.

It may take time before you find out what mix it prefers. Start off with buying small bags to stay on the safe side.

You’ll want to feed your pigeon raw foods as well. Try chopping some greens like organic kale and mixing it with the base. Slowly introduce any new food to avoid loose stools.

Give your pigeon fresh water and clean both food and water bowls on a daily basis.

Do Pet Pigeons Poop Everywhere?

Pigeons poop. A lot! The smell is odorless, but it is something you want to be aware of. Without proper management, you’d find bird poop everywhere.

Not to worry! Many owners swear by applying pigeon pants which serve as a diaper.

These pants are paired with a panty-liner and changed every three hours. Doves adapt to the pants well and easily maneuver while wearing them.

Yes, even up in the air! You can also teach them where to poo.


For a family with young children, these birds make an excellent choice. They have small beaks called softbills and aren’t likely to break your skin even during an unintentional bite.

One last thing to be mindful of: doves not only poo a lot but also coo a lot. Most owners enjoy the sound and find it soothing. Others, such as light sleepers, may find it to be too much. Be bird smart, and choose wisely!