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Do Doves Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!

collared dove

Birds charm us with their brilliant minds and social nature. Doves have served so many purposes throughout history in pet-owning, religious symbolism, and various cultures. If you love doves, you could be mulling over the possibility of buying one, as doves make nice pets and wonderful additions to most homes.
We’ll break down what owning one of these birds looks like, plus, you’ll also learn about the differences between pigeons and doves—if there are any. Without further ado, let’s learn about doves as pets!


Doves as Pets

Doves are incredibly docile creatures with affectionate personalities. These creatures are often seen as birds of peace, depicting gentleness and love. Owning them is much the same—they tend to be gentle, warm birds with a shy demeanor.
Doves can warm up to people, especially if they are hand-fed. But with enough kindness and patience, any dove can get attached to its keepers.

Doves & Pigeons: What’s the Difference?

Doves and pigeons are often confused and closely related. So closely related, in fact, that there is no scientific distinction between the two. Usually, people differentiate based on size—with pigeons being the larger of the two titles.
Also, more often, doves are titled as such—bearing neutral colored feathers. In contrast, most pigeons have hues of matte blue, purple, and iridescent green.

Dove vs Pigeon
Left: Dove, Right: Pigeon | Image Credit: Pixabay

Dove Care

There are so many things to learn when you own doves. Although they are calm and low-maintenance, they still require daily care and accommodations to live healthy lives.
Doves are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Instead of eating actual meat, these guys snack on worms, insects, and some crustaceans occasionally. Mainly, they eat a scrumptious diet full of:

  • Berries
  • Leafy greens
  • Fruits
  • Seeds
  • Commercial birdseed


Most doves prefer to be in groups or small flocks. If you have multiple doves, you need space to accommodate them comfortably.
At a minimum, your cage should be 18” x 22” x 18”. However, you should increase the space depending on how many doves you have in one enclosure.

Medical Care

Anytime you own a pet that you don’t see in a regular vet clinic, you need to find an exotic vet with the skills. Just like all other animals, your dove should have a routine check-up once per year. And it would help if you also had an emergency fund set aside for potential injury or sickness.
Doves are usually very healthy, but they can transmit disease through their feces. Always make sure to wash your hands after handling so you don’t get ill. One of the most common bacteria in their poop is called psittacosis.

white dove
Image Credit: chrisjmit, Pixabay


Across the board, doves and pigeons are remarkably soft creatures. They are very tolerant and non-aggressive. However, without proper socialization, they can be very timid, or even frightened, in a human’s presence.
If you show your dove patience and love, they will eventually start shining through with their own unique character.
You should spend at least 30 minutes with your doves outside of their enclosure per day. Playtime encourages bonding and exercise.


Common Doves to Have as Pets

1. Diamond Doves

diamond dove
Image Credit: Wilhelm_Grantler, Pixabay
Appearance: Speckled wings, orange/red eye circles
Temperament: Docile
Lifespan: 15 to 25 years

The diamond dove is among the most popular domesticated doves we will discuss. These cuties are instantly recognizable thanks to their orange eyeliner (we know for sure that they are born with it, and it’s not Maybelline).
Though gentle, these doves aren’t particularly fond of being handled. They tend to be a little nervous, flighty, or skittish when you try to pick them up. However, bottle-fed babies usually develop a strong bond with their handler.
Diamond doves are quiet, never shrieking out ear-piercing vocalizations. They have good manners, sweet tempers, and they mate for life. These doves work best when they have a companion to share their time with.

2. Ringneck Doves

ringneck dove
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay
Appearance: Tan, black band around neck
Temperament: Sedentary, calm
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

The ringneck dove is arguably the most popular choice among owners. They can make terrific pets for even smaller children, permitting kids to be respectful of the animal. These creatures are sensitive and must be treated as such.
A major perk of the ringneck dove is that they can be alone. Some doves never fare well by themselves, thriving on the company and companionship of their mate. Ringnecks are quite happy being solo, although they do prefer being with others of their kind.
Like many other doves, these guys don’t sing but instead let out soft coos to communicate.

3. Homing Pigeons

homing pigeon
Image Credit: SandeepHanda, Pixabay
Appearance: Iridescent
Temperament: Docile, calm
Lifespan: 10-15 years

The homing pigeon, otherwise known as the messenger or carrier pigeon, was used long ago for communications. This breed has an innate ability to find its way home over long distances, but that is a one-way street.
To receive communications, these birds were taken in crates from their original home to another location. They each got a message for delivery and would naturally fly back home—thus, they were like miniature mailmen.
You can still purchase homing pigeons today. Although they might not deliver messages any longer, they still have such sweet souls and good personalities. Though considered a pigeon, remember, there’s no separation scientifically between pigeons and doves.

Fun Facts About Doves

Here are a few fun-to-know things about doves.

Doves drink differently than some birds.

In contrast to other birds, doves drink water by sucking it up through their beak. Other birds hold water in their beak and have to tilt their heads back to swallow. But doves, on the contrary, essentially use their beaks like a straw.

Doves signify peace and the Holy Spirit in Abrahamic religions.

Does a dove with an olive branch speak to you? Yes, it’s in Christian iconography that doves symbolize both peace and the Holy Spirit.

Doves often symbolize love at weddings.

Traditionally, doves are released at weddings, if couples choose. This symbolism shows love, connection, and monogamy.


Doves as Pets: Final Thoughts

Doves are incredibly sweet, innocent creatures who do best with owners who are patient and understanding. They will love socializing with you and their other bird pals.
Although some doves can be alone, it’s always best to have a pair or more. Remember that the cage should always accommodate the number of birds in your possession. If you do decide to buy a dove, you won’t believe the connection you can build with them!

See also: How Long Do Pet Doves Live? – What You Need to Know!

Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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