Dove vs. Pigeon Differences Explained

When you think about doves and pigeons, you might think of one being a notorious bird, while the other being a sign of peace and harmony. However, both doves and pigeons come from the same bird family of Columbidae. And when it comes to the comparison between dove vs pigeon, there are no scientific differences. 

In fact, the terms ‘dove’ and ‘pigeon’ are used interchangeably throughout the world. So, why do they have different names if they’re the same bird? How can we distinguish between a dove and a pigeon? 

I’ve addressed the key differences between these birds in this article. So, once you’re done reading it, you can easily tell apart a dove from a pigeon!


More on Pigeons and Doves

As of this year, 300+ species have been recognized in the bird family of Columbidae. These birds are highly adaptable, and they can be found everywhere in the world except for the Antarctic, the Arctic areas, and the hottest regions of the Sahara Desert. You’ll usually see them in grasslands, urban areas, and forests.


What Doves and Pigeons Feed on?

Both birds follow a strict diet of frugivorous and granivorous food, such as fruits, flowers, wheat, sunflower seeds, and more. 

But sometimes, they’ll feel like eating insects, worms, lizards, and even snails! 

If you want to attract these birds to your backyard, you can scatter grains and seeds on the ground.


How to Be Friends with Them?

Doves and pigeons are known for being highly sociable with humans. It is easy to lure them with their favorite seeds. At first, they’ll be a little skeptical about interacting with you. But once you take a handful of their favorite seeds to them, they’ll eventually come close and start eating from your hand!


Doves and Pigeons Can Be Trained

Did you know that pigeons are considered to be the first domesticated birds? 

In Mesopotamian history, pigeons are portrayed in art forms from as early as 4,500 BC! 

From very early in human history, they were used as messengers to transport letters, which may have potentially saved millions of lives during wars. 


Differentiating Dove vs Pigeon

As both doves and pigeons come from the same family of birds, their appearances are not too different from each other. Generally, pigeons are larger than doves. Pigeons also have straighter tails in comparison to doves’ fanned-out tails.

Since there aren’t any scientific differences between pigeons and doves, they can be distinguished based on the following factors.


Body Size

Doves are the smallest members of the Columbidae bird family. This is because some pigeons, such as the crowned pigeon, can get as long as 30 inches and weigh more than 8 pounds! 

However, most of the pigeons we see weigh from around 0.5 to 9 pounds while also being a tad bit larger than doves.

On average, fully-grown doves are around 22-30 cm long. On the other hand, adult pigeons measure from 32-35 cm long. 



Another way to tell apart doves from pigeons and vice versa is their tails. Doves have a more fanned-out tail in comparison to the straight and pointy tails of pigeons. Pigeons’ tails are also usually shorter in length than doves’ tails.



Pigeons are plump birds with small bills. They can be identified by their skin saddle between the forehead and the bill. 

Usually, the flocks of birds waiting for tourists to drop breadcrumbs are pigeons. You can also distinguish them by their hilarious way of walking; they strut about while bobbing their heads.

On the other hand, doves are slightly smaller with more rounded bodies and pointy bills. Like pigeons, doves are also known for being sociable with humans. 

In terms of behavior, both birds come from the same family so there isn’t a lot of difference between them.


Training Abilities

Both doves and pigeons have similar characteristics. They’re easy to tame as they enjoy interacting with humans. Since they’re docile and affable creatures, you can easily train them to work with your commands. 

However, you may need to work with them for some time before they’ll trust you.


Vocal Sound

Although both birds produce sounds with the same tone and loudness, pigeons have a longer call-in than doves’ call.


Doves and Pigeons as Domesticated Birds

Domestic doves and pigeons can make for great pets! They love their people and don’t trouble them too often. They’re low-maintenance pets that won’t bite, chew, or disturb you like other animals. Since they’re social birds, they should be housed in groups with at least two pigeons/doves. 

Usually, pigeons/doves are easy-going birds that learn household routines. They can live peacefully and at peace with most other animals. 

As a matter of fact, they’re not afraid of big dogs and cats! But if you’ve got bigger animals at your house, you should first let them familiarize themselves with each other, and ensure that they’re kept safe.

Always keep in mind that doves and pigeons aren’t independent pets like cats and dogs. You’ll have to take care of them properly. If you’re unsure about it, make sure to know enough about these birds before you take on the responsibility! That being said, here are some aspects of having doves/pigeons as pets.



You can create small perch-styled houses for them from wood. If you do, make sure that the birds have sufficient room inside. You’ll also have to clean their houses at least once a week to prevent risks of diseases. Keep in mind that pigeons and doves are sensitive birds. Make sure to not scare them away!


Diet & Care

As mentioned earlier, pigeons and doves feed on seeds and grain mixes. However, you should also add vegetables and fruits into your diet. Make sure they are finely chopped so they can chew the food properly. You’ll also have to provide them with fresh water frequently. 


Health & Common Issues

Doves and pigeons are susceptible to a wide range of diseases. We’ll save the scientific names of diseases for later. All you have to know is that their environment should be kept as clean as possible. Did I mention that you’ll have to give them fresh water regularly? 


Foods That Are Forbidden for Pigeons and Doves

Although pigeons and doves can have a varied diet, certain foods/drinks may be detrimental and dangerous to their health. Some of them are:

  • Processed, artificially flavored, and fried human food
  • Chocolate items
  • Sugary drinks & carbonated beverages
  • Apple and pear seeds
  • Avocado, onion, garlic, and similar items
  • Coffee & Caffeinated drinks
  • Candies such as chewing gum, cookies, etc.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can pigeons mate with doves?

Although the terms ‘dove’ and ‘pigeon’ are used interchangeably, doves are slightly smaller than pigeons. These birds aren’t known to interbreed in wild habitats, but they may be mated in captivity. 

  • What happens to a dove when its mate dies?

After a dove’s partner dies, they are known to watch over the body of their mate. Although it shouldn’t be related to human emotions, the birds apparently feel the loss. The doves eventually find new mates.

  • Can a dove be tamed?

Doves are known to be hands-off pets. They’re very sensitive birds, and forcing interaction with them will terrify the bird. On the bright side, doves are quite sociable so you can get them to eat food from your hand. In some cases, doves can be hand-tamed.

  • How many years do doves live?

On average, the life span of most breeds of doves is 1.5 years. In some cases, domesticated doves can last for longer.

  • What is the difference between a pigeon and a dove?

There aren’t any scientific differences between doves and pigeons. They come from the same Columbidae family of birds, which has 300+ species. Doves and pigeons share visual features, but pigeons have a slightly bigger body and a longer, pointy tail.

  • Do pigeons love humans?

Pigeons are known to be loving companions that can be as affectionate as any other pet. If knowledgeable owners can raise their birds properly, they’ll quickly bond, and the pigeon will start learning commands. Usually, pigeons like to hang out by riding on their favorite human’s head/shoulder.

  • Are doves good pets?

Doves are very sociable birds, and they love interacting with humans. They can be wonderful pets because of their curious, affectionate, and social nature. Moreover, they’re easy to take care of, due to which doves are classified as low-maintenance pets.

  • Can you befriend a pigeon?

When you first get the pigeon, keep it anywhere in your house except for the kitchen. Try staging close to its cage so that it sees you more often. Eventually, you’ll bond with the bird. Although it may take some time for a pigeon to adjust to a new home, you can certainly befriend a pigeon.


Final Thoughts

Now that you know the differences between dove vs pigeon, you should be able to tell apart doves from pigeons and vice versa. 

Doves are smaller in size with a more flattened-out tail, while pigeons are slightly bigger with a longer, pointy tail. If you need a low-maintenance pet, doves/pigeons are great options!



Are doves and pigeons the same? They look similar as they’re both from the same family of birds. Read on to know the differences between dove vs pigeon.

By Bird Moy

Hi, Bird Moy is the founder and CEO of . Im passionate about Blogging and I use this site as a platform to share my experiences, learnings, mistakes, and ideas.

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