What’s the Difference Between a Deer Tick and a Dog Tick?

Understanding the Difference Between a Deer Tick and a Dog Tick

If you like spending time outdoors, you could benefit from knowing the difference between a deer tick and a dog tick. As the experts in tick control in NJ, Nada Mosquito can help you understand the difference to keep your family and pets safe. Keep reading to learn how to distinguish these two problematic tick species.

Differences Between Deer and Dog Ticks

Knowing the major differences between tick species can help you distinguish between adult deer ticks and American dog ticks.


Though another name for deer ticks is black-legged ticks, they actually have brown legs. Also known as bear ticks in some parts of the United States, deer ticks have an identifiable red and brown body. Dog ticks are brown with a white patch that looks like a shield.

Both types have eight legs.


Deer ticks are one of the smallest ticks you’ll find, measuring around the size of a poppy seed or sesame seed, depending on the sex. Dog ticks are larger, measuring slightly under a quarter inch. Determining the size is one of the easiest ways to quickly tell the type of tick you see.


One way you can tell the difference between a deer tick and a dog tick is the type of creature you find it on. Dog ticks are less discerning about what they feed from, and you’ll find them on creatures of all sizes, ranging from small field mice to large deer. Deer ticks prefer to feed on larger creatures so that you won’t find them on mice, but they love large raccoons, deer, and humans.

Health Dangers

The associated health risks are one reason you should remove a tick quickly and prevent tick bites from ever occurring. Depending on the type of tick, the host could suffer the following diseases:

  • Lyme disease (deer)
  • Babesiosis (deer)
  • Anaplasmosis (deer)
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (dog)
  • Tularemia (dog)
  • Tick paralysis (dog)


Dog ticks live mostly in the Rocky Mountains and along the Gulf and Pacific coasts. They can live indoors for a long time, but you’ll often find them in areas without tree cover or where dogs spend a lot of time.

Deer ticks reside mostly in the eastern, central, and southern United States. They prefer to live in areas with extensive overgrowth, such as long grass, or on logs.


Deer ticks are most active in late spring through early fall until temperatures drop below freezing. Dog ticks are most active from late April through August.

Contact Nada Mosquito for Effective Tick Prevention

Now that you know the difference between a deer tick and a dog tick, you can help keep your pets and family safe and remove them quickly. If you want to avoid tick infestations, Nada Mosquito can treat your property for a surprisingly competitive price.

Whether you’re wondering if ticks go away on their own or want to know about their associated health risks, we can answer all your questions. Call 732-743-7129 to speak with an expert.