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Why do dogs roll in dead animals?

Updated on February 18, 2012

Dogs are well love pets. They are hugged, kissed and even allowed to share the bed of their masters. This is why a dog owner would not think twice to spend top dollar for the grooming of the pet. Dogs however, really do have some very bizarre habits. A dog that gives you sloppy kisses may have just drunk the water from the toilet bowl or devoured its own feces. Yuck! One of the disgusting habits of the dog is rolling in dead animals. Why do our canine friends love to smell bad? It would be necessary to understand the dog’s way of thinking otherwise we would need to constantly bring the pet to the groomer. Aside from being very costly, there are times when the obnoxious smell will remain in spite of the extensive grooming done on the pet.

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A handed down trait

Dogs have descended from wolves. The habit of rolling in obnoxious smelling things was a handed down trait from the wolves. Rolling in dead animals is a wolf’s way of masking its own scent. The obnoxious smell is used as a disguise to fool both the prey and the predator.


In the wild, wolves have to hunt for their own food. Plant eating animals are the most common prey of canines. By rolling in the decomposing carcass, the wolf will assume the scent of the herbivore. Masking their own scent would give the wolves a better chance of capturing their prey as they can easily sneak up on the animal without being detected.


Canines are really intelligent creatures. To better avoid their predators, they have thought of hiding and masking their natural canine scent with the odor of dead animals. Mother dogs are known to eat their own feces as well as the feces of the puppies to hide their presence from their predators. Rolling in dead animals is an effective way of hiding from the predator that wants to have the dog for dinner.

Territorial claim

Dogs are scavengers. The dead animal will be viewed as a treasure by the dog. By rolling in the dead animal, the dog is advertising to the other dogs that treasure has its name on it.

The dog’s sensitive nose

Yikes! Mom has bathed me again with this smelly shampoo. I better do something to remove the smell. Have you ever thought that the reason why dogs roll in dead animals right after it has been bathed and groomed is because to the dog’s sensitive nose the smell of the soap or the shampoo is disgusting? Rolling in dead animals is done to mask the undog-like odor.

Puppy rolls in mud pit at dog park


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