Why dogs like to roll in shit and carcasses?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Syzygys, Oct 17, 2006.

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  1. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned

    you guys are so funny, in a straight jacketed kind of way

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    I said this:


    Ie, This is Not my opinion that I am reflecting, but the 'commonly held view of doggy psychologists.

    I myself do not wonder why dogs roll in shit, though the explanation seems reasonable.

    Why do men wear aftershave that smells like shit? Well it's not meant to is it. Maybe doggies think shit smells nice. Maybe shit is doggy aftershave. Yes this is my opinion on the matter. Prove I am wrong.

    Meanwhile another 'experts view' also NOT MINE, but for your reference


    "Behaviourists have 2 theories why dogs do this.

    • One explanation is your dog is trying to mask its own scent because he thinks he is out to hunt. Before dogs were domesticated, when dogs went out in the pack they where out to hunt. So today when you take your dog for a walk, that instinctive drive is still embedded in your dog.

    • The second explanation is that your dog is rubbing it’s self in dung and dead carcass to take the scent back to the pack (your home), to show what he has found on while he has been out exercising. The dead carcass may be potential food or other dog faeces may be a threat to the pack’s territory.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2006
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  3. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned


    get your kit off you man thing..grrrrrrr I can just smell the testosterone pouring out of your pores

    or is it shit?

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  5. Roman Banned Banned

    So you admit that you actually didn't read any of the discussion, but weighed in with someone's opinion you googled online.

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  7. valich Registered Senior Member

    Roman, you got it right in your first long post above, but why do you think there is a difference between rolling and shit and rolling in carcasses?

    Invert, I'll reword it:

    Rolling in strong smelling substances IS a behaviour handed down from their ancestors who did this to camouflage their own smell when out hunting.

    Again, bioscientifically, we call this a "shared derived characteristic or trait."
  8. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned


    er, I made that clear did I not, the absence of 'my opinion' and the words 'the generally held view is'

    is that a crime here, to actually provide the answer to the question as given by experts. you prefer we talk out of our arses instead?

    I can do that

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  9. Idle Mind What the hell, man? Valued Senior Member

    All those sources use wording such as the behaviour is "thought" to stem from this and "may" be caused by that. It's lacking a definitive certainty. I'm glad that they are using that type of language though, since we cannot (obviously) know for certain why dogs exhibit any of the behaviours they do.

    That is the point of our discussion with valich. He asserts with 100% certainty that his answer is the correct one. No doubt, no more thought. No consideration to the glaring logic flaws in the argument. Some guy said it was because of so-and-so, then that's how it is.
  10. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned


    We can never know for 100% certainty why anyone or anything does anything, but then much of science as it is taught in schools is based on the 'best case scenario' as presented by experts. Much of it is not 'proven' beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just that all indicators point that way.

    It is fair I think to consider that animal behavioural experts know a tad more about their subject than those who are not experts. Doesn't mean of course that we can't debate the matter and put forth alternatives.

    I put forth alternatives to the idea of the origin of life on this planet but no one seemed much interested

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    In fact I was told to go study evolution.

    It appears the subject of dogs rolling in poo is of greater concern and warrants serious discussion and refuting of 'expert' opinion.

    I guess it's a boy thing. I apologise for my female intrusion into a boys 'about poo' thread.
  11. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    1. If it is a shit, it smells like shit.
    2. A camo helps a dog (or you) because it covers the true identity of the hunter. It doesn't matter if it is shit, carcass or tree, as long as it doesn't smell like a hunter, it does its job.

    Consider you are turkey hunting. It doesn't matter if you pretend to be a bush or a tree or a deer, as long as the turkey thinks you are not a danger to him.

    You are thinking of going the extra mile and camoing the hunter in a way that could be attractive to the prey. But rolling in shit/carcasses doesn't necessery meant to do so...

    Man, this thread got way too long...We should ask a dog...
  12. Idle Mind What the hell, man? Valued Senior Member

    That's why we are asking for the sources of their evidence, a published paper perhaps, so we can see for ourselves. You admit you didn't read the thread, so I will forgive you for having missed our requests to valich, or anyone, really, for some sort evidence upon which the argument for the camouflage concept is based.

    Animal behaviour experts do publish papers in reputable journals, do they not? We don't want anecdotal evidence from some Dear Abby FAQ regarding puppy training techniques, regardless of who it's written by. Those don't contain clues into why people have formed this opinion.
  13. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned


    so you are asking for something you know does not exist? Why?

    you have already acknowledged we can never know for certainty anything regarding why animals do what they do. I imagine their reasonning comes from yrs of study of what can be observed re animal behaviour and then they just offer the most likely opinion based on what can be observed.

    Perhaps you would like to give me evidence of the origin of life, rather than these educated opinions based on what has been observed since etc etc as an answer.

    You know an animal rolling in shit can only have a few reasons for doing so

    1) camoflage
    2) story telling back at doggy camp
    3) they like the smell
    4) the shit and carcasses attract flies which they have some sort of weird relationship with


    in the case of carcasses

    5)the smell of blood or 'death' wards off larger predators

    predators tend not to attack things already dead
    (I like this one- my own unless its already been mentioned here)

    What more do you think there is?

    what is your reasonning for it?

    Meanwhile from my googling it seems animal experts really don't give a 'shit' ('scuse the pun) about dogs rolling in shit, hence you are unlikely to find a research paper on this subject. I have though founds lots of replies to this question which actually read like my list above

    ie, camoflage, or they like the smell.....

    I don't think (and with good reason) that dogs rolling in poop is high on any experts agenda for investigation.

    THUS no papers, no evidence. It's anecdotal only.
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    In similar light, why do men like to smell each other's farts? Is it a feeding dominance thing, or are they just disturbed?
  15. Roman Banned Banned

    Have you ever been to a place with a lot of large herbivores? I have. Seen cows in the Australian bush, caribou on the North Slope, buffalo in the taiga, farms, zoos.

    And you know a characterstic of all those places? It's not the overwhelming smell of rotting carcasses. It's the smell of shit.

    So I can see a dog rolling in cow dung to masquerade as a cow. Or at least blend into an environment already reeking of thousands of animals worth of shit.

    That means the dogs could get that much closer to the prey before rushing out, even though most canines don't hunt like that.

    Have you ever seen a canine hunt? They don't hunt like cougars or cats. They're runners. They run their prey down. Dogs don't need to camo themselves, as they're going to chasing their quarry for the next half mile.

    Back to the difference between shit and a dead animal.
    Have you ever smelled the dung of a large herbivore? Have you ever smelled the rot of a carcass?
    Very different.
    Would not a prey animal, especially one in a large herd, be far more suspicious of the smell of death, which is relatively rare, than then the smell of it's own feces?

    And if animals only rolled in the shit of prey, camo theory would make sense. But dogs roll in road kill, dead salmon, all sorts of stuff. Stuff that doesn't camoflage them, but makes them stinkier and more noticable.

    Birds have bad smell, good sight. If you're a pussy hunter with a rifle, of course you hide like a little pussy cat. Dogs dont have to. They just runt he turkey down, pounce, and tear it open. Do you know anything about animal behavior?

    Also, animals are extremely suspicious of the smell of death. Especially the dead of their own kind. Furthermore, carnivores can get a peculiar stink. They have a far different diet than their prey, and hence, different gut flora. They smell more like dead animal, as that's what they eat.

    Furthermore, carcasses are rare. The smell of rotting meat in the wild is rare. Carrion has a lot of energy in it, it gets eaten up quick by scavengers. Animals aren't dumb. Do you know anything about animal behavior? If a prey animal smells walking death before getting jumped by a pack of wolves (nevermind the wolves have been tracking the caribou for many miles, and will now mercilessly run it down, and don't need to hide), do you think in the future they'll be suspicious of the scent?

    If you were in a house, and every red triangle in it was electrocuted (camoflaging the electricity from you

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    ), would you stop touching the red triangles? Or since the red triangles aren't electricity, you wouldn't learn that they hurt when you touch them.

    1. camoflage theory is not consistent with the method for which dogs hunt, nor their other rolling behaviors
    2. most plausible explanation
    3. they like it because...? because they eat different things than we do, and so certain stuff smells better to them. It's also a way to boast to other dogs "hey guys, look what I found."
    4. unlikely
    5. unlikely
    there are a great deal of predators (big ones) that like dead stuff. Bears. Wolves. Jackals. Hyenas. Wolverines.
  16. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned

    are these predators to dogs though? bearing in mind dogs would have inherited this trait from wolves. So are wolves prey to hyenas, jackals and bears?
  17. Roman Banned Banned

    Canines tend to be at the top of the food chain. They have no predators, unless they're weak or sick. That is, nothing actively hunts canines, that I know of. Other than people. The animals above are all in competition with wolves.

    And furthermore, bears have been known to chase wolves off a kill, and vice versa. For a wolf to smell like a dead animal, it might be a little dangerous. You'd attract big predators.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2006
  18. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned

    Ok, let's look at this and see what can be deduced


    "Wolf Senses back to top


    Scent plays a very important role in the life of the wolf, by smell alone wolves can locate prey, other pack members or enemies. It can tell them if other wolves were in the territory, if they were male or female, and how recently they visited.

    The wolf has several specialized glands, one around the anus and another on its back about 3 inches (7.6 centimetres) in the front of the base of its tail. The scent from these glands is as individualistic as are out fingerprints and is used by that particular wolf as its personal calling card. These Glands are used as to mark boundaries and also to mark trails. These "Scent Stations" are often 100 yards (91 metres) apart.

    Scent Marking

    The wolf use scent to mark territory, establish position of site of a kill and other factors within the pack.

    Sense of smell

    The sense of smell in the wolf is highly developed, as would be expected in an animal possessing numerous scent glands. The distance at which any scent can be detected is governed by atmospheric conditions but, even under the most favorable conditions , 1.75 miles denotes a particularly keen sense of smell. The wolves usually travel until they encounter the scent of some prey species ahead of them. They then move directly toward their prey in an effort to capture it."

    myself I am now thinking, that the 'wolf' rolls in carcasses (assuming they
    are ones they have killed themselves) as it is carrying the smell (which can be detected by other wolves up to 1.75 miles away) to alert the other wolves to the fact it has killed and possibly as an indicator (they can follow that smell) as to where the prey is? The smell of the dead animal would combine with the wolves smell, so they would know it was a family wolf kill?

    what do you deduce from what can be learned from the above information ?
  19. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned

    I just found another link which gives consideration to my latest theory but confirms no ones knows for sure why?


    "An unusual behavior, scent-rolling, involves a wolf who finds something strong-smelling (often manure or a carcass) getting down and rolling in it, coating themselves. Some dogs also scent-roll. No-one is sure why wolves scent-roll, but it may be that they are bringing the smell back to the rest of their pack, which might then follow the wolf’s scent trail back to the thing that smelled interesting"
  20. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    The man with the Broken Brain,


    But, the logic behind this argument is weak.
    There are far more plausible explanations for this behavior than camoflauge.

    It's a real shame for the discussion that you, the only proponent of this camoflauge theory, are utterly unable to provide an argument in its defense.
    All you can do is make assertions and make an utter ass out of yourself.
    It's a real shame your brain is broken. I suppose it's a behavior handed down to you from your ancestors who acted in such retarded ways for camoflauge purposes? Because people pick on retards, but usually let them go without eating them alive, yes?


    I've proposed a theory that part of the use of this behavior might be the instillation of a common pack scent.
    Every animal in the pack would come across the same rolling material. So, they acquire the same scents.
    Combine this with scent mingling from close contact (for animals that gather scents away from the pack to bring back), and you have even more of a mechanism for creating a strong, and unique, pack scent.

    Thus, rolling in strong-smelling substances is a possible extension of the scent marking system. But, rather than individual scent-marking, it is the creation of a scent for the social group as a whole.

    In many ways, the pack can be seen as an organism. This rolling behavior is a manifestation of this communal beast.

    You misunderstand the origins of 'liking' things.
    Emotion is a goad. It's a means. Not an end.

    Well, that would be a real shame, seeing as how this behavior is obviously very important and powerful to the canine. Why would you be a canine 'expert' if you don't care to seek an understanding of its most powerfully felt behavioral traits?

    One must realize, however, that behavioral science, really isn't. Science, that is.
    That is, the behaviors can be analyzed, but their root causes can only be conjectured.
    This is the key thing that Valich fails to grasp in his desire to be a 'man of science and essential lifelong learning'.
    It's ironically hilarious how his authoritarian stance is actually diametrically opposed to the very idea that he attests as his greatest passion.

    This is why he is such a fool.
  21. valich Registered Senior Member

    Shared derived behavior, i.e., it's an allelomimetic derived behaviour from associated in packs: derived allelonimetic "pack behavior." This is in contrast to it being a "shared primitive" behavior. Primitive means that it was present in a common ancestor. Derived means that it was not present in a common ancestor. Allelomimetic means that it was originally learned from watching another do it. Those that did this were more successful in the hunt and survived better to breed, hence evolution of an ancestral trait.

    Does anyone know if coyotes, foxes and jackals roll in shit and carcasses too? If so, then it should be considered as a primitive behavioral trait. I know coyotes occasionally group together in packs but usually hunt alone, although they stay with their mate for life. Foxes on the otherhand are solitary hunters. I'm almost certain that foxes never assemble into a pack. So it would be very interesting to know if foxes also roll in shit and carcasses.

    If all five species roll in shit and carcasses then we can assume that it is a "primitive" behavior that existed in ancestral Canidae, Caniformia, and possibly even among early Miacids during the Cenozoic over 60 million years ago. Dog's were first domesticated from ancestral wolves about 200,000 years ago but most dog breeds today have only evolved over the last few hundred years.
  22. valich Registered Senior Member

    Roman: That's a good point. And yes, I do study animal behavior as part of my major. I'm in the School of Forestry but take a lot of biology courses and have taken Animal Behavior.

    Do we even know if dogs or wolves roll in carcasses? I have seen both species roll in the dung of any species, and scavenge through dead carcasses, but I've never seen a wolf roll in a carcass - just eat it. So unless we know that they do, there is no sense arguing about the smell of death, though you make a good point here. In our school of thought, and amongst all the animal behavioral scientists and biologists that I know, we do not question that Canidae species roll in dung to hind there scent.
  23. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    Now you're in the school of forestry eh? I was wondering when you'd get around to claiming that you've been studying this for 10 years.
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