Why dogs like to roll in shit and carcasses?

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

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  1. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    If I insulted you only to put you down, then I'd owe you an apology.
    If I insulted you for no reason, then I'd owe you an apology.
    However, I insult you for good reason. Because you behave poorly and unethically.

    You've still not apologized for being a dishonest little shit in this post:

    I'm waiting.

    As a matter of fact, I do derive some enjoyment from insulting vile little worms such as yourself.
    If you didn't behave as you did, then I wouldn't derive any satisfaction from pointing out your malbehavior and I would then no longer insult you.
    Emotions are a goad, you know.

    It does serve a purpose. It is a social cue for you to change your behavior to an appropriate one.
    You are simply socially stunted. You never learn.
    One can always hope though.

    As to scientific fact and truth... there you go again.
    You never learn.

    That just shows your learning deficit.
    This is the best way to respond to a post, Valich.
    In this way, we respond to specific points.
    In this way the person we respond to knows exactly which point we are responding to with each point of our response.
    It's called communication.
    I'm sorry that you are unable to grasp it.

    Of course, the reason you dislike it so much is because you often find yourself on the end of an insult and thus have misinterpreted this style of communication with insulting behavior.
    This is your problem however. Perhaps someday you will learn better.
    I doubt it though.

    You're not the only reader, Valich.
    Just because you have poor reading skills doesn't mean that others share them.

    I didn't insult you when I responded about how you posted views different than your own. I merely made the point that they are us unauthoritative as any other.

    There's this little thing called intelligent discussion, Valich.
    You put forward a theory then you back it up with logic.
    You are incapable of this.

    You have authoritatively stated something that was never in any doubt.
    Duh. Instincts are inherited from ancestors. Duh.

    A viewpoint which has been stated again and again... but, you don't read people's posts...
    As I said.
    Your loss.


    You fucking idiot.
    No one ever doubted this. This was never in question.
    Christ you're fucking stupid.
    See why I'm insulting you? Because you're being fucking dumb.

    Although, the likelihood of this behavior benefiting the ability to capture prey is low. Social concerns are more likely.

    2 and 3 seem most likely to me.
    However, I also think that my argument for creation of a social pack smell has strong reasoning behind it.

    1 and 4 are unlikely.

    I think it's saying something about how stupid you are.

    Thank you, Captain Obvious.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2006
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  3. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned

    you're doing it again.

    You have confirmed the answer can not be found yet you insist on looking for it?

    speculation is all one can do when wondering 'why'. The experts have speculated and drawn conclusions based on that speculation. You consider that speculation flawed. That is your privilage. But who is speculating from a position of most knowledge of the subject...you or they?

    I am happy to accept a novices speculation.....I am the first to accept 'experts' can be blinkered and 'set' in one way of thinking.

    But I don't expect them to keep looking for what can never be found.

    Do you really think dogs rolling in poo is of such monumental importance that we should invest resources into finding out why?
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  5. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    On the contrary, they eat them for calcium.

    However, bones are not rotting carcasses, now are they?
    Come on, do try to stay in the real world here.
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  7. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member


    Done it again?
    I said the answer can not be absolutely found. That there is no absolute justification of knowledge.
    But, that is not to say that a theory that fits and works and has useful purpose cannot be derived from the information at hand.

    As I said, look at what science has brought to this world. Look at all the technological masterpieces. The cures to diseases. The knowledge of the workings of the universe.
    All this with no absolute justification of any of it.
    It's all theory. And it's liable to change at any moment.

    But, it works.
    Thus, there is good reason to look for theoretical understanding of the world.

    The experts have also shown a wide variety of speculations.
    And, in fact, most of these speculations follow the same lines of the amateurish speculations in this thread.
    Imagine that.

    That's why you shouldn't do like Valich and go off looking for truth and fact. Look instead for useful and valid theoretical explanations.
    This is how science exists in a post-positivist world.

  8. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member


    By the way, a point for you to consider. I wouldn't spend much time on you if I didn't see something in you that was worth the effort. You do have a passion and a drive that I find respectable. Your goal of lifelong learning is something that I share.

    But, you are on the wrong path. You seek truth when there is no truth. You are like a pilgrim seeking the holy shrine. The truth handed down from on high. Absolute and sancrosanct.
    Until you dispel these ridiculous notions, you will never truly learn anything other than rote.
    Rote memorization is for multiplication tables, not science.
    Science is about critical thinking. Something which you have failed to provide again and again.

    In this thread, for instance, you have not once provided a valid explanation to back up your camoflauge theory.
    Not once.

    Also, your dishonesty in that post back on the first page made my disgust of you rise in ways that it never has before. Always before you have been befuddled and exasperating. But, in that post you were deceitful and vile.

    I see that your character is more foul than I had previously imagined.

    Because of this, I had given up hope on you altogether and had limited my responses to you to merely calling you a fool in short and simple terms as there was no purpose to try to educate you.

    I slowly slipped back into educator mode, and I suppose I'm giving you another chance.

    I'm not sure you're worth it though. I believe that I will shortly give up on you altogether. Your failure to acknowledge your dishonesty confirms that your dishonesty is to the bone.

    Of course, I shouldn't be surprised about your dishonesty. You've lied before and you'll lie again.
    Always the expert, are you not? In whatever discussion is taking place?
    Amazing, that.
  9. Roman Banned Banned

    It could be a way to get rid of parasites.
    I never thought of that.

    An old cure for head lice was to cover your head in cow shit. The cow shit smothered the lice.

    Perhaps it's a similar reason for dogs?
  10. Roman Banned Banned

    A pile of bones is not a carcass.
    Actually, if a Cervidae calf dies, the mother will often hang out around the calf and mourn the calf's death. I've heard of this happening in cows, too.

    But animals still get skittish when the smell of death is in the air.
  11. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

    Except Nazis.
  12. Roman Banned Banned

    Or Arabs.
  13. valich Registered Senior Member

    The canine habit of rubbing on strong smelling substances is common among domestic dogs as well as wolves. Although the object of such behavior is usually carrion or dung, any strong or novel odiferous substance will evoke the response in the wolf--even expensive perfume! (Mech, 1970)

    Dogs scented in such a manner are immensely interesting to other dogs. To the chagrin and irritation of the owner, the behavior is often exhibited immediately after a bath. Puppies as young as 3 months of age may show the habit.


    CAMOUFLAGE: The most common theory for the habit is olfactory camouflage. By rubbing in the strongest ambient smell, the predator might enjoy some slight advantage while stalking its prey. While this theory seems plausible enough, it has been rejected by some authorities based on the hunting techniques of the wolf.

    OLFACTORY IDENTITY: A second theory suggests that the habit provides a kind of scent identity for the pack--with any strong odor being a sufficient stimulus to infectious and ecstatic rubbing--regardless of the source. Captive wolves have been observed rubbing in the same scented spot until the whole pack is scented with the odor (Klinghammer, personal communication). Fox (1972) has suggested that the dog may be motivated by an "an esthetic appreciation of odors" (1972:222) or such behavior may serve to enhance social recognition and contact (Fox, 1971).

    SCENT-MARKING: Kleiman (1966) has suggested that the typical physical movement associated with the pattern is intended to impart the animal's scent to the object rubbed upon--not necessarily to receive odor from it.

    ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION: Morris (1986) has rejected Kleiman's suggestion, arguing that if the canid's intention was to mask the odor with his own odor he would deposit an equally intense smell (feces or urine)--not simply rub on it. He has speculated that a possible purpose for the habit is to obtain and share information with other pack members about the surrounding environment via various scents the scouting wolf has rolled upon. Although pack members show great interest in the returning scout and appear to delight in the smells that he has collected, whether this exchange ever results in the initiation of a hunting sortie has not been determined. To my knowledge there has not been a controlled scientific investigation of this interesting phenomenon.


    Fox MW (1972). Understanding Your Dog. New York, NY: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc.

    Kleiman D (1966). Scent marking in Canidae. Symp Zool Soc, 18:167-177(reported in Mech).

    Mech, LD (1970). The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species. Minneapolis, MN: Univ of Minnesota Press.

    Morris D (1986). Dogwatching. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.

    Steve Lindsay
    Canine Behavioral Services
    Philadelphia, PA

    I have had some experience working with wolves and wolf-dog hybrids. I observed members of a pack, upon discovering the existence of some interesting scent, proceed to rub parts of their body (especially the back and side) on the source. When this same member returns to the pack, it is usually greeted by the other members who seem very excited to discover that one of them has returned with some exotic scent! It is as though an explorer who has ventured out of the pack to some foreign land has returned with "pictures" to show!

    I think this may be a form of communication, whereby pack mates share individual experiences, and if anyone is interested in the source, they can be brought there?

    Lai Chien Hsun
    Singapore Zoological Gardens

    "Scent rolling is probably a way for wolves to bring information back to the pack. When a wolf encounters a novel odor, it first sniffs and then rolls in it, getting the scent on its body, especially around the face and neck. Upon its return, the pack greets it and during the greeting investigates the scent thoroughly. At Wolf Park, we've observed several instances where one or more pack members has then followed the scent directly back to its origin.

    This scent smearing ritual isn't limited to stinky odors. In her studies, Goodmann placed different odors in the wolf enclosures and found that wolves roll in sweet-smelling scents too. Besides rolling in ode-to-cat, elk, mouse, and hog, they also rolled in mint extract, Chanel No. 5, Halt! dog repellant, fish sandwich with tartar sauce, fly repellent, and Old Spice. So the scents aren't necessarily foul, nor are they ones that wolves necessarily like. Goodmann states, "some of the Wolf Park wolves object when handlers put fly repellent on their ear tips but these same wolves often scent roll readily in fly repellents manufactured to be sprayed onto horses, provided the scents are sprayed on the ground and left for the wolves to discover. While this foul form of fragrant communication may be fine for wolves, it's not so fun when it's Rover sharing the news. What can you do to discourage this odiferous behavior? According to Goodmann, it's a hard habit to break. Even if presented with an odor over and over, wolves continue to roll in it. The same goes for dogs. Since your chance of finding a mint patch next to every dead fish is smaller than slim, the solution lies in your keen vision and ability as a trainer. Keep your eyes open for things that excite your dogÕs nose and before Rover's rolling in ecstacy call him back to your side. While the training time for a good recall makes this solution sound tedious, the time saved on needless baths makes the effort easily worthwhile.

    Pat Goodmann, research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana.
  14. valich Registered Senior Member

    I was making reference to "a pile of bones" in reference to the fact that the smell of a dead carcass does not linger very long, nor do I think a dead carcass - the "smell of death" - is going to detour a herd of elk or caribou away from the site.

    Do coyotes or foxes also roll in shit and carcasses? I imagine that they would, but I have never seen or heard of it. Does anyone have any experience of this? Thanks.
  15. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    It's amazing how you've gone out digging up this stuff and all it's saying is stuff we already said.

    What does that say to you?
  16. valich Registered Senior Member

    Okay, I've got it. Both coyotes and foxes also scent roll. Most interesting, however, is that scent rolling has been observed in bears. A USGS biologist observed a brown bear rolling in the residue of pepper spray. http://www.securityprousa.com/usofpespnwe.html

    Bears are not pack animals although they evolved from the same lineage as ancestral Canidae (wolves). This implies that scent rolling (rolling in shit and carcasses) is a "shared primitive" allelomimetic behavior dating back to Miacids in the Eocene epoch 60 million years ago and possibly even back into the Tertiary period. In other words, packs of donosaurs may have even rolled in shit and carcasses. But bears are not pack animals? Or were they when they first diverged from ancestral Caniformia ("dog-like") and went up into the trees.
  17. CANGAS Registered Senior Member

    I have personally observed a German Sheperd dog, very very familiar to me over many many years, roll on her back , very obviously of her choice, and apparently of her pleasure, on the putrid carcass of a dead songbird.

    Star was a very dog-like German Sheperd.
  18. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

    I said:

    And you said:

    And now, after umpteen pages of Invert being on your case; you say:

    Well, you were vile and foul to me...hypocrite!
  19. valich Registered Senior Member

    While researching this, I did also come across a veterinarian counselor who said some clients have told her that their cats like to roll in certain types of perfume.
  20. valich Registered Senior Member

    Again, I apologize for not being as receptive to your viewpoint as I should have, but I believe that what you say is based on a "hunch," not fact. I do not see where anything posted has disproved the camouflage theory - lets call it a hypothesis - as you stated. And it is an accepted fact by all animal behavior biologists that I have ever known that canidae species - and a few others - roll in shit and carcasses to hide their smell from their prey. This is the most accepted hypothesis, many even do call it a theory, but now I have been made aware of a different plausible viewpoint, i.e., that they might be carrying the scent back, not as a "trophy," but to inform the pack that they have found a source of food. This would be in line with natural selection, but this does not explain why they would roll in shit.

    Sorry for being dumb and stupid myself, but much more sorry for calling you the same. Must've been too late at night.
  21. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

  22. valich Registered Senior Member

    The only thing we know for certain is that it is a shared primitive allelomimetic pack behavior in all Canidae species. Since bears also scent roll, we can assume that it was instinctive in Miacids (Carnivora order) during the Eocene epoch 60 million years ago. Wolves diverged from this lineage into the Caniformia suborder ("dog-like") and bears then diverged into the Ursidae family (Ursus means bear). Back then dog's (Canids) had predators, so the camouflage hypothesis would make a lot of sense. No dogs are indigenous to the Americas. Ancestral wolves first crossed over from the Bering Strait land-bridge sometime over about or around 20,000 years ago. This behavior could very well have been passed down since the Tertiary period and served as camouflage back then. Perhaps we should look at rolling in shit and rolling in carcasses as being two separate types of behavioral traits.
  23. valich Registered Senior Member

    If we consider rolling in shit and carcasses as two separate behaviors, then the "trophy" hypothesis has merit for rolling in carcasses while the "camouflage" hypothesis has merit for rolling in shit, but are wolves that intelligent to "instinctively" know the difference?

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