Why do dogs roll in smelly stuff?


Nooooooo, you have just recognised the shoulder lean, the butt in the air … and you know that, no matter what you say, scream or yell, your dog has just found something fun and probably stinky to roll in. It’s making your eyes water already, so how can dogs, with their superior sense of smell, even stand it?


Dog behaviourist Stanley Coren, PhD, tried to learn why dogs roll in smelly stuff.  He found that dogs usually choose to roll in are organic, whether it’s the remains of a dead animal or poop. After going through many unrealistic theories Coren came to a couple of different conclusions. One is the idea that it’s an evolutionary throwback to when they lived in packs and hunted. By rolling in something stinky they could mask their own scent, which may allow the hunting pack of dogs to get closer to their prey before they’re detected.


Coren also believed it could also be something else, too, and you can think of it in human terms. For us, sight is predominantly our primary way of receiving sensory input and information. When we see something particularly powerful, we’re moved by it. It’s the same thing for dogs, only their sense of smell is their most powerful input. The stronger the smell, the happier they are. So basically, your worst fears are true: Your dog really might be rolling in dead things just because he likes that stinky smell and often straight after a bath where you believe he smells wonderfully.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. tippysmom2 says:

    I always thought it was the first idea – to mask their scent in order to be able to sneak up on prey. To think that they actually enjoy the smell is, well, different. I’m just glad that Tippy doesn’t roll in cow poop or it would be an everyday thing around here. She’s more inclined to the dead animal roll. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. furevermates says:

      Gotta love them, sometimes mine are incredibly smelly and I’m really not sure just what they have rolled in but it sure is smelly LOL

      Liked by 1 person

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