Why Do Dogs Rub on Dead Animals?

"Yes, I'm happily sporting the smell of rancid fish."
"Yes, I'm happily sporting the smell of rancid fish." (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Dogs are undeniably adorable, that much is hard to deny. Although they're cute and companionable, their behavior often is baffling to even the most devoted of canine aficionados. Their penchant for rolling their bodies around in dead animals might seem random, but actually serves a handful of different purposes, including patting themselves on the back.

Concealing Their Personal Smell

Dogs might like to rub their furry bodies over the carcasses of animals as a means of carefully concealing their individual odors. They often opt to roll over the bodies of animals who strictly eat plants, rather than those of carnivores or omnivores. This behavior is a relic from their wild relatives -- wolves. If a dog's body smells strongly of the rotting matter of a totally different creature, he can stay under the radar and stealthily go after prey animals without their suspecting his presence.

Informing the Pack

Dogs naturally are social animals who live in pack units. If a dog happens to encounter the foul remains of another animal, he might enthusiastically rub his body all over it as a way of proudly notifying all the other individuals in his pack. By smelling strongly of animals remains, the pooch is basically relaying the admirable, grand news event of his day, and possibly even gaining the esteem and respect of the others in his social circle -- perhaps the other dogs who live in his household.

Pure Enjoyment

Sniffing is a classic canine behavior, and most people who have spent any time around the furry guys are aware of this. If a dog rolls his body around in icky animal remnants, he might just be reveling in the fun -- and super strong smells -- of it all. While the behavior might seem like a cringe-inducing yuck fest to you, the dog, on the other hand, is having the odoriferous time of his life.

Other Foul Smells

Canines are drawn to dead animals, but their appreciation of odors goes well beyond this stuff. If a stench is strong enough, a dog might love it enough to roll around in it, period. Other things that dogs frequently roll around in are trash and the stool matter of other animals. If you observe your pooch rolling around in any of these things, don't be shocked. He's just being a dog and carrying out his typical instincts. Even if a dog leads a comfy domesticated life, he can retain all the patterns of his wild kin. All you have to do as an owner is be there to give your pet a much-needed bath. Once you do, you can just hope that he waits awhile before he rolls around in another smelly mess.

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