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Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop?

Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop?

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Dogs’ sense of smell is at least a thousand times more sensitive than our own. When it comes to the nose and the sense of smell, canines are at the very top of the animal kingdom. Therefore, it is baffling how dogs, with such a sensitive sense of smell, love to roll and cover themselves in poop?

Even humans, with our “weak” sense of smell, know how unbearable that foul musky stench really is. 

Canines rely on their refined sense of smell when hunting, searching for prey. One would think that rolling in poop is counterproductive for them as it will diminish their ability to smell and track their prey, but that is not the case.

But, what could be the reason for this strange canine behavior?

Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop?

There are a couple of theories about why dogs roll in the poop. We will present the most popular ones.

Using Odor As A Camouflage

One theory suggests that dogs roll in poop because it’s an instinctual behavior they have inherited from wolves. Wolves will often roll in the poop of other animals to cover their scent when hunting. Therefore, the theory suggests your dog behavior is simply an evolutionary leftover from the distant ancestors.

Roll In Poop To Hide From Other Carnivores

However, one study in the 1980s has shown that wolves prefer to roll in the poop of larger carnivores, like black bears or cougars, rather than the poop of herbivores, like sheep or deers. Therefore, there is a possibility that wolves roll in the poop of larger predators to hide their scent. Of course, most domesticated dogs don’t need to worry they will be eaten by a cougar or a bear. However, this instinctual behavior is still there. 

Marking The Territory

Dogs are pack animals, and like all pack animals, they have an urge to mark their territory. A dog will mark territory by peeing or pooping in strategic places. The purpose of this marking is to let other dogs know that the certain territory is already taken and that further incursions will be met with aggression. However, pack animals, like wolves, constantly fight over territory with other wolves. When a wolf finds a poop of a wolf from another pack, he may roll in it to override that scent and claim the territory as its own. This is another theory that attributes dogs’ rolling-in-poop behavior to their ancestors – wolves.


Sometimes dogs, especially more intelligent ones, will get bored and engage in a myriad of strange or destructive behaviors. Dogs may roll in poop simply because they are not getting enough mental stimulants or attention from their owners.


No one can say with certainty why dogs roll in poop. However, there are some theories that attribute this behavior of our furry friends to their ancestors – wolves. It seems like wolves hid their scent when hunting or trying to hide from larger predators. Domesticated dogs don’t have these problems nowadays, but they still exhibit this behavior.

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