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Which Dogs Are Likeliest To Eat Poop?

A study conducted by researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands tracked 517 dogs that were classified as having behavioral problems by their owners. The purpose of the study was to identify the risk factors for coprophagic behavior. The researchers (Joanne A.M. van der Borg and Lisette Graat) developed a list of 15 possible factors to test including:

  • Age (under 1 year old vs over)
  • Breed (retriever vs non-retriever
  • Gender (male vs female)
  • Sterilization (fixed vs not)
  • Style of Eating (normal vs greedy)
  • Weight (normal to overweight vs underweight)
  • Meals Per Day (1 vs 2 or more)
  • Chasing (chases tail/shadows vs none or other)
  • Pica (yes or no)
  • Number of Owners (1 vs 2 or more in lifetime)
  • Walks (1 per day vs 2 or more)
  • Play (regular vs non-regular)
  • Training (regular vs non-regular)
  • Dogs in Household (1 vs 2 or more)
  • Mothering (mother with nest for 7 weeks or not/unknown)

Of the dogs with behavior problems that they studied, 231 on them engaged in some type of coprophagy. Female dogs were slightly more likely to eat poop than males, but the statistically significant risk factors were these:

  • Sterilization (fixed dogs are more likely to eat poop)
  • Style of Eating (greedy dogs are much more likely to eat poop)
  • Breed (retrievers eat more poop than non-retrievers)
  • Chasing (dogs that chase their tails or shadows are also very likely to be poop eaters)
  • Mothering (dogs who were not mothered until 7 weeks are quite likely to eat poop)
  • Number of Owners (dogs that had one or more owners were more likely to eat poop)

Out of all 15 factors, these are the only ones that were shown to be statistically significant.

All in all, a fascinating study.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Pacdog

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