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5 Smelly Reasons Why German Shepherds Roll On Dead Animals

5 Smelly Reasons Why German Shepherds Roll On Dead Animals

Today, we’re about to embark on a hilarious and hair-raising adventure into the bizarre world of German Shepherds and their inexplicable obsession with rolling on dead animals. 

Yes, you heard me right — these majestic furballs have a peculiar taste for the scent of the dearly departed, and it’s about to get downright wacky! 

So, hold onto your noses, because we’re about to uncover the five smelly reasons why German Shepherds roll on dead animals! 

#1 Aromatherapy Gone Wrong

dog rolling on its back in the grass

German Shepherds’ love for all things aromatic is quite fascinating. With keen senses, these curious pups often embark on daring olfactory adventures. And it’s safe to say that they frequently stumble upon a fascinating discovery – dead animals! 

Of course, they immediately roll on them. Perhaps it is due to their canine wisdom, that GSDs believe the scent of these lifeless creatures hold hidden secrets of relaxation and bliss. 

But, this quest for aromatic enlightenment often takes an unexpected, rather stinky turn. 

The next thing you know, your German Shepherd absorbs the pungent aroma that leaves everyone around him gasping for fresh air. Now, that’s what we call aromatherapy gone wrong! 

#2 Instinctive German Shepherd Behavior

german shepherd playing in the green grass on his back

Beneath those perked-up ears and keen eyes, lies an instinctual nature that adds a touch of intrigue to our beloved German Shepherds. 

These majestic canines carry within them the echoes of their wolf ancestors, with behaviors that have been passed down through countless generations (1). 

You see, as they roll in carrion or animal droppings, GSDs do something extraordinary. They cleverly mask their own scent, becoming almost invisible to the sharp noses of both prey animals and predators.

Of course, engaging in such behavior is more commonly associated with wild dogs (2). 

However, our beloved German Shepherds have undeniably inherited and embraced this fascinating trait! 

#3 Mysterious GSD Rituals

dog laying on it's back in the grass

It seems that our lovely German Shepherds have an unshakeable faith in the rituals passed down through generations of their wise and crafty canine ancestors. 

And among these ceremonies is the legendary act of rolling on dead animals — a practice that is said to bestow upon them a whole bundle of extraordinary powers. What kind of powers, you ask? Well, the ability to catch squirrels with eyes closed, duhh! 

While others may wrinkle their noses in confusion or disbelief, you, as a devoted German Shepherd owner, understand that this aromatic aura is simply part of the package. 

But, maybe you will want to invest in a gas mask, just in case! 

#4 German Shepherds Like The Smell Of Dead Animals

 german shepherd puppy lying on the grass

Rolling on dead animals is one of those weird German Shepherd behaviors that can leave us perplexed, but it’s essential to understand that they’re not doing it to gross us out. 

In fact, it’s quite the opposite — they find the smell fascinating, intriguing, and even comforting in their own canine way.

Our goofy GSDs seem to find joy in the simplest of things, whether it’s a game of fetch, a long walk in nature, or, yes, even indulging in the scent of the dearly departed creatures! 

#5 It’s Simply Social Behavior

german shepherd dog having fun and rolling in the grass

As expertly described by the brilliant minds of Horowitz and Allen et al., scent-rubbing serves multiple purposes that tickle the imagination. 

This enchanting behavior often comes into play when individuals decide to switch groups, seeking new adventures and fresh company (3). 

They often indulge in the act of scent-rubbing with the feces of the alpha male. 

But sometimes, they roll themselves on dead animals if they see other group members doing the same! 

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up our wild and hilarious expedition into the world of German Shepherds and their fascination with rolling on dead animals, let’s take a moment to appreciate the love and entertainment they bring into our lives.

You see, being a GSD owner means appreciating every aspect of your furry companion, even if it involves a touch of eau de carrion! 


1. Vonholdt, Bridgett & Driscoll, Carlos. (2016). Origins of the dog: Genetic insights into dog domestication. 10.1017/9781139161800.003. 

2. Ryon, Jenny & Fentress, John & Harrington, Fred & Bragdon, Susan. (2011). Scent rubbing in wolves (Canis lupus): the effect of novelty. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 64. 573-577. 10.1139/z86-084. 

3. Kokocińska-Kusiak, A., Woszczyło, M., Zybala, M., Maciocha, J., Barłowska, K., & Dzięcioł, M. (2021, August 21). Canine olfaction: Physiology, behavior, and possibilities for practical applications. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI.