3 Reasons Dogs Roll in Stinky Stuff (And what you can do about it)

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

Boston terrier rolling in grass

Stinky stuff. Dead, stinky stuff.

When Winston, my first Boston terrier, was a puppy he LOVED to roll in stinky stuff, the stinkier the better, actually. It did not matter what it was, if it stunk-he was on it. He had a special tell-tale sign when he had found a nasty pile of something that must be rolled in.

He would go up on his tip toes and then drop his right shoulder into the stinky mess. He then proceeded to push himself through it to ensure that it a) got in his ear and b) smeared down the entire side of his body. Unfortunately, this behavior in short nosed dogs require them to get their face VERY close to what they are interested in and often stink gets on their face and lips as well.

My breaking point was the day Winston found a dead iguana. It had been dead for a few days exposed to the hot South Florida sun. As I rounded the corner, I saw him up on tip toes and I was too far away to stop it. He dropped that shoulder and spread the stinky, gelatinous, dead goo all the way from his head (yes, it got in his ear) to his hip. He was so pleased with himself, he could hardly stand it. My husband and I gagged from the smell as we took the hose to him in the front yard because I refused to bring him into the house.

Iguana in tree

Most dog owners have dealt with this phenomenon at one point or another. It is maddening to have to clean off the stinky stuff while your pup is looking at your like he just did the greatest thing on the planet. To say nothing that by human standards, rolling in stinky stuff is just plain gross.

Why exactly do dogs do this? What possible purpose could it serve?