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August 2, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 4 Faves: 0

Why Do Dogs Bury Their Bones???

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Last night I gave my fur kids some healthy bone treats and, of course, Izzy had hers gone in 2 minutes. Romeo, on the other hand, is a "dainty" eater. He takes his time, stares at it, carries it, and tries to bury it!

While Romeo was pacing throughout the house for 45 minutes, looking for that perfect spot to hide his new treasure, Izzy followed him wherever he went. Of course, I, as their "mom", made sure Izzy didn't get an opportunity to steal it from Romeo (who would have swallowed it in one fell swoop). The whole time, Romeo would look out for Izzy and then try to see if he could find a special spot to hide his "treasure" from her.

Why Do Dogs Bury Their Bones?

Bone burying dates all the way back to before dogs were domesticated. Even now, their living ancestors still bury their food. But why?

It's pretty simple... they want to save it for a "rainy day." Wolves might not have a meal readily accessible to them for days, so they bury excess food in case of scarcity. Genetically, this trait still exists in our own domesticated dogs.

Do Dogs Ever Forget Where They Buried Their Bones?

Nope! If a domesticated dog is well fed and doesn't get hungry easily, their need to recover their "buried treasure" isn't high on the chart. Unfortunately, the treats or food we give our dogs will eventually decompose. So while they haven't forgotten, with their keen sense of smell, our dogs may avoid digging it up if the treat or food smells spoiled. For other, less picky dogs, even rotten-smelling food won't stop them from recovering their "treasure" and gulping it down.

How Can Dogs Find Their Buried Food?

Dogs olfactory cells (sense of smell) are 40 times greater than their pet-parents'. Let me put it this way... a human's is the size of a postage stamp, while a dog's can be as large as a handkerchief... isn't that amazing?! However, sense of smell can vary between breeds. For instance, the bloodhound boasts approximately 230 million olfactory cells (that is more then one handkerchief), and their strong desire to "sniff" out things makes them excellent trackers!

So, the next time your dog is burying their new-found "treasure", know that they are only doing what comes to them naturally to them; their genetic instincts are taking over.

As for the fate of Romeo's bone - I decided to take what was left of it and put it back in his cupboard for a "rainy day." Romeo slept soundly knowing his sister, Izzy, didn't get an opportunity to steal his treat.


ASPCA - Digging Behavior

Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading


  • cool article. I guess dogs dont live completely in the moment!

  • Thanks James, I agree, they do, but they don't, LOL!

  • Thanks for the article. My dog just dug up a ham bone that i gave her i don't know when and it got me curious! I don't even remember giving it to her but yet she remembers exactly where she buried it! I even had to move a few buckets so she could get to it! Very informative article, thanks again!

  • Thanks Barb! That is so funny about her bone! Too cute!

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