Why Do Dogs Bury? (with video)

A video of a dog in the Middle East burying a puppy recently went viral. News media everywhere were posting this video with titles similar to The Huffington Post: “Dog Buries Dead Puppy In Astounding Act Of Mourning”. The video was seen as a sign of compassion, the dog was mourning the puppy, with no evidence if this was a puppy he had ever known.

But, I read in Dogster only a few days later that news writers were now changing their minds. N.Y. animal behaviorist Peter Borchelt saw the video and debated all of the news interpretations of it as being a sign of love and compassion. MSN.com quoted Borchelt, “It’s likely the dog was burying the pup out of the same instinct any dog buries bones. I suspect it was more likely caching dead meat, rather than a soulful response.”

We have all seen evidence of dogs mourning their people.  And it is not uncommon for a dog to mourn the loss of a 4-legged family member. But, what do you think is going on in this video? Was the dog acting out of compassion or preparing for his next meal? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a comment and answering our poll below.

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192 comments

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

I believe this dog felt sad for the puppy and buried it because it was the right thing to do!
Rest in peace little puppy!!

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan2 years ago

Dale O. thank you for your direction, I was cried when I watched the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaUdTBxi0co. Dogs are amazing.....

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Val M.
Val M.2 years ago

Interesting

Patricia H.
Patricia H.2 years ago

interesting

Cynthia B.
cynthia AWAY b.2 years ago

Well, the title is misleading and I can't view the video. Dogs usually bury things that smell. I have seen dogs,birds and horses mourn the loss of family and companions. Elephants are known to mourn. Animals also kill off the weak so the other can survive. Who knows without more follow up what was goin on.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Lisa, for Sharing this!

federico bortoletto

Interessante.

Dianne Cunningham

However, the following day, the Mom broke through a screen window with the baby in her mouth, jumped to the ground, dug a hole in the dirt, placed the kitten inside and then buried her with the earth. We found her, dug her out and she is a thriving member of our family today! However, the vet told us that this is normal animal behaviour. Apparently the mother cat simply thought that this kitten was not capable of surviving. To her, while feeling no malice, which is why she first licked her all over in a gesture of a loving goodbye, believed it was an act that just needed to happen; she was not going to waste her valuable resources such as milk and motherly care, on something which was not going to live. Tough to fathom, but true. However, why she specifically felt that 'flushing' or burying the kitten was necessary, rather than just abandoning her, is still a mystery today.

Dianne Cunningham

While animals, dogs included, certainly do bury carcasses in order to eat them later, this doesn't seem to be the case here. If a dog is burying for a later meal, it would dig into the ground, pick up the carcass and place it in; but not before standing guard over the body and looking around to ensure no one else saw where he placed it. He would then continue to cover it up while standing over it from time to time, to ensure all understood it is HIS 'booty' and constantly checking for interlopers. This dog does look around occasionally, but not in a possessive or dominant way.
Animals do bury the dead for a number of reasons, one of which is to prevent the attraction of predators. Since it's instinctual behaviour, the dog doesn't understand that is why he/she is doing the burying, so it doesn't have to 'make sense'.
Many years ago, we had a cat who, after giving birth to healthy kittens, adopted a younger, stray kitten who, it turned out, was sickly. As her kittens grew and thrived, the foster kitten, despite veterinary care, didn't flourish like the others. One day, to our shock, we saw the Mom holding the sickly kitten by the throat as if it was dead. She then took it to the bathroom, lovingly washed it all over, and then attempted to dump it off in the toilet! We rescued her, but were totally stunned by what we'd seen. Everything seemed fine the next day so we thought all was okay. However, the following day, the Mom broke through a screen window with the baby in her m