Your Puppy Will Feast on Your Dead Body
Does the thought of being eaten by your pets ever scare you? Dog owners may rejoice over the popular belief that cats will happily gnaw their owners’ dead bodies, while dogs will stay loyal and starve. Yet, that “common belief” about our trusted friends, dogs, changed in 1997 when a forensic examiner in Berlin reported an abnormal case: a German shepherd had eaten most of his owner’s face and neck by the time police arrived. More importantly, a half-full bowl of dog food was left untouched by the shepherd on the floor.
It is time to break the common myth that dogs are obedient and loyal. Descendants of wild wolves, dogs have been domesticated after centuries of interaction with humans. That said, some of their wild instincts have not changed.
Indeed, many cultures have long considered dogs unclean due to their tendency to feast on remains of the deceased. Proto-dogs survive by scavenging around human settlements, primarily through the consumption of food scraps and other human wastes.
A result of survival instincts, dogs will eat you when they are really hungry. A case published by ScienceDirect in 2007 exemplifies this hunger hypothesis. A middle-age woman had been eaten by her two dogs entirely, with only small bone fragments, a piece of her skull, and some hair left behind.
The dogs, after consuming the body of their owner, survived a whole month before their owner's corpse was discovered. Officers found that the dogs had only begun to eat her when they ran out of regular food.
In a 1997 case, a German Shepherd ate off half of its owner’s face while there was still plenty of dog food available. According to neighbors and friends, the owner and the dog had quite a good relationship. So if it was neither driven by hunger nor revenge, what could be a reasonable explanation?
The forensic examiner Markus Rothschild offered a new perspective. “One possible explanation for such behavior is that a pet will try to help an unconscious owner first by licking or nudging,” Rothschild explained, “but when this fails to produce any results the behavior of the animal can become more frantic and in a state of panic, can lead to biting.” And once dogs taste blood, it is only a matter of time before they go wild.
Most of us are not accustomed to seeing our pets as pure animals and attribute human characteristics to them, in turn neglecting that they are also animals driven by survival instinct. To end on a brighter note, if you are a dog owner, you are still better off than a hamster owner: this hamster built its new home out of its owner’s body, according to a 1995 study in Forensic Science International.