Why Do Shih Tzus Roll in the Dirt?

Littleshih tzu puppy in a field of buttercups
YAYImages ID: 14858784

Have you ever seen your Shih Tzu run to a dirt spot in your yard or at the park and start rolling around in it getting themselves all dirty? This is fairly common behavior for Shih Tzus and other dogs as well. So the question is why do Shih Tzus roll in the dirt?

Why Do Shih Tzus Roll in the Dirt?

Rolling in dirt, or smelly things is completely natural behavior for Shih Tzus and all dogs actually.

This is normal behavior, so don’t think they are doing something odd.

But why do they do this?

There are a number of common reasons your Shih Tzu might be rolling in the dirt.

An image of a nice clock with good times
YAYImages ID: 1621864

1. They’re Having a Good Time

While it might sound crazy, there is a good chance they are just having fun.

When they are happy, they like to play, and this is a form of play for them.

Your Shih Tzu might feel the need to express their joy and this is how they do it.

You might find that your Shih Tzu is just excited.

If they love walks and get really excited when going on a walk, they might not be able to contain all of that excitement.

They have to get it out.

It’s like when you’re really excited about something you might dance or twirl around or bounce up and down.

For your Shih Tzu, they roll in the dirt.

2. They Have Skin Issues

Shih Tzus are prone to skin issues and skin irritation.

If they have dry skin or something else going on that makes their backs itch, they will roll in the dirt to scratch their backs.

Of course, they will do this in dry dirt and not in the mud.

If you are concerned that your Shih Tzu has skin or any other health issues, be sure to visit your vet.

The word hot written on the sand in desert
YAYImages ID: 31701162

3. They Are Hot

If you’re walking on a hot, sunny day, and you’re hot, there is a good chance your Shih Tzu is hot as well.

Rolling in dirt, and this time, wet dirt or mud is a way to cool themselves off.

If you are walking your dog on a hot day, be sure to take some water with you, so you can give your Shih Tzu a drink when needed.

They make cute little water bottles and small plastic, foldable water bowls that you can take with you, so your Shih Tzu doesn’t have to go too long without a drink of water.

It will make walking more enjoyable for your dog, and you don’t have to worry as much about them getting overheated.

Why do Shih Tzus Roll in Poop?

While rolling in the dirt might sound like a canine behavior that makes sense, what about when they roll in poop?

That’s just gross and doesn’t seem as if there would be any good reason for the behavior.

But, actually, this is actually normal for all breeds of dogs.

It is quite common although some vets say this can be obsessive behavior.

Your Shih Tzu will roll in poop for the same reasons they roll in dead things and other things that smell really bad.

Experts are not 100 percent sure why they do, but there are a variety of reasons that they feel make the most sense for this type of behavior, but they all start with the smell.

Why Do Shih Tzus Roll Around on Dead Things?

There are three main reasons dogs will roll in poop, on dead animals, or other really smelly things.

1. To Cover Up Their Own Scene

You’ll find that all of these behaviors go back into their genetic code.

It is what dogs have always done, and will always do.

One reason for the rolling in nasty stuff is to cover up their own scene.

In the wild, dogs and wolfs will roll in really strong smelling stuff to hide their own scent.

They might do this so predators won’t find them.

They will also do this so prey won’t smell them and run away.

It is a way for them to stay safe as well as make catching prey easier

2. They Want to All Smell Alike

Dogs are pack animals and will follow the lead of the head of the pack.

At times, the pack wants to all smell alike.

So, they will all roll in the same smell.

It is a signal that they belong to the pack.

They are a unit.

Does this mean your Shih Tzu wants you to roll in the same smelly, rotten carcass that they just rolled in?

Perhaps, but I wouldn’t advise following their lead.

The word information and students desk with tablet pc against green
YAYImages ID: 19551474

3. For Informational Purposes

Sometimes a dog will roll in a scent from a dead animal to bring back the sense to the pack.

This is a way to communicate what they have found.

It can be a way for the dog to help the pack find food.

The smell can also provide information about the environment around the pack.

While it is true that your Shih Tzu doesn’t need to provide you with smelly information, or hunt prey, these instincts are still inside of them, and always will be.

You might also enjoy:

Shih Tzu Energy Level – Couch Potato or Super Active?

Shih Tzu Barking – What Can You Do About It?

How to Keep Your Shih Tzu From Rolling in Mud or Other Nasty Things

Now that you understand why your Shih Tzu does what it does, is there any way to keep them from doing something that comes so naturally to them?

It can be difficult, but it is possible.

First off, be sure they aren’t out unsupervised.

Secondly, carry a treat or a favorite toy to distract them from dirt, mud, or something smelly.

Keeping them on a leash should help too.

Keep your eyes open for any nasty thing ahead so you can distract them with a treat or toy before they get to the object.

You might also enjoy:

The Shih Tzu Personality – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Are Shih Tzus Good With Kids?

To Sum it All Up:

Rolling in the dirt or on something that smells nasty is just part of being a dog. That doesn’t make it any more desirable, but dogs are going to dog. Try distracting them before they get to a dead carcass or mud puddle and keep them on a leash when you go outside. This should limit the times they can actually take advantage of their smelly find.




Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary or medical advice. Always check with your veterinarian or doctor if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu’s. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.

Adorable Shih Tzu dog look at the owner

Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic? (Not exactly)

shih tzu outside in a red harness

Should You Microchip Your Shih Tzu? (Yes!)