Would Your Dog Eat You if Starving? (We Ask the Experts)

Picture of a starving dog

Dogs have been domesticated and cared for by humankind for thousands of years when men no longer had to compete with wolves for food, and instead, they shared the excess meat they had with canines during the Ice Age, which eventually became their pets. Not only are dogs great hunters, but they’re also loyal companions that will stick with you in both good and bad times. However, are you truly safe around your dog, and would it ever eat you?

Your dog won’t randomly attack, kill, and eat you if starving. Dogs are good and loyal to their masters unless they’re physically, emotionally, and mentally abused. While you aren’t always safe around stray dogs or dogs that don’t belong to you, your dog will less likely harm you, let alone eat you.

While it’s true that dogs are descendants of wolves and they don’t entirely lose their canine qualities, domesticated pet dogs are not wild animals, and generally, humans are safe around them. However, there are exceptions, which we will discuss in this article.

Dogs Are Man’s Best Friends

Humans and canines have gone a long way, and their partnership is believed to have started when humans had more meat than they could eat during the Ice Age period. Genetic evidence suggests that dogs split from their wolf ancestors around 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. Researchers found the oldest dog burial, dating from 14,200 years ago, suggesting that perhaps humans had already kept dogs as pets at the time.

Humans and dogs found their common ground through hunting. Based on new findings in Jordan, dogs have been helping humans to hunt for nearly 12,000 years. Several countries in Europe today have banned the use of dogs in hunting.

Hounds As Hunters

Indeed, dogs are genetically related to wolves. However, most domesticated dogs we have today are very different from wolves. Yet, dogs genetically closer to wolves are not as affectionate to people as other domestic dogs.

Four dogs closest to their wolf ancestors:

  • Shiba Inu
  • Chow chow
  • Alaskan malamute
  • Akita

All of the dogs above were used as hunting dogs. Even though other dog breeds are not as similar to wolves as these dogs are, they are also great hunters. For example, hounds like the bloodhound, dachshund, Afghan hound, basset hound, and borzoi are some of the best and most popular hounds hunters take with them during hunting.

In the Compiègne Forest in France, hounds are used for hunting red deer. The dogs would chase the deer, exhaust it, and capture it. Several dozen people accompany the hounds by foot, on bicycles, in cars, or most commonly, on horseback.

In this practice, hunters aren’t allowed to use modern technologies so that the hunt will be as natural as possible. Once the animal is surrounded, one of the pack’s members kills it using a dagger and collects the deer’s best parts while the dogs eat the rest of the deer’s remains. The ritual is called “la curée.”

This practice shows that the human-canine hunting partnership continues to exist up to this day. Many people are not happy with the practice as it is considered barbaric and is considered animal cruelty. Hunters, on the other hand, say that the tradition is ethical, natural, and ecological.

Dogs That Stick Around

We’ve just discussed how dogs and humans work together, but their relationship is not limited to hunting. Dogs are very loyal companions, and having them around is lovely. They make good guardians not only for their owners but the people they serve.

Take a look at service dogs. Service dogs have been used in the police force, even in homes for the old or disabled. The dogs are trained to assist the people they serve, from catching criminals to helping the visually impaired safely walk.

Many dogs are loving. In the past, there were cases of dogs dying from depression when their owners died. One of the most touching stories about dog loyalty is the story of Hachikō, a Japanese Akita dog that waited for his owner for nine years, Hidesaburō Ueno, following Ueno’s death.

Dogs That Kill and Eat Their Owners

Stories like Hachikō’s and its owner inspire many, but not all human-canine relationships end in a happy ending. In Indonesia, a man was eaten by his dogs after returning to his house from holiday after two weeks. The man’s dogs were left starving with no food or water for two weeks.

You might wonder what happened to the dogs that killed and ate their Indonesian owner. Chances are the dogs had been put down in fear that they would attack other people again after having tasted human flesh. The pit bull dogs who mauled their Virginia owner to death and eating her rib cage after being neglected were euthanized.

According to a certified master dog trainer, Valerie Paul, the pit bull dogs must have experienced a “huge” lifestyle change that caused them to maul their owner. According to the report, the pit bull dogs were neglected and left living out “in the cold.” It is a dangerous thing to do to abuse or leave dogs feeling hungry and neglected.

Based on these two stories, it is clear that the dogs were stressed out and unhappy. In the first story involving the murder of the Indonesian man, the dogs did what they had to do to survive, and they’re probably emotionally and mentally unstable — yes, animals can suffer from mental illness, too.

Dogs That Eat Their Deceased Owners

Just because you never abuse your dog doesn’t mean it will never eat you. Some dogs have been known to consume their deceased owners out of starvation. In cases like this, the dogs only eat their owners as an act of survival.

A couple was found dead on a rural property near Springside, and their surviving mixed breeds consumed their remains. The dogs did not kill their owners. They had to eat their deceased owners for more than a week to survive.

Even dogs that did not kill could face the risk of being euthanized. It is not the dogs’ fault that they needed to eat their deceased owners to survive. However, in 1997, a German Shepherd ate parts of its owner soon after death.

Survival or not, dogs have been known in forensic journals as scavengers. Whether dogs are hungry or not, they would mutilate a dead body whenever the opportunity presents itself. Some dogs would eat a dead body even if there is food around.

It’s not that dogs that eat their deceased owners (even if they’re not hungry) are bad. Perhaps when dogs see their owners become unconscious, they try to help them by first nudging or licking, but when the dogs’ owners don’t respond, they panic, leading to biting. Biting could easily lead to eating, not necessarily because the dogs want to eat, but because they get stimulated when they taste blood.

It is unfair to blame dogs for eating the deceased, especially when they are hungry and have no food access. The dogs are only doing what it takes to survive. Humans have been known to survive on human flesh to survive in harsh situations, making us no different from other living beings that eat to survive.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are man’s best friends. Your dog won’t kill and eat you without any reason. Any hungry dog, however, can be dangerous, especially after being left isolated and neglected.

Dogs have been known to eat deceased owners, with some doing it out of survival and some doing it for the sake of scavenging. That said, there is no guarantee that your dog won’t eat your dead body. Dogs that have tasted human flesh are often asked to be euthanized.

Sources

Andrew

My name is Andrew and I've been around dogs my entire life. On my profile picture, you can see me as a little kid with my family's two German Shepherds. That's how my life with dogs started and since then I've been both living and working with dogs.

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