Skulls of dogs found in the woods

I’m just curious when it comes to observations posted of dog skulls and bones found in the woods. Does anyone know how the bones of dogs and other domestic animals end up in the woods?

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Carrried off by carnivores. Sometimes people do not properly bury their deceased pets, which get dug up and carried off. Some may have been preyed upon. Some may be coyotes, not dogs.


unfortunately pets are often abandoned or dead pets dumped in the woods. Also, coyotes are often killed and dumped in the woods, at least in my area.


Sometimes dogs get hit by cars and run off into the woods to die.


Depending on where you are, sometimes there are groups of “wild” dogs, too. I don’t know of any around where I live, excluding Moab, but I do know of some in Texas. I’m sure lots of other places have packs, probably some that people don’t even know about. Of course, “wild” is probably just a result of abandoned, but the ones I’m thinking of in Texas survived on their own for years.

I have farmer family down there and they ended up “apprehending” one of the nicer ones after he was terrorizing their chickens. He got along great with the farm dogs and is a house dog now. His name is Abe. He’s a really, really disgustingly sweet dog. Pibble. House-hippo. There’s still 5 or 6 other dogs that he was pal-ing around with that go about their business together, mainly in the woods. This is obviously a very specific instance and probably in the vast minority of possibilities for why dog bones would be in the woods but it was the first thing that came to mind. And is probably possible in a lot of other places than Texas.


There are certainly wild dogs and packs thereof, but I think they originate from farm dogs and others that gradually transition to wildness, plus offspring of such dogs. Abandoned dogs just die (except the rare ones lucky enough to be adopted).

I write that because for a long time I lived in Iowa far enough outside an urban area that it seemed kind of like wilderness to the city people who wanted to get rid of their dogs. What really happens to abandoned dogs? They don’t live happily, eating rabbits and squirrels, because farm dogs and coyotes are already eating such prey. And anyway, the abandoned dogs expect the people are the source of food. So the dogs wait for their people to return or else visit a nearby farm house. At the farm house, the farmer or his dogs run the new one off. The abandoned dog goes to the next house. Gets run off again. A few abandoned dogs get adopted, but most farmers already have as many dogs as they want. Also, some dogs aren’t suitable for adoption. The more they get chased along, the less suitable they become, scared and likely to bite.

My husband and his father knew the dynamic of abandoned dogs, so whenever one showed up, they were placed in a bind. What to do with ones we didn’t keep? If we hazed them onward, we were just contributing to the problem and mistreating the dogs somewhat like the original owners had. But if not that, what? My husband or his father would get a piece of meat and take the dog out into some brush. As the dog gulped the meat, my relative would shoot it. My relatives hated to do this, but hated worse to chase the dog away to an increasingly painful fate.

The relatives were happy when I decided to take abandoned dogs to the humane society, but that wasn’t simple. No humane society in my county. In the next county, they’d accept out-of-county dogs but immediately kill them because they were overwhelmed. In the nearest city, they wouldn’t accept dogs from out of town. The humane society in the next city, almost 50 miles away, accepted the dogs, but perhaps only because if asked I lied about where they came from.

Bottom line: Do not ever abandon a dog. It will have a short, unhappy life if you do. If you need to get rid of your dog, give it away, take it to a humane society, or have it put down. These things are painful to you and not necessarily happy for your dog, but abandoning it is much more cruel.


Dog live and they die, there’re tons of homeless dogs living alone or in packs, sometimes a pet gets lost and dies, but most bones comes from non-pet dogs. Homeless dogs easily breed and live without direct human help, e.g. they’re known to kill deer, but usually they’re human-friendly and find food around human settlements.

Wild dogs can be common in some areas. In my part of rural Iowa, they were not. (Some farm dogs explored or hunted away from their home farmhouse.) Coyotes were present, though.

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Well, it doesn’t change what I said, cause it’s true for my experience. I’ve observed enough dogs on iNat, but have seen much more in my life, including skeletons in the woods or just dead ones, though for most I have no photos saved.


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In the Islands, I can’t always tell the wild dogs from the freerange dogs, unless the dog is actually accompanying a human or showing signs of living with one. There are also people who will indiscriminately poison whatever dogs come around.

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