Why Do Golden Retrievers Eat Poop?

Quick Answer

Golden Retrievers might eat poop out of boredom, curiosity, instinct, or even due to a medical issue such as a lack of nutrients in their day to day food.

why do golden retrievers eat poop? a golden retriever outdoors in the snow

Golden Retrievers are beautiful and friendly dogs, and they make wonderful companions. They quickly become members of the family, and we love them dearly. However, there’s one behavior that leaves most of us scratching our heads: eating poop. Yes, it’s disgusting and disturbing, but why do Golden Retrievers do it? In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the reasons why Luna, my female Golden Retriever, eats poop and what we can do about it.

Eating Poop: A Gross Behavior

Coprophagia is the scientific term for the act of eating poop. The behavior is common in many dog breeds, and Golden Retrievers are no exception. When I first saw our golden Luna dig into a pile of poop I didn’t notice on a walk, I was shocked and repulsed. Why in the world would she do that? So, I decided to do some research.

Reasons for Eating Poop

1. Medical Issues

The first thing you should do if your Golden Retriever starts eating poop is to take her to the vet. Eating poop can be an indication that your dog has an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed. For example, if your dog is not getting enough nutrients from her food, she will seek other sources of nourishment. This may cause her to eat poop. Similarly, if your dog has an infection or a digestive disorder, she may eat poop to try to alleviate her symptoms.

2. Behavioral Issues

Eating poop can also be a behavioral issue. If your dog is bored or anxious, she may eat poop as a way of self-soothing. Similarly, if your dog is not properly trained, she may eat poop simply out of curiosity or because she has not been taught not to.

3. Instinctual Behavior

Finally, eating poop can be an instinctual behavior. In the wild, it’s hypothesized that our dogs’ ancestors may have occasionally eaten poop to keep their dens clean and to hide their scent from predators. While domesticated dogs do not have to worry about predators, some may still have this instinct to eat poop ingrained in their DNA.

Tips for Dealing with Coprophagia

If your Golden Retriever is eating poop, you should address the issue as soon as possible. The behavior can be harmful to your dog’s health, and it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Here are some tips for dealing with coprophagia:

1. Take Your Dog to the Vet

As mentioned earlier, if your dog starts eating poop, you should take her to the vet. Your vet can perform a physical examination and run some tests to determine if there is an underlying medical condition causing your dog to eat poop.

2. Modify Your Dog’s Diet

Ensuring that your Golden Retriever is getting a balanced and nutritious diet is important not just to address coprophagia, but for her overall health. A balanced diet ensures that your dog is getting all the necessary nutrients, and this reduces the likelihood of her seeking out alternative sources of nourishment.

3. Keep Your Dog’s Environment Clean

Cleaning up after your dog can be a hassle, but it’s an essential part of being a responsible dog owner. Keeping your dog’s environment clean – both inside and outside the house – can reduce the likelihood of her eating her own poop or that of other animals.

4. Provide Your Dog with Mental Stimulation

Boredom and anxiety are common causes of coprophagia. Providing your Golden Retriever with mental stimulation can help reduce her anxiety and boredom, and this can reduce the likelihood of her eating poop. Some good ways to provide mental stimulation include interactive toys and puzzles, obedience training, and walks in new environments.


In conclusion, eating is a disturbing behavior that most Golden Retriever owners have to deal with at some point. Fortunately, it’s a behavior that can be addressed through a combination of identifying the cause and taking steps to modify the behavior. By providing your Golden Retriever with a nutritious diet, a clean environment, and mental stimulation, you can reduce her likelihood of eating poop and ensure that she stays healthy and happy.


Is eating poop harmful to my Golden Retriever’s health?

While it likely won’t cause a serious problem, eating poop can be harmful to your dog’s health. It can cause infections and digestive issues. If the poop had something bad in it to begin with, that’s now in your dog’s stomach as well.

How can I train my Golden Retriever not to eat poop?

Training your dog not to eat poop is possible. The first step is to identify the reason why she is doing it. Once you’ve identified the cause, you can work towards modify that behavior by misdirecting your dog’s attention, working on a command like “leave it,” and general positive reinforcement for ignoring things like poop while outside.

Is coprophagia a sign of a behavioral issue?

Coprophagia can be a sign of a behavioral issue, a medical issue, or an instinctual behavior.

Related Reading

roger stanley site owner and primary author
Meet The Author Roger Stanley

Co-owner of goldenretrievergoods.com. 15 years of experience living life with Golden Retrievers and 15 years of experience spending way too much money on them – I believe life’s not worth living without a Golden involved!

We want to remind our readers that the articles or content found on goldenretrievergoods.com do not constitute nor replace professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided on our website is purely educational and informational, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed veterinarian.