But here’s the thing: eaters weren’t vastly different from non-eaters. In Hart and colleagues’ survey, some young dogs ate stool, some didn’t, some old did, and some didn’t. Coprophagy wasn’t associated with dog age, sex, neuter status, age of separation from the mother, ease of house training, or numerous owner-described problem behaviors.
Eaters and non-eaters also didn’t differ in diet, which is notable as diet can be linked to coprophagy. It’s also possible survey questions alone wouldn’t pick up the nuances needed to explore a relationship between diet and coprophagy. And while Hart and colleagues’ study didn’t identify a relationship between coprophagy and compulsive or anxiety behaviors, an earlier 2010 study by Broox Boze in the Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior did. Also in that study, neutered males were more likely to eat poop than intact males, a finding that didn’t appear in Hart and colleagues’ survey. Maybe these differences can be attributed to differences between the two studies, such as the studies using different definitions of what constitutes a coprophagic dog. But the bigger point is: if it’s feeling a bit murky about who eats poop, it’s probably because it is murky. Looking at a dog, even with the above information, it would be difficult to correctly guess whether he or she eats poop.