Among the many critters who inhabit planet Earth, some have made burrowing a way of life. You may be surprised, however, to find Scruffy, the burrowing dog, among his fellow moles, gophers and groundhogs. His motives for burrowing may be a tad bit different from these ground-dwelling animals known for excavating communities of tunnels and burrows to stay protected from fierce predators and extreme temperatures.
Burrowing in Dirt
Deriving from the Latin word "terra," meaning earth, terrier is also the French word for "burrow." With a name as such, you'd think that terrier dogs would make a living burrowing their way through all sorts of terrains. Indeed, many of these feisty earth dogs were selectively bred to "go to ground," taking care of deterring, chasing and killing a variety of ground-dwelling critters as small as rodents and as large as foxes. Turning these dynamo fellows loose in your yard may lead to the construction of underground tunnels or even an entire golf course in one day.
Burrowing in Blankets
The same dogs who love to burrow in the dirt may enjoy burrowing themselves in blankets. Common "burrito style" dogs who love to snuggle and burrow their way through blankets include many small terriers and dachshunds. While dachshunds are not categorized under the terrier group, they share a history as earth dogs, hunting badgers above and below ground. Superb “engineering” has created their funny-looking bodies specifically designed to burrow underground. Even their long, sturdy tail had a purpose: to allow a "handle" for the hunter to retrieve his burrowed dogs.
Burrowing in Snow
While many dogs mainly burrow to catch burrowing animals, some actually do share some similarities with the moles, gophers and groundhogs. A Siberian Husky may instinctively craft her own burrow by digging under the snow. Reminiscent of her past history as a working dog used in bitterly cold temperatures, she may have learned to burrow under the snow for the purpose of keeping herself warm and toasty while hiding from potential predators.
Other Burrowing Behaviors
Dogs don't need to belong to a specific breed or group to enjoy burrowing. Your average Scruffy may enjoy burrowing in blankets or small holes just because it reminds him of his past when his wild ancestors used to live in dens. Despite the many years of domestication, those denning instincts are literally coded into doggie DNA . Not convinced? Just watch a pregnant dog digging into your coach or in the carpet as she nears birth; her instincts tell her it's time to dig a den so to keep those pups warm and safely away from predators.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.