The Mysterious Bridge Where Dogs Committed Suicide

“Oh no! the miserablest day we live / There’s many a better thing to do than die!” —George Darley, Ethelstan

In A Nutshell

You may have heard of a bridge in Scotland where dogs supposedly inexplicably jump to their deaths, committing suicide over the years and leading to speculation of supernatural explanations. However, the actual number of dogs falling off the bridge is greatly exaggerated and scientists have explained that dogs are attracted to a strong scent of mink that have nested under the bridge.

The Whole Bushel

There is a quaint, beautiful stone bridge in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland that is said to be a place where supernatural things happen. Namely, reports say that dogs suddenly and inexplicably jump to their demise at the exact same spot on this bridge and have been doing so for several decades. The claim is that over this period of time, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 dogs have decided to shuffle off this mortal coil with the help of the bridge. These dogs jump off the bridge, and while many don’t die immediately due to it not being a particularly tall drop, some have had to be euthanized afterward because of their injuries. Speculation has been rife and many people want to cling to supernatural explanations, largely because it makes for a much more interesting story.

But it turns out there really isn’t anything particularly strange about the bridge. A specialist in animal behavior decided to test the bridge phenomenon with his own eyes to see what in the world was going on. He got hold of one of the dogs who had actually survived the malignant walkway and had him explore the bridge.

The specialist saw that the animal seemed intrigued by the particular section everyone talks about in the stories, so he investigated the lower part of the bridge near that spot more thoroughly. Several animal nests were found, including mink. After testing, the scientists found that dogs really, really liked the mink scent—a lot. So, it turns out that the dogs just really wanted to get after those mink, and their little doggy brains didn’t realize what kind of drop they were dealing with. It should also be noted that the same specialist explained that it is impossible for a dog to commit suicide, as it cannot premeditate its actions in such a manner.

Also, the reports of the amount of deaths are likely greatly exaggerated. After one skeptic decided to further research the story (because it sounded like an urban legend to him), the whole thing started to unravel. Several different newspapers started reporting versions of the story a while back, but none of them could agree on how many dogs actually died. The numbers ranged anywhere from 5 to 50 and no one had any evidence to back up a single one of their claims. The moral of this story is that dogs really like the smell of mink and probably can’t commit suicide.

Show Me The Proof

Dangerous Minds: The Mystery of the Dog Suicide Bridge
Skeptoid: The Suicide Dogs of Overtoun Bridge

  • lbatfish

    At least the dogs weren’t pushed off in order to make a Disney documentary, like they did with the lemmings. http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp

    • Hillyard

      I remember watching that film in school and having it preached to us as absolute fact. I guess that the reputation of the Disney company and the fact that it had the label ‘documentary’ attached to it fooled a lot of people.

  • inconspicuous detective

    STOP. regardless of the truth or fiction behind the suicide dogs, i have a great deal of hesitancy over this explanation. the reason: i have yet to find a dog with a low enough survival instinct to leap off a bridge that would kill it in order to get to an animal it smells.

    allow me to clarify a bit: dogs have a sense of smell 10,000 better than a humans. incredible, i know. more importantly, this lets them track the smell down to the epicenter: which in and of itself is likely a reason to assume they simply would not launch off a bridge to reach the minks at the “low” end, thereby injuring or killing themselves.

    the other issue is if you notice, even in animals that supposedly don’t feel pain (another knowledge nut would have one believe arthropods, particularly insects, lobsters, and crabs, don’t feel pain as humans do. i’m using that to my advantage now) WILL fight their damnedest to survive otherwise injurious or fatal circumstances — keep in mind there’s virtually no reason to, and these creatures are not as intelligent as a dog, yet even they display clear will to live.

    in light of the fact that a dog will simply not go batshit insane over a smell in an area and can track it down, AND due to the high survival instinct of most (if not all) living things, i have reason to doubt (highly) that “minks” were the cause.

    note: this does NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT stand as support or endorsement of the paranormal as THE cause of the dogs jumping. it merely stands to challenge the position in the article, and nothing further.

    • Valdez

      Hmmm… Don’t know about that ic. From all the dogs I’ve owned and seen, seems to me they are pretty variable in their natures, intelligence levels and survival instincts. All depends on what they see as a threat.

      My current dog is such a wuss she won’t get down from my back verandah. I had my sister’s older dog for a while and she hurtled straight over the edge without really looking and stumbled down the walkway, rolling around as she hit the bottom.

      I would believe that there is a small subset of dogs that may be interested enough in the mink smell and heedless enough to go over the bridge. Not the normal, but as the article suggests, seems numbers have been exaggerated anyway.

      Oldie isn’t dumb in Garfield for nothing…

      • Guest

        Your current dog, in all probabilities, seems to be an underdog.

        • Valdez

          Yep. That’s her… But she’s about a quarter that size!

    • Hillyard

      I’ve seen dogs pull at the leash till they were almost choking to try to get something they wanted. Our little miniature spitz does this on occasion when she smell the leftovers from a barbecue in the local park. I’ve never seen a dog jump off of something it couldn’t handle. I’ve seen them try to get down steep hill sides or ravines to try to get at something, but to jump from a dangerous height? No. The dogs probably don’t realize that there is a dangerous drop from that bridge because they can’t see it. They smell the mink and decide to check it out not knowing that is dangerous. Paranormal? 0.000% chance of that.

      Check this video out.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8nLf2H3eIY

      • inconspicuous detective

        just to put everything in perspective: they said the “low end” so i’m guessing that’s the one toward the camera, and since the dogs die i’m also going to suppose they’re hitting the hill or really leaping out of their way with absolutely no clue what they’re doing.

    • Nathaniel A.

      What is your explanation, if you have one?

      • inconspicuous detective

        unknown. possibly people throwing their dogs they no longer want off and relying on the fact that it’s “an unexplainable suicide hotspot” for dogs.

        • Nathaniel A.

          Hmmm interesting…

    • gillybean

      It’s totally not about a lack of survival instinct but some dogs, once they get a whiff of a scent or the sight of something that interests them, just TOTALLY FOCUS on that thing only. My mongrel, Taz, once ran into an iron railing so hard that he bounced off it and knocked himself out, all because there was a lassie-style dog on the other side of it and he really doesn’t like them. And I swear it’s because once he saw the lassie dog, nothing else registered. I had to carry my 6.5 stone dog home from the park and then take him to the vet with concussion!

  • crazystonerdude

    dam…poor doggy’s….i hope there okay X

  • Check

    I’ve personally seen a dog stumble off a staircase because it misjudged the distance. They are not superbly graceful animals or a great judge of depth perception, so, I don’t know, it’s possible, I guess.