The Queen's death: How do heartbroken dogs grieve the loss of their owner?

Dogs grieve the loss of their owners. But how do they do it and what to expect from heartbroken pups after their special humans are no longer with them?

How will Queen Elizabeth’s heartbroken dogs grieve her loss?
© Photo by fatty corgi on Unsplash
How will Queen Elizabeth’s heartbroken dogs grieve her loss?

Dogs are sensitive and intuitive. They understand the emotional feeling of missing someone who’s no longer a part of their daily lives. While every dog will grieve differently, some common behaviour patterns can be seen in heartbroken pooches.

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How do dogs grieve?

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Dr Marc Bekoff, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder, says that the brain imaging studies show similar areas of dogs’ brains lighting up when they’re feeling parallel emotions to those of humans. This is solid evidence that a dog's emotional pain following the loss is similar to ours. But as dogs can’t express their feelings like us, they manifest them through behaviour changes.

Excessive panting, whining, barking, pacing, and fidgeting can all indicate loss-related anxiety and stress in dogs. Other signs of grief can be a loss of appetite, weight loss, lack of energy, listlessness or clinginess, and decreased interest in physical activity.

Just like us, dogs may ‘need to figure things out on their own’ and ‘work through feelings’ to come to terms with the drastic change in their lives.

But as no two dogs are alike, how they grieve can differ from pup to pup.

To decipher a mourning dog’s emotional state, the surviving family members should keep a close look at its behaviour.

What are the famous examples of grieving dogs?

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One of the most famous examples of a pup’s heartbreak following the loss of the owner is Greyfriar’s Bobby. This Skye Terrier became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died on 14 January 1872. The story continues to be well known in Scotland, through several books and films.

In a more recent time in June 2014, Constable Dave Ross, a Canadian general duty officer and police dog handler, lost his life in the line of duty. Throughout Ross’ funeral, his loyal service dog, a German Shepherd Dog named Danny, whimpered next to his master’s casket, American Kennel Club writes

These examples are two of many that speak volumes about the feelings a dog experiences after losing its owner.

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This sweet dog was left heartbroken after its owner tragically died This sweet dog was left heartbroken after its owner tragically died