June 6, 2009

The dogs of Turkey

Turkey is full of unleashed or outright stray dogs (as well as cats). The place looks like the illustrations for the classic children's book by P.D. Eastman Go Dog Go.

Many of the dogs have collars, so they aren't stray, but their owners don't bother tying them up. Almost nobody leashed his dog when taking Fido for a walk. Dogs sleep all over the sidewalk and in the streets, typically in parking places, usually placing their noses about 9 ninches from traffic before drowsing off. I imagine that some of these sleeping dogs on the pavement are guard dogs owned by nearby shopkeepers, but there isn't all that much street crime in Turkey, so the dogs have it easy.

This sounds fairly chaotic, especially with cats everywhere, and many of the dogs with lean and hungry looks. Yet, it isn't, because the dogs, about one-third of whom appear to be some kind of retriever, halfway between Labrador and Golden retrievers, are so laid-back. I saw a dog curled up dozing with a sleeping cat, like a picture out of a children's book. Other times, I saw dogs sleeping on the beach a few feet from sleeping flocks of ducks and geese. Most of the few yappy, hyper dogs in Turkey were held on leashes by German tourists.

The reason for the profusion of dogs in Turkey is presumably the lack of programs for and indoctrination into neutering dogs. As my son pointed out, to enjoy a well-run country like Sweden, you have to worry about a whole lot of little niggling details, like spaying dogs, that most people in the world just don't worry about.

As for the personality differences between Turkish and American dogs, I can only speculate. My guess would be that in a society without much in the way of leash laws or big backyards, dogs with anti-social habits are dealt with, summarily, and that selects for pro-social habits of sedateness among the survivors.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Cal said...

Okay, I'm sure all this is important and relevant, but honestly, I'm just enthralled at the mention of Go, Dog, Go!

Do they have dog parties in Turkey?

Steve Sailer said...

They have very calm dog parties, with lots of snoozing in the sunshine.

Rex said...

I met a very nice Polish dog today. As I petted him, his owner told me that he didn't understand English.

Anonymous said...

The dogs are free to roam around because the Turks are Muslims and would never let their dogs indoors.

As Muslims, they view dogs as unclean. The irony is that they leave the dogs alone, so the dogs are free to do as they want as long as they come back to their owner at the end of the day and and don't bother anyone on the street.

tvoh said...

With a name like Rex I thought you were going to write as I sniffed him.

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan (a medium sized college town), there were no leash laws, and dogs (including ours) roamed freely. I would run into them on my way to grade school (remember when grade school children were allowed to walk to school alone?), and every once in a while it got quite scary.

At some point in the 60's a leash law was passed. From that point on our dog no longer had the run of the neighborhood, but was confined to the lawn on a leash. I remember how sad we were for him, and how incensed we were at the city for passing the law.

Today however the idea of being forced to deal with random dogs running loose in the streets strikes me as just appalling. The past really is a foreign country!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you were in Turkey. On vacation?

Well I guess that explains the light blogging. Anyhoo have a good time!

Paavo said...

stray dogs are quite scary. They are competing against each other, so I have witnessed quite brutal dog fights among stray dogs in northern Russia. Usually of course they don't attack humans, but when i had roasted chicken in my groceries i got some unwanted attention.

In Russia they usually have cats in hospitals. Everywhere. It's better than having rats.

Anonymous said...

Steve--Aren't dogs considered "dirty" by Muslims? Do folks there lovingly play with their dogs, give them silly names, indulge in any over-the-top dressing them up, tolerate them, harass them or what? Are cats beloved or considered utilitarian? and finally-- Why the hell did you holiday in Turkey? Oz, Kiwi Land, Swiss Miss Land I can see but THERE?...

Simon Newman said...

Romania was also overrun with dogs when I visited in 2004.

My wife:
"There are a lot of stray dogs..."

Young female Romanian bureaucrat, seeking to ensure Romania's
accession to the EU:

"Those are not stray dogs! Those are guard dogs!"

Anonymous said...

Turkey is a strange place. It seems chaotic and completely disordered at first, but when you stay there for a while you notice that there is method to the madness.

A lot of things seem alien to people not used to it. The traffic, the way people act, and even, as you pointed out, the behavior of stray animals.

It's mostly that, outside of official rules, law and sometimes even common sense, strange systems of conduct have emerged. Once you learn the ins and outs, it makes much more sense.

Saw a strange thing in Etiler today. A dog was following a Porsche and barking at it from the other side of the street. Just that one specific Porsche, no other cars.

I wonder if it just didn't like rich people?

Anonymous said...


If you are vacationing in Turkey, I hope you get to relax----forget about it all----and have a great time with your family and enjoy the sites.

Is Gobekli Tepi open to tourists?http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/gobekli-tepe.html
That would seem to be "the most interesting place in the world" at the moment. m

Richard Hoste said...

I was walking outside a hotel in Pskov and one of two dogs that I didn't see in a bush barked at me. His companion looked at me and then attacked the other dog. It was like he was disciplining him for messing with the human.

In Moscow I saw packs of dogs traveling and once 4 sleeping in a circle. It really tugged at my heart strings.

Bob said...

Developing but safe/stable countries are really the way to go for vacations, except for single women. Other than airfare everything is 50-90% cheaper than Florida, Italy, Greece, etc.

On the other hand a vacation in Turkey is getting dangerously close to SWPL territory. The horrors! I just hope SS is not letting his beard grow out and lugging a backpack.

harpend said...

There are cats everywhere in Istanbul and they are all gentle and affectionate. Many people carry snacks around for cats: none of the cats look hungry at all.

A Nonce Lily said...

Is Gobekli Tepi open to tourists?http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/gobekli-tepe.html

Fascinating HBD related discussion (and denial) down in the comments of that link.

Henry Canaday said...

Sounds like Paris. You can spot a dog owner by the fact that he is walking about 50 yards behind, and on the opposite side of the street from, his dog, which is basically urinating in every storefront entrance and occasionally crapping in particularly inviting ones. Only when the dog has adequately relieved himself and is ready to go home do dog and master acknowledge their relationship and rejoin each other.

I once thought the French ought to have a big revolutionary ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, in which the French President coaxingly introduced a French dog to a leash, to the tears, boos and general lamentations of the Parisian populace.

Anonymous said...

"Nice" to see your stay at the Property and Freedom Society event produced one post on Turkish dogs.

Muswell Hillbilly said...

Did you skip the group photo, Steve?


Isn't that Peter Brimelow in the center foreground?

ogunsiron said...

One of my fondest childhood memories is walking to school , accompanied by the leader of the local neighborhood stray dogs pack that i had befriended. I'd leave home, pick him up a couple of minutes later at his usual spot and he'd walk with me to school and then go back to his pack. He wasn't really a domesticated dog that you could pet but he was very friendly to me.

About dogs living outside :
It's not really a muslim thing imho. For most non-europeans, dogs belong outside, whether they're beloved animals or not.

Anonymous said...

--Isn't that Peter Brimelow in the center foreground?--

Yes, and his wife looks like his grand-daughter. What a badass.

Anonymous said...

One further thought about the free roaming dogs of my Ann Arbor childhood: It wasn't that uncommon to see a pair of dogs "doing it in the road." Highly educational for the kiddies! (And certainly healthier than a lot of the stuff kids are routinely exposed to today).

Anonymous said...

Steve, dogs in third world-ish places tend to be loaded with parasites, which is a very effective way to make a dog laid back.

-Occam from Hacker News

silver said...

Dogs lying around all over the place in Thailand too. (Well, in Pattaya, anyway.)

keypusher said...

Are cats beloved or considered utilitarian? and finally-- Why the hell did you holiday in Turkey? Oz, Kiwi Land, Swiss Miss Land I can see but THERE?...

Well, apparently because he had a conference. But it's also one of the most beautiful, historic places on earth. If you want to see stunning Greek ruins, or Roman ruins, or awe-inspiring churches and mosques, or Crusader castles, etc. go to Turkey. Whatever Kipling may say, sometimes East and West do meet.

Anonymous said...

--Isn't that Peter Brimelow in the center foreground?--

Yes, and his wife looks like his grand-daughter. What a badass.

37 year age difference. Gives me hope for the future. :)

sj071 said...

Any cats around?

Simon Newman, a British woman who acquired a 'cheap' property in Romania or Bulgaria (or Slovakia etc.) was eaten alive by a pack of stray dogs not that long ago.

silly girl said...

Some countries have eradication days.

Belize is one.


"stray-management practices on the island presently involve the use of the strychnine poisoned bait to euthanize roaming dogs, a method which presents significant risks to wildlife, pets and human health, particularly children, who can find, touch, and potentially ingest uneaten bait."

I am totally opposed to this method, but it does show you needn't have the sensibilities of Sweden to exert control in society.

Anonymous said...

Turkey is a beautiful country. Very clean. I was there last October. Great weather.

Anyway the Turks kind of reminded me of Texans. They are so into Turkey. They are a real bunch of flag wavers. Turkish flags everywhere. When I got back to Texas, I saw a guy driving a big black dualie pickup with dark tinted windows. He had two Turkish flag stickers on his back window. One on the left and one on right. I just had to smile.

Greece has the same dog thing. They round up the dogs, neuter them and let back on the street. I guess people feed them.

Mason said...

On a brief trip through Turkey, I saw a few dogs but many more cats. Cats have overrun the Sultanahmet (tourist) district of Istanbul, and seem to survive on scraps from butchers, fishmongers, housewives, etc.

Istanbul also has a cresting trend with stray dogs. They slowly become more populous, a breaking point is reached, the city government rounds up the strays and has them released far away (or put down?), and for years or a decade or so the city is largely free of them.

As I recall there is an uninhabited island in the Sea of Marmara that is inhabited with the descendants of captured Istanbul mutts.

In Cappadocia I ate at a rustic restaurant that had a pair of indoor cats that would lounge on diners' laps.

In the high plateaus and mountains of Anatolia, the Kurdish sheepdog is occasionally seen. They are HUGE, very assertive, and possibly dangerous to strangers.

The most European areas (Izmir, the western and southern coasts) do have some Turkish cat or dog owners. But dogs in particular are seen as unclean, and most cats spend most of their lives outdoors. It's a Heathcliff situation.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

On my first trip to Romania in '98, I wondered how both dogs and chickens could run loose in the street without the latter becoming extinct. I suspected that chicken-killing dogs were weeded out of the population pretty quickly. When I later adopted Romanian teenagers a few years later, they confirmed this with wry smiles. Then they reminisced about seeing a dog hung by the side of the road on their way to school once.

Anonymous said...

Steve, was your talk at the Property and Freedom Society recorded? Will we see it on youtube eventually?

headache said...

"Most of the few yappy, hyper dogs in Turkey were held on leashes by German tourists."

Steve's pissed off with Germans lately.

TurkishThought said...

As a Turk that has been living in America since middle school, I am stunned how American's treat their pets. Humans are starvign through out the world and Americans are buying sweaters for their dogs.

Turks do have reductions. Once every two to three years the local government will announce that any dogs on the street during a a set date will be taken and put to sleep. Owners who fail to keep track of their dogs, will lose their dogs for good.

And for those that do not know, a dog and cat is permissible as a pet as long as it serves a purpose. Guard dogs and cats for rats etc..

Since we won't enter our houses with shoes on, we sure as hell won't allow a dog to come inside.

Anonymous said...

Are unwanted dogs "resettled" to the Mesopotamian desert?

rast said...

"Steve's pissed off with Germans lately."

Well, they started it.

Melykin said...

ogunsiron said...
...For most non-europeans, dogs belong outside, whether they're beloved animals or not.

I wonder why that is. Europeans (maybe not southern or eastern Europeans so much), and descendants of Europeans, often treat their dogs and cats almost like children. I have 3 dogs on my lap as I write this.

I think some people of non-European decent who are living in Canada also treat dogs and cats like family. And even very poor people do this--for example people living on the street often have a dog that is sometimes better fed than its human.

Maybe this phenomenon is the result of small families, and the pets are the recipients of surplus maternal/paternal feelings. But if this were the case then dogs and cats should be very well loved in China, where they eat dogs :(

Why do people in Muslim countries have huge families? Is Islam opposed to birth control?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about Sweden, but I live in Norway and it is very uncommon to have your dog fixed here. However, we don't have packs of dogs roaming the streets/countryside as you say they do in Turkey. So whatever it is that makes the difference, having your dog fixed is not it.

Eric said...

So whatever it is that makes the difference, having your dog fixed is not it.

How likely is it a stray dog would survive the winter in Norway?

silly girl said...

"Why do people in Muslim countries have huge families? Is Islam opposed to birth control?"

Nah, only a few islamic countries have high total fertility rates. Most of them have rates like the US had in the 70's. Some are lower than the current US rate.

cia factbook:


Melykin said...

Developed countries have animal rescue organizations such as the SPCA to care for abandoned animals. There are also many smaller rescue organizations, some of which are are involved in rescuing certain breeds. And there are many informal rescue networks that operate through email groups. I belong to several pug email groups, and often a call will go out to transport a rescue. People will come forward and volunteer to transport the animal along one leg of the journey.

Some organizations and individuals try to rescue dogs from foreign lands. A number of US servicemen have found ways of bringing dogs home from Iraq. I know someone who is trying to adopt a dog with four white socks from Taiwan, where such dogs are considered to be bad luck, and are often abandoned. My daughter knows someone who brought home a van full of dogs from Mexico to Victoria, Canada.

I wonder if it is possible that genetics differences are involved in the degree to which people and possibly ethnic groups have weaker or stronger instincts to care to small helpless creatures such as babies and animals. Could there be some connection between the Chinese custom of abandoning baby girls on hillsides and their unsentimental treatment of dogs and cats?

In Canada, about the only place you will find packs of neglected dogs roaming is on Indian reserves. This past winter there were three separate cases of starving, abandoned horses on Indian reserves in British Columbia. Normally something like horses left to starve would create a great outcry among animal lovers, but because it was on Indian reserves hardly a word was said, since people are afraid of being branded a racist if they criticize anything Indians do.

But who knows whether the Indians neglect their animals and children because of weak instincts to care for them, or simply because most of them are too drunk to know what they are doing. There is certainly evidence that their tragic tendency to addiction is genetic.

sultanahmet said...

I was there last august.
It was a like a miracle.