Urban dogs in rural areas: Human-mediated movement defines dog populations in southern Chile

Federico J. Villatoro, Maximiliano A. Sepúlveda, Paulina Stowhas, Eduardo A. Silva-Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Management strategies for dog populations and their diseases include reproductive control, euthanasia and vaccination, among others. However, the effectiveness of these strategies can be severely affected by human-mediated dog movement. If immigration is important, then the location of origin of dogs imported by humans will be fundamental to define the spatial scales over which population management and research should apply. In this context, the main objective of our study was to determine the spatial extent of dog demographic processes in rural areas and the proportion of dogs that could be labeled as immigrants at multiple spatial scales. To address our objective we conducted surveys in households located in a rural landscape in southern Chile. Interviews allowed us to obtain information on the demographic characteristics of dogs in these rural settings, human influence on dog mortality and births, the localities of origin of dogs living in rural areas, and the spatial extent of human-mediated dog movement. We found that most rural dogs (64.1%) were either urban dogs that had been brought to rural areas (40.0%), or adopted dogs that had been previously abandoned in rural roads (24.1%). Some dogs were brought from areas located as far as ∼700 km away from the study area. Human-mediated movement of dogs, especially from urban areas, seems to play a fundamental role in the population dynamics of dogs in rural areas. Consequently, local scale efforts to manage dog populations or their diseases are unlikely to succeed if implemented in isolation, simply because dogs can be brought from surrounding urban areas or even distant locations. We suggest that efforts to manage or study dog populations and related diseases should be implemented using a multi-scale approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Dog management
  • Dog population
  • Human-mediated dog movement
  • Immigration
  • Population dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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