Overtoun Bridge: Where Dogs Jump To Their Death

Since the 1950s, a small, picturesque village in Scotland has been tainted by a tragic trend. An unassuming bridge overlooking lush forest is the scene of a strange phenomenon: dog “suicides.” What is it about this bridge that prompts canines to jump?


Located near the village of Dumbarton, northwest of Glasgow, Overtoun Bridge is part of the wider Overtoun estate which also encompasses a farm and manor house. Built in the 1800s by the industrialist family the Whites, the bridge was built in the Scottish baronial style with three big arches towering 15m above a ravine.

For a century, the bridge saw no major incidents. This changed in the 1950s.

Mysterious deaths

As if overnight, reports began to circulate through the village of dogs jumping off Overtoun Bridge. These incidents occurred seemingly at random.

Over the years, 50 dogs perished and roughly 600 more jumped from the bridge but survived. Canines weren’t the only ones to succumb to the bridge’s deadly call. In 1994, Kevin Moy, a paranoid schizophrenic, threw his newborn son over the bridge believing him to be the anti-Christ.

Overtoun Bridge.

Overtoun Bridge. Photo: Allan Ogg/Atlas Obscurer


Those whose pets jumped from the bridge reported a sudden change in behavior moments before. Some described their pets as “possessed.” The dogs would become still as if sensing something, or become agitated. Then, the dog would decide to take off after something.

Owners described dogs that survived as traumatized. Survivors suffered broken legs or other manageable wounds thanks to lucky landings.


Of course, animals do not “commit suicide” as humans do. While it may appear that way, animals do not consciously make decisions to end their lives. Their actions are based on instinct.

There have been instances of animals engaging in self-destructive behavior such as not eating. However, these behaviors are often symptoms of an underlying problem such as parasites or disease. In the case of dogs jumping from Overtoun Bridge, there must be a practical explanation.

One theory suggests that nearby submarines give off a frequency that drives dogs crazy. But this has been debunked. Local legends cite paranormal activity, ranging from sightings of a ghostly white lady luring dogs to their deaths to demonic possession. Some locals claim to feel dread while walking along the bridge.

Animal behaviorists have offered alternative theories. Dog specialist David Sands believes that a combination of conditions is responsible for the phenomenon. He claims that the dogs are drawn to minks, who emit a strong, putrid odor similar to skunks. Their urine also has a very strong smell. Minks began to breed in the area in the 1950s which coincides with the start of these incidents.

Further research into the mink theory showed dogs gravitate toward the scent of minks above those of squirrels and mice. He also believes that canines with longer snouts are more susceptible to the smell.

A mink with a fish.

Minks are similar to skunks in that they emit a putrid odor when scared or agitated. Photo: Tetegrin Oleg/Pexels


Sands also believes that the dogs confuse the lush surrounding vegetation with ground level. The trees and foliage hide the actual depth of the ravine, thereby creating a minor optical illusion for the dog, who sees things from a lower perspective.

Sands’ theory is that when dogs catch the smell of minks, they bolt in its direction, unaware that there is a 15m drop.

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer at ExplorersWeb.

Kristine has been writing about Science, Mysteries and History for 4+ years. Prior to that, Kristine studied at the University of Leicester in the UK.

Based in Port-of-Spain, Kristine is also a literature teacher, avid reader, hiker, occasional photographer, an animal lover and shameless ramen addict.