Dogs with bright blue fur seen on the side of a road in Russia are real

Des chiens errants bleus ont été aperçus près de Dzerjinsk dans la région de Nijni Novgorod.
Des chiens errants bleus ont été aperçus près de Dzerjinsk dans la région de Nijni Novgorod. © Alekseї Ganine
Text by: Observers team
3 min

The animals look like they’ve walked straight out of a cartoon – but these photos of dogs with bright blue fur are real.  

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On 11 February, Alekseї Ganine posted photos of at least six dogs wandering along the side of the road near the town of Dzerjinsk in Russia on the Russian social network Vkontakte. The photos were then shared in different groups on the network.

A stray dog wandering near Dzerjinsk.
A stray dog wandering near Dzerjinsk. © Vkontake / Alekseї Ganine
Stray dogs seen in Dzerjinsk.
Stray dogs seen in Dzerjinsk. © Vkontakte Nizhny Novgorod

So what’s behind the technicolour fur? Answer: A nearby closed plexiglass factory, Dzerzhinskoye Orgsteklo, which formerly specialised in the manufacture of acrylic glass and hydrocyanic acid before shutting down due to bankruptcy in 2015. The plant’s bankruptcy manager Andrey Mislivets, hedged an explanation when interviewed by the Russian media Ria Novosti:

Perhaps in one of the [abandoned] buildings, the dogs found a kind of leftover chemical – like copper sulphate, for example – and they rolled in it. A few years ago I heard about dogs painted unnatural colours. Unfortunately [at the time], the company couldn’t afford the cost of rounding up stray dogs and sterilising them. 

Ria Novosti reports that animal rights activists and local vets say that contact with these chemical substances doesn’t present a short-term danger for the dogs. Russian news agency Interfax says that city officials plan to round up the dogs and examine them to find the reason behind their coloured fur.

There was a similar story in India in 2017, when dogs with blue coats were seen in the streets of Mumbai. Similarly to what has happened in Russia, it was suspected that they had been exposed to industrial waste that contained blue dye used in detergent and other chemical products.