I am hoping to eventually buy some land (at least 4 acres) outside the city, and I plan on adopting a bunch of "undesirable" (seniors, "bad" breeds, ugly, unfriendly, etc.) dogs. They would be indoor pets, but I would have a doggy door for them to come and go as they please when I am not at home.

Obviously I would likely poop scoop close to the house, but I don't want to have to worry about most of the property.

What is the minimum amount of land I would need for 1 average sized dog, to not have to poop scoop? Is half an acre (roughly 1/3 of an NFL field) per dog enough?

A few sub-questions:

  • How would your answer change if the land was forested vs if it was dirt or grass?

  • What about climate? I live in Northern Virginia; we have "normal" seasons.

  • Would their diet change the equation?

Note: Ignore any laws you might know of regarding poop scooping, or any environmental impact from poop. You can assume I will follow all local laws, yadda yadda yadda...

  • 4
    What is your tolerance for stepping in poop? No amount of land will eliminate poop.
    – paparazzo
    Sep 22, 2018 at 20:50
  • @paparazzo Good question. It doesn't really bother me too much. I suppose what I am asking is would half an acre quickly fill up with dog poop (from 1 dog)? I realize this is subjective, but any experiences on this matter would be welcome. Also, would it ever get to the point where it would "bother" the dog?
    – sam
    Sep 22, 2018 at 21:06
  • 1
    Your answer may be here pets.stackexchange.com/questions/20144/… Sep 22, 2018 at 21:15
  • Thanks @JamesJenkins, that is good info regarding having a dog on a large piece of land. I have only ever had dogs in small yards or apartments, so poop scooping was a necessity.
    – sam
    Sep 22, 2018 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


It depends on the general climate and soil condition.

Where does the poop go? It has to be dissolved by water and absorbed by the ground.

  • In freezing temperatures, poop freezes as well (kind of obvious) and won't break down at all.
  • In hot, dry weather, the poop dries out. It's less dangerous to step on it, but it won't go anywhere.
  • There has to be enough rain to dissolve the poop over time. Depending on how much rain you usually get, it takes 1 - 3 rainy days to dissolve a turd completely.
  • If the soil is very compact, muddy or loamy, it cannot absorb the dissolved poop. You may not see any turds lying around, but the smell and bacteria are still there.

In my experience, dogs like to designate a certain area as their toilet that has light vegetation. But they avoid the smell of their own excrements, which leads to turds spreading out over the toilet area if you don't scoop it up or it doesn't dissolve fast enough.


You could put 6 dogs on a quarter acre and not have the poop take over. It dissolves into the soil after time.

My two dogs have 6' x 20' and I only clean it out a couple times a year.


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