The Severed Head of a Dog Kept Alive?

I just came across a very disturbing video on this site, of an experiment that was supposedly carried out in Russia ca. 1940. See below (it’s nothing gory really, you just feel really sorry for the dog).

After watching it twice, I felt compelled to find out if it’s real or not. This wikipedia article claims that it’s from a motion picture called Experiments in the Revival of Organisms. It’s in the public domain now, so you can download it here — I for one will watch it after I’ve gotten over the uneasy feeling from watching the short clip.

The article says there is some debate of whether the experiments are real, or if they were maybe created as Communist propaganda (Communism lets you live forever … as a head). But there is no mention of any evidence pointing to this being fake. So, with my usual skepticism, I’m going to present something that may or may not disprove the validity of the film. It’s not that I don’t believe they did (and do) horrible animal experiments, it’s just this particular clip I’m skeptical about.

If you watched the clip above, you’ll notice that in the last few seconds when they are banging that hammer on the table — the dog moves his head up from the table. I’m sorry, but given that your head was sliced clean off at the neck level and you were lying on a table — would you be able to move your head? Maybe open your mouth, but move your head? Hmmmm. I’m putting on my mask of skepticism.
Severed Dog Head Screenshot

Severed dog head muscle diagramLet’s look at the muscular anatomy of dogs, shall we? In the picture on the right you will see a typical kanine. Notice that the muscles descending from behind his ear and from his neck are attached to the upper part of his body.

  • The red line indicates where they cut
  • The curly braces indicate an estimate length of the muscles that control head movements

Sherlock Holmes and Watson
So, without something to pull on (the body) the muscles could hardly have lifted the dogs head up from the table in the manner shown in the video.

Unless somebody else has a ready explanation?

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25 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Mags

    I agree entirely with you. In fact there are a few points in the video where movements that are impossible without the head still being attached to the body occur, such as the reaction to the citric acid.

    There are movements up and down and side to side at various points. Whilst you might expect an amount of movement from facial muscle activity, that’s not what they are.

  2. Also if you look at the citric acid label it jumps around.
    The way this was made was that the dogs head was put through a hole in a board or wall. The premise is established by the illustration at the beginning. The cartoon at the beginning establishes the cut off head. You never see the actual connection to the veins or the pump itself.

    Now I will not dispute whether this technology is real or not but the video itself is a farce. Fantastic though but a farce.

  3. Jay

    After taking anatomy of the dog, you will know this video is a complete farce, the animal will even be unable to move its head at all, even the jaws, I assure you. In addition, how are wastes pumped out of the cells of the head and how are brain cells supplied glucose, a vital component of living brain tissue? Without glucose the brain cells would die quickly, within minutes. The whole purpose of O2 is to be an acceptor for electrons in the ETC, and since there is no source of acety Coa to enter the ETC (glucose–>(glycolysis)—> pyruvate—> (pyruvate dehydrogenase)—> acetyl coA), Oxygen will do no good, and the do cells will go into anaerobic respiration, producing lactate, and they will die because the liver is unable to convert this lactate back into pyruvate. Enough of that, the video is definitely fake.

  4. Karl

    Try doing your own experiment of this and it might be true.

  5. tim

    sick b*****d Karl.

  6. anonymous

    While parts of the video are undoubtedly staged, the experiment is real. It was performed for both the Soviet medical board and various groups of western scientists, and lead to the development of artificial H&L machines.

  7. Jay

    well… since the head is attached to the pumps etc. It seems slightly possible that the force of pushing away or pulling towards with the jaw would make the head move but not be able to lift without those muscles.. its a pretty amazing video, I dont think we would ever know if its real or not but its not to far off..

  8. Arthur

    okay first off, the human brain can survive 3 days after being dead, it still moves electricity through its host. same could be the same for the dog.

    this is one of the very first experiments of artificial organs tested on of coarse animals, it not wrong, it helps us understand what we can do to make ourselves more immortal as a being.

    the head you see is able to move because it has a neck, their are still muscles enough to jerk left and right and to even lick itself, this is a real video.

  9. No Arthur; the human brain can survive 3-5 minutes after vital organs cease to function.

  10. Patrick

    Hmmm. How do we know the head is actually severed?

  11. GERRY


  12. Ali

    The dog was obviously heavily restrained…probably with tied up or something, poor dog.
    And they just crammed its head on the table through a hole, or hid its body with an early version of green screen :) (aka white board or something)
    The only thing that really bothered the dog enough to lift its head was the hammer.
    Maybe they sedated it so it was as calm and half dead as it acted. Because most dogs would be squirming frantically in that position, or maybe once they had tied it up, they left it there for a couple of hours.
    In any case, I’m calling the dog abuse hot-line :(

  13. i am very tired of this.. right now.. seriously why can’t human beings just stop being.. so cruel? why must all of us .. do this kind of experiment to these harmless and loyal animals… gosh.. why can’t human beings just stop these .. stupid activities.. animals have their own thinking.. what if your head got chopped off… and you’re still alive? people use a hammer knot your head… seriously.. these scientists.. do not deserve to have a life and they should think more carefully before they do something.. are they smart? i don’t think they are…

  14. whitemoth

    See that black border behind the dog’s head? See the white above the black border? That white is what’s known in show business as a “backdrop”. The head is obviously not severed–this video is an example of Soviet propoganda. Let’s not forget that the Soviet Union also claimed to be developing precognition and other scientific impossibilities, and rushed to put a man in orbit with little if any concern for whether the man would actually be able to make it back alive, solely in an effort to prove themselves technologically superior to capitalist countries–the US in particular.

  15. Thanks for great points, Whitemoth.

  16. Eggsample

    U are right about it not being citric acid id says something else in cursive writing at 1:25!!!

  17. its russian, real

    The citric acid label shifts to russian language translation of citric acid. It is a SOVIET VIDEO, and the language barrier at that point was very restricted. I read somewhere that all this shows is they have a pump to circulate blood and technically keep someone alive, as anonymous stated it was developed for artificial heart and lung machines. People are so analytical to find things wrong when there is nothing wrong with it.. looks very original and there is information of such tests existing so why wouldnt this video be real? Besides being unbelievable , think about how they developed artificial breathing and such machines.. what kind of sick tests they probably did where living things died or were tortured for the sake of saving humans in the future? ALOT.. but its ok.. we dont worry how our meat is delivered from a living animal when we buy at supermarkets.

  18. Uhnonihmuhs

    Sadly and I wish it wasn’t, but I think it’s real. I love dogs and it hurts my soul to see this innocent and emotional animal going through that.

    If it’s fake, that dog is acting/reacting in way that he was beaten to within an inch of it’s life into pure submission for the purpose of making it look like he had obvious disabilities due to the fact that he was supposedly beheaded.

    The sad truth though, is that it’s real and that dog was truly f**ked up. If the dog was ok, it would be looking around wide eyed with curiosity. They poked at his eyes and he barely blinked. They put citric acid on his nose and gums and there’s an obvious unnatural delay before he even attempts to lick at it. With the feather, that wouldn’t be the normal response for any dog. The light, the hammer.. It’s all the same unnatural responses. Fake or real, a normal dog that’s nervous would be panting, of which he did none. This dog was in utter fear and pain and pure agony and I can almost sense him waiting for.. longing for death. He had simply given up.

    Very VERY sad… And sometimes people wonder why I have the ability to love and respect animals more than humans. If a big guy threatened and charged at me, I’d shoot him in the head and sleep fine that same night. If I ran over a dog, I would have serious trouble sleeping for DAYS and it would be burned in my memory for years to come.

    Ethics/Morals of torturing the innocent creatures of this earth VS the scientific benefits for man… I just don’t know where the line should be drawn. Or even IF it should be drawn in the first place. Anyway I look at it, I’ll never be “proud” of our advancements.

  19. Bubba

    I wish scientists who do this would die a horrible death!! 93% of animal experiments that pass, FAIL when used in humans. If a person can kill a living being & make them suffer while looking in their eyes, they are heartless bastards.

  20. aaron

    hey, i just watched this video on youtube and there was a link to where these guys cut off a alligator or a crocodiles head and it was still functioning. like, its eyes would open and shut when they poked at them and it would even snap at them, i mean, anything is plausable, i think we need mythbusters on this one! lol. they could test it on the asian guy. hahaha

  21. Marcus

    If you look at the whole video though you can see that the head isn’t severed in some cases of the experiment. I think the point was to use the machine to re-animate a dead dog, he doesn’t actually severe the spine. There’s pictures supporting that, though no doubt it’s been staged for the video, I think what he tried to do was see if an artificial heart could keep the head alive.

  22. rey

    This is the second dog I see doing the same experiment…if this really works, I would’ve used Osama’s head to make him talk …=•P

  23. Sparkfiend

    Its real unfortunately, Im sorry guys :(

  24. Delilah

    I believe it is real, but I can’t say for sure. I watched the whole movie, which is 19 minutes. I think the point of this experiment was to see if a living organism could survive if they were to divide it into different parts and connect it to a machine, and they also were probably trying to find out if they could revive a living organism after 15 minutes of death. In the movie, it did show that one dog’s heart beat and resparation stopped, and the dog died. This was because they triggered something on the machine and the blood stopped pumping. They triggered it again, and about 15 minutes later, the dog came back alive. They put the heads back on, (It didn’t show that part) And about a week later the revived dogs were normally healthy again and could move their body again. Although I don’t agree with this, I’m just happy the dogs were alive afterward. But who knows, maybe they just got dogs that looked similar and then said they were normally healthy again! The thing I don’t agree with most is that they were doing this to dogs, because they know if it works on a dog, it has to work on a human. And I think they might have mentioned that they wanted to try this on humans… I am not sure though. So don’t rage me.

  25. Shinto

    What others haven’t noted is that with out the lungs for breathing it would be slower for the dog to smell the citric acid. since there is little airflow going through the nasal cavities.

    Also what do you think would happen if the brain realizes that it can’t feel its lungs? not feeling the “breathing” would probably cause the brain to panic.

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