Spontaneously occurring urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs was exploited as an experiment of nature to gain insights into UTI pathogenesis in humans. Concurrent urinary and rectal Escherichia coli isolates from 37 dogs with UTI were compared with respect to phylogenetic background, O antigens, and extended virulence genotype. In 54% of the UTI episodes, the dog's urinary and rectal isolates represented the same strain. Urinary isolates differed dramatically from rectal-only isolates in that they derived predominantly from E. coli phylogenetic group B2, expressed typical (human) UTI-associated O antigens, and possessed many virulence-associated genes, most notably pap elements (P fimbriae), papG (adhesin) allele III, sfa/foc and sfaS (S fimbriae), hly (hemolysin), fyuA (yersiniabactin), iroN (siderophore), and ompT (outer membrane protease T). The 20 urinary isolates that corresponded with the host's predominant rectal strain were no less virulent according to the markers analyzed than were the 17 urinary isolates that differed from the host's predominant rectal strain. These findings suggest that UTI pathogenesis is similar in dogs and humans, provide added support for the special-pathogenicity over the prevalence hypothesis of UTI pathogenesis, and identify numerous specific virulence-associated factors as significant correlates of urovirulence.