Q: #371. Can dogs be eaten?
A: This is a terribly hard question to answer as a citizen of the United States. In the U.S., approximately one-third of all households have a dog as a pet. The thought of eating a dog is revolting to nearly everyone in this country. I personally cannot imagine trying to eat meat that came from a dog, or several other animals (i.e. horse, cat, rat). However, the readership of this website extends all around the world, and in some of these places, eating dogs is an acceptable practice. But, does this make it ok?
First, let me point out that according to the Bible, dogs were considered “unclean.” Eating a dog was forbidden by God because it was deemed an “unclean” food: (Lev 11:27 – “whatever walks on its paws, among all the creatures that walk on all fours, are unclean..”). In addition, in Bible times, dogs were for the most part a despised animal. They were not pets (let alone indoor pets), and they were generally wild animals that roamed about the streets. They are mentioned in the Bible 41 times, and are always spoken of unfavorably. They are compared to prostitutes (Deut 23:18), greedy men (Isa 56:10), and evil men (Phil 3:2)(Rev 22:15) (cats are never mentioned at all in the Bible).
In some countries in the world today, dogs are still not domesticated (although this does seem to be changing), and eating them is considered acceptable. In fact, it is considered a delicacy in some places in Asia. As difficult as it is for those of us in the U.S. to accept this, it is not really our place to judge this practice as wrong (Col 2:16-17). While the Bible did at one time condemn eating “unclean foods” as sinful, this is no longer the case today. Christians are allowed to eat all animals as food (Mk 7:18-19)(Rom 14:2-3)(1 Cor 10:25)(Acts 10:14-15). (See: Q: #264 and Q: #154 for more on this)
Having said this, however, I do believe that we need to stand against cruelty to animals. And, in many of these places where dogs are eaten, the dogs are often treated with SEVERE cruelty. They are hoarded into cramped cages, shipped long distances, and often put to death in horrifying ways (i.e. beaten, shocked, strangled, boiled, etc…). This MUST be stopped, just as it must with cruelty to ANY animal. We may not agree on what is acceptable to eat, or not eat, but we MUST agree that no animal should be treated with cruelty in ANY way (Prov 12:10)(Deut 25:4)(Lev 25:7)(Prov 27:23). God loves animals, and the Bible shows in a number of places that He cares for them (Mt 10:29)(Lk 12:6,24)(Mt 6:26)(Job 38:41)(Ps 147:9)(Ex 23:11-12)(He preserved two of each on Noah’s Ark: Gen 6:19-20, Gen 7:2-3). However, He did give them for our use and food (Gen 9:3-4)(Lev ch. 11)(Deut 14:3-21).