Dog meat

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This article is about human consumption of dog flesh and parts. For meat eaten by dogs themselves, see Dog food.
Dog meat on sale at Kyungdong Shijang Market, Seoul, Korea
Dog meat
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,096 kJ (262 kcal)
0.1 g
Dietary fiber 0 g
20.2 g
19 g
Vitamin A equiv.
3.6 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.12 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.18 mg
Niacin (B3)
1.9 mg
Vitamin C
3 mg
Trace metals
8 mg
2.8 mg
168 mg
270 mg
72 mg
Other constituents
Water 60.1 g
Ash 0.8 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Dog meat refers to edible parts and the flesh derived from (predominantly domestic) dogs. Human consumption of dog meat has been recorded in many parts of the world, including China, ancient Mexico, and ancient Rome.[2] Dog meat is currently consumed in a variety of countries such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Korea.[3][4] In addition, dog meat has also been used as survival food in times of war and/or other hardships.[5][6]

In contemporary times, some cultures view the consumption of dog meat to be a part of their traditional cuisine, while others consider consumption of dog to be offensive. Supporters of dog meat argue the distinction between livestock and pets is subjective. They also argue consuming dog meat is no different from consuming slaughtered pigs, chicken and cattle in other countries, such as the United States.[7][8][9] Eating dog is forbidden under Muslim and Jewish dietary laws.[10] In Buddhism, the Buddha prohibited eating dog meat alongside meats such as human, elephant, horse and snake. [11]

By region[edit]

Arctic and Antarctic[edit]

Dogs have historically been emergency food sources for various peoples in Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland. Sled dogs are usually maintained for pulling sleds, but occasionally are eaten when no other food is available.

British explorer Ernest Shackleton and his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition became trapped, and ultimately killed their sled dogs for food. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was known to have eaten sled dogs during his expedition to the South Pole. By eating some of the sled dogs, he required less human or dog food, thus lightening his load. When comparing sled dogs to ponies as draught animals he also notes:

"...there is the obvious advantage that dog can be fed on dog. One can reduce one's pack little by little, slaughtering the feebler ones and feeding the chosen with them. In this way they get fresh meat. Our dogs lived on dog's flesh and pemmican the whole way, and this enabled them to do splendid work. And if we ourselves wanted a piece of fresh meat we could cut off a delicate little fillet; it tasted to us as good as the best beef. The dogs do not object at all; as long as they get their share they do not mind what part of their comrade's carcass it comes from. All that was left after one of these canine meals was the teeth of the victim - and if it had been a really hard day, these also disappeared."[12]

Douglas Mawson and Xavier Mertz were part of a three-man sledging team with Lieutenant B. E. S. Ninnis to survey King George V Land, Antarctica. On 14 December 1912 Ninnis fell through a snow-covered crevasse along with most of the party's rations, and was never seen again. Mawson and Mertz turned back immediately. They had one and a half weeks' food for themselves and nothing at all for the dogs. Their meagre provisions forced them to eat their remaining sled dogs on their 315 mile return journey. Their meat was tough, stringy and without a vestige of fat. Each animal yielded very little, and the major part was fed to the surviving dogs, which ate the meat, skin and bones until nothing remained. The men also ate the dog's brains and livers. Unfortunately eating the liver of sled dogs produces the condition hypervitaminosis A. Mertz suffered a quick deterioration. He developed stomach pains and became incapacitated and incoherent. On 7 January 1913, Mertz died. Mawson continued alone, eventually making it back to camp alive.[6]


Under Canada's Wildlife Act, it is illegal to sell meat from any wild species, but there is no law against selling and serving canine meat, including dogs, if it is killed and gutted in front of federal inspectors.[13]

In 2003, health inspectors discovered four frozen canine carcasses in the freezer of a Chinese restaurant in Edmonton[14] which, in the end, were found to be coyotes. The Edmonton health inspector said that it is not illegal to sell and eat the meat of dogs and other canines, as long as the meat has been inspected.[15]

China mainland[edit]

Dog meat
Chinese 狗肉
Mutton of the earth
Chinese 地羊
Literal meaning earth lamb
Fragrant meat
Chinese 香肉
3-6 fragrant meat
Chinese 三六香肉
A platter of cooked dog meat in Guilin, China
Dog meat sold in Shanghai

Dog meat (Chinese: 狗肉; pinyin: gǒu ròu) has been a source of food in some areas of China from around 500 BC, and possibly even earlier. Mencius, the philosopher, recommended dog meat because of its pharmaceutical properties.[16] Ancient writings from the Zhou Dynasty referred to the "three beasts"[this quote needs a citation] (which were bred for food), comprising pig, goat, and dog. Dog meat is sometimes euphemistically called "fragrant meat" (香肉 xiāng ròu) or "mutton of the earth" (地羊 dì yáng) in Mandarin Chinese and "3-6 fragrant meat" (Chinese: 三六香肉; Cantonese Yale: sàam luhk hèung yuhk) in Cantonese (3 plus 6 is 9 and the words "nine" and "dog" are homophones, both pronounced gáu in Cantonese. In Mandarin, "nine" and "dog" are pronounced differently).[citation needed]

The eating of dog meat in China dates back thousands of years. Dog meat has long been thought by some to have medicinal properties, and is especially popular in winter months, as it is believed to generate heat and promote bodily warmth.[17][18][19] Also, dogs have occasionally been eaten as an emergency food supply.[20]

Eating dog is a socially acceptable practice in parts of southern China.[3] Dog meat is very popular in the Guangdong and Guangxi regions of China.[21] Chinese astronauts even incorporated dog as part of their diet in space.[22]

Some controversy has emerged about the treatment of dogs in China, not because of the consumption itself, but because of other factors like cruelty involved with the killing, including allegations the animals are sometimes skinned while still alive.[23]

A growing movement against consumption of cat and dog meat has gained attention from people in mainland China. Those changes began about two years after the formation of the Chinese Companion Animal Protection Network (CCAPN), a networking project of the Chinese Animal Protection Network. Expanded to more than 40 member societies, CCAPN in January 2006 began organizing well-publicized protests against dog and cat eating, starting in Guangzhou, and following up in more than ten other cities "with very optimal response from public."[24]

Since January 2007, more than ten Chinese groups have joined an online signing event against the consumption of cat and dog meat. The signatures indicate the participants will avoid eating cat and dog meat in the future. This online signing event received more than 42,000 signatures from public, and has been circulated around the country.[25]

Some Chinese restaurants in the United States serve "imitation dog meat", which is usually pulled pork, and purportedly flavored like dog meat, e.g. "Northern Chinese Restaurant", in Rosemead, California.

In China, draft legislation has been proposed at the start of 2010, which aims to prohibit the consumption of dog meat.[21] The legislation, however, is not expected to be effective, despite officially outlawing the eating of dog meat if it is passed.[21] On 26 January 2010, the first draft proposal of the legislation was introduced, with the main reason for the law reportedly to protect the country's animals from maltreatment, and includes a measure to jail people who eat dog for up to 15 days.[26][27]

Hong Kong[edit]

In Hong Kong, the Dogs and Cats Ordinance was introduced by the British colonial government on 6 January 1950 ,[28] it prohibits the slaughter of any dog or cat for use as food, whether for mankind or otherwise, on pain of fine and imprisonment.[29][30] Four local men were sentenced to 30 days imprisonment in December 2006 for having slaughtered two dogs.[31] In an earlier case, in February 1998, a Hongkonger was sentenced to one month imprisonment and a fine of two thousand HK dollars for hunting street dogs for food.[32]


In Taiwan, dog meat is known by the euphemism "fragrant meat" (Chinese: 香肉; pinyin: xiāngròu). The eating of dog was previously more common and, as of 2010, is still practiced on some areas of the island. Dog meat is believed to have health benefits including improving circulation and raising body temperature.[33] In 2004, the Taiwanese government (Republic of China) imposed a ban on the sale of dog meat, due to both pressure from domestic animal welfare groups and a desire to improve international perceptions, although there were some protests.[34] In 2007, another law was passed significantly increasing the fines to sellers of dog meat.[33]

East Timor[edit]

Dog meat is a delicacy popular in East Timor.[35]


Grande Boucherie Canine, Paris, 1910

Although consumption of dog meat is not common in France, and is now considered taboo, dog meat has been consumed in the past. The earliest evidence of dog consumption in France was found at Gaulish archaeological sites, where butchered dog bones were discovered.[36] Similar findings, corresponding to that time or earlier periods, have also been recorded through Europe. French news sources from the late 19th century carried stories reporting lines of people buying dog meat, which was described as being "beautiful and light."[37] During the siege of Paris in 1870, there were lines at butcher's shops of people waiting to purchase dog meat. Dog meat was also reported as being sold by some butchers in Paris, 1910.[38][39]


Dog meat has been eaten in every major German crisis at least since the time of Frederick the Great, and is commonly referred to as "blockade mutton."[5] In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common.[40] In 1937, a meat inspection law targeted against trichinella was introduced for pigs, dogs, boars, foxes, badgers, and other carnivores.[41] Dog meat has been prohibited in Germany since 1986.[42]


In Ghana, the Tallensi of Ghana consider dog meat a delicacy. The Mamprusi generally avoid dog meat, but it is eaten in a "courtship stew" provided by a king to his royal lineage.[43]


Calwin Schwabe reported in 1979 that dog was widely eaten in Hawaii and considered to be of higher quality than pork or chicken. When Hawaiians first encountered early British and American explorers and exploiters, they were at a loss to explain the visitors' attitudes about dog meat. The Hawaiians raised both dogs and pigs as pets and for food. They could not understand why their British and American visitors only found the pig suitable for consumption.[2]


There have been reports of locals in remote parts of North-East India, such as those in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, consuming dog meat.[44][45] Apart from these areas, eating dog meat is a taboo throughout India. Hinduism, the primary religion of India, has a strong vegetarian tradition. Eating any meat is considered a taboo by many devout Hindus. However, in Manusmṛti, there is a story about how people ate dog meat when there was a scarcity of other food.[46]


In Indonesia, the consumption of dog meat is usually associated with the Minahasa, a Christian ethnic group in northern Sulawesi, and Bataks of northern Sumatra, who consider dog meat to be a festive dish and usually reserve it for special occasions like weddings and Christmas.[47] Popular Indonesian dog-meat dishes are rica-rica, called variably as "RW" or rintek wuuk, rica-rica waung, guk-guk, and "B1". Locally on Java, there are several names for dishes made from dog meat, such as sengsu (tongseng asu), sate jamu, and kambing balap.


Dog meat was consumed widely in Japan until 675 A.D.[citation needed], when Emperor Temmu decreed a prohibition on its consumption during the 4th-9th months of the year, along with cattle, horse, monkey, and chicken meat.[48] According to a book published in 1760, the meat of wild dog was sold along with boar, venison, fox, wolf, bear, badger, beaver and cat in some regions of Edo.[49] In 2008, Japan imported 5 tons of dog meat from China compared to 4,717 tons of beef, 14,340 tons of pork and 115,882 tons of poultry.[50]


Gaegogi (개고기) literally means "dog meat" in Korean. The term itself, however, is often mistaken as the term for Korean soup made from dog meat, which is actually called bosintang (보신탕; 補身湯).

The consumption of dog meat can be traced back to antiquity. Dog bones[further explanation needed] were excavated in a neolithic settlement in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province. A wall painting in the Goguryeo Tombs complex in South Hwangghae Province, a World Heritage site which dates from the 4th century AD, depicts a slaughtered dog in a storehouse. The Balhae people also enjoyed dog meat, and the Koreans' appetite for canine cuisine seems to have come from that era.[51]

South Korea[edit]

A dish made with dog meat in South Korea

In South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea), dog meat is eaten nationwide and all year round, although it is most commonly eaten during summer.[52]

The Korea Food and Drug Administration recognizes any edible product other than drugs as food. In the capital city of Seoul, the sale of dog meat was outlawed by regulation on February 21, 1984 by classifying dog meat as "disgusting food", but the regulation was not rigorously enforced except during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2001, the Mayor of Seoul announced there would be no extra enforcement efforts to control the sale of dog meat during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was partially hosted in Seoul. In March 2008, the Seoul city government announced its plan to put forward a policy suggestion to the central government to legally classify slaughter dogs as livestock, reigniting debate on the issue.[53][54][55]

South Korean Food Sanitary Law (식품위생법; 食品衛生法) does not include dog meat as a legal food ingredient. Also, dog meat has been categorized as 'repugnant food' (혐오식품; 嫌汚食品) based on a regulation issued by Seoul Metropolitan Government, of which using as food ingredient is not permitted.[56]

However, the laws are not strictly enforced, and some portion of the South Korean population still consumes dog meat. The primary dog breed raised for meat, the Nureongi (누렁이), or Hwangu (황구; 黃狗); which is a kind of mix-breed dog, differs from those breeds raised for pets which Koreans keep in their homes.

There is a large and vocal group of Koreans who are against the practice of eating dogs.[57] There is also a large population of people in Korea that do not eat or enjoy the meat, but do feel strongly that it is the right of others to do so.[57] There is a smaller but still vocal group of pro-dog cuisine people in South Korea who want to popularize the consumption of dog in Korea and the rest of the world.[57]

Although it is illegal to sell dog meat in Seoul, some restaurateurs still do so, even though they risk losing their restaurant licenses. In 1997, one dog meat wholesaler in Seoul was brought up on charges of selling dog meat illegally. However, an appeals court acquitted the dog meat wholesaler, ruling that dogs were socially accepted as food.[58] According to the National Assembly of South Korea, more than 20,000 restaurants, including the 6484 registered restaurants, served soups made from dog meat in Korea in 1998.[59][60][61] The BBC claims eighty-five hundred tons of dog meat are consumed per year, with another 93,600 tons used to produce a medicinal tonic called gaesoju (개소주).[61] Koreans raise exceptional dogs which are edible.[62] As of 2007, the dogs were no longer being beaten to death as they had been in past times.[63]

Dog meat is often consumed during the summer months and is either roasted or prepared in soups or stews. The most popular of these soups is bosintang and gaejang-guk, a spicy stew meant to balance the body's heat during the summer months. This is thought to ensure good health by balancing one's "ki" or vital energy of the body. A 19th century version of gaejang-guk explains the preparation of the dish by boiling dog meat with vegetables such as green onions and chili pepper powder. Variations of the dish contain chicken and bamboo shoots.[64]

North Korea[edit]

In North Korea (officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), in early 2010, the government included dog meat in its new list of one hundred fixed prices, setting a fixed price of 500 won per kilogram.[65]


Ancient Mexico[edit]

In the time of the Aztecs, Mexican Hairless dogs were bred, among other purposes,[66] for their meat. Hernán Cortés reported when he arrived in Tenochtitlan in 1519, "small gelded dogs which they breed for eating" were among the goods sold in the city markets.[67] These dogs, Xoloitzcuintles, were often depicted in pre-Columbian Mexican pottery. The breed was almost extinct in the 1940s, but the British Military Attaché in Mexico City, Norman Wright, developed a thriving breed from some of the dogs he found in remote villages.[68]

Modern Mexico[edit]

Consumption of dog meat is taboo in Mexican culture. However, in May 2008, a man named Rubén Cuellar of Veracruz-Boca del Rio was accused of engaging in the slaughter of dogs and selling the meat to local taco restaurants to unsuspecting customers. He was detained by police pending investigation.[69]


Dogs are eaten by various groups in some states of Nigeria, including Cross River, Plateau, Taraba and Gombe of Nigeria.[43] They are believed to have medicinal powers.[70][71]


In the capital city of Manila, Metro Manila Commission Ordinance 82-05[72] specifically prohibits the killing and selling of dogs for food. More generally, the Philippine Animal Welfare Act 1998[73] prohibits the killing of any animal other than cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles, with exemptions for religious, cultural, research, public safety or animal health reasons.

Nevertheless, as is reported from time to time in Philippine newspapers, the eating of dog meat is not uncommon in the Philippines.[74]

The Province of Benguet specifically allows cultural use of dog meat by indigenous people and acknowledges this might lead to limited commercial use.[75]


While the meat is not eaten, in some rural areas of Poland, dog fat can be made into lard, which by tradition is believed to have medicinal properties - being good for the lungs, for instance. In 2009, a scandal erupted when a farm near Częstochowa was discovered rearing dogs to be rendered down into lard.[76]


Dogs were historically eaten in Tahiti and other islands of Polynesia, including Hawaii[77] [78] at the time of first European contact. James Cook, when first visiting Tahiti in 1769, recorded in his journal, "few were there of us but what allow'd that a South Sea Dog was next to an English Lamb, one thing in their favour is that they live entirely upon Vegetables".[79]


Popular Swiss recipes for dog meat include gedörrtes Hundefleisch served as paper-thin slices, as well as smoked dog ham, Hundeschinken, which is prepared by salting and drying raw dog meat.[80]

According to the 21 November 1996 edition of the Rheintaler Bote, a Swiss newspaper covering the Rhine Valley area, the rural Swiss cantons of Appenzell and St. Gallen are known to have had a tradition of eating dogs, curing dog meat into jerky and sausages, as well as using the lard for medicinal purposes. Dog sausage and smoked dog jerky remains a staple in the Swiss cantons of St. Gallen and Appenzell, where one farmer was quoted in a regional weekly newspaper as saying that "meat from dogs is the healthiest of all. It has shorter fibres than cow meat, has no hormones like veal, no antibiotics like pork."[81]

A few years earlier, a news report on RTL Television on the two cantons set off a wave of protests from European animal rights activists and other concerned citizens. A 7000-name petition was filed to the commissions of the cantons, who rejected it, saying it was not the state's right to monitor the eating habits of its citizens.

The production of food from dog meat for commercial purposes, however, is illegal in Switzerland.[82]


Dog meat is barbecued in a umu in Tonga and considered a delicacy.[83]

Mostly, Tongan men favored eating dog, especially after Kava sessions; about half have eaten a dog in their lifetimes. Horse meat, too, is eaten by Tongan men.

United States[edit]

In the United States, it is considered a social taboo and illegal to eat dogs or other animals traditionally considered to be pets or companion animals (see horse meat).[84]

During their 1803–1806 expedition, Meriwether Lewis and the other members of the Corps of Discovery consumed dog meat, either from their own animals or supplied by Native American tribes, including the Paiutes and Wah-clel-lah Indians, a branch of the Watlalas,[85] the Clatsop,[86] the Teton Sioux (Lakota),[87] the Nez Perce Indians,[88] and the Hidatsas.[89] Lewis and the members of the expedition ate dog meat, except William Clark, who reportedly could not bring himself to eat dogs.[90]

Native Americans[edit]

The traditional culture surrounding the consumption of dog meat varied from tribe to tribe among the original inhabitants of North America, with some tribes relishing it as a delicacy, and others (such as the Comanche) treating it as an abhorrent practice.[91] Native peoples of the Great Plains, such as the Sioux and Cheyenne, consumed it, but there was a concurrent religious taboo against the meat of wild canines.[92] The usual preparation method was boiling.


A dog meat platter found in a street market a few miles east of Hanoi

Dog meat is consumed widely in Vietnam but can mostly be found in special restaurants which specifically serve this type of meat. In any urban areas, there are always sections which house a lot of dog-meat restaurants. For example, on Nhat Tan Street, Tây Hồ District, Hanoi, many restaurants serve dog meat. Groups of customers, usually male, seated on mats, will spend their evenings sharing plates of dog meat and drinking alcohol since dog meat is believed to raise the libido in men.[4] The consumption of dog meat can be part of a ritual usually occurring toward the end of the lunar month for reasons of astrology and luck. Restaurants which mainly exist to serve dog meat may only open for the last half of the lunar month.[93]

Almost all dogs used for meat are imported from other Southeast Asian countries (Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, etc.)[94] and from dog robbers.[95]

In 2009, dog meat was found to be a main carrier of the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, which caused the summer epidemic of cholera in northern Vietnam.[96][97]


The raising and consumption of dog meat has been linked to the transmission of rabies to humans, with two reported cases in China, one in Vietnam, and two deaths reported in the Philippines.[98]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ann Yong-Geun "Dog Meat Foods in Korea", Table 4. Composition of dog meat and Bosintang (in 100g, raw meat), Korean Journal of Food and Nutrition 12(4) 397 - 408 (1999).
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  5. ^ a b "Dachshunds Are Tenderer". Time Magazine. November 25, 1940. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
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  48. ^ Nihon Shoki Chapter 29 -- Kanbun: 亦四月朔以後。九月三十日以前。莫置比満沙伎理梁。且莫食牛・馬・犬・猿・鶏之完。以外不在禁例。[1] English: Also, from the first day of the first[sic. it should read fourth] month until the 30th day of the ninth month, it is prohibited to use hinasakiri or fish traps. Also, cow, horse, dog, monkey, and chicken meat is not to be eaten. Meats outside of these are not prohibited.[2]
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  94. ^ Dẫn tôi đi thăm "khu công nghiệp" chó, anh Lai giới thiệu hiện tại đã có 25 trại, mỗi trại thường xuyên có hơn một tấn chó "dự bị". Mỗi ngày, "khu công nghiệp" này của Sơn Đông cung cấp cho thị trường Hà Nội khoảng 10 tấn chó hơi, chủ yếu là chó ngoại của Lào, Campuchia, Thái Lan, Malaysia... Buôn chó xuyên quốc gia Tuoi Tre Newspaper
  95. ^ Quán "cờ tây" mọc lên như nấm, giá thịt chó cũng leo thang tới 40.000 – 50.000 đồng/kg, nạn trộm chó cũng gia tăng khắp các tỉnh Miền Tây: Nạn… mất chó! Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper
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Further reading[edit]

  • Kim, Rakhyun E. (2008). "Dog Meat in Korea: A Socio-Legal Challenge". Animal Law 14 (2): 201–236. 
  • Colting, Fredrik; Carl-Johan Gadd (2005-07-10). Magnus Andersson Gadd, ed. The Pet Cookbook: Have your best Friend for dinner. Canada: Nicotext. ISBN 91-974883-4-8. 
  • Yong-Geun Ann, Ph.D. Dog Meat (in Korean and English). Hyoil Book Publishing Company.  (contains some recipes)
  • Dressler, Uwe; Alexander Neumeister (2003-05-01). Der Kalte Hund (in German). Dresden: IBIS-Ed. ISBN 3-8330-0650-1. 

External links[edit]