Dog meat

Dog meat
Dog meat on sale at the Kyungdong Shijang Market in Seoul, South Korea.
Dog meat
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,096 kJ (262 kcal)
Carbohydrates 0.1 g
- Dietary fiber 0 g
Fat 20.2 g
Protein 19 g
Water 60.1 g
Vitamin A equiv. 3.6 μg (0%)
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.12 mg (10%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.18 mg (15%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 1.9 mg (13%)
Vitamin C 3 mg (4%)
Calcium 8 mg (1%)
Iron 2.8 mg (22%)
Phosphorus 168 mg (24%)
Potassium 270 mg (6%)
Sodium 72 mg (5%)
Ash 0.8 g
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: Yong-Geun Ann (1999)[1]

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 ancient China, ancient Mexico, and ancient Rome.[2] According to contemporary reports, dog meat is consumed in a variety of countries such as Switzerland,[3] China,[4] Vietnam,[5] the Philippines,[6] and Korea.[7] In addition, dog meat has also been used as survival food in times of war and/or other hardships.[8][9] The Donner Party, stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the height of the Mexican-American War, is a noted example of having eaten a pet dog for survival purposes, though it became more known over the years due to cannibalism.[10]

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 inappropriate and offensive. In response to criticisms, proponents of dog meat have argued that distinctions between livestock and pets is subjective, and that there is no difference with eating the meat of different animals, while countering that those critical of dog meat consumption are guilty of cultural supremacy, if not racism.[11][12][13] Eating dog is forbidden under Jewish and Islamic dietary laws.[14]


By region

Arctic and Antarctic

Dogs have historically been emergency food sources for various peoples in Siberia, 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."[15]

Douglas Mawson and Xavier Mertz were part of the Far Eastern Party, 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 because canines have a much higher tolerance for vitamin A than humans do. 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.[9]


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.[16]

In 2003, health inspectors discovered four frozen canine carcasses in the freezer of a Chinese restaurant in Edmonton[17] 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.[18]

China mainland

Dogminegasim 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.[19] Ancient writings from the Zhou Dynasty referred to the "three beasts"[cite this quote] (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).

The eating of dog meat in China dates back thousands of years and it remains socially acceptable.[4] It is thought to have medicinal properties, and is especially popular in winter months, as it is believed to generate heat and promote bodily warmth.[20][21][22] The meat is popular in Guangdong and Guangxi[23] from whence it went on the menu for Chinese astronauts to consume in outer space.[24] When food is scarce, dogs are eaten as an emergency food source.[25]

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.[26]

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."[27] Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese officials in Beijing ordered dog meat to be taken off of the menu at its 112 official Olympic restaurants in order to not offend visitors from various nations who would be appalled by the offering of dog meat at Beijing eateries.[28]

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.[29]

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.[23] The legislation, however, is not expected to be effective, despite officially outlawing the eating of dog meat if it is passed.[23] 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.[30][31] However food festivals continue to promote the meat. For example the 4th annual Yulin, Shaanxi food fair that took place on May 29, 2011 spanning 10 days consumed 15,000 dogs.[32][33]

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the Dogs and Cats Ordinance was introduced by the Hong Kong Government on 6 January 1950,[34] it prohibits the slaughter of any dog or cat for use as food, whether for mankind or otherwise, on pain of fine and imprisonment.[35][36] Four local men were sentenced to 30 days imprisonment in December 2006 for having slaughtered two dogs.[37] 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.[38]


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 2007, was still practiced on some areas of the island. Dog meat is believed to have health benefits, including improving circulation and raising body temperature.[39]

In 2001, the Taiwanese government 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.[40] In 2007, another law was passed, significantly increasing the fines to sellers of dog meat.[39] However, animal rights campaigners have accused the Taiwanese government of not prosecuting those who continue to slaughter and serve dog meat at restaurants. Although the slaughter and consumption of dog meat is illegal in Taiwan, there are reports that suggest the practice continues as of 2011.[41]

East Timor

Dog meat is a delicacy popular in East Timor.[42]


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.[43] 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."[44] 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.[45][46]


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".[8] In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common.[47] The high price of other meat forced Germans to eat horse and dog meat.[48][49]

The consumption of dog meat continued in the 1920s.[50][51] In 1937, a meat inspection law targeted against trichinella was introduced for pigs, dogs, boars, foxes, badgers, and other carnivores.[52] Dog meat has been prohibited in Germany since 1986[53]


In the latter part of World War I, dog meat was being eaten in Saxony by the poorer classes because of famine conditions.[54] Consumption of dog meat has increased greatly and the price has gone up.[citation needed]


Sausages made of dog meat was commonly consumed in Netherland in 1940s.[55]


The term "dog" has been used as a synonym for sausage since 1884 and accusations that sausage makers used dog meat date to at least 1845.[56] Immigrants who were from Germany where consumption of dog meat was common [47] brought their food "Frankfurter" to America, and it was called hot dog because it was widely believed that it was made of dog meat. The belief that sausages contained dog meat was occasionally justified.[57]

In late 19th century, a cure for tuberculosis (then colloquially termed "consumption") using an exclusive diet of dog meat was tried.[58] Some families in Ohio, Newark (N.J) enjoyed dog meat.[59][60]

In the early 20th century, dog meat was consumed during times of food shortage.[61] Dog meat was sold in butcher shops in New Jersey.[62]

Native Americans

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.[63] 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.[64]

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,[65] the Clatsop,[66] the Teton Sioux (Lakota),[67] the Nez Perce Indians,[68] and the Hidatsas.[69] Lewis and the members of the expedition ate dog meat, except William Clark, who reportedly could not bring himself to eat dogs. The usual preparation method was boiling.[70]

The Kickapoo people includes puppy meat in many of their traditional festivals[71] This practice has been well documented in the Works Progress Administration "Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma".[72][73]


Meat shops sold dog meat in Belgium in early 20th century. The average price was 12 francs a kilo ($1.30 pound) in 1916.[74] The Council. of the Veterinary School of Belgium recommended dog meat for human food [75]


The Tallensi, one of many cultures of Ghana, consider dog meat a delicacy. While the Mamprusi generally avoid dog meat, it is eaten in a "courtship stew" provided by a king to his royal lineage.[76]


Dog meat is haram for Muslims and as such, it is not consumed by most of Indonesia's predominantly Muslim population. However, dog meat is eaten by several of Indonesia's non-Muslim minorities.

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.[77] 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 in Japan along with cattle, horse, monkey, and chicken meat until 675 A.D., when Emperor Temmu decreed a prohibition on its consumption during the 4th-9th months of the year.[78] According to Meisan Shojiki Ōrai (名産諸色往来) published in 1760, the meat of wild dog was sold along with boar, deer, fox, wolf, bear, raccoon dog, otter, weasel and cat in some regions of Edo.[79] 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.[80]


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, Body nourishing soup).

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.[81]

South Korea

A dish made with dog meat in South Korea, Seoul, 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.[7]

The Korea Food & Drug Administration recognizes any edible product other than drugs as food.[82] In the capital city of Seoul, the sale of dog meat was outlawed by regulation on February 21, 1984 by classifying dog meat as 'repugnant food' (혐오식품), 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.[83][84][85]

South Korean Food Sanitary Law (식품위생법) does not include dog meat as a legal food ingredient. Also, dog meat has been categorized as 'repugnant food' (혐오식품) based on a regulation issued by Seoul Metropolitan Government, of which using as food ingredient is not permitted.[86][dead link]

However, the laws are not strictly enforced. The primary dog breed raised for meat, the Nureongi (누렁이), or Hwangu (황구); which is a specific breed, different from the breeds raised for pets in Korea.[87][88]

There is a large and vocal group of Koreans who are against the practice of eating dogs.[89] 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.[89] 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.[89] A group of pro-dog meat individuals attempted to promote and publicize the consumption of dog meat worldwide during the run-up to the 2002 Fifa World Cup, co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, which prompted retaliation from animal rights campaigners and prominent figures such as Brigette Bardot to denounce the practice.[90] Opponents of dog meat consumption in South Korea are critical of practices that are claimed to improve the flavour of dog meat in Korean tradition, such as beating and hanging.

The restaurants that sell dog meat do so, often exclusively, at the risk losing their restaurant licenses. A case of a dog meat wholesaler brought up on charges of selling dog meat in arose in 1997. However, an appeals court acquitted the dog meat wholesaler, ruling that dogs were socially accepted as food.[91] 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.[92][93][94] In 1999 the BBC reported that eighty-five hundred tons of dog meat were consumed annually, with another 93,600 tons used to produce a medicinal tonic called gaesoju (개소주).[94] As of 2007, the dogs were no longer being beaten to death as they had been in past times.[95]

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.[96]

North Korea

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.[97]


Ancient Mexico

In the time of the Aztecs, Mexican Hairless Dogs were bred, among other purposes,[98] 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.[99] 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.[100]

Modern Mexico

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.[101]


Dogs are eaten by various groups in some states of Nigeria, including Cross River, Plateau, Taraba and Gombe of Nigeria.[76] They are believed to have medicinal powers.[102][103]


In the capital city of Manila, Metro Manila Commission Ordinance 82-05[104] specifically prohibits the killing and selling of dogs for food. More generally, the Philippine Animal Welfare Act 1998[105] 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.[6]

The Province of Benguet specifically allows cultural use of dog meat by indigenous people and acknowledges this might lead to limited commercial use.[106]

Asocena is a dish primarily consisting of dog meat originating from the Philippines.


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.[107] In 2009, a scandal erupted when a farm near Częstochowa was discovered rearing dogs to be rendered down into lard.[107]


Dogs were historically eaten in Tahiti and other islands of Polynesia, including Hawaii[108][109] 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".[110] 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] This practice seems to have died out, along with the native Hawaiian breed of dog, the unique Hawaiian Poi Dog, which was primarily used for this purpose.[111] The consumption of domestic dog meat is still commonplace in the Kingdom of Tonga, and has also been noted in expatriate Tongan communities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.[112]


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.[113]

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."[114]

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 7,000-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.[115]


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

Dog meat is consumed mostly in Northern part of Vietnam and can be found in special restaurants which specifically serve this type of meat. Dog meat is believed to bring good fortune in Vietnam.[116] In Vietnam, dog meat is seen as being comparable in consumption to chicken or pork.[116] 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.[116] 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.[116] The Associated Press reported in October 2009 that a soaring economy has led to the booming of dog restaurants in Hanoi, and that this has led to a proliferation of dognappers. Reportedly, a 20 kilograms (44 lb) dog can sell for more than $100—roughly the monthly salary of an average Vietnamese worker.[117]

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.[118][119]


In addition to the potentially fatal dangers of vitamin poisoning from consuming dog meat, such as under the circumstances suffered by Xavier Mertz of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition[120] after consuming the overly rich in Vitamin A liver of his sled dogs, the transmission of rabies to humans from dog meat consumption have been reported in two cases in China, one in Vietnam, and two deaths reported in the Philippines.[121]

See also


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Further reading

  • Kim, Rakhyun E. (2008). "Dog Meat in Korea: A Socio-Legal Challenge". Animal Law 14 (2): 201–236. SSRN 1325574 
  • 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 (in Korean and English). Dog Meat. Hyoil Book Publishing Company.  (contains some recipes)
  • Dressler, Uwe; Alexander Neumeister (2003-05-01) (in German). Der Kalte Hund. Dresden: IBIS-Ed.. ISBN 3-8330-0650-1. 

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