Is there anything physiologically wrong with eating dogs?

My girlfriend and I went to Korea a couple of weeks ago to visit a good Korean friend of ours. At one point, we were faced with the reality that some Koreans still eat dogs. We were walking through a food market, when we came across a cooler full of dog carcasses with the head chopped and cut open down the middle.

These aren’t just any dogs, they were raised to be eaten, just like, well, almost all of the animals we eat. Our friend was disgusted by it, as were my girlfriend and I.

I’ve never seen anything like that here in Taiwan, though it does sometimes happen :

Like nearly every weird thing you eat in Asia, it’ll help you be more manly, have better sex, or make you a good sword fighter.

I had come there saying, if I had the opportunity, I would try dog meat. What the hell. But staring down at the dogs in the coolers, I actually felt nauseous, and I don’t think I have a particularly weak stomach (I can watch doctors doing surgery on me, and I take out my own stitches).

When we talked about it later, our friend finally said, “In the end, what’s really wrong with it though? I think it’s disgusting, but is it just because I like dogs?”

So that’s my question, is that the only reason we are so averse to eating dogs in the West? Is there any health risk to it or is it just because we see dogs as pets, not as food?

  1. Carnivore meat can have problems.

  2. Dogs have thousands of years of breeding to be our buddies and partners. Cows - not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, in a survival situation, I’d eat dog with nary a qualm. But there is no need to, so why?

I never thought about the fact that it’s a carnivore. What *kind *of problems can carnivore meat have?

I believe that dog liver contains a very high level of Vitamin A, which can be poisonous if eaten in large enough amounts. Members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) most likely died from Vitamin A poisoning when they were forced to eat their sled dogs – apparently the liver was the most palatable part. So don’t go existing on dogs’ livers for a week or more.

Can you clarify this statement? Cows have been bred for desirable characteristics for a very long time – they’re domestic animals. Perhaps not as long as dogs and not for their companion abilities, but certainly for thousands of years. There are different breeds of cows, just like there are dogs, and that is a result of selective breeding. And I believe the dogs mentioned in the OP are bred specifically for eating and not as companion animals, so that distinction (cows are for eating, dogs are for petting) is really only something that exists in the West.

Yes, cows have been bred to be docile food animals, not buddies and companions.

The dogs raised for food are just ordinary dogs, not a special breed raised for thousands of years just to be eaten. Yes, those particular dogs are raised to be eatne, but not the breed. And there are plenty of pet dogs in the East, in fact far more pets than food.

If you’re going the pets angle, then what about pigs?

Also very intelligent, make great pets and do (at times) eat meat?

Mmmmm…pork chops

Carnivore issues aside (I can’t help thinking the meat would be tough and gamey, but that’s probably false), I don’t see any difference between raising dogs for the table and raising, say, rabbits, ducks or pigeons for the pot - people keep those as pets sometimes.
Underneath that cute and fluffy layer, there’s a meaty centre.

Would you live up to your name and partake in a little Spot Au Vin?

I’d probably eat dog if I visited a country where they eat dogs - just out of simple curiosity. I have a feeling I might not like it, but that’s probably based on false notions as described above.
Actually, I have some issues with animal welfare in some of the places where they eat dogs, but that’s a separate issue from my notion of which animals can and cannot be dinner (not that my choices here are necessarily logical or consistent).

It strikes me that as domestic animals, dogs are probably poor sources of meat 9realtive to pigs and cattle). Dogs are relatively small animals, with a high ratio of bone to meat. butchuring a dog is just as much work as a pig, with much less output. plus, dogs are carniverous, whereas pigs and cattle can eat plant life. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense-like the oft-repeated urban legends (about Chinese resraurants using stray cats as a a substitute for chicken).

I can’t think of a rational reason to not eat dog meat. Like the ongoing controversy about butchering horses for their meat, I suspect that it has much more to do with people’s emotions towards particular species of animals, rather than any argument based on science.

The biggest problem with eating dog meat (or cat meat), as anthropologist Marvin Harris pointed out many times, is that they’re carnivores, which means you have to raise them on meat. But if you have the meat to feed the dogs, you can eat it yourself, so what’s the point?

There are some points that can make dog-eating seem more reasonable.

1.) You can eat wild dogs that gather their own meat. But usually people are talking about domestic dogs.

2.) You could be in a place that has few or no other large meat animals. Dog eating is/was popular in places like Polynesia, and pre-Contact North America.

3.) You could feed the dog parts of the original meat that you’re npt particularly interested in eating – organ meat, oxtails, and the like.

I wouldn’t have a problem with it.



No mint sauce today, thanks.

It is just cultural conditioning, nothing more. The French today eat horsemeat, but they never used to - it was the result of a deliberate policy of the French government in the 1860s to promote horses as food.

At one time cats were eaten in parts of England. If you’re used to seeing a particular animal species as food you don’t worry about it.

Mmmmm…spatchcock kitten.

Harris devotes an entire chapter to eating Horse in his book Good to Eat/The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig. he claims one thing that helped keep horse off the “Eatiable” list was its usefulness as a war animal, and that there were edicts against it (which, if true, would indicate that some folks were eating horse, all the same. Certainly our prehistoric ancestors did.)

Horses, being plant-eaters,. don’t have the same problem as dogs and cats. The niggest obstacle today is probably their perception – along with dogs and cats – being “pets”. As others say above, it’s conditioning that keeps us away from eating horses (and dogs and cats, and grasshoppers, for that matter.)

Another to say it’s only cultural conditioning. When I told my strict veggie cousins in India I eat beef, they recoiled from me exactly as if I would when told someone I knew ate dog. I do know someone who ate dog…I’m raised in the US, and find it icky, but he doesn’t one bit - raised in China.

It’s a myth that the dogs served in the bosingtang restaurants in South Korea are specifically bred and raised for that purpose. A large percentage (30%) of the dogs–and cats–served are stolen housepets. Most of the animals slaughtered there are rounded up strays.

Another fun fact is serving dog (or cat) meat as food is illegal. The Korean government has not declared such meat to be a foodstuff; therefore, it is illegal to serve it or even sell it for consumption. On the other hand, they have specifically declared dog meat to be illegal for consumption. That’s obviously the reason that the restaurants aren’t registered as “Dog Meat Restaurants”; they’re registered as “Health Stew Restaurants.” Restaurants that specialize in beef are labeled “Beef Restaurants,” those that specialize in pork are labeled as “Pork Restaurants.”

Yet another myth is that it’s a traditional Korean practice. I suppose now that the Korean war has receded to 60 years in the past, one can say it’s a new tradition. The assertion that the “tradition” goes back into the timeless realm of antiquity is just bunk. It wasn’t that long ago that even the poorest of Koreans condemned and mocked Chinese for eating dog.

Oh, while we’re talking about myths, let’s talk about the reason why many–not some, but many, yet still a minority–Koreans, especially men, eat dog (or cat, unknown to the consumer). It’s because someone got a bright idea to say it improves sexual prowess. Oh, how does it do that? Well, according to the myth, the animal must be tortured and vivisected and skinned alive so that the adrenaline will “reinforce” the muscle tissue (the meat). Are there any scientific studies backing up these claims? Nope. None has even been attempted. After all, we’re talking about the land where many people, even scientists ( :eek: ), believe in fan death.


The following links will take you to some rather graphic images. If you care, as I do, about preventing cruelty to animals, you will never ever consume it in Korea. And you will answer your friend’s question with: “What’s wrong with it? It’s against Korean law.”


Not so long ago, a group of people protesting against Japan put dog heads in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. The protestors said it was alright to do that because they only used dog restaurant animals. Well, animal cruelty is also illegal here.


Link with photo here.