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Do people in china eat dogs? If so, why do Chinese people eat dogs?
One of the questions friends and acquaintances asked me after I returned from China was whether or not dog eating in China was a fact. So, do the Chinese eat dogs? The answer: Yes and no. We explain why this taboo topic is a half-truth.
Why Do Chinese People Eat Dogs?
Estimates for total dog killings in China range from 10 to 20 million dogs annually for human consumption purposes. But why is it?
Dog eating in China dates back thousands of years, when some Chinese regions used dog meat as a food source. Even Mencius (372 BC – 289 BC), the philosopher, talked about dog meat as edible, dietary meat. It’s thought that wolves in southern China may have been domesticated as a source of meat. Historical records also show that dogs were eaten as an emergency food source during wartime. More recent reports describe that people think dog meat has medicinal properties, and it’s believed to raise body temperature after consumption and promote warmth.
Let’s be clear; not all Chinese people eat dogs. In modern times, the extent of dog consumption in China varies by region.
Do People In China Eat Dogs?
Today, a small minority of Chinese people still have dogs on their menu. The regions where dog eating is still prominent are mainly south of China. These include:
And probably the most well-known place where dog eating happens is “Yulin.” This is where every year, the famous “Lychee and Dog Meat Festival.”
How Did Dog Eating In China Begin?
Dog eating in China dates back to around 1700 B.C. The practice started in the country’s north, where dogs were considered friends and food.
Dogs were buried with their owners to provide company in the afterlife but were also sacrificed as offerings to the Gods. In fact, the Chinese character “to offer” 献 (xiàn) contains the character “dog” 犬 (quǎn).
Buddhism & Chinese Traditional Medicine
Around the 10th century, Buddhism’s growing popularity condemned killing dogs for food, believing that bad karma would come to those for killing such a loyal and faithful animal. Despite that, canine meat consumption is believed to have health benefits in Chinese traditional medicine, and it’s thought to provide warmth during wintertime.
Lychee & Dog Meat Festival
This festival is relatively new, starting in 2009 to mark the beginning of the summer solstice. According to folklore, eating dog meat during summer can bring luck and good health. This 10-day festival is seen by animal activists and pet owners worldwide as an atrocious and inhumane event.
Lychee and Dog Meat Festival runs from 21 to 30 June every year, and it’s held in Yulin, a city in the Guangxi province of China, where over 10,000 dogs are eaten.
Local authorities deny any endorsement of the festival. It’s only seen as a customary event attended by some residents. Activists report animals are slaughtered inhumanely. Some dogs are seeing wearing collars, which may indicate that these pups could be stolen.
Is this why people around the world think all Chinese people eat dogs? We believe that stereotype is, in fact, primarily due to this festival.
What Do Chinese Have to Say?
According to a survey by the NGO Humane Society International in June 2016, 69.5% of Chinese have never eaten dog meat, while 64% are against the Yulin Festival. 62% of people think Yulin damages China’s reputation, while 51.7% say the event should be banned. Although some had tried dog meat and eaten it more than once, most Chinese people I talked to while living in the country assertively said it’s not a tradition or regular practice.
Eating dogs is NOT a common practice in China and Chinese restaurants. Tofu and pretty much anything else are much more common.
What Kind of Dogs Do Chinese Like to Eat?
Unfortunately, Chinese dog farms continue to operate. There is no specific kind of dog Chinese like to eat. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are consumed. Humane Society International has found dozens of dog breeds in dog farms.
Is Eating Dogs In China Illegal?
Unfortunately, it is legal to eat dogs in China. Around 10 to 20 million canines are killed for human consumption each year. China is not the only country to allow dog eating. In the United States, 44 states, it is illegal for slaughterhouses to handle dogs, and it’s illegal for stores to sell the meat. However, most states can kill and eat a dog or sell their meat to others.
Despite this, attitudes towards dog eating in China have changed. Pet ownership has risen to 62 million registered pets, and most Chinese citizens are vocal and largely opposed to dog eating.
Do Restaurants In China Serve Dog Meat?
Dog meat in China is more expensive than that of other animals. It’s highly unlikely that you will find a dog meat-based menu when eating at a local restaurant. It’s also rare that restaurants will try to pass dog meat as chicken or other meat. Chicken and pork are the cheapest breeding animals in China.
People who eat dog meat ask for it and are aware of it.
Do Chinese Eat Their Pet Dogs?
The dog meat eaten and sold in some Chinese restaurants is from specific breeds raised for human consumption.
As heartless as it may sound, The Chinese know the difference between a pet dog and a dog meant to be served for dinner. According to China-Files media, a Chinese journalist from CNN said that the festival’s butchers had their pets at the Yulin festival.
Dog breeds meant to be pets are very well taken care of. Even in some cities, they are treated with greater fanaticism than in the U.S. People take their dogs on buses and dye their fur, among other regular dog parent perks.
Is China The Only Dog-Eating Country?
No. Eating canine meat is common in several countries in Asia, such as Vietnam and Korea. Dog eating in Taiwan was banned in 2001 and in 1954 in Hong Kong. However, it’s common to find dog-based dishes in Vietnam and Korea.
Did you know up until the beginning of the 20th century, dog meat was eaten in Germany and France? In the Swiss Alps, villages have a tradition of eating Rottweilers and other dog breeds. In northern Canada, Alaska, and even some ethnic groups in Mexico, it is acceptable to eat dog meat. Local regulations state dogs must be killed in the most humane way possible.
Anecdote & Thoughts
We want to tell a little anecdote…
We remember that one day a professor took us to a restaurant for an end-of-course celebration.
Suddenly a dog meat-based dish arrived at the table. While some westerners tried it, most rejected it, stating that we would never eat dogs. That sparked a conversation between Westerners, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. They asked us the difference between eating a dog and a cow, which is sacred to them, while Muslims criticized us for eating pork or any other animal.
While we do not justify dog-eating and by no means support the slaughtering and torturing of any animals, this is undoubtedly a cultural issue. We sincerely hope these practices end in China and condemn any dog abuse to our furry friends.
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