Ban Dog Meat In China?

By Yibo Zhao

For centuries, dog meat has been received in China for its unique flavor and it is believed to help keep warm in the North China.  For some it’s a treat worth shelling out for.  So far China has no law to ban eating dog meat.  However, as the booming of China’s economy, more dog lovers mainly from the burgeoning middle and upper class began the battle towards the dog eaters.

In China it is already common to see that dog lovers in many ways, claim that, dogs are not animals but human being’s friends. Dogs also have their animal rights.  But what about fish, cows and baby sheep?  As for animal rights, why some certain animal should be treated so specially while some can only reasonably become food?  Also, honestly speaking, to domesticate the dogs as “pets” for the selfish needs and to use them for food, are hard to judge whichever is better.

Well, the feeling of pet owners is quite understandable and surely the prospect of eating dogs turns their stomach.  Still, if one feels uncomfortable to eat dog meat, just don’t eat it.  But is there a need for it to become a national law to forbid any person in China to eat dogs?  Can it be effective based on the totality of the circumstances?

Here comes the example from Zhu Guangbing, a Chinese peasant.  His family raised one dog to watch the door and one to be killed in the Lunar New Year because they were too poor to buy pork.  He doesn’t understand what is wrong with it. Like him, many grass-rooted Chinese people treat eating dogs is no difference with cows and sheep.

Maybe, it is an argument between morality and tradition.  Something needs to bear in our mind is that Western culture should not be imposed value on this case. Besides, in Victoria’s Era, it was even once a custom for Europeans to eat cats and dogs.  Well, if we look back Chinese history and tradition, dogs were not treated as pets until Chinese Culture Revolution.  And these people allowed their dogs to bite the servants, which left a very bad image for the whole society.

Another famous incident happened in 2011. The title in Chinese popular discussion website mostly goes “A working truck hauling dogs forced off the road by a black Mercedes-Benz whose driver was on his way to a resort hotel with his girlfriend.”  Even from this description, the resentment towards the rich can be sensed easily.  The truck drivers and many others in China see the issue again as rich versus poor (the gap between these two social classes widens quickly).

Many people claim that the money and time for the animal activists should be used for the poor rural in China.  Without talking about the human care, does fighting for animal rights make any sense?

However, a large number of dogs in meat market are stolen pets.  And the food safety problem is really worrying.  I do think the relevant departments should make effective measures.

Get back to business.  From what I learnt, laws can help lead people to do the right thing, but if they get too far out in front of what people want, they will usually be ignored or opposed by the public.  Based on my experience, only 5 people told me that they have tried dogs and it is not regular food for them.  Maybe someday because of the culture and the society change, the banning of eating dog meat will be practiced into law.  Apparently, now is not the right time.


Have you eaten dogs meat? June 2012

Eating dogs in China.  September 2013

Eating dogs in China. It is very complex. Very. June 2011

What is wrong with eating dog meat? June 2011

11 thoughts on “Ban Dog Meat In China?

  1. Josephine Hoi Tung Kwok

    Prior to reading this blog post and the poster’s own opinions, I equated eating dog meat to perhaps eating shark fin soup. Both of which I am personally very much against especially because, in terms of shark fin soup, the sharks are then disposed of or thrown back into the waters with no possible way of survival without their fins.

    However, after reading this post, while I still oppose to eating dog meat, my position has perhaps become more tolerant to those who eat dog meat in the sense that one’s traditions and values should be valued regardless of whether you personally are against it or not. For some Chinese people, eating dog meat is as normal as perhaps the French eating escargots, and who is to say, on a more extreme stance, dogs are more valuable to snails? Or why are we able to accept eating cows, pork and chicken but are so against eating dog meat.

    Often, protests against eating particular types of animals are due to people opposing how the process of which the animal was killed and delivered. Therefore, perhaps many who strongly believe we should ban eating dog meat may be opposing to the way in which people are killing the dogs, rather than because the animal is a dog.

    Hence, perhaps regulations should be implemented to improve the ways in which dog meat can be consumed or how they should be handled in the process, such as maybe only allowing registered restaurants to sell dog meat instead of allowing private households to kill and cook their own dogs.
    Though obviously this would be hard to regulate and perhaps financial limitations and customary practices in the Chinese community will hinder the effectiveness of such laws.

  2. Huang Shengran 2011811260

    Hi Yibo,

    Thanks for raising such an interesting topic and I really like your argument against the general trend (well, it might make you be criticized not trying to protect animals)! However, as a girl from north part of Mainland China, I always regard it as usual for people to eat dog meat and have never think about this issue. It is a moral problem, I admit. But as you state in the blog, our culture and people’s intrinsic value concerning what can be eaten is the biggest obstacle if we try to impose a regulation prohibiting this tradition. And universally, Chinese people eat many kinds of food, which are not regarded as food by foreign people. We cannot judge the extent about what should be eaten and what should not using the same scale. In my point of view, now is not the right time to regulate and in the future, it should not be written into law. As Darwin’s evolutionary theory states, “survival of the fittest” is the trend of the evolution of the society. People can morally decrease doing harm to animals, but such behaviors should not be forced.

    1. You will have to do a little bit more reading because Darwin never said such a thing. Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” I wouldn’t be very proud of being “fitter” than a defenseless dog who is in fact a DOMESTICATED animal. Meaning that it has successfully adapted to serve humans whims and desires extremely well for the past 7,000+ years. Now, you are torturing them…because they TRUST you. Because they have been DOMESTICATED by humans and they don’t run. If they were wolves you would have a more difficult time to put them on your plate!

      By the way, Albert Einstein also said “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil but because of those who look and do nothing.” Dogs in your country are being skinned alive, dismembered alive, burn alive, and/or flayed and left to bleed. Pick whichever you like most “fitting.” Cats have their heads crashed in the markets on the way to the shopping bags, before being boiled alive. I wouldn’t feel very proud of being “stronger/fitter” than a defenseless sentient being small like cat. Instead of feeling mercy and/or feel empathy with their pain/suffering, instead you seem to be proud of being able to overpower small, loving and trusting creatures!

      You may wish to read some ethical thinkers such as Austrailan moral philosopher Peter Singer, Tom Regan and Steven Best. While Singer offers a utilitarian ethical framework, you may wish to ponder on the moral question posed by Steven Best. “The question is not are there differences between humans and animals, clearly there are. The question is are these differences morally significant? When, if ever, does the mere fact of human intellectual complexity justify using animals for our alleged benefits and selfish whims? And when do human and animal interests really clash in such a way that (1) human beings have a substantive interest at stake, where (2) the only possible way to realize it is to cause suffering and/or death to animals?” ( You seem to have a clear answer to a highly burning moral dilemma.

      May God bless you. God please put some light in these people’s hearts so they don’t hurt or torture animals and learn about your Mercy.

  3. Thank you for your posting, yibo.
    This post reminds me of an old news whose original title is Chinese City Criticized over Dog-Meat Festival on Uk’s the Guardian which is about the controversy of a dog meat festival in yulin, in which people celebrates the summer solstice by eating dog meat. Here’s the link below:
    Firstly, I agree on author’s opinion that dog meat should be consider as one kind of edible meat that has no difference from others, especially under certain cultural background. And the reason “Dogs are human’s best friends” cannot support the ban on dog meat eating in this light, because cows, fish and pigs enjoy the same right essentially. Apparently it doesn’t correspond to the reality.
    But I have to say that regulation on this kind of festival is intensively needed, not on the account of prohibited people from eating dog meat, but to stop the behavior that promoting cruel large-scale massacre of animals, which is likely to have downside imply to the society.
    In one word, I support people’s right to choose their preferred meat, but I also suggest the regulation on so-called festival but indeed brutal show.

  4. Gao Shuai (3035027643)

    I totally agree your ideas that we should respect the tradition and also regulate the source of dog meat to prevent hygienic problem.

    Personally speaking, I think whether a kind of animal can be eaten or not depend on two factors. One is the tradition and acceptance of eating this animal. Another is the risk of extinction. As you said in the post, it is traditional and acceptable to eat meat in Chinese culture. In addition, unlike shark, dog is not endangered and its ability of reproduction is high. It is predicable that eating dog will not break the natural balance.

    The advocators of banning eating dog argue that we should not eat dog because dog can give us happiness and valuable memories. But this cannot support their argument. Most of animals can give you happiness and memories as long as you regard them as pets. Some people even raise chicken as pet. Can we ban eating chicken because of it?

    Therefore, I think that it is our own choices whether I am willing to eat or not. But also, as you said, government should ensure the safety of dog meat. This is a part of food safety.

  5. Elizabeth Ong (2012503004)

    Thank you Yibo for this interesting post regarding the issue of banning dog meat.

    As an animal lover, in particular dogs, I really cannot bear to see people killing and eating them. It is heart breaking to see how people will use knives to kill dogs which are alive or burning them while they are still conscious while still regarding them as man’s best friend.

    However, different countries have different traditions and cultures. For example in Guangxi province, there is the Yulin Festival to eat dogs’ meat. They consider dogs the same as chicken, pork and lamb. If there is an animal right to protect dogs from being eaten, then we would start to question on other animals, don’t them deserve the same rights as well? Will it means that everyone has to become a vegetarian?

    Therefore, I think it is not feasible to impose a law on banning dogs’ meat. Rather the concern should be focus on the cleanliness and hygiene when handling and eating dogs’ meat. It was reported that a lot of stray and sick dogs were sold to the Chinese farmers, where a lot of them were carrying rabies and other contagious diseases.

    1. The article said, among other things…”They use knives to kill the dogs which are alive,” it said, according to the South China Morning Post. “Then people would like to burn the dogs, which are conscious, so they can eat them.”…

      I would agree with you that the way dogs are being currently handled is unethical…for not saying dantesque. Are these people simply desensitized to torture of sentient beings? What is wrong with this people? I sincerely cannot empathize with them…please somebody help me. I wouldn’t skin a chicken, a pig, a cow alive…it doesn’t matter what type of animal we are talking about! They are ALL sentient beings and feel pain just like you and me!

      How could someone flay them, boil or burn them alive? Why wouldn’t they kill them quickly and as painlessly as possible, and instead they flay them and let them bleed to death? It is simply too horrific to think about it. God please put some light on their hearts so they stop torturing all animals. Thank you.

  6. Adam Scott (3035081388)

    Great topic to bring up!

    I believe this to be a case of western culture influencing eastern culture, as we can already see it is the case in Hong Kong where it is illegal to slaughter or eat both dogs and cats, which is most likely a law passed due to the British influence on culture in Hong Kong. As the owner of a Dalmatian back in the UK, I would not intentionally eat dog meat, however I have no objection to others doing so. There seems to be an increase in the attitude that slaughtering dogs is cruel or morally wrong, however what difference is there between a pig, a lamb, a cow or a dog when considering them all as a food source?

    There should be legal action taken in relation to the slaughter and consumption of dogs in China but not necessarily in the form of a ban, but more so in regulation of the industry. In my opinion it only becomes a moral issue when any animal is slaughtered inhumanely or raised in poor conditions when the welfare of the livestock is compromised. I fully agree with your point that relevant departments need to take measures in the case of stolen pets finding their way into the food chain, as this is the point where eating dog meat does become a question of morality. I believe a bigger issue in this debate is the loss of culture if such a law is passed in China. Just because it is not acceptable to eat dog in the west does not mean it has to be the case in the east.


  7. Lau Wui Yan, Vincent (3035019684)

    Thank you for your post, Yibo. I like your post because it allows me to think more about animal rights and the purpose of setting up a new law.

    I agree with your point that dogs are just similar to other animals. It is possible to argue that there is a distinct dividing line between humans and pigs. Human beings are superior creatures and therefore it makes sense for banning us to eat humans. However, it is difficult to suggest why dogs are more superior to cows, chicken, fish and should not be eaten from a logical point of view. Some may argue that dogs help we humans in many different ways like guiding the blinds and searching for drugs. But I would say that cows also help farmers to keep their farm. If we set up a new law which bans dog meats, does it mean that we also have to set up another one which bans cow meats? To conclude, I agree that a new law banning dogs meat should not be set up unless there is a logical argument supporting dogs are more superior.

    CBC Radio (2013), Should we eat dogs? Retrieved from

  8. Sin Hiu Tung Sabrina 3035066596

    Thank you for bringing up this interesting yet controversial topic.

    To a large extent, I agree with what you said in the article. For more than 5000 years, Chinese people have been eating dogs as a food source (not regularly). Due to the spread of western culture, people are becoming more aware of the indecency and morality of eating dog meat and thinking of banning this behavior via legal means.

    Laws in different countries are designed according to the unique culture of that country e.g., there are laws protecting the rights indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories which can only be found in Hong Kong. Therefore, we should not come up of the idea of banning dog meats in China just merely because more and more dog lovers in China. We should also consider the traditional culture of China and the fact that some people eat dog meats in special occasions because they cannot afford pork or beef.

    However, I do think that the means of getting and killing the dog by sellers should be tightly regulated. The authority should make sure the dogs are killed in the least cruel means and control the quantity of dog meats.


  9. Purposely and viciously harming defenseless sentient beings is an ethical issue, not a cultural issue. It has nothing to do with feeling hungry. The ways dogs and cats are mistreated are the problem, not the fact that they may or may not be used as a food source. First, they are not legally and humanly raised as farm animals. Second, dogs are being skinned alive and left to bleed to death on their own. Third, cats are being boiled alive, they are NOT being killed beforehand. Does anyone else see something wrong with this?

    Animals are rendered unconscious before SLAUTGHERING them, quickly and as painlessly as possible. Not before they are boiled alive like they do to cats in southern China! Dogs are being stolen from rightful owners, tied and terrified, and tortured alive. This is horrific and inhumane

    Cats skulls are crashed while picking them up before throwing them on a bag on their way to the plate on somebody’s home…while being ALIVE…they are suffering all the way to the boiling pot. This is despicable and simply unnecessarily cruel. Where is your empathy friends?

    I don’t mean any disrespect, but if we go back in history Chinese skinned alive and dismembered Catholics starting the 1st decade of the 17th century for 200+ years. Desensitized atrocious torturing of cats and dogs occur right now! Being a Catholic myself it gives me déjà vu…skinning dogs alive is NOT OK, boiling cats ALIVE is NOT OK either. Please have some mercy…these are defenseless sentient beings!

    Purposely and viciously skinning, dismembering insidiously and/or boiling animals while they are alive is torture anywhere in the world. Flaying, eviscerating and removing parts of any animals while being ALIVE is not slaughtering in a humane fashion. It is unethical treatment of beings under our care while on this planet. They are NOT objects! They feel pain like you and me. May God bless you.

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