It can be deeply saddening for any dog lover to think that there are countries around the world in which farming, stealing, and brutally slaughtering dogs in order to eat them is commonplace, even in 2019. Currently, there are 17 known countries where dogs are regularly eaten.
In some countries – such as China, Vietnam and North Korea, where millions of dogs are eaten by humans each year – this is far more common than anywhere else. Below, we'll list 17 known countries (alphabetically) that regularly consume dog meat, and why or for what purposes dog meat is consumed there. Links on how you can help to stop the trading and eating of dog meat are provided.
There isn't much written about the reasons and practices of dog eating in Cameroon, but certain tribes and native groups eat dog meat, very often for specific traditional rituals, other times believing that dog meat – called 404 in this African country – is very healthy and particularly helps with libido. The next odd dish on the list there is cow's skin.
This Asian country is the largest consumer of dog meat in the entire world, with 10 to 20 million dogs being killed and eaten every year. Consuming dog meat in China is legal, and there are no guidelines nor regulations in place for the slaughtering, manufacturing, and eating of dogs.
Many or most dogs that are killed and eaten there never received vaccinations; a lot have lived in extremely poor conditions, causing these dogs to have a wide variety of diseases that can make the people who consume them sick. Dog meat has even caused outbreaks (PDF) of the canine parasitic Trichinella infection among Chinese.
Dog meat has been consumed by Chinese citizens for thousands of years, and is believed to have medicinal properties. In Chinese cultures, especially in Northern China, dog meat is believed to promote warmth in the body when consumed. Dog meat is, therefore, especially popular to eat in the winter months.
In Southern China, dog meat is often readily available and openly served by restaurants, where dog farms exist for this purpose and dogs are bred, and often kept in bad, unsanitary conditions. There have also been many cases of dogs that are family pets being stolen and served as meals in restaurants in China.
Not surprisingly, China is the country in which the Yulin Dog Meat Festival takes place. Every year, approximately 15,000 dogs are slaughtered and eaten during this 10-day festival. While the organizers of the festival (which is a commercial event held by and for the restaurants and the public) claim that only dogs that are bred specifically to be eaten are consumed at this festival, it is clear that many dogs are lost or stolen pets, as evidenced by their collars and dog tags.
The dogs that are consumed at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival are often boiled or burnt alive, even clubbed and beaten to death, because of the belief amongst Chinese that having adrenaline pumping through the tortured, burned and beaten dog’s body makes the meat taste better. There are many countries and organizations that are working tirelessly to ban the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
3. Democratic Republic of the Congo
Consumption of domestic dog meat is not banned nor is it considered a taboo to eat dogs in this African country. This is still the case today, despite the fact that testing confirmed that at least 156 dogs in this country were infected with the Ebola virus, which kills between 20 to 90 percent of individuals that become infected with Ebola, and this disease is transmitted by eating an animal – dogs among them – that has the Ebola virus.
Many tribes and cultures in this African country eat dog meat. For some of the tribes, dog meat is considered a delicacy. For other tribes, dogs are hunted and consumed as a means of bonding, with the dog head going to the winning tribe as a trophy. And for some tribes in Ghana, dog meat is to be eaten in a meal known as “courtship stew” that is supplied for the royal offspring and lineage of a king.
Despite the fact that slaughtering dogs to eat them is illegal in India, more than 30,000 stolen and lost dogs are captured and clubbed to death each year, to be eaten. This takes place most often in the eastern states of India, specifically in Nagaland. This area consider dog meat to be of high nutritional value and to have medicinal properties. They also have their own version of the infamous Chinese dog meat festival.
Dog meat is regularly consumed in several areas of Indonesia. Specifically in Bali, where 60,000 to 70,000 dogs are killed for consumption every year, despite widespread concern that the dogs have and still do spread rabies in Bali. In 2017, investigative journalists have discovered that tourist visiting Bali are unknowingly eating dog meat, often sold to them by street vendors, disguised as other types of meat.
In Morocco, dog meat is eaten primarily by poor individuals who cannot afford other types of meat. Despite the fact that Islamic law in this country bans the selling and eating of dogs, the dog meat is often sold and consumed under the guise of being some other type of meat.
Dog meat is believed to have medicinal powers and is therefore consumed by quite a few groups of Nigerians, spanning across a variety of different states in this country. Additionally, a wide-spread fear of contracting the Ebola virus from eating infected bushmeat led a Nigerian newspaper to report that eating dog meat was safer than eating bushmeat, which increased the amount of dog meat consumption in Nigeria. Several reports revealed (PDF) how humans are dying of rabies in Nigeria due to dog meat trade and consumption of dog meat.
9. North Korea
Dog meat has long been eaten by Korean cultures, and is still consumed in North and South Korea today. In both North and South Korea, consuming dog meat is believed to be beneficial to keeping up your stamina, specifically during the summer (more on South Korean below).
Purchasing dog meat for consumption is so common in North Korea specifically that dog meat was added by the North Korean government to its list of 100 items that have “fixed” (or government determined) prices. Read more about the cultural and legal aspects of the trade, slaughter, and consumption of dog meat in both North and South Korea and how it can potentially be combated in the following report.
Eating dog meat is very common in this area of the world, to the extent that dog meat is the third most highly consumed meat in Philippines, behind only pig and goat meat. Dog meat is, in fact, consumed more than beef in the Philippines.
11. Polynesia (Kingdom of Tonga)
While eating dog meat was historically commonplace in Tahiti, Hawaii, and all of the Polynesian islands, this practice seems to have ceased in most Polynesian territories with the exception of a relatively small Polynesian island named the Kingdom of Tonga that is about 4 times the size of Washington D.C. Eating dog meat is still a regular occurrence in the Kingdom of Tonga, as has been revealed by expatriates of the Kingdom of Tonga who now reside in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
12. South Korea
Between 780,000 to 1 million dogs are eaten in South Korea every single year, and there are approximately 3,000 dog farms in operation across the country according to the Korean Animal Rights Advocates (KARA). In 2018, the Humane Society International reported that South Korea is the number one country in which dogs are regularly and vigorously farmed for human consumption.
Despite the massive amount of dog farming that exists in South Korea, The Korean Observer reports that the demand for dog meat is so high, that in addition to all of the dogs that are farmed for consumption, many family pets are stolen and sold to be murdered and eaten, with most popular breeds being Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels.
People who are against the consumption of dog meat in South Korea are especially upset by the fact that many dogs are tortured, beaten, burned or hanged to death due to the belief that this will make the dog’s meat more tender. Read the following document about the state of the dog meat trade in South Korea and efforts to eliminate it from HeinOnline.org.
While it is illegal to slaughter dogs in order to sell their meat commercially in this country, it is completely legal to keep and slaughter dogs for your own, personal consumption in Switzerland. Consequently, many people, especially in the rural and/or poorer areas of this country, keep and slaughter dogs in order to eat them, as a less expensive source of meat. One of the favorite types of dog meat to eat among Swiss citizens comes from a dog that is closely related to the Rottweiler, and is found in a dish called Mostbröckli, in which the dog meat is marinated for personal consumption.
In this country, eating dog meat is very popular, and the meat of a dog is considered to be a delicacy. Dogs are also consumed in Timor-Leste because it is a poor country and dog meat is often the only kind of meat that people can easily and cheaply obtain.
In many areas of this Asian country, dog meat is widely consumed and it's considered to be a normal and appropriate part of the culture. As such, Thailand has a massive and highly-profitable dog meat trade that has been brought to the attention of animal rights activists within and outside of the country.
A large number of dogs that are beaten to death and consumed in Thailand are pets that have been stolen from citizens' homes, according to news reports and animal advocacy groups. Because of the stealing and horrific maltreatment of dogs in Thailand, several advocacy groups have been formed to fight against this issue, as well as against the health epidemics related to the consumption of dog meat in Thailand.
Although the eating of dog meat is less common in this country, people do choose to consume dogs due to the belief that they have medicinal value. You can read more about this topic in the following academic article entitled Uzbekistan: Meat is Medicine.
Approximately 5 million dogs are slaughtered for consumption in this country every year, making it the second largest consumer of dog meat, right behind China. A large majority of the dogs that are eaten in Vietnam are stolen pets that are treated poorly, and brutally killed by those who capture them. There are no laws established in the country to impede the dog meat trade, therefore, thieves and abusers who steal ant torture animals are rarely found or punished.
In a survey, majority of Vietnam citizens that were asked (close to 80%), stated that they believe dog meat consumption is completely fine and that they consume it regularly for its nutritional value. Additionally, in the Vietnamese culture, eating dog meat is believed to bring good luck to those who eat it, increase a man’s libido, and is comparable to eating chicken or pork, therefore many restaurants serve dog meat.
There is a huge black market in Vietnam for the trade of dog meat as well, which is bought and sold for a premium price (for instance, 44 pounds of dog meat can be sold for approximately one month's worth of salary for the average Vietnamese worker), making stealing, brutally murdering, and selling a dog’s meat a profitable and therefore popular business in this country, despite the outbreak of rabies (PDF) related to the dog meat trade.