Has China dog meat restaurants

Chinese people eat dogs? Is that correct?

Chinese eat dogs - what's behind it?

There are similar questions that one gets asked again and again after visiting or living in China:

  • Do all Chinese eat dogs?
  • Have you tried dog meat?
  • Can you find dog meat on the menu in Chinese restaurants?

Right at the beginning we want to state: Not all Chinese eat dogs.

Even today, when asked about China, many people often hear the common prejudice: “Chinese eat dogs”. And as is the case with prejudices and stereotypes, they stick in people's minds. Even if they have little to do with the truth.

Not all Chinese eat dogs

Even so, it cannot be denied that a small minority of Chinese eat dog meat. Especially in southern China, in the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi (northeastern provinces, in the north of Jiangsu, Guizhou Guangdong and Guangxi), dogs are still slaughtered for consumption today. Around 10 million dogs are killed in this way every year in China.

If you have already dealt with the topic a little, you will certainly be familiar with the place Yulin in southern China. The week-long Lychee and Dog Meat Festival takes place there every year from June 21st. But now one after the other - how did it come about?

How long have you been eating dog meat in China?

The first traces of the consumption of dog meat in ancient China can be found from 1700 BC, in the northern part of the country. At that time, dogs were considered to be versatile farm animals. Dogs were used, for example, as guard dogs, as herding dogs, as companions on the hunt, but also as meat suppliers. In addition, dogs and dog meat played an important role in the sacrificial rite of that time. They were offered as gifts to deceased relatives and the gods.

Interestingly, the original character for “dog” (犬 - quǎn) can be found in today's character for “present, offer” (献 - xiàn), which fits in with the evidence for the ancient dog sacrifices. With the spread of Buddhism in China from the 10th century onwards, dog sacrifices became less common, as this was interpreted as bad karma: dogs were considered very positive animals here because of their loyalty to their owner.

In traditional Chinese medicine, dog meat is said to have a healing and warming effect. Under Mao Zedong, keeping dogs was considered a "civil pastime" and was strongly condemned during the Cultural Revolution. It wasn't until the 1990s that dogs became increasingly popular as pets in China. In the cities in particular, many people started keeping dogs. That is also the reason why many Chinese today reject the lychee and dog meat festival.

Do the Chinese eat dogs? The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival inYulin

The infamous festival hasn't been around for long, it was held for the first time in 2009. Although the city of Yulin hosts the festival, the city council denies that the festival is in any way supported by the official authorities. The festival is also described as a local custom that is only supported by a small percentage of the Yulins locals (freely translated from the English Wikipedia page on the subject).

Dog meat is eaten in the southern provinces such as Guangxi

Since the beginning of the festival there has been a broad opposition from international animal welfare organizations, but also locals who have criticized the festival. There are also repeated attempts to save the dogs involved there. In 2014, for example, a retired teacher from Yulin donated CNY 150,000 to rescue 360 ​​dogs that were about to be offered for food at the festival. In addition, more and more famous personalities speak out against the festival, which is heavily criticized in many media every year.

The End of a Myth - Dogs are popular pets in China

It is primarily this festival that greatly contributes to the prejudice that dog eating is widespread in China. In reality, especially in large international cities such as Beijing or Shanghai, dog meat is rarely found in a restaurant. Dogs are a popular pet in large parts of China today, as described above, and their consumption is therefore taboo.

Still, it is true that the notion that dog meat tastes good and is healthy is ingrained in part of Chinese culture.

How often does one have to find the balance between two extremes here. The prejudice that all Chinese eat dog meat is unsustainable. On the other hand, it must be said that a small part of the population consumes dog meat.

What is the opinion in China about dog meat consumption?

A few years ago, Horizon carried out a study on this very subject on behalf of the China Animal Welfare Association.

The results of the study show that the majority of Chinese people (nearly 70%) have never tried dog meat. A full 64% speak out against the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. 62% of respondents say the festival in question is damaging China's reputation abroad. Nevertheless, Yulin, with a population comparable to that of London, is not a small city, even by Chinese standards.

This is how the Chinese think of dog meat - a survey by Horizon

In summary, it can be said that this topic is discussed very controversially every year at the beginning of the dog meat festival. Of course, the festival contributes significantly to the stereotype that it is very common in China to eat dog meat. But with our in many parts very generalized prejudices against China, we also contribute to the fact that these stereotypes persist. However, if you look at the facts, it becomes clear that the prejudice that “all Chinese eat dogs” is not entirely true.

Are you interested in food in China? We introduce the five most popular Chinese dishes and explain everything to do with eating in China. If you live vegetarian or vegan in China, you should definitely try these delicious tofu dishes!

Do you want more from LTL?

If you want us to keep you up to date on our latest contributions, you are welcome to subscribe to our LTL newsletter. There we regularly provide you with information about China, our school and give you tips on the best apps for learning Chinese. Register here and become part of our growing community!

Note: We publish our newsletter in English.