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Why do Chinese people eat dog meat?


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#106 Non-Han Nan Ban

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 12:15 PM

Historically, while the Chinese ate dogs and had dog butchers as professions, they ironically kept dogs as watchdogs and pets, and have done so for a long time. Here's some pottery statues from the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD) of pet dogs with bell-laden collars:

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As LongMa suggests, people will eat anything when they are starving or don't have access to a whole variety of foods. In ancient times, the poor Chinese ate mostly rice, salted fish, pork, and by the 16th century, sweet potatoes. In contrast, the surviving menus of upscale restaurants in China from virtually the Song Dynasty onwards completely lack dog meat, because the upper classes were too busy eating a variety of quality and exotic meats. Dog meat was too low class (which has been nullified these days). Once eating dog meat became socially accepted, it became ingrained into Chinese culture.
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#107 DeanW

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:11 AM

Yes,

It is true some eat dog meat and cat meat. But others think it's against their religion. I recently met a Taoist master who thinks anything dealing with dogs is bad. However I can see how the Buddhist appreciate all living things.

Anyhow, I look forward to your all experiences. :)
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#108 changsham

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:41 AM

All this dog eating talk is tame stuff. I think the must try ultimate disgusting dish to eat is the "crawling cheese" which is served in Italy and France. It is a soft over ripe mouldy blue vein cheese infested with thousands of live wriggling maggots. About a 100 maggots in a spoonfull of cheese is an ideal serve. It must be eaten quickly before it all crawls off your plate. I have tried it and the flavour is like a very strong and sharp mouldy cheese and the overpowering smell is like festering meat. I love my cheese in all flavours and styles but I think once is enough for this one.

The English had their own version. A Stilton cheese was not considered fully ripe unless infested with maggots in the old days.

Edited by changsham, 08 January 2009 - 04:45 AM.

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#109 HappyHistorian

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:49 AM

It's amazing that a topic about why Chinese people eat dogs is so popular! I suppose it's because eating dogs is a taboo in many Western cultures. Anyway, Chinese people eat dogs as they treat it as if it's just like eating any other animals, such as lamb, beef and pork. There's a lot of people in China and there is not always an abundant supply of food. So eating dogs is seen as ok in China.

#110 shunyadragon

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:58 PM

It's amazing that a topic about why Chinese people eat dogs is so popular! I suppose it's because eating dogs is a taboo in many Western cultures. Anyway, Chinese people eat dogs as they treat it as if it's just like eating any other animals, such as lamb, beef and pork. There's a lot of people in China and there is not always an abundant supply of food. So eating dogs is seen as ok in China.


The only thing I disagree with her is that eating dog in China is related to the lack of food at various times in history. The eating of dogs probably would do little to resolve the problem of starvation during periods of severely limited food supply. It does help that Chinese are probably the most opportunistic omnivores in the world. There are other aspects of Chinese diet that are more related to how they may deal with limited food supplies. One is the large number of wild and domesticated sprouts and shoots in the diet particularly in spring when food supplies may be the most limited. The second is the widespread eating of insects in various stages from eggs to adult. One of my favorite was the silk moth crysillis. Chinese will stir fry everything from the caterpiller to the moth. China's strong communal foundation in a rural agrarian society goes a long way to spread limited food supplies around, Yes, many at times starve, but the society survives in a remarkable resilient way.
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#111 kungfupanda

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 04:08 AM

I come from China, maybe I know the truth.
In China, Chinese think the dog is Loyalty and most of the people Keeping the dog for pet or keeping them to look after the house.
A few people like eat dog meat Who live in the south of China.
Now more and more Chinese opposed to eat dog meat but the government Not yet Prohibit in law.

My English is not very well so I don't know how to Express my idea in English :)

#112 shunyadragon

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 07:32 AM

I come from China, maybe I know the truth.
In China, Chinese think the dog is Loyalty and most of the people Keeping the dog for pet or keeping them to look after the house.
A few people like eat dog meat Who live in the south of China.
Now more and more Chinese opposed to eat dog meat but the government Not yet Prohibit in law.

My English is not very well so I don't know how to Express my idea in English :)



I disagree. I lived in China for 9 1/2 years and observed many Chinese in North China that ate dog, and restaurants serving dog were common.
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#113 shunyadragon

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 12:30 PM

It is widely believed in America that Chinese regularly eat dogs' flesh. From time to time stories surface (invariably false in every case I have found) that some Chinese restaurant in America has been secretly serving dog to its customers. I have also discovered that many Uighurs believe that Han Chinese eat dog flesh. This provokes a shudder amongst Westerners, as in Western culture the dog is considered a beloved pet unsuitable for eating, and also amongst Muslims such as the Uighurs, who consider the dog an unclean animal.

However, I have yet to find dog on the menu in any Chinese restaurant either in America or China, and I have never heard any Chinese actually talk about eating dog or say that he knows anyone who eats dog. When I search on the Web for articles on the subject, I see several seemingly reliable reports of dogs being eaten in Korea, but I have seen nothing reliable about dog being eaten in China. So I am wondering, is dog-eating just a myth that Westerners and Muslims have invented to emphasize Chinese "otherness?" Is the belief the result of Westerners who simply didn't know the difference between Chinese and Korean foods? Or is it an extinct practice? Or is dog-eating alive and well? And if anyone happens to be reading this who has eaten dog, how does it taste?

Please understand that this post is not meant to offend anyone, but is out of sincere curiosity and a desire to rectify my own considerable ignorance.


One clarification concerning who eats dog in China is that there are regional and ethnic preferences on food in Chan and some ethnic groups do not eat dog and some do. The Han, Korean, and Korean related ethnic minorities do eat dog. The Muslim ethnic groups, and most of the traditional Man minority in the northeast do not (This is problem because most of the Man ethnic group was decimated after the Qing Dynasty and many have merged into the Han,). A am uncertain about Southern Chinese ethnic groups except that those who are Buddhist tend not to eat dog, and many Buddhists are vegetarian.

The following legend concerning the Man ethnic group describes the reason most Man do not eat dogs. This version of the story is one of several that I collected while in China concerning the life of Nu Hachi. There are variations, but they agree on the general content of the story.

Nur Hachiís dog and the swallows save his life.


Nur Hachi was the first king of Man people who proclaimed himself emperor of the Middle Kingdom in 1616. He called it the Chin or Juchen Dynasty after the previous northern kingdom of the Juchen people (~1115 to ~1234). He died in 1625 and his 8th son Abhai changed the name to Qing (Pure) and ruled the kingdom till he died in 1643. His 14th son Dorgon actually defeated the invaders from the west and took the capital in 1644. The young grandson of Nur Hachi, Fulin, took the title Shun-chih and became the actual first emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Nur Hachi is buried at Dong Ling Tomb in Shenyang and there is a statue of the dog at the park.

At this time the Ming emperor of China contacts the local lord or government official and tells him about a prophecy that the future emperor is living in the officialís city and he must find him and kill him. The emperor tells the official certain characteristics that will help him find this man. One is the future emperor has seven red spots on one of his feet similar to the big-dipper constilation. The young Nur Hachi fits all characteristics including the seven red spots on his foot.

The wife of the government official finds out and she warns him so that he may escape.

Nur Hachi steals a horse named Qing and escapes with his dog. He is pursued into the countryside by the emperorís troops. The horse dies and he hides in a swamp. The troops are unable to find him, but they suspect he is hiding in the dense brush of the swamp. They start a fire in an attempt to kill him by burning the whole area.

Another part of some versions of this story is that while looking for Nur Hachi in the reeds they see many swallows flying among the reeds where Nur Hachi is hiding. They think that if Hur Hachi was there the swallows would not be there so they stop looking. Unable to find him they then set fire to the reeds in hopes that this will force him out or kill him.

His dog had saved him by going into the water again and again keeping the brush wet around him. The fire passed over him and leaving the small area around him free of fire, because of the efforts of his dog. Unfortunately the dog perished in the fire saving his life. The emperorís troops leave thinking he died in the fire. In this story the name of the Qing Dynasty supposedly came from the name of Nur Hachiís horse.

Nur Hachi survives to become the first King of the Chin (Juchen) Kingdom in 1616. His grandson becomes the first actual Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in 1644. He decrees that all Man zhu minority people must not eat dog in memory of the dog that saved his life. Nur Hachi also proclaimed that no one should ever kill or capture swallows, because of this miracle of the swallows protecting him.

Edited by shunyadragon, 09 January 2009 - 12:44 PM.

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#114 doug

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 09:26 AM

I don't see any Korean standing up for this, who are the biggest offender of this issue, so I'll say it.

Main stream Koreans traditionally did not eat dogs, it is relatively new thing. .Earliest record shows that it was adopted during Jin dynasty,. Most ppl had problem eating dogs, dogs were considered dirty at sometimes, while other times dogs were known for their loyalty. For various reasons dog meat were eaten only by the few, But during Chosun dynasty there was a famous doctor who encouraged dog eating, that it helps with weakened Chi and that it's good for stamina. That's when ppl started to eat dog meat. When the Korea was occupied by Japanese it became a main stream food, due to lack of food and right after Korean war broke out even less food. Today about 30% of Korean population have tried eating dog meat. Of that 30% I don't know how many ppl eat them regularly. But for the most part it's a summer food. According to studies most of the ancient farming countries eat dogs, while hunters and nomads consider dog as a helper and friend.

#115 HappyHistorian

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 06:17 PM

But during Chosun dynasty there was a famous doctor who encouraged dog eating, that it helps with weakened Chi and that it's good for stamina. That's when ppl started to eat dog meat.

That's interesting! Maybe people ate dog meat for its perceived health benefits.

Edited by HappyHistorian, 12 January 2009 - 06:18 PM.


#116 shunyadragon

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:53 PM

I don't see any Korean standing up for this, who are the biggest offender of this issue, so I'll say it.

Main stream Koreans traditionally did not eat dogs, it is relatively new thing. .Earliest record shows that it was adopted during Jin dynasty,. Most ppl had problem eating dogs, dogs were considered dirty at sometimes, while other times dogs were known for their loyalty. For various reasons dog meat were eaten only by the few, But during Chosun dynasty there was a famous doctor who encouraged dog eating, that it helps with weakened Chi and that it's good for stamina. That's when ppl started to eat dog meat. When the Korea was occupied by Japanese it became a main stream food, due to lack of food and right after Korean war broke out even less food. Today about 30% of Korean population have tried eating dog meat. Of that 30% I don't know how many ppl eat them regularly. But for the most part it's a summer food. According to studies most of the ancient farming countries eat dogs, while hunters and nomads consider dog as a helper and friend.


In my experience in Northeast China the Chinese and Koreans living there consider dogs both a source of food and a helper and a friend. The history of eating dogs is another point that may be discussed further, nonetheless the eating of dog is common in Korea and Northeast China.
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#117 Cesare

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 09:58 PM

One reason that comes to my mind - dog meat tastes quite good.
I tried it once (or rather was tricked into trying it...;-)). It was yummy.
I'm not too keen on eating dog meat again. It may taste delicious, but the image of dog as a friend and a companion is too strong in my mind - that would kind of spoil the lunch...;-)
However, I do not feel outraged or puzzled by the fact that dogs are being eaten. I eat pigs. I'm in no position to dictate other people's diet, let alone on the grounds of some disputable food ethics.

And of course, eating dog meat is not exclusive to East Asian regions.
As far as I know, it wasn't so uncommon over here two generations ago or so. Though I suspect it was generally associated with rural areas and/or lower classes - but I may be wrong there.
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#118 shawn

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 09:14 AM

Just a question, why is a popular belief that Ji Gong loves to eat dog meat?
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#119 Yizheng

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 11:59 AM

Here in Moscow there's a market where dog meat is sold, but its very discreet and most people wouldn't recognise it is dog. It's sold by Chinese, they're mostly from Heilongjiang and some of them are from the Korean autonomous area.
My flatmate is Kalmyk, from a village, and said that people there eat dog on certain occasions for health benefits, to cure certain illnesses. It's not something that's advertised. The local people know who to go to if they need dog meat.
When I was in Hunan province just recently I saw at a market there dog meat that was very obviously dog, the whole thing, and with a very snarling look on its face. I was more curious about what the big rodents that looked like maybe a giant rat or some kind of beaver taste like.




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