Eating dog is a standard culinary option in many parts of the world, excluding the United States and most European countries.
However, some within this population argue for eating dog meat, while travelers to countries that eat dogs may be curious and want to know what they’re getting into before they take a bite.
Here’s what you need to know about dog meat tastes like if you’re curious.
What Does Dog Meat Taste Like?
Dog meat is most commonly compared to beef or mutton by those who have tried it. For example, the UK publication The Mirror reported on a few people who tried dog meat.
Their story led with Mark Biens, a professional food blogger who tried dog meat in China while on his travels.
He ate this meat in the Guangxi Province in south China, an area where dog meat consumption is quite common.
In his blog, he claimed that dog meat was a fatty, fragrant, and tasty red meat. He also said it had some lingering tastes of venison and that it blended well with minced galangal to produce subtle charcoal flavoring.
He concluded his blog by stating he enjoyed the taste. However, others reported in the article had a more challenging time eating dog meat, simply for ethical reasons, as they otherwise liked its taste.
In an article by Lauren Shockey of the Village Voice, she tried steamed, dog stew, and grilled dog meat in Vietnam, a primary dog meat consumer.
Unlike Biens, her experience was not as enjoyable, though she too claimed that the dog meat tasted beefy in most styles. Her meal came with various Vietnamese herbs with cucumber slices and other flavorings. In her article, she described her experience:
“I tried to force a smile as Hung (her guide) watched my every move with gleeful anticipation. The steamed dog meat packed a primordial punch; it was strong and complex, but also extremely earthy and wild, like nothing I’d ever tasted. I can say with authority that steamed dog meat is an acquired taste, and one that I hadn’t acquired – nor was likely to.”
In both these scenarios, the writers stated that there were robust beef, mutton, venison, and wild undertones to dog meat.
The overall flavor may depend on things like a dog’s diet, the conditions in which it was raised, and the cooking methods used in its preparation.
It may also depend on the area where they got their meals, as these regions cook dog meat in different ways.
Which Cultures Eat Dog?
Cultures that eat dogs vary pretty heavily and are often centered in various Asian or Eastern regions.
For example, China remains the largest dog meat consumer in the world. According to The Guardian, they eat at least 10 to 20 million dogs every year.
Unfortunately, many of these dogs are raised in poor conditions with minimal regulations, which may be a severe health risk to both the dogs and consumers.
Warning – graphic image follows.
In the same article, it was reported that many governmental bodies throughout China were calling for either dog meat regulations or complete bans.
Shenzhen became the first mainland China city to ban dog meat in 2020, calling them a “special companion animal.” Paul Littlefair of the UK Royal Society for the Prevent of Cruelty to Animals said:
“This signal is the first ever from a ministry that dogs are not food animals…(this) leaves the door open for governments to follow Shenzhen’s lead.”
In spite of his optimism, enforcing such bans in rural areas may be difficult because many people throughout these areas of China look to dogs as their primary food source.
Furthermore, China’s traditional culture celebrates dog consumption, including celebrations like the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which includes multiple dog-related feasts every year.
However, China is far from the only country to eat dog meat still. Vietnam also regularly eats around five million dogs per year, with 80% of the population believing that eating dogs is acceptable and can increase male libido and bring good luck.
Some of the most complex dog meat dishes are made in Vietnam using locally sourced spices and vegetables.
The BBC reports that Regions like The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Morocco, North Korea, South Korea, The Philippines, Polynesia, and even Switzerland eat dog meat at varying levels.
In some areas, like Switzerland, dog meat consumption isn’t allowed commercially or even common, but legal loopholes let dog owners slaughter and eat their dogs.
Does Dog Meat Taste Better Than Beef?
When comparing dog meat and beef, it is crucial to understand that meat taste can vary heavily based on many factors. For example, beef can have a somewhat bland taste when prepared on its own without any spices or flavorings.
However, adding extra ingredients, like thyme or all-spice, can help improve beef’s flavor. The same is true of dog meat in regions where it is eaten.
Furthermore, preparation methods also heavily impact a meat’s flavor. For example, one study found that cooking methods like deep-frying, pan-frying, baking, and boiling all affect meat’s tastes and textures differently.
Overcooking a lump of beef may burn much of its fat away and rob it of its tender textures. It may also strip it of any vitamins that may linger in the meat as well.
That said, people who have eaten both beef and dog have stated that dog has a more tender taste and a dense fat concentration. This extra fat may bring more flavor to the meat and make it easier to enjoy.
Naturally, this taste preference doesn’t account for ethical concerns related to dog meat, including any issues with how the dogs were raised, slaughtered, and handled before preparation.
For example, studies show that people with a strong ethical objection to food may struggle to accept eating it, even if their taste buds enjoy it.
In Lauren Shockey’s article, she continually referenced struggling not to gag while the meat was cooking. Her reaction was based heavily not on the smell or the taste of the meat itself but on the idea of eating a dog in the first place.
These concerns are essential to plan for when taking a trip to countries that serve dog meat. People who have no ethical concerns may find that dog meat tastes better, with its fattier texture and more tender feel.
However, those who struggle to imagine eating a dog may find themselves imagining their pup back at home and unable even to start their meal.
What Tastes Better: Cat or Dog?
While cat meat is not as commonly eaten as dogs, there are several regions where cats are eaten. For example, Chinese regions like Guangdong and Guangxi may eat more cats than other areas of China.
However, Vietnam is probably one of the most common cat eaters, particularly in modern times. Recent cat-eating trends have made a heavy impact on the feline population of the nation, with many who eat cats claiming that it is sweeter and tenderer than dog meat.
They describe cat meat as having a blend of pork tastes with a slight fish undertone with a slightly sour (and lingering) after taste.
Whether cat or dog tastes better is probably up to a person’s individual taste. For example, if you prefer beef to pork and want a slice of reasonably fatty meat, dog is likely more suitable for you.
On the other hand, those who want a slice of more tender meat with a pork taste and minimal fat may prefer cats. Don’t forget that recipe types, preparation methods, ingredients, and many other factors can all influence whether you choose cat or dog meat.
Why Should Dogs Not Be Eaten?
Not taking any ethical concepts into consideration (as these may vary heavily in each person), eating dog meat may not be wise for medical reasons.
For example, a study examining dog meat consumption in Calabar, Nigeria, discovered a high risk of rabies infection associated with eating dogs. This study focused heavily on the stray dog trade that was common in this country at the time.
During this period, a vibrant and prosperous trade in stray dogs was fueling dog meat consumption, a concern that highlights one of the most severe problems with eating dog meat: the lack of regulation.
In countries where eating dogs is legal, very restrictions are rules are put into place. As a result, dog farms may include questionable ethical practices and minimal medical checks on dogs.
As a result, these dogs may contain a variety of dangerous infections, including various parasitic worms throughout the meat.
Some reports state that the worm, Toxocara Canis, was spread to humans through dog meat and can cause serious health problems. These include respiratory failure, blindness, and even myocarditis.
These risks are all possible in areas where dog meat is not regulated.
These issues are particularly concerning in areas that outlaw slaughtering dogs and selling their meat commercially, but not personally.
For example, the United States has outlawed the commercial dog meat trade, but only six states have banned dog meat entirely. As a result, dog owners could technically slaughter and eat their pets and experience many health risks.
So, even beyond concerning moral and ethical issues, eating dog meat may not be an excellent idea for most people. Furthermore, even properly cooking its meat may not kill all of its bacteria and parasites.
This situation requires people to properly understand the dangers, do a lot of research, and make informed decisions to minimize their potential risk of severe infection or other concerns when eating new meat types.
Before eating dog meat on any international trip, it is essential to reach out to an area’s local food authorities to learn about any regulations and rules regarding dog rearing and preparation methods.
Ask about how they check for various conditions, regulate dog farming, and what safety methods are used in dog meat processing plants. Use this information when deciding if you feel comfortable trying dog meat in another country.