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Few animals have been maligned as evil as the dog.
Yet down the centuries, it has been praised as man’s best friend since it was one of the first domesticated animals.
It’s a paradox that refuses to die, even today.
Various religions have viewed dogs differently ranging from seeing them as despicable to elevating them to idol status.
This makes it interesting to know what the bible says about dogs.
Does the bible consider dogs to be malevolent or noble animals?
What is Evil According to the Bible?
Before we attribute evil to dogs, we should inquire about what evil is.
There are two categories of evil:
A. Moral evil
This is being morally opposed to God or holding moral principles that contradicts God’s commandments.
This condition makes you a sinner.
Sinning can only be done by free moral agents or those with free will.
This is the capacity of making conscious moral decisions.
Dogs (and other animals) do not have this capacity and so cannot be morally evil.
B. Physical evil or Natural Evil
This is something that causes harm, destruction, or tragedy.
It can be from inanimate things (e.g. hurricanes, plagues, earthquakes, economic crash,es etc.) or animate things (e.g. attacks from wild animals, etc.).
This is the kind of evil that we can attribute to dogs.
Physical or natural evil may not have a moral dimension and so does not necessarily incur divine judgment.
For example, you can’t make a dog morally answerable for the physical evil it causes.
However, the Bible has references that many think make dogs not just physically evil but morally evil as well.
Negative Bible Verses on Dogs
Here are some examples of negative verses about dogs that may imply evil:
Exodus 22:31 states; “You shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.”
The fact that dogs are given food that is incompatible with holiness in people gives them an unclean status.
This is further illustrated by the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:6: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
This verse suggests that holy things are not valued by pigs or dogs because they are too spiritually dumb to realize their value.
Also, they are a spiritual snare because they can transmit the same spiritual dumbness onto you when they “turn and tear you in pieces.”
However, the dog in this verse is most likely intended to be a metaphor rather than the dog in a literal sense.
Leviticus 11:27 gives a general rule for all four-pawed animals to which a dog also belongs.
“Whatever animal walks on four paws among all animals, is unclean to you.”
In Philippians 3:2, Paul the apostle uses dogs as a metaphor for evil people. ‘Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of false believers’
While these verses suggest that dogs are associated with evil, it is not the whole story as other verses give a different picture.
Related: Does God Love Dogs?
Dual Symbolism in the Bible
Symbols or metaphors have been used in the bible to represent things sometimes in opposing ways depending on the context.
For example, a woman can stand for purity (e.g. the church which is God’s bride) or for immorality (e.g. Jezebel or Babylon, God’s arch enemy in the Book of Revelations who as the mother of all harlots, rides a satanic beast).
In the Old Testament days, Israel as a nation alternated between being an immoral woman (due to worshiping false gods) or as a faithful wife.
Similarly, a dog can fit a dual role so that it can represent good or evil.
Sometimes two different animals with opposing personalities can be merged in one person.
For example, a lamb (a ritually clean animal) and a lion (a ritually unclean animal) are opposites yet they can symbolize the same person, Jesus Christ who is both the Lamb and the Lion of Judah.
They also have contrasting personalities with the lion being ferocious and strong and a lamb being gentle and docile.
Animals were not unclean in and of themselves.
Instead, they could be used symbolically to distinguish Israel from surrounding nations that were steeped in idolatry.
The favorite animals that were worshipped by pagans could be chosen as a symbol of uncleanliness.
For example, since the Egyptian god, Anubis had the head of a dog, it may have inspired the biblical representation of the dog as unclean.
You may also want to check: Is It A Sin To Own A Dog?
Are Humans More Evil than Dogs?
It can be argued that humans are more evil than dogs.
First of all, sin had its origin in man when he disobeyed God’s commandment by eating the forbidden fruit.
That’s how the world, including dogs, became riddled with imperfections.
Also, humans display evil that animals are unable to fathom.
After all, it is only humans who can conceive, plot, and execute crimes such as mass murder—often with sadistic pleasure.
Dogs can never conceive, much less sadistically enjoy the execution of such criminal enterprises.
Apart from deriving pleasure from sadism, humans also show other evils that are alien to animals such as egotism.
What we may think of as evil in animals may be deceptive.
For example, a ferocious dog displays this behavior out of wanting to please its owner.
After a while, they usually calm down or retreat to become coy and gentle, once they are satisfied that the owners’ turf is not threatened.
A dog that incessantly barks and shows constant ferociousness or attacks people is reflecting the evil of the owner.
When they cause harm to others, it’s usually the dog owner, not the dog itself that takes the blame.
This implies that humans are much more evil than dogs can ever be.
Dogs as Agents that Reduce Evil
Dogs are creatures that performed many supporting functions even in the Old Testament Israel.
These included roles like hunting dogs, guard dogs, sheep dogs, and even physicians. There is also evidence that they were companion dogs.
Today, we have dogs that play many other roles that minimize evil and human suffering.
Some dogs are known to visit sick people in hospitals, which brings them therapeutic relief.
Others are used as rescue missions while some guide blind people with admirable patience.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man enjoys a rich dinner while Lazarus sits starving while dogs lick his sores.
The dogs are more benevolent because their licking soothes and heals Lazarus’s wounds.
In the dog world, licking each other’s wounds is an act of solidarity and sympathy.
Will dogs be Saved?
In the bible, only those who are not evil will be destined for paradise.
Do dogs qualify?
This is an interesting question because it can directly answer whether dogs are evil.
According to Revelation 21:27, nothing unclean will be allowed to enter the New Jerusalem which is paradise.
We can compare the dog’s fate with that of the snake.
More than any other creature, snakes are the foulest metaphor for evil.
For example, Satan is usually represented as a serpent and it is a snake that tempted Adam and Eve to sin.
Yet snakes will not be forbidden entry into paradise!
Isaiah 11:6-9: “The infant will play by the cobra’s den, and the toddler will reach into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water.”
If snakes qualify then certainly dogs do.
We can use this fact to conclude that dogs are not evil.
Bears, leopards, and lions also fall under the class of unclean animals but they will be present in paradise alongside clean animals like oxen.
You may also want to check: Bible Verses about Dogs in Heaven
Dog Traits That Mirror Goodness
Dogs reveal behaviors that can make them our spiritual teachers.
These include trust, loyalty, perseverance, courage, determination, friendship, keeping no grudges, and not being overly anxious.
Some of these qualities are stunningly similar to the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are imparted to people to make them holy.
They include joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, modesty, and self-control.
Related: Did Jesus Have a Dog?
The popular images of dogs being savage, vicious, brutal, or merciless, have painted the dog as a villain, often undeservedly.
While graciously enduring this bad press with sweetness, dogs continue to do what they do best: serving their masters joyfully and without complaining.
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Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.