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As one of the most respected figures in history, Jesus is a person who many people want to hear from on literally any subject.
So, it’s not surprising that dog lovers would also want to know Jesus’ views concerning having dogs as pets.
Many Christians own dogs too, so they also would love to know.
Did Jesus himself own a dog?
Also unlike modern-day Jews who have a high view of dogs, did their counterparts back in ancient Israel have a cultural taboo against dogs?
What Does The Bible Say About Jesus Owning A Dog?
No mention is made in the bible of Jesus owning a dog or any pet.
However, many details surrounding Jesus’ life are purposely omitted.
For example, John 21:25 says:
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
This omission refers to miracles, implying that only a few of Jesus’ miracles were chosen for the record.
If earth-shaking things like miracles could be left out due to lack of space, it’s not odd that Jesus’ ownership of dogs can also be left out.
Keep in mind that the bible also doesn’t say whether Jesus kept or owned cattle, donkeys, and other common domestic animals even though he probably did as these were common in Jewish society.
This leaves us with no option but to establish our facts indirectly.
We can narrow down our question to whether Jewish culture accepted dog ownership or if Jesus’ closest associates (friends, disciples, relatives) owned dogs.
If so, this would suggest he approved of it.
Otherwise, as an outspoken teacher, he would have taught against it.
If Jesus approved of dog ownership by others, then it’s possible that he too owned dogs.
You may also want to check: Bible Verses about Dogs in Heaven
Did the Jews own Dogs?
At the time of Jesus, pet ownership had not been embraced among the Jewish people in Israel.
Pets were mostly kept by the aristocracy in Roman society.
These elites were among the foreigners who ruled over the Jewish people.
Such cultural differences should not surprise us considering that throughout history, animal domestication and later pet ownership have evolved gradually among different cultures.
Keeping pets, for example, was only widely adopted in Europe starting in the 17th century and worldwide in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the time of Jesus, it was still alien to many people and cultures.
Among the Jews, dogs were considered to be ritually or ceremonially unclean. This is attested to by some bible verses such as Leviticus 11:27:
“Of all the animals that walk on all fours, those that walk on their paws are unclean for you; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening.”
This classification of dogs among unclean animals means that dogs must have had a low place in the Jewish mind.
Therefore, it is doubtful that Jews kept dogs as pets.
Did The Disciples Own Dogs?
Just like in the case of Jesus, there is no mention of the disciples owning dogs in the bible.
Since they too were Jews and were also ordinary people, there is little reason to think that they owned dogs.
Otherwise, they would have stood out among the Jews as an odd exception to the norm.
To this end, we can conclude that the disciples did not keep dogs as pets and neither did Jesus.
What Did Jesus Say About Dogs?
Even though neither Jesus nor his associates owned dogs, this doesn’t prove that he objected to dog ownership.
We can look at his words to judge whether he was in favor of dog ownership.
Jesus rarely mentioned dogs in the bible record.
However, the few times he does, his sentiments are powerful enough to provide us with insights into what dogs signified.
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives a parable about a rich man and Lazarus, a poor man.
While the rich man dines on fine food and wine at his table, the poor man starves nearby with open sores covering his body.
Street dogs would lick the poor man’s sores.
This suggests that the dogs showed more compassion than the rich man as their saliva has medicinal properties that promotes healing.
This gives dogs a honored status.
In Matthew 7:6, Jesus is quoted as saying: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.”
These words suggest that dogs and pigs are not worthy of being given precious things.
In response to a foreign woman who begged Jesus to heal her sick daughter, Jesus said in Mark 7:27: “… Let the children first be filled: for it is not good to take the children’s bread and to cast it unto the dogs.”
She responded by saying, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat off the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
This exchange showed that dogs were kept as pets by some people as shown by the woman’s answer.
Also, by contrasting children (symbolizing the Jews whom Jesus was sent to first with God’s message) and dogs (symbolizing foreigners to whom Jesus was not sent), dogs are given a lower status.
However, Jesus was impressed by the woman’s answer and agreed to heal her daughter because she had shown faith.
This could be interpreted as an elevation of a dog’s status to be equal to that of children through the action of faith or persistence.
Persistence is a key attribute of dogs.
In Revelations 22:15, Jesus describes the fate of sinners who will be shut off from the New Jerusalem, the earthly city and home of God’s saved people.
“Outside (the New Jerusalem) are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood”
Classifying dogs together with other rejects or murderers lowers the dog’s status.
Did Jesus Create Dogs?
The Bible asserts that Jesus has created all things including dogs and all other creatures.
Colossians 1:16: “For by Him (Jesus) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
If Jesus is the creator, then all animals belong to him.
Therefore, he probably didn’t need to keep a dog as a pet to own it.
That’s because he already owns them as their creator.
In this sense, Jesus boasts a higher ownership right of dogs than all other dog owners who didn’t create dogs.
Also since dogs are beautifully made, it means Jesus purposely endowed them with beauty because he intended them to be admired and valued by people.
This justifies having dogs as pets.
Whether or not Jesus owned a dog is debatable and so this issue will remain speculative.
However, dog lovers can take solace in the fact that since Jesus was the creator he must have created and valued dogs.
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.