Are dogs eaten in Philippines?

The Philippines is a country with a complex relationship to the consumption of dog meat. While the practice of eating dog meat, referred to as “Asocena” in the local Philippine languages, has historical roots, it remains a controversial issue in modern times.

This article will examine whether dogs are eaten in the Philippines today. We will look at the history of dog meat consumption, its cultural significance, the legal status, and the current level of societal acceptance of this practice. Geographical areas where dog meat is consumed will be explored. The views of both opponents and proponents of the practice will be considered.

Ultimately, while the eating of dogs still occurs in the Philippines, especially in certain rural areas, it is declining. Increasingly, there is social stigma and legal restrictions against it. However, the custom persists to some degree due to historical, cultural, and economic factors.

History of Dog Meat Consumption in the Philippines

The consumption of dog meat in the Philippines has a long history, dating back hundreds of years. According to anthropologists, the tradition originated when early Austronesian peoples migrated to the islands that now comprise the Philippines. These groups likely brought the practice of eating dogs from their homelands in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

In indigenous Philippine culture, dogs were one of the animals regularly hunted for meat, along with wild boar, deer, and monkeys. The consumption of dog meat was especially prevalent in upland tribal groups such as the Igorot peoples of the Cordillera mountains in northern Luzon.

Among these groups, dog meat held an honored place in rituals and ceremonies. It was seen as giving strength and courage. Igorots also believed dog meat had medicinal properties and healing power.

When the Spanish colonized the Philippines beginning in the 16th century, they generally discouraged the eating of dog meat amongst groups they converted to Catholicism. However, the custom continued in indigenous mountain villages.

During World War II and the subsequent Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the consumption of dog meat increased significantly. Widespread food shortages and famine led many Filipinos to eat dog meat as a means of survival. The practice became more common nationwide.

Cultural Significance of Eating Dog Meat

For some Filipino ethnic groups like the Igorot, dog meat holds cultural and symbolic importance. As mentioned, it is linked to rituals and ceremonies. Consuming dog is seen as conferring the animal’s positive qualities like strength, loyalty, and alertness to people who eat it.

Generally, dogs are only eaten on special occasions – not as part of a regular diet. Often, dogs specially raised for meat are slaughtered and consumed during festivals, celebrations, and tribal events. Eating dog is seen as bringing good fortune.

Additionally, some Filipinos believe dog meat has medicinal properties. Various parts like the dog’s bile may be used in traditional folk medicine remedies. Dog meat is also thought by some to enhance male virility and sexuality.

However, these traditional beliefs and associations with dog meat are declining as groups like the Igorot undergo modernization. Younger generations show less support for eating dog meat. Still, the cultural roots remain for some Filipinos.

Legal Status of Eating Dog Meat

There are no nationwide laws in the Philippines banning the slaughter and consumption of dogs. However, some local ordinances prohibit the practice. For example, in Metro Manila, there are city regulations prohibiting the killing and eating of dogs.

Some provinces, like Benguet where many Igorot reside, also have anti-dog eating ordinances. But these local bans are lightly enforced and the underground trade in dog meat continues.

Activists have lobbied the Philippine Congress to enact more stringent national laws against dog eating, but so far no bills have passed. In the absence of stronger legal deterrents, the practice persists in certain areas.

However, even without explicit legal bans, there is growing social stigma against eating dog meat. Those who engage in it may face backlash from animal rights and welfare advocates. Police raids on dog meat trafficking rings also curb the practice.

Geographical Areas Where Dogs Are Eaten

While dog eating can be found across the Philippines, it is most common in certain geographical areas:

– Cordillera Administrative Region – Home to many Igorot indigenous groups who have a history of eating dog for cultural reasons. The Cordillera mountains provide a remote region where the practice continues relatively openly.

– Baguio City – An urban center in the Cordilleras. Has a significant Igorot population and restaurants serving dog dishes catering to this community.

– Pampanga Province – North of Manila. Famous for its tradition of cooking exotic meats like dog. Kapampangan restaurants discreetly serve dog to locals.

– La Union Province – A northern Luzon province along the coast, between Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur. Dog meat restaurants operate here serving the local customer base.

– Batangas Province – South of Manila on Luzon island. Rural villages here reportedly butcher and eat dogs.

– Iloilo Province – Panay Island, central Visayas region. Illegal dog meat trade exists serving remote mountain communities.

– Bukidnon Province – Northern Mindanao island. Home to indigenous tribes like the Manobo where dogs are eaten on special occasions.

In large cities like Manila, Cebu, and Davao, dogs are rarely eaten. But in poor rural villages of certain provinces, the practice continues relatively openly as a local tradition.

Opposition to Eating Dog Meat

There are a variety of reasons why many modern Filipinos oppose the eating of dog meat:

Animal Cruelty

Animal rights activists denounce the often inhumane way dogs are killed for food. Reported methods include drowning, strangulation, beating, and boiling/skinning alive. Activists push for regulations mandating humane slaughter.

Pet Culture

Dogs are increasingly seen as beloved pets and “man’s best friend” rather than livestock for consumption. The emotional trauma of eating animals perceived as intelligent companions troubles some Filipinos.

Public Health/Safety

Eating dog meat is considered unsafe due to risks of contracting rabies and other diseases. Unregulated dog meat puts the public at health risk, according to opponents.


Some suggest the Philippines’ reputation may suffer if it is perceived as a nation that eats dogs. This could hamper tourism. The stigma may damage national pride.

Religious Beliefs

Catholic and Christian teachings generally promote compassion towards animals. Some faith leaders have denounced dog eating as immoral.

Shifting attitudes

Dog eating is seen as backwards/primitive by younger generations of Filipinos. Modernization and urbanization contribute to changing societal norms.

Defense of Eating Dog Meat

Those who advocate for the right to eat dog meat mainly cite the following counterarguments:

Cultural Tradition

For some ethnic groups like Igorots, eating dog has centuries of history and is integral to cultural identity. Banning dog eating infringes on minority groups’ rights.

Culinary Custom

In places like Pampanga and La Union provinces, dog dishes are considered local delicacies. Food customs should be respected, argue proponents.

Economic/Poverty Factor

In deprived rural areas, dogs provide a cheap source of meat protein for survival. Taking this away harms the poor who cannot afford other meat sources.

Population Control

Allowing controlled slaughter of dogs helps manage roaming stray populations and rabies spread. It gives value to unwanted strays.

Personal Liberty

People should have the freedom to choose what foods they eat as long as animals are slaughtered humanely. Bans intrude on personal rights.

Regulate, Don’t Ban

Rather than forcing people to entirely give up eating dog, advocates say humane slaughter and preparation regulations would be better solution.

Current Societal Acceptance of Dog Eating

The prevailing social norm in the Philippines today is disapproval of dog eating. Surveys indicate 75-80% of the population find the practice unacceptable. However, norms vary by region. What is taboo in Manila may be tolerated in Cordillera villages.

Eating dog is increasingly conducted discreetly. Restaurants serve euphemisms like “Labrador stew” to avoid alienating other customers. Menus often do not mention dog dishes. Customers must know to specifically request the special off-menu items.

When cases of dogs being slaughtered for food are detected by authorities, it often results in public outcry. However, personal consumption of dog meat continues in rural areas where cultural roots persist.

Younger generations show little taste for eating dog. This points to the practice continuing to decline over time as Filipino society modernizes. But for now, it persists as a relic tradition in remote villages.


While the eating of dog meat has a long history in the Philippines, especially among upland tribal groups, its acceptance is decreasing in modern times. Due to shifting cultural norms, urbanization, activism, and stigma, the practice is now taboo in most of the country.

However, dog consumption continues relatively openly in certain rural areas where cultural traditions remain strong. For poorer communities, it provides inexpensive meat protein. While national laws banning dog eating do not exist, local ordinances in some areas prohibit it.

As the Philippines continues to modernize and develop, the eating of dog will likely continue to decline. But for now, it persists as an underground practice done discreetly even in regions with social and legal deterrents. The tensions between cultural identity, animal welfare, public health concerns, and personal liberty around this issue remain complex.

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