Why humans have loved dogs throughout history

Dogs are adorable creatures, and we all can agree to that! They make such loyal and lovely additions to our households. But did you know that this four-legged companion carries a distinct spiritual value according to different religions throughout human history? Bet you’ll be surprised to learn some belief systems even see dogs as gods!

If you want to know more about the varying spiritual values of these fluffy four-legged creatures, make sure to scroll further!

Photo: Jon Bodsworth egyptarchive.co.uk/html/cairo_museum | wiki commons

Ancient Egypt

Dogs are associated with sacred roles in Ancient Egyptian religion. In fact, Ancient Egypt had a jackal-headed god named Anubis or Inpu, the lord of the underworld. Anubis was believed to be responsible for the preparation of souls and guiding them into the afterlife. The belief of having dogs as guardians into the next life isn’t exclusive to Ancient Egypt as other religions also believe in such.

Overall, dogs were highly regarded in this religion—they are creatures that should be treated respectfully even after death.


Dogs are highly valued, as they are mentioned in numerous Christian stories. For instance, a dog is mentioned in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, wherein this four-legged creature accompanied the journey of angel Raphael and Tobias, Tobit’s son.

In another story, Jesus proclaimed the miraculous story of Lazarus, whose sores were licked clean by dogs. The Catholic Church also recognizes Saint Roch as the patron saint of dogs.


The majority of Shi’a and Sunni Muslim jurists view dogs as unclean and scavengers, which is why most don’t keep dogs as pets except elites in Muslim countries who keep them as status symbols. However, the majority of Muslims are still open to touching and petting dogs unless they are wet. Touching dry dogs is believed to remove uncleanliness from them. And when they accidentally have contact with a wet dog, they must wash their hands seven times to get rid of the impurities.


Opinions about dogs under the Jewish tradition vary. However, in the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud, dogs are associated with uncleanliness and violence. For instance, Deuteronomy 23:19 correlates dogs with prostitution, the Psalms discuss dogs as beasts that attack human beings, and the Book of Kings describes dogs who feed on dead bodies.

Additionally, the Jewish law claims that people should prioritize giving food to animals, including dogs, before feeding themselves.

Jewish tradition does not strictly prohibit keeping dogs as pets, but Talmud describes dogs as vicious animals that must be restrained in chains to prevent them from causing damage.


Dogs hold a prominent religious significance in Hinduism in India and Nepal. They are believed to be the messenger of Yama, the god of death. A dog (also called as Shvan) is also the vahana (or vehicle) of the Hindu god Bhairava. Dogs are believed to guard the gates of Hell and Heaven.

Moreover, Hindus even worship dogs as a part of the five-day Tihar festival that transpires every November. People worship their four-legged best friends—both strays and pets—garland them, shower them with flowers, and offer them delicious treats.


Every religion has its traditions and beliefs in regards to dogs. Some worship them, while some detest them. Nevertheless, as most religions believe, they are still creatures blessed with souls that need to be respected.

About the Author

Mike Powell is an animal advocate who believes in the right of animals to exist without the threats of abuse. He writes about his undying love for canines on Dog Embassy, a website that aims to provide information about dog nutrition, exercise, accessories, and more.

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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