Spaniel steak for the gentleman?






Ever tasted dog? I haven’t. Never will.  I’d rather eat my own arm.

A pig, a duck, a rabbit, a cow – even if I was temporarily emotionally attached to one of those as a pet, actually I could probably bring myself to eat the meat too if absolutely necessary.

But eating dog? Man’s best friend – and until comparatively recently a member of the family? Nah.

It came as a bit of a shock when a pal happened to mention he’d eaten dog.

I could suddenly taste unpleasant stuff in my mouth, which I can only presume was bile. That kind of reaction has never occurred before.

You might have guessed this wasn’t the Balls Pond Road or Stow-on-the-Wold, this was a city in China.  Some people out for dinner. He just had some of what others were having. Normal social behaviour out East, I suppose. Going native and all that.

It was “very tasty” apparently.

I didn’t like to mention that it’s well documented that dogs are subjected to atrociously cruel, long-drawn out and painful deaths because the Chinese believe it will make the meat tastier.

I just find the whole idea utterly repellant and in practical terms, eating dog meat seems to carry significant health risks.  The meat market guys don’t seem very fussy about where they get their dogs from. They could be rounded up in the countryside in which case they could be rabid or diseased, stolen pets or from dog farms where St Bernards are crossed with Chinese mongrels to provide fast-growing big puppies which will be caged and slaughtered for food at only four months old.


The rabies risk is primarily associated with the butchering and preparing of dog meat but with rabies cases in China increasing and Chinese scientists having a taste for dog meat themselves, who knows whether proper, reliable studies have ever been conducted into links between eating dogs and contracting the disease?

It’s not difficult to find images of dogs in “live markets” packed tight on top of each other in cages so they are unable to move, soulful eyes staring out helplessly. How many of those are incubating disease?

Son no 2 returned from China with tales of having eaten mice, snake, rats. He hadn’t, as far as he could tell, eaten dog and would never deliberately eat it.

When we all spent a holiday in Beijing we ate at many different restaurants offering regional style dishes from all over China. He took care to make sure there was no dog on the menu of any of them.

Not surprising as he was brought up with dogs. We always had a springer spaniel in the house. More than a pet;  more like a four-legged member of the family. A constant presence bringing warmth and mischief and laughs and dog farts and the motivation for long country walks and developing a nifty wrist-action with the dog frisbee.

Dog birthdays were marked with sausage dinners. The dog had Christmas presents and a bit of Christmas dinner. I always feel that if you have a dog, it might as well be properly integrated into the family and trained to behave properly at home, at other people’s houses and in hotels.

Dogs are good for you. They love you whatever mood you are in, they remind you what it is to run free and explore with untrammelled joy. They stop you from working too hard, reminding you it’s time to take a break. They won’t leave your side if you are ill (although they will leave you for dead if a stranger appears with a sausage) and they will accept as many hugs, strokings and tummy-rubs as you care to bestow.

The net result of all that is I couldn’t stand being with people happily helping themselves to chunks of dogmeat without a thought or care how the poor animal died. It would be like watching cannibalism.

I wouldn’t be able to look at a bowl of brown  cooked dogmeat without hearing the screams of the poor filthy creatures as they were captured and caged. Creatures capable of so much devotion and affection doomed to a horrifying end; some skinned alive.

At one time, I thought the Chinese didn’t have any awareness of cruelty or will to adopt any animal welfare policies at all except when it comes to their beloved national symbol, the panda.

It seems things are changing. Dog ownership is on the increase. In some cities the authorities allow people to own bigger dogs and they are seeking to promote understanding between those who own and like dogs and those who don’t.

It all sounds promising because those responsible dog owners – some cities give out free rabies jabs for pet dogs – naturally take a different view about eating their canine chums.

They even have the equivalent of the PAT dogs (Pets As Therapy) that we have here – dogs that visit people in hospital to cheer them up.

So I hope the tide is turning and one day, maybe they’ll take dog off the menu and the sickening cruelty associated with it will be a thing of the past.

Lucky dog – narrowly avoiding becoming dinner….



About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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21 Responses to Spaniel steak for the gentleman?

  1. IsobelandCat says:

    I’m with you 99%. The 1% is the idea of eating any meat repulses me. Obviously a viewpoint Cat doesn’t share, so I go for ethically produced meat and fish for both him and Mother.

    BTW have you signed the petition about battery chickens?

    I enjoy Qui Xiaolong’s detective novels which are set in Shanghai, partly because he also writes about food in them so often. As does Donna Leon, but in a different country. However, there was one Inspector Chen story which involved cruel cookery, and I thought I was going to be sick.

  2. janh1 says:

    Hi Isobel. That’s a very big one percent! 🙂

    I do the same – avoid the rubbish meat and unsustainable fish out there. I’d rather eat much less but eat the good stuff. I was vegetarian quite happily for a year but lapsed due to bacon.

    I’ve signed loads of petitions, fish, chickens, pigs, you name it! 🙂 Which one?

    I will mention that author to no2 son. He might have read some of his books.

    • IsobelandCat says:

      What is it about bacon? Cat, my neighbours tell me, loves it too. It’s said to taste like human flesh. Or is hat a myth?
      Spelling mistake Qiu Xiaolong.
      The petition came to me via Compassion in World Farming.

      I thought animals that were slaughtered quickly, without long travel from home to abattoir, and had not reason to suspect the knife, tasted better.

      Given how a rush of adrenalin can result in a bad headache, it makes sense it would impair flavour.

      Did you see the documentary about bears a couple of weeks ago? The wildlife photographer, I have forgotten his name, loved the bears, but had to admit his bear meat hamburger was delicious.

      I’m sticking to lentils.

      • janh1 says:

        Are you trying to say I might like the taste of my own arm, Isobel? It might be a bit like long back? 🙂

        I was told about the bear programme but didn’t catch it myself. A good one. Yes, good policy. You can’t get emotionally involved with a lentil.

  3. I couldn’t knowingly eat dogmeat, and there are a few other meats that I don’t think I could eat either (rabbit and horse to name a couple). However, I acknowledge we have to allow for cultural differences but, even in that case, there is no excuse for cruelty of whatever species.

    As for

  4. Sorry, that was supposed to be….

    As for fearful animals tasting better, one of my friends hit a deer on the road and it expired soon after. He decided to take the animal home for the pot. He said it tasted terrible because of the [adrenalin, cortisol???] released when the animal was in pain.

  5. janh1 says:

    That’s interesting, Isobel. One of the main tenets of the Real Meat Company – based in Wiltshire – is to slaughter animals as close to home as possible, minimising stress and actually producing better meat. They also recognise that stressed animals don’t make good eating. I liked their products and still occasionally order on line, in spite of the cost! The taste is fantastic.

    I think I probably ate horse in Paris. Ordered steak but it was unlike any steak I’ve ever had. Dark, dense meat. Not great. Had Quiche Lorraine thereafter!

    • IsobelandCat says:

      I’d go along with that. I think the transportation of live animals in cramped conditions to slaughterhouses, sometimes as freight on planes, is one of the scandals of our age. Once we see animals merely as a product, we remove compassion from the equation.
      However, I remember the butcher coming to slaughter the pigs on a relative’s farm. Each time, the pig he was to kill sensed the danger and screamed the place down. As children, when we knew he was coming, we would get on our bikes and get as far away as possible, so as not to have to listen.

      Re the bear progs. If they are still on BBC i-player try to make to time to see them. They were fascinating.

      • Jan says:

        I will look for them, thanks. Sadly our broadband is too slow to support BBC iplayer but it might be repeated somewhere or on YouTube.

  6. IsobelandCat says:

    Honestly, I’m not a Pete Wedderburn Groupie, although this is the second time today I’ve copy-pasted from his writings. this one, from yesterdays’ Torygraph seems apposite for this post

    How different are humans to animals?
    In the past, scientists tended to classify animal behaviour as “automatic” or “reflex”, denying that they could experience the same emotions and a similar consciousness as humans. Research into animals’ minds has changed this view, and it’s now widely recognised that animals experience the same love, joy, pain and fear that we do.
    OneKind is an awareness-raising charity based in Edinburgh that focuses on this fact, encouraging people to live animal-friendly lifestyles. Visit their website at to find out more.

  7. janh1 says:

    Interesting, Isobel. We certainly know they experience grieving. I need to read a bit more on it.

  8. Anna-Marie says:

    I love the of Roly and Ruby and am glad i’m not the only one who celebrates doggy birthdays and the like.

    I have never understood the predilection for eating dog meat when other choices are available – it doesn’t sit right with me.


    • Jan says:

      Hi Anna-Marie. Glad you like the pics. Roly was mine but Rudi belongs to a friend. He’s the spaniel I’d most likely dognap. I did offer her a dogshare – she could have him during the week and he’d be mine at weekends. Understandably, she refused. 🙂

      What sort of dog have you got? And what did he/she get for Christmas? 🙂

      • Anna-Marie says:

        I have an English Springer Spaniel called George who is now 5 years old. He is absolutely georgeous (but then we all think that dont we). George was given a new squeeky toy pheasant and a couple of juicy chews for Christmas – he was quite content. IS Rudi a Welsh Springer or a Brittany – it is quite difficult to tell in the photo.

  9. janh1 says:

    Hi Anna-Marie. George sounds lovely. Got a pic or a blog? Excellent prezzie choices. I bought one of those for Rolls one Christmas. The woman behind me in the queue for the till said “I hope you’re not going to use that to teach him to hunt pheasants …” Idiot person!! 😀

    Rudi is an unusually big working cocker. I can see how you thought he might be Welsh Springer. He has virtually no feathering but adorable face and masses of working instinct. Easily trainable for some fun working tests but my pal prefers the thought of doing agility with him.

  10. Anna-Marie says:

    You can see George on my website here : although there are a few other photos of him on the site.

    I have to say I would never have guessed that Rudi was a Cocker from that photo. Anna

    • janh1 says:

      Sweet!!! Gorgeous George indeed, Anna. V. impressed with your website. You really know your stuff. The grooming tips are spot on – and SO important to trim properly around the ears to keep them nice and clean and aired – and get a puppy used to the sound of the scissors from an early age!

      Good to see the link to Springer Rescue too. We could talk for hours, I feel it in my bones 🙂

  11. unfortunately, most people who eat dog can’t afford to take themselves to hospital, let alone take the dog to a vet. In China it is generally the poorer provinces that eat dog (unlike the dogs in the cages in the video, the dogs are kept as pets and allowed to run about freely until they are killed rather than being kept cooped up). The only (reported) cases of people getting rabies from eating cooked dog was when they prepared it themselves. i.e. killed and gutted it themselves. finally, i don’t think there has been much of a change in attitude, when guangzhou required dog licences, thousands of dogs were kicked out into the streets by their owners who decided it was too much trouble.

  12. Jan says:

    Greetings CB. Sorry, being thick, but your first point escapes me. I wasn’t expecting that people who own dogs would also eat them – unless you’re saying that owners raise them for the pot like we do beef cattle?

    Yup I read that the reported cases of rabies involved those who prepared the meat. But wouldn’t you think that would be enough to get the butchery and eating of dogs banned? I thought rabies was a serious problem in China.

    Disappointing to hear that reports of changes in attitude may be exaggerated… Thousands of abandoned dogs must have created a huge problem, even in a place the size of Guangzhou.

    • oh yes. keep em and eat em as a rule. there are some very poor people in the rural areas. one dog (i was told that one Alsatian size dog fetches about 100yuan, which goes a long way for some people). in the ideal world you might be able to stop people eating dogs but not so easy to enforce in reality. The abandoned dogs weren’t much of a problem however, they just sent out workers to club them to death.

  13. janh1 says:

    Where people are living in abject poverty, I think dog-eating is understandable but that still doesn’t explain the penchant for dog meat in nice city restaurants where well-dressed people buy and eat it without considering nor caring about how that dog was kept and slaughtered.

    There is some evidence that the Chinese are becoming sensitive about the worst aspects of animal cruelty…

    …but from what you say about the horrific-sounding slaughter of thousands of dogs in Guangzhou there is unfortunately, a way to go.

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