The dog has been man’s best friend for many millennia. Recent genetic studies show that the dog was domesticated from gray wolves in Eurasia. These studies suggest the domestication process happened between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago.
Considering the importance of dogs in the lives of early people, it is natural to assume they were as important for the early Christians.
So, are there any dogs mentioned in the Bible? Dogs are mentioned 41 times in the Bible. The Old Testament (Hebrew) mentions dogs 32 times, and the New Testament (Greek) mentions dogs 9 times. Surprisingly, the Bible doesn’t refer to dogs in a good way. Dogs are often grouped with unholy people, evildoers, murderers, sorcerers, and pigs.
For all dog lovers and owners, this is an unexpected turn of events! Keep on reading to see what the Scripture says about dogs, what Bible verses mention dogs, and which dog breed was mentioned in the Bible.
What Does the Bible Say About Dogs?
All dog breeds in existence today share the same ancestor – ancient wolves. The exact time of dog domestication is still a matter of debate, but genetic evidence suggests that dogs were domesticated between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago (source).
In the ancient Mediterranean and Near East domestic dogs served as guard dogs, sheepdogs, hunting dogs, and companions. Domestic dogs performed these same roles in the Bible.
However, some Bible verses about dogs talk negatively about the man’s best friend. There is also evidence in the Bible that violence against dogs was acceptable.
Comparing a person to a dog or calling them a dog implied that they were of low status. In the New Testament, calling a human a dog meant that they are evil.
Some scholars believe that the negative feelings expressed in the Bible verses about dogs were because dogs often ran wild or in packs in those days. Bible dogs also show predatory behaviors such as eating dead bodies.
What Dog Breeds Got Mentioned in the Bible?
Greyhound is the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible. Only the King James Version of the Bible mentions the greyhound in Proverbs 30:29-31.
The exact writing from the King James Version of the Bible goes like this:
“There’ll be three things which do well, yea, which is comely in going: a lion, which is strongest among beasts and turneth not away from any; A greyhound; A he-goat also.”
Interestingly, only the King James Version of the English Bible uses the word “greyhound.” If you were to check any other translation you would find “strutting rooster” or something similar.
But, how’s that possible, you wonder? This part of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and had something to do with “girth in the loins.”
How Many Times Did the Bible Mention Dogs?
The word dog was used in the Bible many times. To be exact, dogs were mentioned 41 times in the New and Old Testament together. To be precise:
- The Old Testament in Hebrew mentions dogs 32 times.
- The New Testament in Greek mentions dogs 9 times.
In most of these instances, dogs are referred to or mentioned in an unflattering way.
What Are the Verses That Mentioned Dogs?
Dogs are mentioned 41 times in the Bible. Most Bible verses about dogs are negative, but dogs weren’t ever considered as ritually unclean animals by Israelites.
The word “dog” is used in the following Scriptures:
- Exodus 11:7: But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either men or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.
- Judges 7:5: So, he brought the people down to the water. There the Lord told him “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, from those who kneel down to drink.”
- Job 30:1: But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs.
- Exodus 22:31: 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.
- 1 Kings 16:4: Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country.
- 2 Kings 9:10: The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jazreel, and none shall bury her.
- Psalm 59:6: They return in the evening and howl like a dog, and go around the city.
- 2 Peter 2:22: It has happened to them according to a true proverb: “A dog returns to its own vomit, and a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
- Mathew 15:26-27: And He answered and said “It’s not good to take children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” But she said, “Yes Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fell from their masters’ tables.”
- Isaiah 56:11: His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.
- Jeremiah 15:3: I will appear over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.
- Mathew 7:6: Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
- Philippians 3:2: Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those that mutilate the flesh.
- Revelation 22:15: Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
- 1 Samuel 17:43: The Philistine said to David: “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David and his gods.
- Psalm 22:16: For the dogs have surrounded me; the band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and feet.
- 1 Kings 21:19: And you shall say to him, thus says the Lord: “Have you killed and also taken possession?” and you shall also say to him, thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”
- 2 Samuel 9:8: And he paid homage and said: “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
- 1 Kings 22:38: And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria and the dogs licked up his blood and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he has spoken.
What Was the Role of Dogs in the Bible?
If you take a closer look at the references of dogs in the Bible you can see that they aren’t depicted as faithful or loving companions. In fact, the opposite is true.
When it comes to Bible dogs here are their main roles:
- Some Scriptures say that dogs were used for herding, hunting, farming, and guarding.
- The word “dog” is commonly used in a negative context, as an insult, or to indicate a low status.
- Some parts of the Bible portray dogs as predatory animals that live in packs and feast on the blood and the flesh of people.
- In the New Testament being called a dog could mean you are evil.
The skeletal remains of dogs found in the Levant indicate that the domestication process didn’t happen until the Persian and Hellenistic periods within Israel. This tells us that early Christians didn’t keep dogs as pets, while their neighbors keep canines as companion animals (source).
Other Animals That Were Mentioned in the Bible
Dogs aren’t the only animals mentioned in the Bible. The Bible mentions a variety of different animal species, including:
These weren’t the only animals mentioned in the Bible, but you get the picture. What may come as a surprise is that of the hundreds of different animals mentioned in the Bible, there is no mention of cats.
There are a lot of references to dogs in the Bible. Unfortunately for all dog lovers, the Bible depicts dogs in a bad light. In the Bible, the word “dog” is used in a negative context, as an insult or a reference for a low status.
But, regardless of how dogs are referred to in the Bible, they have been man’s best friends for many millennia and continue to be loving and faithful companions.