Categories: Dogs

Chinese slang word for food is “chow” – also meaning edible dog


There is a rather sinister history, it seems to me, behind the name of the dog breed called Chow Chow. I’m told that the slang Chinese word for food is “chow”. And this is the name of the edible dog. And the Chinese edible dog was exhibited at the Crystal Palace dog show in 1884. The dog remains edible in China and other Far East countries.

Chow – edible dog 1884. Picture in public domain.

The point that I’m trying to get out is that it might be the case that the dog breed called Chow Chow is named after the Chinese slang word for food which also refers to a dog that was eaten which takes me into the subject of dog and cat meat in China. Dog and cat meat is a major issue in the south of China and you will see cat and dog meat in Vietnam for instance.

Interestingly people in Vietnam make by far the most Google searches about dogs in the world. Vietnamese people appear to be fascinated with information about dogs and I wonder whether this is linked to their culture of eating them.

Courtesy Google Trends. Thanks Google. Vietnam is at the top of the wheel. You can the massive search for dogs information through Google in that country.

A lot of people particularly those living in Asia think eating dog meat is perfectly acceptable. They regard the dog as another form of livestock and often the dogs are free to anyone because they are street dogs, abandoned or community dogs who have never had a home. You just have to “harvest” them.

Most dogs in Vietnam or China are probably unowned pets. They are breeding randomly in the urban environment and supplying the dog meat market. Think about it – the people who rely on the trade in dog meat don’t have to do any farming. All they have to do is go into the street with a lorry and round up stray dogs and transport them to the south where they are brutally slaughtered and eaten. Good business.

This, I would argue, is a direct breach of the agreement entered into by dogs and humans when dogs were first domesticated between 18,000 and 20,000 years ago. Had the contract been a written one it would have stated that if dogs perform certain tasks for humans, they would in return receive food and water, shelter, companionship and care. That was the contract. There is nothing in the contract which states that humans can eat the other party to the contract.

On that basis alone, I find the eating of dog meat totally unacceptable and the courses this equally applies to cat meat. Dogs are not livestock. They’re meant to be domesticated animals cared for in a home. The fact that there are perhaps half a billion stray dogs on the planet is not their fault. It is a symptom of failure in the domestication process. It is human failure and once again you have to come to the conclusion that the domestication of dogs and cats cannot be called a success. Depending on your viewpoint it could be called abject failure but I won’t suggest that as some people might find it too strong.

There is a phrase in America in the English language: “to chow down”. This means to eat heartily. You can see where it comes from.


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