China dog ownership on the rise as taste for dog meat wanes

Being a nation of dog lovers, the UK has viewed China’s practice of using dogs for meat with some distaste.

However, as China’s economy has come along in leaps and bounds, so has their attitude to man’s best friend. In fact, such is the popularity of keeping dogs as pets instead of dinner, authorities in more Chinese cities are now taking steps to introduce a ‘one dog per household’ law.

Take the example of Shenzhen, a city in south China. Its emerging middle class now view dogs as a status symbol. Speaking to CNN, Dr Chen Yan, a state vet, said:

“People with a high income tend to have poodles and bichons.”

“Ordinary people tend to have Papillons, Pomeranians or mixed breeds.”

“People who keep dogs to show off have expensive breeds like Tibetan mastiffs which cost at least 50,000 yuan (about £4,800). Quality people who really love dogs don’t care about the breed.”

That’s not to say that dog flesh is completely off the menu. Some restaurants still specialise in it, and promote it by pointing out how beneficial and nutritious it is. In fact, one pet store proprietor who specialises in pedigree digs is unrepentant. He commented:

“How is it any different from eating any other animal? It’s just the same as beef.”

As the number of high earning workers in Shenzhen increases, so does the number of dogs. It looked to other cities for examples of how to deal with what they perceive is a problem. In Jinan, Shangdong province, a law was passed requiring potential owners to have permission from their neighbours before they could get a pet pooch, and Shanghai brought a one-dog-per-household law into effect, as did Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

Such laws have not been popular, however, and one was retracted in Jiangmen, near Shenzhen, after protests by animal lovers. Currently, the only law Shenzhen has restricting dog ownership pertains to vicious breeds, but many feel that it is a matter of time before other restrictions are brought into effect.