One of the questions that often comes up about dogs is on whether they have souls. In this article, we tackle that question from the various relevant dimensions.
Do dogs have souls? The answer is ‘yes’. To the extent that a dog has consciousness, emotions, a mind and apparently a will as well, then we can say that it has a soul.
Questions on dogs and spirituality are, of course, quite complex. And they often arouse considerable controversy.
Much also depends on one’s conception of a dog’s soul. If you equate a soul with a spirit, and ask, are dogs spiritual, then the answer may be ‘no’.
(But there are also those who believe that besides having souls, dogs have spirits as well).
What is indisputable is the fact that dogs have some sort of consciousness. A dog is not like a stone. The dog has consciousness. A dog has various emotions. And the dog clearly has a mind.
A dog also seems to have some ability to tell right from wrong. You notice that a dog often behaves differently when it does something it ‘knows’ it shouldn’t have done.
All these mean that a dog has a soul. At the point of death, it is the said soul that apparently leaves the dog’s body, marking the end of its life.
In answering the does a dog have a soul question, we shall later be looking at what the various religions have to say.
Further, in answering the do dogs have a soul question, we shall be looking at what science has to say.
But before going any further in exploring the do dogs have soul question, we first need to figure out what exactly the soul is.
What Is A Soul?
We may define the soul as the part of a living being that serves as the seat of that living being’s consciousness, will, emotions and mind.
To put it differently, the soul is the invisible, intangible part of a living being. It is where the living being’s mind, consciousness, will and emotions reside.
Thus in determining whether or not a living being has a soul, we need to ask ourselves whether it has a consciousness.
We also need to ask ourselves whether it has a mind, whether it has emotions and whether it has a will.
If a living being has consciousness, a mind, emotions and a will, then it would mean that it has a soul.
Non-living things such as stones clearly have no consciousness. They also have no minds, emotions or wills. Therefore we can categorically say that they don’t have souls.
Some living things like plants also clearly have no consciousness. Yes, they are alive. (They do eventually die and dry up). But they also have no consciousness, minds, emotions or wills.
Therefore we can categorically say that they have no souls, in spite of being alive.
But there are certain living things – like humans, dogs and so on – which clearly have some sort of consciousness. They have emotions. Further, they have wills.
It is the base where the said consciousness, will, emotions and mind reside that we refer to as the ‘soul’.
This background information will later come in handy while answering the do dogs have souls question comprehensively.
In fact, it wouldn’t have made sense to attempt to answer the does dogs have a soul question without this background information.
Do Animals Have Souls?
So far, we have gotten a basic definition of what a soul is.
Before answering the do dogs have souls question in particular, we need to know whether animals generally have souls. Then we can narrow down on dogs.
So, do animals have souls? Do pets have souls?
We have defined the souls as the (invisible, intangible) part of a living being where that living being’s consciousness, mind, emotions and will reside.
Now there are certain animals that clearly have consciousness, minds, emotions and wills. We can therefore say that at least certain animals have a soul.
What animals may lack (and what sets them apart from human beings) is a spirit. Do animals have a spirit? Most people will say ‘no’.
Do animals have a spirit or soul? Most experts on these matters will tell you that what animals have is a soul, not a spirit.
The difference is in that the spirit is the part of a living being which enables it to communicate with the creator.
This is what animals seem to lack. But the part that allows them to have consciousness, minds, emotions and wills – the soul – this they do have.
Thus if one had the do dogs have spirits question, this may go a long way in answering it.
Under this scheme of things, the dog soul is quite different from a spirit.
Of course, there are those who will talk of there being something like dog spiritual energy, meaning that the dog has a spirit. But there are also those who have never experienced the said dog spiritual energy.
So it becomes a matter of conjecture.
What most people agree on, however, is the fact that at least some types of animals have souls.
Do Dogs Have Souls?
So far, we have answered the do pets have a soul question in general terms.
We saw that at least some pets/animals have souls. To the extent that they have consciousness, minds, emotions and wills, we may say that they have souls.
Now we turn to dogs in particular. The question is, does dogs have souls? Do all dogs have souls?
If we say that dogs have souls, what is the evidence for it?
And if someone says that dogs have no soul, what is the evidence for it?
Our position is that dogs have souls. They may have no spirits, but they certainly do have souls. So that is the answer we can give to the do dogs have souls question.
Here, one may ask, what makes you think your dog has a soul? So this would be in search of evidence for the assertion that dogs have souls.
Now what makes us think that dogs have souls is the fact that they have emotions. They also have consciousness. And they have minds and wills.
Their wills may not exactly be ‘free wills’. To some extent they are driven by instincts. But they still have wills.
The soul is the seat of consciousness, emotions, mind and will. So inasmuch as dogs have consciousness, emotions, minds and wills, we can say that they have souls.
In saying this, we are not ‘elevating’ dogs to the level of humans. Humans, on top of having souls, also have spirits which the dogs apparently lack.
Earlier, we answered the do dogs have a spirit or soul question. We saw that dogs have souls, but probably no spirits.
The accusation of elevating dogs to the level of humans can therefore not stand.
Do Dogs Have Souls From Christian Perspective?
The chief source of Christian doctrine is the bible.
Therefore to get the do dogs have souls Christian perspective, we need to look at what the bible says.
Does the bible say dogs have souls at any point? Biblically do dogs have souls? What is the do dogs have souls scripture position?
Perhaps the best place to go, in search of the do dogs have souls bible answer is by reading Ecclesiastes 3:21. It tells us that no one knows whether the spirit of man goes upward or the spirit of beast goes down to earth.
So this means that the beast (including of course the dog) has a soul – perhaps even a spirit – to talk of.
In the King James Version, it says “who knoweth the spirit of man… and the spirit of beast…”. So we may take this as the do dogs have souls KJV answer.
Clearly, the do dogs have souls bible position seems to be that they do. Only that their souls are different from humans. While human souls/spirits go upwards, those of beasts (like dogs) go downwards…
Thus for anyone looking for do dogs have souls bible verse, then Ecclesiastes 3:21 is a good place to start.
It also answers, to some extent, the what kind of soul does a dog have question. Are dogs human souls alike? The answer is apparently ‘no’, according to this verse.
While human souls/spirits go upwards, those of beasts (like dogs) go downwards.
In a discussion on what does the bible say about dogs having souls, this verse would be a good place to start.
Of course, there may be other do dogs have a soul bible references. But Ecclesiastes 3:21 is a good place to start.
Do Dogs Have Souls From Catholic Perspective?
In Christianity, there are two main branches: namely Catholic and Protestant.
Therefore in seeking the Christianity do dogs have souls perspective, we need to look at both the catholic and protestant views.
Animals (like dogs) do have souls, but those are not eternal souls like the human ones. That seems to the catholic answers do dogs have souls position across board.
So they have souls. But their souls are different. They cease to exist upon death.
That is also the position that Pope John Paul II gave in 1990.
Do Dogs Have Souls From Protestant Perspective?
To get the protestant perspective on the do dogs have souls question, we need to make reference to the bible.
What does the Bible say about dogs souls, if anything?
Do dogs have souls according to the bible? We saw Ecclesiastes 3:21 talking about the spirits of beasts (which should include dogs) and which go downwards while men’s go upwards.
This we can take to mean that beasts – like dogs – have souls.
Their souls may not exactly be like humans. But they do have souls.
At least that is the inference we make.
What applies to dogs in this context should also apply to cats, as they are both ‘beasts’.
Thus the answer to the do cats and dogs have souls question would be ‘yes’.
We may take it further, and ask, do dogs have souls when they die?
The scripture we made reference to, in Ecclesiastes 3:21 talks about the spirits of men going upwards, while those of animals go downwards.
From this, one can make inference on where do dogs go when they die. It brings the possibility of there being an afterlife for them.
Do Dogs Have Souls From Judaism Perspective?
Judaism’s view on whether dogs have souls seems to be ‘yes’ – though unlike human souls, animals’ souls (like dog souls) are not eternal.
Therefore that appears to be Judaism’s answer to the do dogs have souls question.
To the extent that the souls are not eternal, then the question of them going to heaven wouldn’t arise.
Thus in the Judaism view, the answer to the do dogs souls go to heaven question would be ‘no’.
Under this perspective, what happens to dog soul after death is apparently that it ceases to exist.
Therefore under the Judaism perspective, if one asks, do dogs’ souls wander after they die, the answer would be ‘no’. That is because they cease to exist once they die.
Do Dogs Have Souls In Islam?
Most sources indicate that dogs – like all other animals – do have souls in Islam.
There are even sources which suggest that in Islam, the animal souls are eternal. And this is to say that they would be liable to resurrection and judgment on the last day.
There are also sources that say animals – including dogs –are continually praising God. This would be to imply that they have souls and spirits.
And this is not about several select spiritual dog breeds, but rather, all dogs. And indeed all animals.
Do Dogs Have Souls From Hindu Perspective?
In Hindu, there is belief in cycles of reincarnation.
Under this perspective, it is possible, for instance, for a human to reincarnate as a dog. Or for a being that previously existed as a dog to reincarnate as a human.
Obviously then, under the Hindu perspective, dogs do have souls. They can reincarnate as humans, and ultimately attain enlightenment.
Do Dogs Have Souls From Science Perspective?
As noted earlier, the soul is the invisible, intangible part of a living being, in which that living being’s consciousness, mind, emotions and will reside.
The soul is really not a scientific concept.
Therefore trying to answer the do dogs have souls question from a scientific perspective would be futile.
What science tells us is that dogs have brains. In those brains are neural networks, through which they may be able to experience emotions, have some consciousness, make decisions and so on.
Therefore one would say that in scientific terms, dogs have ‘souls’ to that extent.
Where Do Dogs Go When They Die?
After the question on whether dogs have souls normally comes this one: on where dogs go when they die.
There are different perspectives. We have those who believe that dogs cease to exist when they die. Then we have those who believe that dogs go to some sort of heaven when they die.
That is also whence the question of dogs going to the poetic ‘Rainbow Bridge’ comes into the picture.
And we even have those who believe that the dogs may reincarnate after death.
Some may even believe that dogs’ souls remain with their owners, after the dogs die. Under that perspective, the answer to the do dogs souls stay with you question would be ‘yes’.
Do Dogs Go To Heaven?
On whether or not dogs go to heaven, the answer depends on which school of thought one subscribes to.
Do dogs have souls and go to heaven?
If you believe that dogs have no souls or spirits, then the question of them going to heaven wouldn’t arise.
Similarly, if you believe that dogs have souls, but those souls are not eternal, then the question of them going to heaven wouldn’t arise.
But if you believe that dogs have eternal souls, then there would be the possibility of them going to heaven after death.
Final Verdict – Do Dogs Have Souls
Dogs have consciousness, minds, emotions and wills. To the extent that they have these things, we may say that they have souls.
That is because the soul is the seat of consciousness, mind, emotion and will.
Most religious traditions hold that dogs have souls, though the types of souls they have are different from human souls.
In most religious traditions, dogs’ souls cease to exist when they die. But there are also some religious traditions in which dogs’ souls are eternal, and therefore capable of going to heaven/enjoying the afterlife.
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