Do Dogs Have A Soul? Find out more

Given pet behavior and people's religious beliefs, it's possible to believe that dogs have a soul.
Do Dogs Have A Soul? Find out more

Last update: 20 November, 2018

It’s said that dogs can see a person’s aura and their senses are superior to any other animal. However, is it true that dogs a soul? In this article, we’ll try to answer this question.

Dogs have souls: the religious perspective

Until a few years ago, the Catholic church and a great number of churchgoers mistakenly considered that animals, in general, don’t have souls. However, two of the last three popes, John Paul II and Francisco I have changed this perception. They have claimed that, as living beings, animals have a place “reserved in heaven”.

Many vicars and priests encourage followers of the Roman Catholic Church to go to mass with their pets, and not necessarily just because dogs are now becoming more considered as family members. It’s because the clergy now claims that pets have souls just like people.

The Catholic Church has recognized that these living beings provide help to lonely, depressed, or sick people and therefore deserve a place in heaven. Of course, not all people think the same as to whether dogs have a soul or not.

The person who took this first step was John Paul II, by claiming that “animals possess a vital breath, received from God” in clear allusion to the soul. Following his words, the debate amongst theologians, religious people, ecologists, and atheists didn’t take long to start.

The debate

Dog being petted by owner because dogs have a soul

At that time, during the early 90s, the controversy caught the eye of the media, which led to headlines such as “The Pope opens heaven up to animals” or “Beasts also have souls like men”.

Karol Wojtila, better known as John Paul II, later indicated that his words were based on scripture. In particular, he referred to where it says that man should have solidarity with all living beings, without distinction between humans and animals.

As the months went by, the news stopped being on the agenda and this controversial claim that “slept” for almost two decades, until Pope Francisco I said that “life after death is not just a gift for believers, but also for animals.”

The position of the Supreme Pontiff, who takes his name from Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and nature, was very clear that heaven is open to all creatures. There they will receive the joy and love of God, without limits”.

It’s worth mentioning that the previous pope, Benedict XVI, although a cat lover, said that animals were “limited” to a life on earth.

Dog standing on grass

Other Religions

Beyond the Catholic religion, it’s interesting to know what other faiths say. For example, Buddhism claims that anyone who behaves incorrectly will be reincarnated as an animal in their next life. Islam claims that man should have mercy on all living creatures, and in Judaism, they insist on compassion towards animals. However, none have a direct response to the question as to whether dogs have a soul.

Dogs have a soul: Theological view

To continue analyzing this claim, you need to consider the behavior of this animal. As mentioned several times before, dogs don’t know how to distinguish between good and bad.

It’s true that when they’re naughty they may seem to feel guilty (especially if you scold them), but when they do it they don’t consider any moral implications. They behave this way because they’re guided by instinct, experience, or habits, not by reasoning, less still by a soul.

On the other hand, it’s good to listen to the words of dog owners. They claim that dogs possess a soul in the same way that children do. This is because of their kindness, ingenuity, and unconditional love that come from dogs.

So, if dogs have a soul, do they go to heaven when they die? One children’s movie says so, and that can be a great comfort to people who have lost their faithful friend.

  • Regan, T. (1997). The rights of humans and other animals. Ethics and Behavior.
  • Gunderman, R. (2016). Whatever the soul is, its existence can’t be proved or disproved by natural science.