Keeping Dogs
Islamic Customs and Etiquette
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

What is the position of dogs in Islam? What's the basis for making dogs untouchable to Muslims?


The position of dogs is the same as that of any other tamed animal. It can be kept for protection as well as for hunting purposes. It can be kept as a pet as well. If kept as a pet, it is desirable (not obligatory of course) that it should not be brought inside the home since certain Ahādīth mention that angels have an aversion to dogs and angels, we know, often frequent our houses to shower blessings on us. This is just like showing respect to their personal dislike – nothing more. After all we do show respect to the tastes and inclinations of our parents, even when, at times, our own taste is different!

The notion that it is untouchable to Muslims has no basis, in my opinion, in the authentic sources of Islam. People base this view mostly on the following Hadīth.

Abū Hurayrah reports that the Prophet [once] said: When a dog puts his mouth in some utensil wash it seven times and scrub it with mud the seventh time as well. (Abū Da‘wūd: Kitāb al-Tahārah)

In my opinion, the Prophet (sws) gave this directive not because dogs are unclean but because some dogs in his times had become infected with rabies, which is a fatal disease. This seems so because of the intensity depicted in cleaning the utensil in this Hādith. Had the matter been of a dog being unclean intrinsically, the need to wash a utensil not two or three but seven times, and the seventh with mud, would not have been required.

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