Every dog lover wonders, “where do dogs go after they die?” and if their dogs will go to heaven. After all, would heaven even be heaven without our beloved canines? However, theologians have debated this question for thousands of years, and what happens to dogs after they die is an ancient question.
Of course, we always do our best to give our pets the longest life possible, with vitamin dog chews, exercise, veterinary treatment and expensive dog food. But even so, we still have to face the hard truth of them passing. So questions like this one, and if dogs know when they are dying are bound to crop up when we are dealing with the short life expectancy of dogs like the Great Dane.
So let’s look at what different faiths and beliefs says about what happens to dogs in the afterlife, starting with the ancient world.
Where do dogs go after they die? A brief answer from different faiths
In Christianity, there is no single answer, as some believe that dogs go to heaven and some believe that they simply cease to exist after death. In Islam, a dog’s afterlife depends on whether or not it was a beneficial creature, and if it was, it will be rewarded in the afterlife.
According to Hinduism, when a dog dies, its soul is reborn again as a human, animal, or plant, depending on the karma it has accumulated in its past life. In Buddhism, dogs are believed to have the same afterlife as any other sentient being, returning to the cycle of rebirth until they can reach enlightenment.
What the Ancients said about dogs in the afterlife
Many cultures believed that the souls of dogs and other animals were closely connected with humans, as they believed that these souls could be reincarnated into other animals. Thus, most ancient cultures believed that dogs and other animals were not intrinsically doomed to perish after death because they were considered to be part of the same spiritual realm as humans.
Here are some ancient cultures who believed that dogs had a valuable role to play in the afterlife.
In ancient times, the many belief systems d included an afterlife for animals. Ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that animals had immortal souls and that after death they would enter a kind of endless sleep which would be broken when the gods disturbed them to bring them back to life.
The ancient Egyptians believed that when a dog passed away, they would be taken by Anubis, the god of death and mummification, to the afterlife. Many dogs were given a lavish funeral in ancient Egypt, and so the Egyptians believed that their beloved canine would be given one of the most luxurious Afterlives in the spirit realm.
To them, the dogs were welcomed into paradise, where they would stay close to their human families, living in the same realm and feeding upon a plentiful supply of food and hunting. They were honored and revered as a symbol of loyalty and friendship.
The Greek beliefs
The ancient Greeks also did not believe in a sinful afterlife for animals, and there were a variety of stories in ancient mythology regarding the fate of animals when they died; they were sometimes seen as weaker versions of the gods and were usually associated with the more mythical parts of the afterlife.
The Aztec Beliefs
For the Aztecs, dogs were considered to be special and sacred creatures, believed by some to even become gods in the afterlife. The Aztecs typically had a spiritual understanding of death and believed that all animals, including dogs, would travel to the Underworld or Mictlan, where all creatures could live in harmony.
In Mictlan, the dogs could live in eternal bliss alongside their masters, who had also passed on. Those whose dogs had passed before them would see their beloved pet restored in the afterlife, with all the same loyal companionship as before. Ultimately, for the Aztecs, dogs were seen as a symbol of loyalty and when they passed away, they were believed to remain in the spirit realm with the gods, forever.
The Viking beliefs
The Vikings believed that dogs had their own afterlife where they joined their humans. They believed that after a dog died, they went to a place called “Valhalla”- a great hall in Asgard where dogs lived in perfect harmony with their masters. Dogs who lived healthy and faithful lives were honored and feasted upon by the gods in Valhalla. They were also believed to be loyal and protective guardians as they continued their journey in the afterlife.
Do dogs go to Heaven? What the Bible and Christianity says happens to dogs after they die
There is much debate and confusion in Christianity over whether dogs go to heaven. Even Catholic Popes don’t agree. Recently in 2014, news falsely reported that Pope Francis declared all dogs go to Heaven. However, the Pope was really quoting Pope Paul VI who said, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
Many Popes have disagreed with this and do not believe that dogs have souls to go to heaven. However, the truth is simply that Jesus himself never made a statement over whether or not dogs go to heaven, so there is no reason to believe they don’t. In fact, the Bible does reference animals after the second coming, mentioning that the “lion will lie beside the lamb.”
Still, the Bible does not provide a definitive answer as to whether dogs will go to heaven after they die. However, many people believe that dogs do go to heaven, as they are frequently mentioned in the Bible as being beloved by man.
In the book of Isaiah, God says, “for the Lord loves the just and devout, and his soul delights in them” (11:28). This verse is often seen as a sign that animals, including dogs, can enter the kingdom of Heaven. Similarly, Psalm 36:7 says, “how priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings”.
This is interpreted to mean that even animals have refuge in God’s love. Ultimately, the Bible does not provide definitive answers about the afterlife for dogs, but many people believe that dogs will go to heaven.
What Islam says happens to dogs after they die
According to the Islamic faith, animals, including dogs, that lead good and virtuous lives and are cherished by their human owners will receive God’s special attention and compassion when they pass away.
In Islamic tradition, it is believed that dogs who were obedient and faithful in their lives will enter Paradise, where according to the Qur’an, they will be joined by their human companions. The Qur’anic verse 55:56 describes the reward that awaits worthy animals—where “each soul shall be paired with another.” This means that dogs who lived a good life and were loved and appreciated by their humans, will be joined with them in Paradise.
The Qur’an also states that other animals, like horses and camels, will have a similar reward. As for dogs that used their lives in evil ways, they will share the same fate that humans who lead sinful lives will experience. But since all dogs are good dogs, we can safely assume they all go to Paradise.
What Hinduism says happens to dogs after death
Hinduism teaches that something of our beloved pets will live on, even after their bodies have passed away. According to Hindu faith, souls can be reborn in the kingdom of animals along with human souls, and dogs are no exception. Therefore, it is believed that when a dog passes away, his energy or soul will continue to exist in another form, typically another animal.
Hindus believe that souls won’t cease to exist after death and that when a dog dies, it will be born again in another cycle, in another animal with a greater extent of life or even some other form of life. This process is known as transmigration of souls or metempsychosis.
Animals who fail to live up to the higher standards set by their souls, will not be born again in the human form and will be bound to continue their journey in the animal form, even if they were a dog in their last birth. The concept of reincarnation further says that the life forces will keep on cycling through different animals, humans, and plants for eternity, so it’s possible for a dog to come back in a different form of life.
In Hinduism, most believe that all living things are part of one cycle of birth and death, known as samsara. This knowledge has shaped the Hindu mindset to be one of great compassion and love, as all living things are entwined and sharing a common destiny.
The scriptures of Hinduism tell us that the body of a dog, like other animals, will cease to exist after death but its individual soul will continue to exist and receive protection from the gods. The karmic load of the soul will determine its next rebirth in another form – whether it be an animal, human, or any other being.
What Buddhists believe happens to dogs after their deaths
In Buddhism, it is believed that dogs don’t have souls or spirits and as such they don’t go to heaven or enter in a cycle of rebirth and reincarnation. It is believed that when a dog dies, its spirit dissipates back into the elements. Dogs are considered transient, with no spiritual essence, and as such, will continue to remain transient in the afterlife.
This means that dogs have no real identity after death, although it is believed that their loyalty and affection shown towards their previous owners will be carried with their energy for eternity. Furthermore, it is believed that dogs may accompany their departed owners in the afterlife, continuing as loyal and protective guardians as they continue their journey in the afterlife.
Ultimately, it is best to remember and commemorate our departed canine companions by honoring the joyous times and priceless moments spent together during their lifetime
Atheist thoughts on dogs after death
Atheists generally believe that when an animal, such as a dog, dies, it ceases to exist. There is no afterlife for animals, no heaven or hell. Death marks the end of their existence, and with it any conscious awareness or pleasure which may have accompanied their life.
While some may believe that their companion animals go to a heavenly realm, this is not generally accepted by non-theists. Death is seen as a natural part of life, much like birth.
While a living animal brings joy and companionship to its owner, some solace may be gained in the knowledge that death brings an end to its suffering as well as its joys. There is no reward or punishment in the afterlife for animals, simply a cessation of being.
However, in some ways, dogs do continue living. They stay alive in our memories and in the ways they affected our lives. It is impossible to erase a dog from existence, as their existence impacted others.
Moreover, dogs are made up of the same atoms and energy that make up the rest of the universe. And in that sense, dogs simply go back to being a part of the same universe that created them, just in another form.
In conclusion, in most faiths, most people seem to agree that dogs will continue on into the afterlife in some form or the other. However, regardless of what may happen, it’s most important that we value the short time we have with our dogs while we have them.
The one thing any dog lover can agree on, regardless of religion, is that they are valued family members who deserve to be loved and cherished in their time on earth.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.