What does the dog symbolize in the bible (Symbolism and Meaning)?

My friend recently invited me to his church to teach a group of anxious children of God about the symbolism of dogs in the Bible. My friend explained that one of the children had asked him why the bible continuously talked badly about dogs, yet she was allowed to keep a dog pet at home.

The Sunday school session was very informative; these little ones now understand why their Bibles warn them against dogs.

This intense sermon made me realize that many Christians have a hard time understanding the symbolism and meaning of dogs in the bible.

So, what does the dog symbolize in the bible?

The terms as mentioned severally both in the Old and New Testaments symbolize uncleanliness. ‘Dog’ was a term used by the Jews to refer to the Gentiles during the first century. According to Isaiah 56:10, dogs were used to watch over houses and guard the flock (Job 30:1). The scriptures also reveal that dogs roamed around the streets eating dead bodies. This is why whenever they were mentioned in the bible, they were used as a reproach and to show humiliation.

In this article, I encourage you to join me as we delve into the symbolism and meaning of the dog in the bible. We will also find the answers to most questions that many ask while tackling this topic, including the meanings of dreams about dogs, where the bible mentions dogs, and what symbolism refer to the animal. Read on!

What does the bible say about dogs?

Throughout the Bible, dogs are considered unclean and unholy animals. Revelation 22:15 suggests those who will be left out of the gates when the Lord returns: “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

These include those who practice falsehood, murderers, idolaters, the immoral, and the dogs. Proverbs 26:11 also compares those sinners who repeat their mistakes even after being corrected to dogs who return to eat their vomit. The bible says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”

The Bible continuously speculates that dogs are unholy and warns against giving what is holy to the dogs. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you”Matthew 7:6.

This is because they will not see its use and hence will trample on it. The various bible scriptures imply that dogs symbolize the people who do not heed the Word and who are found outside the church.

They do not understand God’s Word and therefore, nobody should be likened to them. They are likened to all the sinners in the bible who do not follow the Word.

Bible verses about dogs

Exodus 22:31: “You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.”

God sets laws for the people of Israel, warning against eating flesh that has been torn by wild animals, and which not all the blood has been drained from it. He declares this meat unclean and therefore not edible.

Proverbs 26:17: “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”

A child of God is he who comes across people arguing, and does not meddle, because he has peace in his hands. If you involve yourself in another person’s arguments, then you are equated to that person who encounters a stray dog and decides to disturb it.

Psalm 22:16: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.”

David complains to God how he feels unsafe with wild dogs around him ready to tear him apart. He asks for favor and deliverance in this most difficult time.

Psalm 59:6: “Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.”

David complains to God about the soldiers sent to murder him for no reason by Saul, who roam the streets like dogs.

Philippians 3:2: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”

Only evildoers focus on things that please the flesh, hence are compared to dogs and evildoers.

1 Kings 14:11: “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the Lord has spoken it.”

Dogs are wild and feed on caucus and dead bodies, and hence are unclean.

1 Kings 21:19: “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.”

God made a judgment against Ahab’s action of murdering and taking Naboth’s property. The Lord sent Elijah to confront the King and prophesy against his death. According to the prophecy, Ahab would face the same thing he had made an innocent man go through.

2 Kings 8:13: “And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.”

Hazael looks down at this servant and wonders how possible it is that he could achieve such big results. To her, this servant is not capable of anything.

Isaiah 56:11: “The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all.”

God describes wicked men as people who never have enough, just like hungry dogs. They are greedy and want more, even when they should be content.

Revelation 22:15: “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

This scripture implies how those people who heard the Word and cleaned themselves from sin entered the gate that lead to the Tree of Life. The others who refused to hear were left outside. These included the unclean and immoral ones.

The scriptures imply that dogs in the bible were not seen as significant, and were instead despised and diminished. They were seen as wild animals that roam the streets, feeding on caucuses and dead bodies.

The murderers, immoral, liars, false prophets, and deceitful ones were in the bible compared to these animals, proving that they were regarded negatively and not appreciated by society.

Dogs are today considered man’s best friends and are almost everyone’s pets, but back then, they were compared to everything negative.

What do dogs mean in Hebrew?

In Hebrew, the reference for a dog is ‘keleb’. It’s pronounced as keh’-leb and means to yelp or to attack. This term refers to a pagan sacrifice, a male cult prostitute, and also refers to contempt.

Even in Hebrew, this animal is considered unclean, unholy, and taboo.

5 symbolic meanings of dogs in the Bible

What the dog symbolize in the bible
Symbolic meanings of dogs in the Bible. Image source: Pixabay

The Bible points out various symbolism for dogs. Below are five symbolic meanings as given in the scriptures.

Death and doom

Dogs have also been used to symbolize death in the scriptures. Jeremiah 15:3 explains how the Lord was angry at the people of Jerusalem when he declared that he would send them to doom.

There are other instances in the bible where the dog is used to show it licks the wounds of a person soon to die, or it is located where there is death.

Luke 16;19-21 says, “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.”

1 Kings 14:11 notes, “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the Lord has spoken it.”

1 Kings 16:4 states, “Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

Hopelessness and insignificance

2 Samuel 9:8 is one verse that shows how David described himself to his King Saul. He referred to himself as a dog, a hopeless one that should not be feared or be taken as a threat.

Another good scene was when David went to fight Goliath with sticks and stones. The giant asked him whether he was a dog to be looked down upon like that. “And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods” – 1 Samuel 17:43.

Evil and unclean

In Philippians 3:2, the scripture describes how dogs are evil in that they can mutilate the flesh. Additionally, in 1 Kings 21:18, the Lord decides that Ahab will also be struck for taking away what did not belong to him, and it will be so bad that even dogs will lick up his blood.

While talking of the rich man and Lazarus, the bible implies that Lazarus was so poor that he fed on what fell from the man’s table with the dogs. “Who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores” – Luke 16:21.


Deuteronomy 23:18 suggests that dogs are comparable to prostitutes, whose behavior is an abomination in the house of the Lord. In Revelation 22:15, we see how the immoral beings will be locked out of the gate that leads to the Tree of Life, and they are all compared to dogs.


The Bible implies that dogs are like those people that go back to their sinful ways even after receiving salvation. Matthew 7:6 implies that if you give such people what is sacred, it will be pointless, for they will trample on it and then turn on you.

2 Peter 2:22 also emphasizes this scripture, “What the true proverb says has happened to them: The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

It says that dogs always go back and feed on their vomit, they are like those people who know good from bad but still take the wrong path.

“The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all”Isaiah 56:11.

Spiritual meaning of encountering a dog

In our world, a dog is considered a man’s best friend. This is why almost everyone nowadays keeps a dog as a pet. However, it is different in the spiritual realm. Dogs mean much more than just friendship.

It is not common to dream of a dog. The dog comes with a message from the spiritual dream, which you should take note of before you regret the outcome later.

According to researchers, spiritually, when you dream of these animals you must guard yourself since something dangerous might be coming. Constantly keep in prayer and look over your shoulder for anything unusual.

The dog in your dream might also be warning you of the disloyalty that is happening in your life.

Therefore, it would be good to check who your friends are and identify the disloyal ones. It might also be warning you of sexual perversion that you are getting into, which is against Christian laws.

Either way, listen to your dream and look around you for what the problem could be.

What does it mean when you dream about dogs?

What the dog symbolize in the bible
What does it mean when you dream about dogs? Image source: Pixabay

We cannot control our dreams. As bizarre as they sound, sometimes, we may have dreams about dogs, but what do these dreams mean?

Dreaming about a sick dog

This could mean various things. Bible scholars imply that since dogs are not considered holy in the bible, a dream of a sick dog could imply sickness is coming or that the enemy is trying to throw something negative at you.

Other people believe that the dream suggests financial troubles or loss or other negative things coming in your life. It is therefore advisable to pray over it.

Dreaming about killing a dog

You may be battling with repressed feelings or struggling to choose between two conflicting ideas. In another instance, it could be an evil spirit lurking in your life that you have finally decided to fight and defeat, for you to find peace.

In the spiritual realm and the bible, dogs represent sin, evil, and darkness among other negative things, so killing it in your dream might be a good thing. Still, pray over your dream when you get up.

Dreaming about being attacked by a dog

The Bible implies that dogs are not holy but, rather, are evil. It is therefore believed that when you dream of being attacked by one, then you need to pray over it and condemn it.

This is because your dream could imply that there is a spiritual attack against you. Dreaming about a dog attacking you cannot be random. Instead, it suggests that the enemy seriously wants to harm you and is therefore using the agents of darkness to reach you.

Dreaming about a dog barking at you

Additionally, you might also dream of a dog barking at you, and it can be very disturbing. This could be a sign that something negative is coming.

It is important to stay alert and be on the lookout because a dog symbolizes a spiritual enemy. Pray therefore without ceasing and trust God for goodness.

Dreaming about dogs fighting over meat

Remember the scripture in 2 Kings 9:10 that suggests dogs will devour Jezebel and nobody will bury her? I picture the dream of dogs fighting over meat as a warning of them devouring someone’s flesh.

This dream implies that as Christians, we should stay watch and pray incessantly since these dogs, or rather, the evil ones, are waiting for a loophole to tear us down.

What does Philippians 3:2 mean?

In this scripture, Paul mentions dogs about the Gentiles as well as those Christians who went back to the worldly ways, according to 2 Peter 2:22.

This scripture warns the saints of God against being hoodwinked by the ways of those that do not trust in God.

He also mentions evildoers, and these are those who follow the law and forget the Word. They come up with new hobbies and fads in the churches and confuse us about our works on Earth.

Thirdly, he warns against mutilators of the flesh. There are Jewish legalists who refused to accept that some gentiles had followed the Lord unless these gentiles were circumcised.

However, Paul did not think this was important since anyone can go before God, with no requirements whatsoever. Many people today focus so much on such laws that they forget what truly the Lord expects of them.

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