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← Pigs and dogs: a double standard

Pigs and dogs: a double standard - Comments

BounderCad's Avatar Comment 1 by BounderCad

I agree, but I hope you're not suggesting that we should stop caring as much about our dogs, to make things "fair".

Also consider that people spend money on their own children as opposed to other people's children. From a utilitarian point of view, that is no more defensible than the dogs and pigs double standard.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:10:15 UTC | #597198

Dave H's Avatar Comment 2 by Dave H

Of course people in some parts of the world eat dog, and some new research suggests that dogs might have first been bred for their meat:

And I'm still trying find the origin of the phrase "101 ways to wok a dog".

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:16:20 UTC | #597201

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 3 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 1 by BounderCad :

I agree, but I hope you're not suggesting that we should stop caring as much about our dogs, to make things "fair".

Oh goodness no. Far from it. What a horrifying thought. The very opposite.


Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:17:11 UTC | #597202

Reveille's Avatar Comment 4 by Reveille

It is really interesting that you bring this up as i just had a discussion about this recently. My girlfriend was telling stories about people that "put their dogs to sleep" when they are sick instead of going the extra mile to get them care, stating that it was in fact for the peoples benefit not the animals often. I pointed out this same double standard that only furry, cute, animals that most consider pets are considered to be worthy of medical treatment. I am not saying that animals should be mistreated as i have always been an animal lover but i think people need to understand that we keep pets for enjoyment purposes.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:18:03 UTC | #597203

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 5 by Ignorant Amos

Would we have a different attitude to dogs if we had dog rashers with our eggs for breakfast? Is there a double standard where dog is eaten as a staple? Then there are those who keep pigs as pets and treat them with a doggy reverence. We like to dehumanise that which we eat as a type of barrier to feeling.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:19:54 UTC | #597204

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 6 by Cook@Tahiti

This is what the Australian movie Babe (1995) was all about. It was based on recently-deceased Dick King-Smith's novel The Sheep-Pig about a pig who wants to avoid his fate of being eaten and have all the privileges of being a working farm dog.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:22:19 UTC | #597205

Czar's Avatar Comment 7 by Czar

Maybe we find pigs to be more tasty than dogs. Maybe dogs are better indoors than pigs would be. Perhaps the lifestyle of a pig is more distasteful to us than dogs. Either way, I do not think this is a big issue, we eat just as the lion eats. And I dont remember the time a pig controlled sheep, helped hunt wild boar (pun intended) or acted as the guard of the home. No double standard in my opinion.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:50:13 UTC | #597217

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 8 by hungarianelephant

Is the comparison an entirely fair one?

On a traditional farm, pigs and dogs are both working animals. You deliberately try not to become attached to the pig, because you know you are going to kill it, but I'd suggest that farmers tend to care a lot about the pigs and treat the dogs much less like pets than the rest of us. The distinction isn't as clear as all that.

Conversely, it's perfectly possible to treat a pig as a pet, and I would bet that you wouldn't see much difference between the treatment of pigs and dogs by those who do keep them as pets.

Why do we tolerate factory farming of pigs? Because most people are completely unable to associate the plastic-wrapped, neatly labelled little chop with the sentient, intelligent animal it came from.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:51:34 UTC | #597218

Crocrodrilo's Avatar Comment 9 by Crocrodrilo

It's been said that Pigs are smarter than dogs. Maybe dogs don't taste so good...

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:54:51 UTC | #597221

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 10 by God fearing Atheist

(there seems no reason to think that intelligence is correlated with the ability to feel pain or fear),

I'm not questioning your central argument, just nit-picking this parenthesised assumption.

What is the point of pain? What is the point of fear? I would suggest that their "purpose" is to tell an animal to avoid that situation in future, or do something about it now. In order to act according to the situation the animal has to use its "intelligence". I will suggest that pain and fear co-evolved with the "intelligence" to do something about it. In inverse, plants don't have "intelligence" because there is generally nothing they can do about a "pain stimulus".

Pain might have saturated 300 million years ago, so a toad feels pain the same as a human, but humans have a sophisticated repertoire of fears.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:55:39 UTC | #597222

I'm_not's Avatar Comment 11 by I'm_not

"excuse me, farmer. Why has that pig got a wooden leg?".

"well, yer don't eat yer best friend all at once does 'ee?"

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:00:09 UTC | #597224

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by God fearing Atheist

As for the central argument:-

Because dogs have been used as work animals, but pigs as food animals. Eating your gundog gets one meal, hunting with your gundog gets many. Eating your pig gets you one meal. Hunting with your pig gets you no meals. Letting your piglet scrounge in the woods gets you a bigger piglet to eat later.

Fast forward to 21st century, and we keep dogs as pets, but still eat pigs. Fast forward to 23rd, and we may keep pigs as pets and never eat 'em.

Moral hypocracy? - absolutely. But if I was in a medieval village and starving, I'd eat the dogs (as happen many times).

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:13:18 UTC | #597227

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 13 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 7 by Czar.Bernstein

There are Guard pigs and dog burgers can't taste that bad. Pigs have more uses than just tasty meat, a bit more credit please.

Pigs in bracken. Soil tilling porkers. Pig fuel you won't see that with doggy do do. Truffle hunters.

There are many more examples and then there is the research values, so the grunter has a valued place over just being very tasty.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:13:20 UTC | #597228

SheilaC's Avatar Comment 14 by SheilaC

This is the main reason why I feel I ought to become a vegetarian. The trouble is, pigs taste so darn good, and I can resist anything except temptation. Plus the rest of the family isn't keen on veggie food.

I once met a woman in a bar who'd just bought a baby piglet as a pet, and she had it with her in a baby blanket, teaching it to think of her as Mummy.

It caused a bit of a stir, obviously.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:14:20 UTC | #597230

Bala's Avatar Comment 15 by Bala

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:15:07 UTC | #597232

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 16 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 13 by Ignorant Amos :

Truffle hunters.

In 1875, a truffle hog could cost up to $200 [3]. A skilled truffler could more than make up for this investment due to the high price of truffles on the gourmet food market. ... It is frequent for the hog to be more of a family pet of the truffler.



Q. Is this animal more use dead or alive?

A. Dead.

Q. Is this dead animal good to eat?

Yes: Scoff.

No: Bin

A. Alive. - "Ah, nice animal, you're an honorary human now! Slave, do as you're told!".

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:19:10 UTC | #597234

MentalLentil's Avatar Comment 17 by MentalLentil

Comment 15 by Bala

"Yeah but a dog's got personality!"

Somebody (I can't remember who) summed up why they liked pigs:

"Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you but pigs treat you as equals."

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:20:54 UTC | #597235

Cinaed's Avatar Comment 18 by Cinaed

If only that pitbull that attacked my dog and me was a cute little piggy... On a serious note pig tastes better than dog so dog wins as pet

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:28:06 UTC | #597236

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 19 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by God fearing Atheist

Like a champion Greyhound?

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:30:45 UTC | #597237

Kilian's Avatar Comment 20 by Kilian

I always thinked about that, If I don't stop eating pork, I'll start eating dog. The problem is that we are too used to eat pig.

I know that the main topic is our moral double standard, but talking about what we consider disgusting to eat just because where we born I recommend you to watch this TED talk

Quoting the movie Stalker "My conscience wants vegetarianism to win over the world. And my subconscious is yearning for a piece of juicy meat. But what do I want?"

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:31:22 UTC | #597238

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

How about Rabbit? There's a double standard there within the same species.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:39:40 UTC | #597241

Chica1's Avatar Comment 22 by Chica1

I'd have to disagree, You can't transfer human values to animals.

We assume that pigs don't like living in small spaces because we wouldn't like it but they would naturally live in enclosed wooded areas, they don't like to be outside too much because they get easily sunburned.

The fact that we don't love them the way we love a dog probably doesn't even occur to them, they have other pigs for company.

Abattoirs have to obey the law when slaughtering animals and we have no reason to assume they do not.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:42:01 UTC | #597244

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 23 by DocWebster

If pigs weren't yummy they would be excellent pets but even your dog sees a pig and says "MMMMM Bacon"

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:42:52 UTC | #597245

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 24 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 22 by JuliaGulia

You can't transfer human values to animals.

Try telling that to some dog owners.. There should be a law against eccentrics who leave their fortune to their pets. I find it unpalatable.

Then there are the lunatics who dress there dogs like humans.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:57:33 UTC | #597250

Mr_White's Avatar Comment 25 by Mr_White

I don't think the preferential treatment for dogs is just based on how you quantify intelligence, but rather the fact they have been our closest companions since they became domesticated, which has given them a great ability to read/evaluate our emotions and intentions and vice-versa, dogs are surprisingly adept at this, it seems more adept than our fellow great apes.

And I'm sure most you know about the hypothesis of how profoundly dogs may have shaped our evolution, especially our social bond with other species.

With this in mind, I don't think it's any surprise that we treat dogs with such reverence.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:58:22 UTC | #597251

locutus7's Avatar Comment 26 by locutus7

Years ago this conundrum was solved by mating pigs, dogs, and neanderthals: the result was what we now call Republicans.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 17:02:57 UTC | #597253

Caivs's Avatar Comment 27 by Caivs

Maybe the problem is that pigs taste good, and dogs (I suppose) donĀ“t. We are mercyless predators of bacon.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 17:04:59 UTC | #597255

Anvil's Avatar Comment 28 by Anvil

Comment 24 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 22 by JuliaGulia

You can't transfer human values to animals.

Try telling that to some dog owners..

I've always had dogs. I presently have a 2/3 year old border collie bitch (Molly) and an eleven year old cross collie dog (Max) with arthritic joints. They're both rescue dogs so have various problems mainly to do with socialisation - Molly, for example, was kept in a small cage for the best part of two years whilst Max was dumped from a moving truck on to a motorway. Sadly, aggression has been a big part of their lives.

They're in Hog Heaven now, though.

My partner, Jane, treats them like children. I try vainly to point out and correct this anthropomorphic error but I'm fighting a losing battle - not with Jane (no, they were all lost long ago), but with myself. 'They're almost Human', and 'They understand every word I say' are common thoughts in my head, so much so that I've begun to question my use of the word 'anthropomorphic' altogether. It's a word that increases the distance between us and other sentient creatures, but living with Molly and Max constantly, daily, decreases this distance. They are incredibly social animals displaying high intelligence, loyalty, empathy, altruism, joy, sadness and love, and a sense of the aesthetic - Max loves landscapes! They have incredible memories and have many friends, quite a few acquaintances, and some enemies.

They both fart. A lot.

On the tree of life they are clearly visible from the branch I'm sitting on.

I have told them both that I will never eat them.

My youngest daughter, I know, would say exactly the same regarding 'Murphy', her ferret.

We have space for a pig.


"Spider Pig, Spider Pig. Does whatever a Spider Pig does!"

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 17:13:23 UTC | #597258

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 29 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 19 by Ignorant Amos :

Comment 16 by God fearing Atheist

Like a champion Greyhound?

Probably. Bought as pups by those who thought they could make a killing on the race track and abandoned when they didn't.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 17:25:26 UTC | #597262

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 30 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 28 by Anvil

Great tail (pun intended), I'm looking into the face of a 2 year old Shih Tsu at the moment. Charlie, although just 2, has a wee old man inside trying to get out. He could buy and sell me every time and can read me like a book. He sleeps at the bottom of the bed in the gap between my legs, he loves crackers and cheese, sings with me when I blow the squeaker I pulled from a rubber toy and he sits and gurns after me when I leave the house..... like you infer.....I think he has a sixth sense.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 18:07:29 UTC | #597280