Does breeding and selling dogs fit into right livelihood provided that you make a concerted effort to make sure the animals find homes with responsible owners?


Thanks for the answers so far. I am especially interested in answers that are rooted in the Pali Canon.

There are two relevant suttas that I found:

  1. The Vanijja Sutta
  2. The Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutta

However, it seems like there is dispute about how to translate and understand the relevant passages. Any answers that specifically address these issues would be appreciated.

4 Answers 4


Depends on which system your in. In the Mahayana system, the precepts have an animal liberation theme, i.e. not using animals for anything.

In the Upasaka precepts.

(15) If an upāsaka who has accepted this precept raises cats or foxes, he has committed the sin of negligence. ... (16) If an upāsaka who has accepted this precept raises animals, such as elephants, horses, cows, goats, camels, or donkeys, and refuses to give them away to someone who has not received the [upāsaka] precepts, he has committed the sin of negligence. Without rising above this impure act, which is conducive to continuing his cyclic existence, ... he cannot avoid going down an evil life-path.

ref: http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra33c.html

And in the Brahma Net Sutra precepts

  1. On Harming Sentient Beings

A disciple of the Buddha must not sell knives, clubs, bows, arrows, other life-taking devices, nor keep altered scales or measuring devices. He should not abuse his governmental position to confiscate people's possessions, nor should he, with malice at heart, restrain or imprison others or sabotage their success. (82) In addition, he should not raise cats, dogs, foxes, pigs, and other such animals. (83) If he intentionally does such things, he commits a secondary offense.

ref: http://www.buddhasutra.com/files/brahmanet.htm

I'm a vegetarian myself, and sympathetic to animal right issues-- the pet trade, zoos, and circuses do involve a certain amount of unneeded suffering and death on the animals parts, but for some people, their dog or cat is the only reason they have any sympathy at all for non-humans. So pets are a sort of unvolunteered diplomats for their species and animals in general.

Anyhow, here is one asian, dog charity I follow- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Duo-Duo-Animal-Welfare-Project-%E5%A4%9A%E5%A4%9A/380841222033262


With Buddhist morality, you have to remember there are two levels:

  1. The conventional, that is used like fence posts to demarcate boundaries and provide a framework. This includes the precepts, and the other teachings of the Buddha on right livelihood, ascetic practices, etc.

  2. The ultimate, that deals with actual mental immorality, similar to a real fence that actually prevents escape. This involves mental states of greed, morality, and delusion.

The fence posts are important on a conventional level, since without them, one wouldn't know where to put the fence, and the fence would most likely collapse without their support. Precepts support practice, and provide clear indication of what is out of bounds. They don't describe true morality.

So, conventionally speaking, breeding dogs may not be wrong livelihood in the Theravada, as per the other answers, but most non-monastic livelihood is "wrong" in the sense that it generally involves desire beyond what is functional (i.e. can arise in an enlightened being). How wrong depends on many factors, often independent of the actual livelihood. How you treat your dogs, euthanization, etc. Often, the level of "wrong" is not significant, and simply slows down one's progress towards enlightenment. The point is not to let one's livelihood become a barrier towards nibbana.

  • 2
    This isn't to take anything away from your answer but I find the comment - but most non-monastic livelihood is "wrong" - a very challenging (in a positive way) statement. So I've posted another question about it to see the range of opinion on it - buddhism.stackexchange.com/q/7878/157. And welcome back to the site of course - i think we all missed your answers Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 18:18

Under Samma Ajiva, five kinds of wrong livelihoods are identified:

  1. trading in animals for slaughter
  2. dealing in weapons
  3. dealing in slaves
  4. dealing in poison
  5. dealing in intoxicants

So breeding dogs for petting is fine!


While there mightn't be any specific quotes from Buddhist texts regarding the breeding of dogs, this doesn't necessarily mean it's fine.

Depending on the methods and goals of the breeding, this can lead to a number of severe health issues ongoing to purebred dogs. One need only begin to research the breed history and plight of the average sausage dog, pug, cavalier spaniel, etc, to read of the common health issues that have arisen from inbreeding and from the emphasis of certain defects through breeding.

Another issue is pet overpopulation - there are millions of unwanted cats and dogs that are taken to shelters every year and euthanised as they are unable to re-homed. To be adding dogs bred purposefully to these numbers would exacerbate the issue and denying existing dogs the opportunity to find a home.

Additionally, the current attitudes within society towards dogs are such that they are commodities to be purchased and traded, utilised for some practical or social purpose (such as a status symbol in the case of some purebred dogs) and these attitudes are reinforced by the encouragement of breeding and its transactional nature. I don't think holding these attitudes is spiritually healthy.

I think people are able to have productive and ethical relationships with animals, however I would argue that the combination of animals and commercial purposes creates welfare issues as the business maxims of maximum output for input inevitably come into play. One might argue that the treatment of dogs such as the above constitutes dealing in slaves.

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