What Is The Yulin Dog Meat Festival & When Did It Begin?

It is the time of year when animal rights activists around the world are mobilizing to bring an end to one of China’s more controversial traditional events – the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

This year is also especially significant as there are some 60 million domestic animals slaughtered each year in China for their meat, which makes this festival seem even more excessive and cruel. Unfortunately, animal cruelty continues to be present throughout China despite its growing economy and fast development.

It targets mainly cats and dogs but also includes other animals that are farmed or hunted for sport or food. There are many organizations that help to rescue dogs from China so please read until the end if you’d like to help stop Yulin forever.

What Is The Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival takes place in Yulin, Guangxi, China during the summer solstice every year.

The tradition is thought to have started as a way for dog meat traders to celebrate the coming of the summer’s hottest days and generate more business by luring festival-goers with free dog meat.

The 10-day event starts on June 21st or 22nd depending on the lunar calendar and it is estimated that around 10,000 dogs are consumed each year at this time.

The majority of these dogs are believed to be pets stolen from their loving families as they yelp for help and never return home again.

Others were strays rounded up off the streets who now suffer fates worse than death. It is also believed that some of the dogs eaten during this festival are those who were raised as part of a large-scale, dog-meat industry as their meat is especially sought after.

In Yulin specifically, there are 10 dog meat companies with more than 100 workers each, and stall numbers have been increasing year on year.

Who Started The Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

Despite some rumors, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival was not started by residents living in Yulin and there is no evidence that it has ever been endorsed by anyone except those who profit from its continued existence.

While many people assume that the festival began as a way to celebrate the summer solstice, which is what some Chinese citizens believe, this is false because dog meat consumption does not fall on any important day throughout the year.

What Is The Real Purpose Of The Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival can be stopped if more residents speak out against it instead of ignoring the issue like they do every year, but unless stronger laws are passed prohibiting dog meat consumption altogether, this cruel tradition will continue for as long as dogs remain a profitable food item.

Is it seen differently in China?

Many people in China do not condone the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, but it is embraced by some locals who believe that eating dog meat during this time of year will ward off heatstroke.

While the majority of Chinese citizens have abandoned this tradition, there are still a few who eat dogs to prevent illness and because they consider dog meat to be a ‘nutritious’ dish.

How Did The Yulin Dog Meat Festival Start?

China’s commercial dog meat trade first took off in the 1990s which was driven by demand from restaurants serving northern Chinese cuisine to a growing middle class who could now afford to eat meat regularly.

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival started sometime in 2010 when residents decided to hold a market for selling dogs as pets, but this soon turned into an event for trading dog meat when the local government allowed it to be opened to the public.

Dog meat traders then began promoting dog meat dishes during the summer solstice in order to boost sales and since then, the number of dogs slaughtered for this purpose has increased every year.

How long will the Yulin Dog Meat Festival continue?

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival will not stop any time soon unless there are stricter laws prohibiting this terrible practice, but if more people speak out against it, attitudes in China may change and therefore reduce or eliminate the number of dogs killed for their meat every year.

As long as people continue to eat dog meat despite being fully aware of how they treat these innocent animals beforehand, this cruel festival will always take place because the dog meat industry is too powerful to shut down otherwise.

How Might We Stop The Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

China’s dog-meat industry is very controversial because most Chinese citizens do not approve of or support it due to its widespread abuse and torture before they are slain.

There is also no law protecting animals in China so there are no animal welfare laws, which means businesses can operate without any fear of repercussions from authorities despite how immoral their practices may seem.

On top of that, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is not actually a legal event it is open to the public without any permit, and violators face no charges.

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival continues every year because of the lack of enforcement by local authorities, but this does mean there has been some progress since its inception.

For example, despite huge protests from Chinese citizens and animal rights activists around the world over the last few years, two dog meat restaurants in Chongqing closed down due to fear of punishment following an order by city officials.

This shows that although many are still afraid to speak up against animal cruelty in China, attitudes are slowly changing for the better so hopefully one-day people will be able to enjoy Yulin’s summer solstice festival without having to worry about the dogs’ terrible treatment beforehand.

What is Asians’ opinion About Eating dogs?

You may think numerous Asians are agreeable to the Yulin Canine Meat Celebration since they eat canines, however, this isn’t by any stretch of the imagination valid.

Truth be told, most Chinese don’t believe canine meat to be food, which is the reason it has never been remembered for any Chinese formula or cooking example since China’s Cooking Unrest started in 1992.

It was not long ago that certain individuals living in China’s southern areas began eating canine meat because of its expanding prevalence all through Southeast Asia and Japan.

What Does The Yulin Dog Meat Festival Reveal About Chinese Attitudes?

According to a survey conducted by Animals Asia, most people living in China do not approve of or understand the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and they simply ignore it because they feel powerless.

A lot of Chinese citizens, especially those who live in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, see dogs as companions and helpers rather than food so even if the festival continues for several more years, eventually, there will be fewer and fewer people willing to eat dog meat.

Consuming meat is not a traditional part of Chinese culture so many residents consider this practice unnecessary and cruel.

In addition, although some people believe that eating dogs will help them avoid diseases like rabies (an incorrect assumption as there has never been such a case reported), they still oppose the festival because it shows no respect for the dogs.

Will Yulin follow Shenzhen and Zhuhai and ban the consumption of dog meat?

Although some residents believe that the Yulin Dog Meat Festival should be banned or postponed to prevent animal cruelty, the local government refuses due to its religious and cultural significance.

However, there are many new movements in China asking for change throughout the country’s dog meat industry so hopefully one-day this practice will become illegal.

Do other countries condemn this?

Yes, many countries throughout the world are condemning the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which is why it has become an issue for animal rights activists everywhere.

In fact, representatives from 30 different nations recently signed a letter addressed to the Yulin government expressing their concerns about how dogs are being treated throughout Guangxi Province.

For example, because supposedly healthy dogs are stolen from their homes and subjected to unhygienic conditions before being transported across the province, it is believed that more than 100 dogs die each year due to diseases like canine distemper.

Is There A Solution?

Along with many other people in China, the Chinese Animal Protection Network is working to raise awareness about the cruelty behind Yulin’s dog meat festival. The network has been protesting outside of Yulin for years, educating residents with pictures and banners showing the cruel reality of this festival.

They also use these occasions to educate restaurant owners who are often unaware that their dog meat comes from stolen pets or animals bought at inflated prices from traffickers.

Many citizens living in Yulin recognize that this tradition is no longer necessary and there have even been a few petitions created to end it entirely.

However, since the local government receives large tax revenue during the festival (and continues to do so because there are never any official reports on how much money is collected), they refuse to end something that still makes them money.

The long-term solution would be to help educate people about why consuming dog meat in China is no longer necessary and make changes within the industry (like banning dogs from being stolen or buying dogs at an inflated price).

Yulin is in Yunnan, one of the poorest provinces in China, where many residents believe that eating dog meat will keep them warm during the winter months. Since there are no jobs in this area for most young adults, many move away leaving few opportunities for new businesses that might replace these dying traditions.


The Yulin Dog Meat Festival has been an issue in China ever since its inception so we can only hope that one day it will be stopped.

It is upsetting and heartbreaking to think about all the dogs who face mistreatment and abuse before they are killed for their meat, but hopefully, animal rights activists in China and around the world can make a difference by speaking up against this cruel event.