“Where do dogs go after passing away?”,
is a common question asked by all ages.
Whether you’re a kid or an adult who lost a furry friend.
Some people believe dogs go to the ‘Rainbow Bridge.’
A part in heaven that was made for them.
How much truth is there to it?
Keep reading to learn:
- What does the Bible say about dogs in heaven.
- Whether animals have ‘souls’ like humans or not.
- Insights of famous Christian leaders about this topic.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
- Do dogs go to heaven?
- What does the Bible say about dogs going to heaven?
- What Billy Graham says about dogs going to heaven
Do dogs go to heaven?
Dogs might or may not go to heaven. Some notable priests and Christian philosophers believe the former. They think heaven has a place for pets. And dogs who once gave love and happiness to humans can also be there. But, scholars say it’s the latter. And they believe that animals can’t exist there.
Who says the truth?
No one knows exactly what’ll happen after death.
This is a question that can only be answered once resurrected. Something that all of us haven’t experienced yet in our lifetime.
Although some people claim they’ve been visited by their departed dogs.
So, it turns out that the answer you’ll get depends on whom you ask.
It’s because each of us has different values and beliefs.
A team of 3 professors conducted a study about this. And asked 800 Americans if they believe that all dogs go to heaven.
The respondents were diverse. So they either owned a dog or not. Plus, they had different religions.
As the study’s goal was to know the factors affecting people’s beliefs on the animal afterlife.
One report summarized the research.
And the results?
73% of the people believe that dogs go to heaven. And they were mostly:
- Females (51%).
- Buddhists (77.%).
- Pet owners (45%).
- South Americans (50.3%).
- African-Americans (58.5%).
- Alaska Natives/American Indians (71.4%).
So based on this, many Americans think that dogs cross the Rainbow Bridge.
But, this is only what people, in general, believe in. So you might ask,
“What do the prominent figures in Christian history say about this?”
Well, I’ll discuss some of them.
#1: Pope Pius IX
He was the head of the Roman Catholic Church back in 1846. Up until 1878 – making him the longest-serving pope in history.
According to him, animals don’t go to heaven. Because it’s a place made only for creatures with souls and conscience.
Things that he claimed animals don’t have.
The report also says that he was against the formation of an animal anti-cruelty group. Back in the 19th century in Rome.
#2: Pope Paul VI
But, the reigning pope from 1963 to 1978 didn’t share the same belief.
There are reports that Pope Paul VI said to a boy who just lost a pet that,
“One day we will again see our animals in the eternity of Christ.”
Implying that all animals (including dogs) go to heaven after passing away.
However, this statement was misquoted by a newspaper. Way back in 2014. As they published that this was said by Pope Francis.
#3: Pope John Paul II
In 1990, Pope John Paul II said that animals have souls like us.
He told his audience that:
“Animals possess a soul. And men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren.”
And that they are the “fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect.”
Plus, animals were said to be “as near to God as men are.”
However, he didn’t say anything about animals crossing the Rainbow Bridge.
Although he believed that all of them are precious creations of God.
#4: Martin Luther
Another notable religious leader who had a say about this is Martin Luther.
Well, I’m sure you’ve heard about him.
He was a German monk and a teacher. And he’s known for starting the Protestant Reformation. A movement that led to the division of the Catholic Church.
Now, going back to the topic.
It was said that Luther believed that dogs indeed go to heaven.
Why did he say so?
I’ll share a brief story.
Based on one account, Luther’s family had a Pomeranian named ‘Belferlein.’ Or ‘Tölpel’ in other narratives.
Belferlein received so much love from his family. So when he died, Luther’s kids asked him what would happen to their dog who passed away.
He then said that,
“Even for the brave Belferlein, there will once be a place in Heaven.”
His statement wasn’t something you would hear from other scholars.
Because at that time, it was believed that animals don’t have souls. And so, they can’t go to heaven.
But Luther even added that,
“I believe that the Belferlein and Hündelein go to Heaven. And that every creature has an immortal soul.”
#5: Clive Staples Lewis (C.S. Lewis)
He’s one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
Some of his known works are ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and ‘The Screwtape Letters.’
Lewis, the genius behind those novels also gave his answer about dogs in the afterlife.
And what did he say?
Like Luther, he also believed that it’s possible. And he tackled this topic in his book, ‘The Problem of Pain.’
According to Lewis, there could be domestic animals in heaven. Say, dogs and cats.
But, he said that other stray creatures can’t exist there. Like frogs, flies, and newts.
Lewis believed that they have no ‘identity’ – unlike pets. As he said that parents give a part of themselves to their furry friends.
And due to this, pets could be in the afterlife as well. Which points out that their ‘immortality’ is connected to their humans.
Alright, all of these seem credible as they came from esteemed people.
Most of these theories were based on their own beliefs and faith. So what does the scripture really say about this?
Let’s find out.
What does the Bible say about dogs going to heaven?
The Bible doesn’t have a direct answer about dogs going to heaven. Most theologians claim that they can’t exist there. As they don’t have ‘immortal souls.’ But, in the book of Revelation, there are said to be animals in the ‘New Heaven’ and ‘New Earth.’ Where every creature will coexist in peace.
Ok, this is going to be a long ride.
But to start off, let’s see first…
What does the Bible say about dogs?
The word ‘dog’ was mentioned 31 times in the New and Old Testaments combined.
However, it’s mainly used as a negative expression. And it was usually associated with low status and evil. Such as in Proverbs 26:11:
“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
“But why’s that?” you may ask.
This is because the scripture wasn’t referring to tame pet dogs. Or canines who are affectionate and friendly to everyone.
Most dogs were described to be scavenging scraps. And they were also licking the blood of corpses.
“In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!”
– 1 Kings 21:19
One study found that canines were usually ‘detested’ in ancient Israel. And it was due to their wild and vicious nature.
It was said that during Biblical times, dogs were mostly feral. Especially in Israel.
Unlike in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia. Where canines were even said to be worshipped.
However, Job 30:1 shows that ‘Job’ had herding dogs.
“But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheepdogs.”
So although canines weren’t kept as pets at that time, it can be inferred that they were used as service dogs.
And in the bible, it was said that God entrusted humans to look after His other creations.
As Genesis 1:25-26 says that,
“So God made the wild animals, the tame animals, and all the small crawling animals to produce more of their own kind. God saw that this was good.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness.
And let them rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky,
Over the tame animals, over all the earth, and over all the small crawling animals on the earth.”
But unlike animals, humans were said to be made in God’s image. And He also ‘breathed His life’ into us.
Making people the only ones with a ‘soul,’ according to the bible.
This now prompts the widely debated topic…
Do animals have souls or not (based on the bible)?
Ecclesiastes 12:7 says that,
“And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
Since humans were said to be the only ones with the ‘breath of life’ from God…
It can be translated that other living forms (including animals) won’t be with Him in heaven. As they don’t have ‘souls.’
It was also mentioned that the key to heaven is by accepting Jesus Christ:
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord,
And believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
– Romans 10:9-10
And since animals can’t do these, theologians believe they can’t exist in the afterlife.
“What do other people say about this?”
Well, some have a different theory. Although it still ends up with dogs not going to heaven.
They think that it’s possible for animals to have a ‘soul.’ But, it’s not an immortal one like humans. Meaning, no afterlife for them.
However, here’s where things get more interesting…
Because the last book of the Bible was said to contain a contrasting story.
What does The Book of Revelation tell about dogs?
This part of the Bible has prophecies that are believed to be written by John the Apostle.
And one of them is about the ‘New Heaven and New Earth.’
Although no dogs were mentioned there…
Many animals were described to be existing with humans in the ‘new world.’
This was said in Isaiah 11:6-8,
“The wolf will live with the lamb;
And the leopard will lie down with the goat;
The calf and young lion and fatling will be together, and a little child will lead them.
The cow will graze with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play by the cobra’s den, and the toddler will reach into the viper’s nest.”
So based on this, it might be possible for our furry friends to make it to heaven as well.
Interesting fact: Did you know that there’s 1 dog breed mentioned in the Bible? It’s the Greyhounds. And you can find it in Proverbs 30:31, “A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”
What psalm says dogs go to heaven?
American comedian and Christian, Mark Lowry, also thinks that all animals go to heaven. And this, of course, includes dogs.
But why is he so certain of it?
He said in one of his performances that it’s evident in Psalm 36:6.
The verse says that,
“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains;
Thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man, and beast.”
The beast refers to animals. And one Bible website explains that the verse means God is in control of all of His creations.
Both mankind and animals. And they’ll all be ‘preserved’ or saved by His righteousness.
What Billy Graham says about dogs going to heaven
Lastly, when it comes to topics like this, it’ll be more meaningful to include the insights of the ‘America’s Pastor.’
Billy Graham was a known Christian leader of the 20th century. And like Lowry, he believed that departed dogs (animals) also go to heaven.
One reader asked him about this and his response was,
“God will provide us with everything we need to be happy in Heaven. And if animals are necessary to make us completely happy there…
You can be confident He will arrange for them to be with us.”
Graham also mentioned the Book of Revelation (one I discussed earlier).
Where Isaiah described the ‘New Heaven.’ As a place where animals and humans live together in peace.
“They will neither harm nor destroy all on my holy mountain;
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
– Isaiah 11:9
So he said that animals in heaven will not possess any aggressive behavior. And every living form will all live in harmony.
That even creatures who were once enemies will be best buddies. (Sounds like heaven, indeed.)
He also wrote that he and his wife had many pets over their lifetime. And he understood the grief of fur parents who lost their beloved animals.
This led Graham to think about whether God uses our pets to make us remember an important thing…
So with this thought, he encouraged readers to treat every second of their life very well.
With all this information…
Do you think that dogs will indeed be in heaven?
Well, no matter what your answer is…
It’s still important to give our dogs lots of love even while they’re alive. And not take our lives for granted. 🙂