The Muslims do not have swine but they do have cats and dogs. Something to do with not touching haram animals. I know that Jews also consider pigs unclean, as well as cats and dogs. Is this uncleanness only about eating them or does it apply to owning them as well? Can they keep cats, dogs, swine?

  • 1
  • Pigs are singled out as a quintessentially non-kosher animal in a way that cats and dogs aren't. I think it stands to reason that people have always had a greater aversion to them than to other non-kosher beasts, whether justified or not. For a similar question to this one (not a dupe, but maybe useful to you), see my question here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/20596/…
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 11:16
  • 2
    Dogs are not so simple. Many poskim recommend against it unless they are serving some self-defense purpose, based on Rav Ya'akov Emden's concern for the danger they pose.
    – WAF
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 11:58
  • 1
    Also, no chickens in Y'rushalayim (assuming the maintenance of the mikdash) and no small livestock in [the populated part of] Eretz Yisra'el. Both are for practical reasons of the animals undermining order.
    – WAF
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 12:01
  • 1
    Let me correct a point: "The Muslims ... have cats and dogs" Dogs are only permitted to looking after for protection of person, house or vice versa in Muslim religion. So, we couldn't looking after a dog but could for a cat. Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 17:17

4 Answers 4


One may not raise pigs anywhere. (Shulchan Aruch CM 409:2)

One may not raise vicious dogs unless they are always enchained. If one lives in a border town (where he fears the nearby enemy) he may release the dogs at nights. (:3)

Animals do not impart or contract ritual impurity while alive (at least not in any situation remotely likely for a pet owner (or anyone) to encounter). (Leviticus 11; Rambam Tum'at Meit 1:13-14, Tum'at Ochlin 2:6)

  • 1
    What about non-vicious dogs, house cats, etc? Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 0:54
  • For the curious, my caveat was to exclude cases such as using an animal as a wall in a house which gets Tzara'at.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 6:59
  • 1
    @DoubleAA You did answer whether touching a non-kosher animal imparts tumah. But did you answer whether one may raise pet cats in light of this? (Aside, I vaguely recall someone telling me of a gemara that prohibits feeding cats.) Or perhaps parrots?
    – A L
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 0:05

Very generally and speaking just from personal experience (so this isn't a halachic source), pet ownership even in Orthodox families is very widespread. This includes dogs (domestic, not wolves obviously), cats (domestic, not dangerous cats), parrots, rabbits, mice, and hamsters. None of these are Kosher. Even our Orthodox Rabbi owned parakeets (not Kosher). So right off the bat, I can tell you that the conventional understanding is that being not kosher does not preclude owning the animal as a pet. There may be exceptions, but this is the general practice.

A relevant Gemara at Bava Kama 80a/b goes into the permissibility of owning animals (there is some back and forth permitting and forbidding, and there is an implication that it's dependent on whether they're useful for keeping pests away) as well as some back-and-forth discussion about whether one may own a cat (seemingly depending on if it's the type that may injure children). I however am not in a position to make a judgement about what the Gemara's final conclusion and implications are.

This article by Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin (he brings original sources there) explicitly says that one may own non-Kosher animals as pets (he mentions a horse), but one may not make a business out of owning non-Kosher animals if they are normally consumed for food. However, in the case of swine, one may not own them at all (there are various instances in Tanach and the Talmud where swine are singled out in unfavorable ways, see the article for details of the ruling and sources). Also Bava Kama 79b explicitly states one may not raise pigs anywhere.

(Mishnah): We may not raise small animals (i.e. that do not work) in (settled parts of) Eretz Yisrael, but we may raise them in Surya or wildernesses of Eretz Yisrael. We may not raise chickens in Yerushalayim lest they cause Tum'ah to Kodshim. Kohanim (who eat Terumah) may not raise chickens anywhere in Eretz Yisrael; One may not raise pigs anywhere. One may raise dogs only if they are tied on a leash. We may not set traps for doves within four Mil of a settled area.

Another exception is the case of an "evil dog." This article by Rabbi Howard Jachter goes into detail with sources defining what is an "evil dog" and the prohibitions and conditions surrounding owning one. In fact there are many varying opinions on whether one may own any dog at all, but it appears that the majority of modern poskim permit (outright or with reservation) owning dogs that don't bite or cause damage.

Shulchan Aruch and most authorities limit the talmudic prohibition to ownership of "evil dogs". The clear implication is that one may own a dog for any reason, provided it is not an evil dog.

As a side note, as explained with sources in this other answer, simply touching non-Kosher animals doesn't impart impurity. It has to be dead (and then there may be differences depending on the kind of animal, but that is another issue).


Jews may raise dogs and the Tanach allows them to raise swine, but not eat them or any by product. So yes, the Tanach never says that it is forbidden to raise swine as pets. So yes, Jews may touch swine but not use them to eat.

A source from Yeshiva.com, Ask the Rabbi and reply from Rabbi Ro'i Margalit


  • 1
    He just says you can touch them and use them for certain purposes, not raise them or have them as pets.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 3:01
  • And he doesn't say anything about other animals, while this question asks about pets in general (or, at least, dogs and cats as well as pigs). Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 3:02

When we look at Leviticus 11:27 & 28 we see the following:

"27 And whatsoever goeth upon its paws, among all beasts that go on all fours, they are unclean unto you; whoso toucheth their carcass shall be unclean until the even. 28 And he that beareth the carcass of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even; they are unclean unto you."

Being that the animal has paws precludes us from eating it. But then we see that when it comes to touching these animals the verse clarifies that anyone that who touches their carcass will be unclean until the even (evening, dusk, end of the day). The use of the word 'carcass' deals with the body of the animal being dead.

Any commentary that moves beyond the simple, easy to understand text is creating a problem where none exists.

So, don't eat your dog. If your dog dies and you touch it you will be clean by the end of the day. If you pick it up and move it to bury or otherwise dispose of the animal, you must wash your clothing and you will be clean at the end of the day (the even).

  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. Also, while it's nice to quote Scriptural sources, how does this answer whether or not Jews are allowed to have pets?
    – Scimonster
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 19:44
  • 3
    The halachic writings don't have any bearing? See Double AA's answer for some of those.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 19:49
  • 2
    @StevePaige I agree completely with your last comment. Thing, is, God does have opinions about things which he passed down in traditions which are recorded in the Talmud. Who are you and I to go against the will of God?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:16
  • 1
    Tradition is not by definition the will of God. Correct. However, we happen to have some traditions about what the will of God is. One of those traditions is a text we pass on call "Tanakh". Some other traditions of what the will of God is are just passed on by word-of-mouth. Some traditions aren't the will of God at all. A lot of the second kind were collected at one point and written into the Talmud.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:29
  • 1
    @StevePaige "How do we know..." The same way you know that the text of Tanakh is the one He passed down. Tradition!
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .