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So I was wondering what Judaism has had to say about pets in the past. Is it ideal to have them? Is there any spiritual negativity in keeping dogs or such? Dogs are generally not representing good things in the Tanach.

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This addresses various halachic issues regarding pets and discusses what the Talmud and other sources have said about owning pets, then, as well as more current halachic opinions.

It concludes that the general current consensus is that it is OK to own a cat or dog as long as it is not "evil". The main area of debate is what "evil" means, esp. regarding dogs. Does it include all barking dogs (I assume it means frequent barking. I haven't met a dog that never barked at least a few times during the day except for "Larry" who had laryngitis.) or only dogs that both bark and bite?

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    "evil"? I would think "bad" is a better word, as in the phrase, "bad dog". Good and evil are human concepts. – LN6595 Feb 10 '16 at 18:44
  • @LN6595 in "literature" as well as common Hebrew translation, the word "ra" is often translated as "evil". I agree that it's not always a great translation. However, I can't say if dogs bark or bite other dogs if the other dogs consider it bad or evil. But, as you imply, if "evil" is a human concept, then, a dog who barks or bites humans, I think, would be considered "evil". It's our perspective, here, that counts, not the dog's. – DanF Feb 10 '16 at 20:07
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The gemara in Chullin 112a notes that Shmuel would throw a loaf of bread which roasted meat(not salted) was cut on, to his dog. It seems from this gemara that Shmuel owned a dog. Although some say the word לכלביה (to his dog) was really לכלבא(to a dog). However, Rashi seems to have לכלביה .

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    Was it a guard dog? – Double AA May 13 '18 at 3:41
  • Perhaps Shmuel was partially following the "mitzvah" (if it actually is a mitzvah) of giving a neveilah to a dog? – DanF Oct 16 '18 at 15:14

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