We’re all familiar with the saying about cats having 9 lives, but where does that leave dogs? Are our canine friends blessed with multiple lives, and if they do have more than one, do dogs have 9 lives too?
Given that the myth on cats having 9 lives is so widespread, I decided to research more into this and why the view is held. I ended up stumbling across some very interesting beliefs and views on how many lives dogs have, and even how they are said to get reincarnated in some cultures!
How many lives does a dog have?
As much as I would like to believe that dogs have multiple lives, based on the available science we have, the answer has to be that dogs only have one life.
This is my own personal view as I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that dogs have 9 lives, or more than one for that matter.
However, I can understand why some people would want to place faith in an alternative view. Perhaps you think dogs do have more than one life, and possibly even 9 like the common saying about cats?
And of course, you will have some dog owners who will tell you that their dog has had a range of lucky escapes where he should have died. For me though, it’s just that; luck.
But there are beliefs, cultures, and religions around the world where dogs are said to have more than one life and can even be reincarnated. This stuff really interests me, so I decided to take a closer look, starting off with the whole “cat” thing.
Why do cats have 9 lives and dogs don’t?
It does seem a bit unfair on our canine friends if they get left out of the saying about cats having 9 lives. But where did this even come from in the first place?
I managed to find some examples in history where this myth is referenced. For example, Shakespeare refers to 9 lives in Romeo and Juliet, and there’s also an ancient proverb which goes:
“A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.”
The multiple lives myth isn’t always about 9 lives either. In some Spanish regions they talk about cats having 7 lives, whilst some Arabic legends talk about cats having 6 lives.
So, where does this leave dogs, and why don’t they have 9 lives when cats do?
There’s no proven source to where the myth of cat’s having 9 lives started. But given how felines can drop from tall heights, squeeze through small spaces, and run quickly, you can see how their ability to escape sticky situations might have contributed to this myth starting.
Throughout history I am sure people would have seen cats escaping from ridiculously dangerous situations where they should have died, and therefore starting to wonder if they had multiple lives.
Felines are a lot more agile than dogs, so I would imagine this is why it’s said that cats have 9 lives and dogs don’t.
Can dogs be reincarnated?
Depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, you could take the view that dogs have many lives, and possibly even get reincarnated.
It’s not necessarily down to core beliefs either. Even non-religious and non-spiritual people will suffer a pet bereavement and then want to think and hope that their dog will either have an afterlife or rebirth.
It’s a lovely thought, and I totally get why some dogs owners would think it.
Whilst I don’t hold these beliefs myself, I do think it’s a fascinating topic. I decided to see what I could find about dogs being reincarnated… and how many lives dogs have in these situations.
Dog reincarnation in Buddhism
I love this Buddhist belief that animals can be reincarnated. I read an article on The Guardian website about lavish dog funerals in Thailand. Here’s a direct quote:
“Buddhists believe that as part of the samsara life and death cycle, dogs… can potentially be reincarnated as humans. By giving their pets full funeral rites – including prayers for forgiveness, a blessing by a monk, filling the coffin with (fake) gold and tickets to the next life followed by full cremation – many owners hope to give them a better chance of returning to this world in a higher form.” (view source)
Based on this, and the little reading I have done on Buddhism, there is some suggestion that rebirth can occur infinitely, like one candle flame being passed to another.
If that is the case, then perhaps dogs can have many lives during the rebirth process if you follow the beliefs of Buddhism.
Apologies if I have read and misinterpreted the scripts, but either way, it’s amazing to think that dogs could have more than 9 lives and become humans in a different life.
Dog reincarnation in Hinduism
There are also Hindu beliefs that are very similar to the Buddhism one above. On the QZ.com website they have an article about Pope Francis being quoted as saying all pets go to heaven.
In the article they write this about the possibility of dogs having more than one life in a reincarnation context:
“Hinduism also outlines a type of reincarnation… animals have souls, but most Hindu scholars say that animal souls evolve into the human plane during the reincarnation process. So, yes, animals are a part of the same life-death-rebirth cycle that humans are in, but at some point, they cease to be animals and their souls enter human bodies so they can be closer to God.” (view source)
As much as I would personally love to think that dogs have 9 lives, my own beliefs prevent me from doing so. One day my dog Claude will pass away, and as far as I am concerned, that’s it for him.
But I do respect what other people believe though, so if you do believe in reincarnation of pets all power to you. And this is you, then it stands to reason that dogs could actually have many lives… perhaps even more than cats!