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Do Balinese like dogs?

Are you planning to explore the beautiful culture of Bali with your furry companion? Before you embark on this adventure, it’s essential to understand how Balinese people perceive dogs. Bali, an Indonesian tropical paradise, is known for its vibrant culture and love for animals. However, religious beliefs and customs profoundly influence how Balinese people treat animals.

In Balinese culture, dogs hold a significant role in daily life. Locally-bred dogs such as the Kintamani dog and the Kampung Dog (Bali street dog) guard homes and temples, assist farmers in their daily tasks, provide companionship and even participate in religious ceremonies and folklore.

Despite the importance of dogs in Balinese society, their treatment varies among individuals. While some adore them and treat them like family members, others avoid them due to religious beliefs. In this blog post, we’ll delve into Balinese attitudes towards dogs, the challenges of owning a dog in Bali, and various cultural practices that involve these furry creatures.

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Whether you’re a dog lover or just curious about Bali’s cultural values, this post will provide you with unique insights into the Balinese way of life. So pack your bags with your furry friend and let’s explore the fascinating world of Balinese dogs together.

Cultural Beliefs: Why Dogs are Viewed as Impure Animals

Balinese culture is renowned for its love of animals, but when it comes to dogs, things become rather complicated. Despite being kept as pets in many households, dogs are generally viewed as impure animals associated with misfortune and bad luck. So why are dogs considered unclean in Balinese culture?

The answer lies in the Hindu caste system, which classifies dogs as low-caste animals. According to Balinese beliefs, dogs are the reincarnated souls of people who have committed sins in their past lives. As such, they are considered unclean and mistreated as a result. Furthermore, the Balinese associate dogs with evil spirits and black magic, which has led to the use of dogs in black magic rituals.

In addition to their association with evil spirits and black magic, dogs are also linked to disease in Bali. The island has a high incidence of rabies that is primarily transmitted through saliva from infected dogs. As a result, many Balinese people are wary of dogs and take precautions to avoid being bitten.

Although some Balinese households keep dogs as pets and consider them family members, individuals who like dogs are often seen as going against cultural norms and may face criticism or ostracism from their community. Nevertheless, there is a growing movement to change the negative perception of dogs in Balinese culture and promote animal welfare.

Efforts to change cultural beliefs surrounding dogs include educating people about the benefits of owning and caring for dogs, as well as encouraging adoption of rescue dogs. These efforts seek to challenge the deeply ingrained belief that dogs are impure animals.

Health Concerns: The Risk of Rabies in Bali

Amidst the natural beauty and charm lies a significant health concern that visitors and locals need to be aware of – the risk of rabies in Bali.

Rabies is a viral disease that can affect both humans and animals. It is primarily transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through bites or scratches. Unfortunately, Bali has seen several outbreaks of rabies in recent years, making it a pressing concern for everyone on the island.

The Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) estimates that there are about 500,000 dogs on the island, with approximately 60% of them being free-roaming and not vaccinated against rabies. This poses a significant risk to both tourists and locals who come into contact with these animals.

To counter the spread of rabies, the Balinese government has taken several measures such as mass dog vaccinations, sterilizations, and culling stray dogs. However, these efforts have been met with controversy and criticism from animal welfare organizations.

As a visitor to Bali, it’s vital to take precautions to protect yourself from the risk of rabies. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid contact with stray animals: Stray dogs are rampant in Bali; hence it’s best to steer clear of them altogether. Do not attempt to pet or feed them.
  • Ensure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations: If you’re travelling to Bali with your furry friend, make sure they’re vaccinated against rabies before you arrive.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if bitten or scratched: If an animal bites or scratches you, seek medical attention right away. Rabies can be fatal if left untreated.
  • Carry a first aid kit: Always carry a well-stocked first aid kit that includes antiseptic and bandages.

Keeping Dogs as Pets: Balinese Households and Dog Breeds

Dogs are more than just pets in Bali; they are an integral part of the culture and society. Balinese people have a deep love and respect for animals, and dogs are no exception. They are considered loyal companions and protectors, often used to guard homes and property.

Small breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus are popular among Balinese households due to their ease of care and suitability as indoor pets. However, larger breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors are also well-liked.

The Balinese people value the companionship that dogs provide, treating them with love and respect. Many dogs are even given human names and treated like family members. Dogs play an important role in religious ceremonies and rituals such as the Hindu festival of Galungan, where they are dressed in traditional clothing and paraded through the streets as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Overall, it is clear that dogs hold a special place in the hearts of the Balinese people. Here are some key points to keep in mind about keeping dogs as pets in Bali:

  • Dogs are seen as loyal companions and protectors.
  • Small breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus are popular, but larger breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors are also well-liked.
  • Dogs are treated with love and respect in Balinese homes, often given human names and treated like family members.
  • Dogs play an important role in religious ceremonies and rituals in Bali.

Traditional Ceremonies: Tawur Kesanga and Nyepi Day

Two significant ceremonies, Tawur Kesanga and Nyepi Day, provide fascinating insights into how the Balinese view animals, particularly dogs.

Tawur Kesanga, held on the day before Nyepi Day, is a sacred purification ceremony where offerings and sacrifices are made to appease evil spirits believed to exist in the world. While dogs are not typically included in the sacrifices, they hold a special place in Balinese culture as protectors of the home and family members. In fact, many Balinese families keep dogs as pets and view them as valuable members of their households.

On the other hand, Nyepi Day is a day of silence and self-reflection in Balinese culture. The entire island shuts down, with no lights or noise allowed, including for domesticated animals such as dogs. This period of quiet contemplation extends to all living beings, including animals. The Balinese believe that this time of silence helps to purify the mind and bring balance to nature.

In summary, Balinese culture values animals such as chickens and pigs for their role in traditional ceremonies like Tawur Kesanga. However, dogs hold a special place in their hearts as loyal protectors of homes and family members. On Nyepi Day, all animals are expected to observe a period of silence and self-reflection alongside their human counterparts.

Love for Dogs: How Balinese People Treat Their Furry Companions

The Balinese people have a unique relationship with their furry companions. Dogs in Bali are not just pets, but they are viewed as sacred animals and loyal companions. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the Balinese go to great lengths to show their love and appreciation for dogs. Let’s delve into some of the ways in which the Balinese express their love for these furry friends.

Firstly, the Balinese make sure that their dogs have a comfortable and safe living environment. Many families keep their dogs inside their homes, providing them with their own beds and toys. The dogs are also taken on walks regularly and given plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

The Balinese also understand the importance of a balanced diet for their dogs. They cook special meals that include rice mixed with meat or vegetables, providing all the essential nutrients required for good health. Clean water is also readily available to ensure hydration.

In addition to taking care of their basic needs, the Balinese go the extra mile by including their dogs in important cultural events like Nyepi. During this Hindu holiday, dogs are dressed up in traditional outfits and paraded through the streets to showcase their significance in Balinese culture.

Animal Welfare Issues in Bali

Bali is a tropical paradise with breathtaking scenery, rich culture, and friendly locals. But there’s a darker side to this beautiful island that’s often overlooked – animal welfare issues, specifically those concerning dogs.

In traditional Balinese culture, dogs were used for hunting and guarding, but they weren’t regarded as pets in the same way as Westerners. However, the influx of tourism and Western influence has brought a change in attitudes towards dogs. Many Balinese people now keep dogs as pets, but unfortunately, animal welfare laws in Bali aren’t enforced effectively, leading to widespread neglect and abuse of dogs.

Stray dogs are a common sight on the streets of Bali, living in squalid conditions without access to food, water, or medical care. This is heartbreaking to witness, especially when one considers that these animals could be living healthy and happy lives. Moreover, many Balinese people don’t view dogs as sentient beings deserving of respect and care.

Thankfully, there are organizations like Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) working tirelessly to improve animal welfare in Bali. BAWA provides medical care and shelter to animals in need, including dogs. However, there’s still much work to be done to change attitudes towards animals and enforce animal welfare laws.

As a tourist visiting Bali, it’s our responsibility to be aware of these issues and support organizations like BAWA that are making a difference. You can volunteer your time or donate money to help them continue their vital work. Moreover, refrain from supporting activities that exploit animals for tourist entertainment purposes.

Popularity of Dogs in Bali Today

The popularity of dogs in Bali today is a multifaceted issue that has been evolving over time. Historically, Balinese culture has viewed dogs as working animals utilized for security and hunting purposes. However, with the increase in tourism and Western influence, there has been a growing fascination with dogs as beloved pets.

Despite this growing interest, dog owners in Bali face numerous challenges. The most significant obstacle is the lack of proper infrastructure and resources for pet care. Many Balinese families struggle to provide basic necessities such as food and shelter for their furry companions, particularly in rural areas where veterinary care is scarce.

Additionally, owning a dog as a pet still carries a cultural stigma in some regions of Bali. It is perceived as a luxury reserved for the privileged and wealthy, making it challenging for dog owners to access resources and support within their communities.

However, attitudes towards dogs are changing in Bali. Animal welfare organizations such as Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) have been working diligently to promote responsible pet ownership and provide access to veterinary care. There is also a growing movement towards adopting rescue dogs rather than purchasing them from breeders.

Despite not being as popular as pets in Western countries, there is a burgeoning interest in canine companionship in Bali. By continuing to promote responsible pet ownership and improving infrastructure and resources, more Balinese families will likely welcome dogs into their homes in the coming years.


In conclusion, Balinese people have a complex relationship with their furry friends. Dogs hold a significant place in Balinese culture as protectors, companions, and even participants in religious ceremonies. However, they are also associated with misfortune and bad luck due to religious beliefs.

Moreover, the prevalence of rabies on the island has led to many Balinese people being cautious around dogs. Nevertheless, there is a growing movement towards changing cultural beliefs surrounding dogs and promoting animal welfare.

Efforts to educate people about the benefits of owning and caring for dogs, encouraging adoption of rescue dogs, and providing access to veterinary care are underway. Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) is one such organization that provides medical care and shelter to animals in need.

As tourists visiting Bali, it’s our responsibility to be aware of these issues and support organizations like BAWA that are making a difference. While there are still animal welfare issues that need addressing in Bali, the popularity of dogs as pets is on the rise despite cultural stigmas and challenges.

By continuing to promote responsible pet ownership and improving infrastructure and resources for pet care, more Balinese families will likely welcome dogs into their homes in the coming years.