Signifying Difference: Muslim Experiences with Dogs in Canada

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Horsfall, Johanne




There is a tendency for signifiers to be constructed within intergroup tensions as a means of distinguishing "us and them". Dogs are seemingly held as “man’s best friend” in “Western” society, and often defined as a symbol of certain cultural values not shared by “non dog-lovers” - a label commonly applied to Muslims in these intergroup tensions. Although there may be broader cultural understandings of the ways in which certain animals are conceptualized, an individual’s perspective is, in fact, mediated through the lens of their personal experiences. While dogs are generally held
in Islam as unclean animals and not commonly kept as pets, individual Muslims regard them with a diverse set of viewpoints. This study finds that among Canadian Muslims, personal experience appears to exert the greatest influence on personal opinions of dogs. This research was conducted through an analysis of online Muslim forums and an online survey (54 respondents).


Cultural Anthropology




Carleton University

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