Unleashing the Truth: Are Dogs Naturally Carnivorous?

Update on:

Are Dogs Carnivores?

Dogs are thought to be facultative carnivores, meaning they can eat both carnivorous and omnivore foods to survive. This is a result of their evolutionary past and the changes that have occurred in their digestion, gastrointestinal system, and teeth. Nevertheless, they prefer to be carnivores; I have never witnessed my dog drooling over a salad or digging up the vegetable garden, but most dogs slobber over even the smallest piece of meat.


Wolves, which are carnivores, are the ancestors of dogs. Wolves eat mostly meat, and their diets are rich in fat and protein with little in the way of carbs. Dogs, which originated from wolves and were tamed, began to adapt to a more omnivorous diet as well, consuming both meat and any leftovers that their owners gave them.

Gastrointestinal system

The gastrointestinal system of dogs is similar to that of wolves, with a shorter small intestine and a longer colon, which is well-suited for digesting meat. However, unlike wolves, dogs have an enlarged cecum, which is a pouch located at the beginning of the colon, and it allows them to ferment plant material and extract more nutrients from their food.


Dogs’ teeth are also adapted for a diet that includes both meat and plant material. They have sharp, pointed canines that are used for tearing meat and strong molars that are used for crushing and grinding plant material.


The process of digestion in dogs is similar to that of other carnivores. They have a highly acidic stomach that helps to break down meat and kill harmful bacteria. However, unlike pure carnivores, dogs also have the ability to digest plant material, thanks to the presence of enzymes in their saliva and the enlarged cecum.


When it comes to chewing, dogs have a different approach than other carnivores. Dogs have a unique jaw structure that allows them to chew their food more thoroughly than other carnivores, which helps to break down plant material more effectively.

So there you have it

Dogs are classed as carnivores but they have adapted to be omnivores, as much out of ease of getting food from their humans as well as not going hungry, they are preferentially carnivorous but can survive on carbs and plants if need be, hence the biological term facultarive “capable of but not restricted to a particular function or mode of life.”

Are dogs strictly carnivorous animals?

No, dogs are not strictly carnivores. They are considered omnivores, meaning they can consume and derive nutrients from both plant and animal sources.

What is the ancestral diet of dogs?

The ancestral diet of dogs primarily consists of meat, as they have evolved from wolves. However, over time and through domestication, dogs have adapted to a more varied diet, which includes plant-based foods.

Can dogs get essential nutrients from plant-based foods?

Yes, dogs can obtain some essential nutrients from plant-based sources such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, a well-balanced diet should include high-quality animal protein to meet their nutritional needs.

Is a vegetarian or vegan diet suitable for dogs?

It is possible to provide a nutritionally balanced vegetarian or vegan diet for dogs, but it can be challenging. Consulting a veterinarian or pet nutritionist is crucial to ensure that your dog receives all the essential nutrients they require.

Why do some dog foods contain plant-based ingredients?

Plant-based ingredients can provide essential nutrients, fiber, and other health benefits for dogs. Including a variety of high-quality plant and animal sources in your dog’s diet can contribute to their overall health and well-being.

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My passion for dogs started in childhood growing up in a household full of dogs. I have been breading American Bulldogs since 1998, as a breeder, show judge, trainer and lifelong student of dogs and their behavior. I am the owner of this website whose roots go back to a labor of love started in 1998.

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