Are Dogs Carnivores?


Quick Answer

Dogs are carnivores in the sense that they are members of Carnivora, a scientific grouping of predatory mammals. The word "carnivore," however, has a primary meaning of an animal that eats flesh. While dogs do eat flesh, there has been considerable debate about whether they are carnivores or omnivores.

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Full Answer

Dogs in the wild hunt and eat other animals, but they also eat vegetable matter, including the stomach contents of dead plant-eating animals. Dogs also have special adaptations for eating grain that their ancestors did not have. Since they are able to digest both meat and vegetable matter, some scientists consider dogs omnivores rather than carnivores. This debate has no bearing on their membership in the group Carnivora, as some other members of the group, such as red foxes, are also omnivores. Experts who consider dogs carnivores acknowledge that they can indeed eat plants, but emphasize that they do so opportunistically, and are actually adapted for a diet primarily of meat.

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