Do dogs go to heaven?


I had the greatest dog that God ever created. I’m serious. If there were a way to objectify the “greatness” of dogs, Rocky, my German Shepherd, who a got when I was 11, would be number one on any top ten list. At times, I felt like he was my only friend growing up. He was always there for me. He died when I was 25. It broke my heart. I have not tried with a dog since.

Just before he died, I told him that I would see him again. But is that the truth? Do dogs go to heaven?

Some would say definitely not, referencing this passage of Scripture:

“Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the beast, which goes down to the earth?” (Eccl 3:21).

However, I would be careful using passages out of Ecclesiastes as theological proof-texts without a great deal of consideration. Ecclesiastes is written from the perspective of one who is full of doubt and turmoil about how he perceives life to be “under the sun” (without God). Its purpose is not to help us build a theology, but to show the utter despair of life outside the pursuit of God. In this particular passage the writer is simply saying “Who knows if man is any better off than animals? Who really know. From my perspective under the sun, it does not seem so.” That is all I would take from it.

There is no direct support in the Scripture for or against the idea that dogs go to heaven.

In favor of the idea is a theology of redemption. When things fell apart in Eden, God did not trash plan A only to move to plan B. He immediately enacted his plan of redemption. This plan includes the redemption of man and the resurrection of his physical body. Paul tells us in Roman 8:19-20 that God is even going to redeem the present earth. If God is not moving to plan B with man and the earth, it is very possible that God will also redeem the animals.

However, it is hard to say whether or not God had a built in allowance for death before the fall. Obviously plant life would have to be considered. Adam and Eve were free to eat of anything in Eden (except the tree of knowledge). Therefore, plant life would have suffered “death.” It is also possible that animals would have died without the fall of man seeing as how they would not have access to the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-23) which seems to have been created exclusively for people (Rev. 22:2). Therefore, I am very comfortable with the idea of death before the fall, just not the death of man.

As well, while it might be easy for us to speak with great hope for pet dogs and (maybe) cats, we have to think about all the other life that might want a say in their future existence. Think of all the ants, bees, rats, squirrels, and snakes. If we say that it is a theological necessity that God restore all things, are these to be included? It seems unlikely.

I think that we can safely assume that there will be animals of every kind on the new earth, but I don’t think we can say with any assurance that these will be the exact same animals that roamed the fallen earth.

Does this mean that Rocky will not be in heaven? Does this mean that your favorite pet will never be seen again? Not necessarily. There is great mystery to the coming kingdom, and we must always hold such convictions with tentative expectation. However, I don’t see why God would not allow special plans for those animals that were so close to us. My suggestion is simply to ask him.

The best I can say is that I hope to see Rocky there. I would be surprised if he is not.

NOTE: “Fringe Q&A” is a new series that will deal with speculative questions about the Bible and theology that have very little, if any, impact on our faith, but are interesting nonetheless. Submit your question here. I may get to it!

Next Fringe Q/A: How long were Adam and Eve in Eden before the fall?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    27 replies to "Fringe Q&A: Do Dogs Go to Heaven?"

    • Cadis

      Your saying the animals that are possibly ressurected after the restoration, or as a part of the restoration, that God perhaps would raise a requested or select few? a remnant of all animals, a chosen few? and the second question would be, Is my cat’s entrance into eternity based on how much I love him now? also consequently, by not loving my cat am I not choosing him to eternal life? 😛

      I’m joking. I tend to think the same way about the pets I have had in my life, we will see, but I know God is good so whatever will be will be ok with me.

    • Cadis

      Just so I do not get too badly beat up by some thinking I do not love my cat . I always loved this verse..

      Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

      It is quite an awesome thought..I put this verse to prayer when I had a dog who was in excrutiating back pain and was being recommended by our Vet to be put down and the Lord did give me another year with him, so I know God does love us and his own created animals that he has given to be under our care.

    • EricW

      But what about Revelation 22:15:

      “Outside [the city of the New Jerusalem] are the dogs….”


    • rayner markley

      I’m wondering how good a new earth would be without plants and animals and other features that we know and enjoy here. If God wants us to be pleased, we would seem to need those comforting things unless God is revamping us to desire only Himself.

      Adam was made to live on earth, not in heaven. It’s unclear to me whether God is preparing us to live in heaven or on a new restored earth. Would we need resurrected bodies at all if we were going to live in heaven? Unless our resurrected bodies are quite different from Adam’s, we’re going to need food and microbes and perhaps some unpleasantness like foul odors. So why not pets?

      It’s too bad the apostles didn’t ask Jesus some ‘fringe’ questions like this. We would be keeping Him busy with such things, but Jesus would probably answer in a cryptic way anyway.

    • Daniel

      I love fringe stuff! (as long as it stays fringe and people don’t get all uptight about it)

      Obviously animals will be in a redeemed earth during the millennial kingdom (Isaiah 11). Why not in the new Earth?

      However, if our marriage relationships won’t be the same on the other side (Matthew 22:30), why would our pet relationships be?

    • DrewK

      Sorry. This has nothing to do with the dog post. BTW, the “dog” I know will be in heaven or the new heaven or the new earth, is this acronymatic one. D.O.G. our church’s abreviation for the Doctrines Of Grace. Anyway my question concerns the poll. What the hey is Progressive Covenantal? What would you call John Piper’s position? That is one I can buy.

    • Rick

      Dogs will be there. Cats will not. ;^)

    • Marcus

      I think that eradication of species diminishes the glory of God as witnessed in creation, so I have to think that representatives of every species will be in the heavens and new earth. After all they were all created ‘good.’

    • Dave Z

      Dogs go immediately to heaven where they receive 72 cats that they can chase to their little canine heart’s content. That, of course, is also hell for cats.

    • Dave Z


      Read this blog from last week.

      Then the poll will make sense.

    • Bob MacDonald

      who knows if that translation of Qohelet is right?
      מִי יוֹדֵע רוּחַ בְּנֵי הָאָדָם
      הָעֹלָה הִיא לְמָעְלָה
      וְרוּח הַבְּהֵמָה הַיֹּרֶדֶת
      הִיא לְמַטָּה לָאָרֶץ
      who knows if the sprite of the earthling child
      rises herself to the height
      and the sprite of the beast descends
      herself down to depths of the earth?

    • Jeremy

      If good dogs go to heaven, what about bad dogs that bite people? Are animals under the law or grace?

    • Bob MacDonald

      For jackals, ostrich and wild beasts, here’s a proof text
      Psalm 72:9
      In his presence beasts will bow down
      so even the dog is in the presence.
      Isn’t Caleb the faithful allowed entrance to the promised land?

    • Dave Z

      After the resurrection, Jesus ate fish. Now, does that mean we eat in in our resurrection bodies? If so, do we, like Jesus, eat fish, which is an animal? How about other animals? Will there be In-N-Out or Chick-fil-a or White Castle/Krystal Burgers? Where will those animals come from?

      I, for one, am hoping there are baby back ribs in heaven, so I hope there are beeves and pigs and chickens and such in heaven. I don’t know about dogs. There are some cultures that do have dogs on the menu, so maybe.

    • jim

      I am so jealous….Buzz, Snoop, Gabby , have all gone on before me !! They are probably chasing cats, eating the best food, getting groomed…….they are probably just waiting for me to play fetch…

    • GoldCityDance

      Isaiah 65
      17 “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. 23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.

      It seems quite explicit there will be animals in the new earth. Am I reading Isaiah 65 wrongly?

    • Paul Bruggink

      In this recent book “The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil,” Christopher Southgate devotes an entire chapter (Ch. 5: “Heaven for Pelicans? Eschatological Considerations”) to the issue of animals in heaven. His conclusion is that there will be animals in heaven, based on Romans 8:19-22, Colossians 1:15-20 and Ephesians 1:10, “which seem to express a clear view that “the creation” (Rom. eight) and “all things” (Colossians and Ephesions) will share the benefits of God’s redeeming work in Christ” (p. 78).

      Both Southgate and Randy Alcorn (“Heaven,” p.386) quote from John Wesley’s sermon “The General Deliverance”: “Something better remains after death for those poor creatures . . . that these, likewise, shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption, and shall then receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings. John Wesley wasn’t talking about family pets, but hey . . .

      BTW, I love the concept of Fringe Q&A. I hope there will be more.

    • Rezfamilies

      Daniel (comment #6), on my website I give an argument for the continued existence of beloved pets in the resurrection. I also give an argument for the continued existence of male-female relationships like marital bonds.

    • John Carroll

      I got asked this same question years ago in my first pastorate. I was out on visitation and at one home I found a woman who just came back from the vet after her beloved dog had to be put down. In tears she asked me where her dog was now. I said I didn’t know but that since God created life, life must return to Him somehow. She found some comfort in that. On the other hand, I just killed off some of our flock of chickens. I hope they are forgiving if we meet ‘on the other side!’

    • Gord

      Ah, but then how do we address the question of whether or not the beasts should receive communion?

      NOT a hypothetical question, as the Canadian Anglicans have discovered after one of their priests shared communion bread with a visiting German Shepherd:

    • Linda

      I read an author who said that certain animals are “soulish”. You can look in their eyes and know that somebody is home in there. This would be dogs, cats, horses, etc. Ants, lice, flies, etc. have nobody home.

      Just a thought. I love my two dogs.

    • Melanie

      This is a question my 4 year old has asked me recently. No deep theological response will work. I tell her that God deeply loves a of His creatures as well as us. Sometimes we have a special love for our closest creature friends and they do love us back (we all have dog/cat/bird/critter memories of this). The key is love. Love, where ever it is, adds to life. Love is never lost, which is why our hearts break when our old, blind, deafish, smelly old dog dies, we are heart broken.

      Theological or not, where ever love is, I know my God also is. I find it comforting to recognise that God is also aware of the relationships we have with animals. Maybe, pre-fall, this was the relationship we were intended to have with animals. I know that this is tenuous thinking but, I dont think my God, who is love, would dissolve these connections because of a discontinuity of space and time. Maybe in heaven there will not be ‘pets’ but I hope we get the chance to continue, in some form, the love that we had here

    • Bill Trip

      Dear Eric,

      ““Outside [the city of the New Jerusalem] are the dogs….”

      This refers to homosexuals or the wicked in general. Someone please correct me if I am mistaken but I believe this is a Biblical term
      that refers to homosexuals, false teachers or the wicked in a general sense.


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    • Tony Whittaker

      C S Lewis made some useful comments on this question, I cannot remember in which book. I think, after making a joke about a heaven for fleas being usefully combined with a hell for humans, he suggested that animals that were in relation to us (as was your dog) could perhaps do so. I suppose that part of the question relates to how we can understand the unknowable mystery of resurrection of a body which has vanished into atoms. Now we have computers, we can understand something of how you can digitize something (picture, book, video) into a series of ‘0s’ and ‘1s’, and totally reconstitute it from ‘memory’, even if the only original copy of the book or picture has been destroyed. If God is essentially restoring us from memory, with whatever tweaks and extras are needed, then perhaps He can do this for animals that were close to us, or delegate to us the opportunity to do this ourselves.

      You get a small sense of this at the end of the very moving Speilberg film AI.

    • David Parkinson

      In scripture it doesn’t clearly state that animals in general go to heaven. But God is all about love. If he put domesticated animals onto the earth for love and compassion then why would he rip them away from you in the after life. I have a very strong feeling that dogs go to heaven because of how much we love them.

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