Why are Some Dogs Afraid of Lamb Meat?

Adrienne Farricelli

Dogs afraid of lamb meat is a peculiar type of phobia, but countless dogs show panic when their owners cook lamb meat.

The topic of dogs afraid of lamb meat may not seem to make much sense, but you might be surprised to learn that many dog owners report their dogs getting anxious, to the point of acting panicky when they cook this meat. What's up with these dogs? Aren't dogs supposed to like meat and its tantalizing smell? Until dogs can talk, we can only make some assumptions. Here are just a few possible explanations.

Not an Unusual Fear

If you Google "dog afraid of lamb meat" you will find countless reports of dogs demonstrating some quite peculiar behaviors when this type of meat is cooked. I thought about this topic just the other day as I was reading the book " Dinner with Rover: Delicious, Nutritious Recipes for You and Your Dog to Share" by Helena Paton-Ayre and the following sentence intrigued me.

The author at a certain point in the book, when talking about a dog remarks: "He still reacts to black poodles, with uncontrollable rage, and regularly attacks his nemesis, Pepper the black Labradoodle who lives up the road. He's also scared to death of cooking lamb meat, which is bizarre."

This little excerpt brought back memories of my female Rottweiler, Petra, who started acting panicky when I started to grill lamb on my favorite grill. She was a pretty calm dog overall, who would tolerate firework displays, the sound of distant shotguns from hunters and cars backfiring, but who would lose it all when lamb was cooking. As I thought about this I Googled "dogs acting scared of lamb meat" surprised to have found so many dog owners observing the same reactions.

A Matter of Fat

As I troubleshoot several possible causes, my thoughts go to the high fat content of lamb and the impact of this. Every time I cooked lamb, it meant cooking it at high temperatures with lots of fat draining out which led to lots of smoke in the home. I think that some dogs instinctively react to smoke, which is why we have so many stories of heroic dogs alerting their owners about smoke to the point of saving them from potentially deadly fires.

To further make things worse, when I cooked lamb, my home would fill with so much smoke, it would trigger the fire alarm which would further cause my dog to panic. Of course, this had a compounding effect which likely exacerbated her fear of not only the lamb leading to smoke, but now leading to smoke and the ear-piercing alarm sounds followed by my husband often rushing to check things out and opening all windows and doors.

So I think that the high level of fat in lamb meat leading to sizzling sounds and smoke may have triggered some primal instinct which prompted her to sense danger and react towards it.

Do you have a dog who acts fearful when you cook lamb? If so, I would love to hear your story and any theories you may have on the subject. Feel free to post in the comments section.

Comments (2)
No. 1-2
Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli


Thanks for sharing your experience with your dog who gets panic attacks when smelling lamb cooking. It's one of the odd things dogs do. I too wished we could fine an exact reason why, maybe one day some study may come out. My dog would also eat lamb with no problems, either grilled lamb or as raw lamb patties.


My female Shih Tzu has full-on panic attacks when she smells cooking lamb. We thought she had neurological problems the panic attacks were so bad, seemingly out of the blue. Her ears go back, it is as if she has no idea who or where she is and she just bolts. Once she almost ran out into a busy street and got killed as we passed a Greek Restaurant. Yes, she was on a leash. We had NO idea.
One Easter I finally connected the dots and Googled dogs and cooking lamb. You can’t find very much information or help on the subject. Lilly is the most laidback dog in the world; sweet and cute. Cook lamb and it takes a day for her to recover. It is dangerous because unlike fire works it isn’t something you hear or can anticipate. It comes on quickly and difficult to reverse. Once we realized what the problem was, we stopped cooking lamb or taking her with us to visit relatives on Easter. She is 7 now. Just about a month or so ago my husband cooked up some lamb chops on the grill, I didn’t realize (or smell) he was cooking lamb, saw that Lilly was very upset, opened the front door to take her out and she bolted. She runs ins such a panicked state it is frightening, catches you totally off-guard, upsetting, tough to settle her down. The fact they we have not lost her is amazing. Wish someone would investigate this further. For now, we avoid lamb. PS. She will eat cooked lamb without a problem. She will eat anything.