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Can You Marry a Dog? Unusual Facts Explained

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

Bride and adorable Golden Retriever wearing wreath made of beautiful flowers indoors

Can You Marry a Dog? Unusual Facts Explained

Legally speaking, marrying a dog is not recognized in any country. Generally, this is because marriage must occur between two consenting individuals. Who can “consent” may vary from place to place. However, dogs and other animals are always outside of this category. They cannot understand the legal implications of marriage, so they are not allowed to get married.

You may have seen people holding ceremonies to “marry” their pets. However, these ceremonies are not legally binding and don’t have any legal implications. You can hold whatever ceremonies you want, but these do not necessarily mean that the couple is legally married.

dogster paw divider

Has Anyone Ever Married a Dog?

It is possible for people to hold ceremonies with their dogs. For instance, a man reportedly married his pet dog in San Francisco in 2014.1 However, this marriage (and others like it) is not a legal marriage. Therefore, the answer to this question largely depends on what you mean by “marriage.”

If you mean to hold a ceremony and get married from a social perspective, then yes, it is completely possible for people to marry their dogs—and people have done so over the years, though it is rare. However, the law doesn’t allow people to marry dogs in any state or country. Occasionally, it may be argued that state law allows for the marriage of dogs.

These claims are not likely to hold up in court, though. Dogs are not considered able to consent, and even if they could, there is no way to determine if the dog would want to get married or not. You can’t exactly ask them, after all.

dog sniffing owner's hands
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

Can I Claim I’m Married to My Dog?

Okay, so human-dog marriages are not recognized in any legal sense. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t claim to be married in a more spiritual capacity. Many people have “non-legal” marriages for all sorts of reasons, and most of the human-dog marriages you hear about on the news fall into this category.

However, there are rare cases when claiming to be “married” to your dog may have legal consequences. Obviously, you cannot claim your dog on your taxes. The state does not recognize your dog as a legal citizen, which means that they are not dependent on your taxes. You cannot file as if you are married, either.

Animals are considered property, which prevents them from becoming legal marriage partners.

Laws vary widely depending on where you live, though. In some cases, misreading the law books or taking a certain code out of context may make it seem “legal” to marry your dog. However, no state has actually recognized a human-dog marriage or allowed these marriages to receive the same benefits as a human-human marriage.

Furthermore, finding an officiant to legally marry you may be challenging, too. While officiants do not have to be religious, they absolutely are in many cases. Most religious beliefs do not allow the marriage between a human and a dog. The officiant may also face legal recourse if they attempt to make the marriage a true legal one, so finding an officiant who will participate will be even that much harder.

owner petting a happy dog
Image Credit: Bachkova Natalia, Shutterstock

Can You Marry Dogs in India?

You may have seen a news story or two about individuals marrying dogs in India. However, these ceremonies are not legally recognized and do not mean that you can legally marry a dog in India. India’s marriage laws explicitly state that marriage is “the union of a man and a woman.” Therefore, that automatically eliminates the possibility of marrying your dog or any other animal.

India’s marriage laws are some of the strictest in the world. Therefore, the odds of being able to go around the laws and marry your dog in India are extremely low.

Can You Marry a Dog in California?

Over the last several years, there have been many news reports of people marrying their pets in California. However, the state has a legal definition of a marriage that includes the participants being two consenting adult individuals. Dogs cannot consent, and there is no legally recognized “adult” age for dogs.

While the state did legalize same-sex marriage, the wording still explicitly implies humans—not animals. The state also has many animal abuse laws, and it would be easy to accidentally trigger one while trying to legally marry your dog.

dog and owner training outdoors
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

dogster paw dividerFinal Thoughts

While there may be tons of news articles claiming that people are marrying their dogs, none of these marriages are legally binding. Marriage to pets isn’t legal in any country, as practically all marriage laws state that the parties must be human and consenting. Dogs aren’t either of those, which removes the chance of humans being able to marry them.

The wedding ceremonies seen on news outlets are always solely spiritual in nature, not legally binding marriages.

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Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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