Dog Terminology You Should Know

“Dog Terminology” contains words which people who know dogs often use when referring to them. Since some of these terms appear in this book, it may be interesting for you to know their exact meaning.

AKC: These initials stand for the American Kennel Club, an organization which registers purebred dogs, supervises dog shows, regulates the conduct of breeders and sellers of dogs, and works for the improvement of various breeds.

ASPCA: These initials stand for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an organization which cares for homeless animals and provides clinics for their medical care at a low cost.

BAG: The total number of wild birds or small game shot by a hunter in a day’s hunting.

BENCH: The stall where a dog is kept during a dog show. To “bench a dog” means to exhibit him in a show.

BIRD DOG: A dog especially trained to locate birds for a hunter, stand still while he shoots, and retrieve the fallen game.

BLAZE: A narrow, even white mark on the dog’s face. It goes between the eyes and over the top of the head, as in a collie, Boston terrier, or Saint Bernard.

BLUE: That color of coat which is steel gray with a touch of blue, as in the Kerry blue terrier. Not a bright blue like the sky!

BREED: The particular and definite family to which a purebred dog belongs.

BREEDER: The person who owns the mother dog at the time she has her puppies.

BRINDLE: Fine black markings on a tan or brown coat, such as the bulldog has.

BRUSH: A bushy tail, such as the collie or Saint Bernard has.

BUTTERFLY EARS: Small ears fringed with soft hair that look like butterflies when they stand up, such as the papillon has.

BUTTON EAR: An ear that drops over in front, like the fox or Irish terrier’s.

BUTTON TAIL: A very short, twisted tail.

CAT FOOT: A short, round foot with high knuckles, like the chow’s.

CHARACTER: A word applied to a dog who shows all the clear, definite signs of his breed.

CHEST: The lower part of the body from just behind the front legs to the belly.

COAT: The hair on a dog’s body.

CONDITION: Perfect health, as shown by a shining coat, good spirits, correct weight, and strong muscles, according to the breed. When a dog has all these, he is called “in condition.”

CREAM: A coat color that is very pale tan, almost white. CROSSBREED: A dog whose mother and father are of different breeds.

DEWLAP: Loose skin under the throat, as in a bulldog. DOCKING: The cutting of a puppy’s tail to suit the style of his breed.

DOUBLE COAT: A coat that has two kinds of hair: an outer length that is long and wiry, and an undercoat that is dense and woolly.

EXPRESSION: The typical look of a breed, especially its color, size, and eyes.

FALL: The long, overhanging hair that falls over the eyes and faces of dogs like the Skye and Lhasa terriers.

FAWN: A coat color that is like a baby deer’s, a light golden tan.

FEATHER: Long hair that grows out from the legs, chest, and under part of the tail, as in setters, cockers, and collies.

FLAG: A high, waving tail, such as setters and retrievers have.

FLUSH: To cause birds to fly up into the air from their hiding place, so the hunter can aim at them with his gun.

FRILL: The thick collar of hair under the neck and chest, as on a collie.

GRIZZLE : A blue-gray or iron-gray coat color.

GROUP: A number of breeds classified into one group according to their work, such as sporting or working groups.


HARD MOUTH: Term used for a hunting dog who crushes game between his jaws when retrieving. Not desirable.

HARLEQUIN: A patched or spotted black-and-white coat color, as in the great Dane.

HAZEL: An eye color that is light brown, like the hazelnut.

HEIGHT: The length from the ground to the top of a dog’s shoulder blades.

HOUND: A dog that follows game by scent or sight.

HOUND-COLORED; Black, tan, and white markings on a coat.

HOUSEBROKEN: A word applied to a dog who has been trained to go to the toilet out of doors.

LITTER: Puppies of the same mother and father, born at the same time.

LIVER: A coat color that is such a dark red it looks like raw liver.

MANE: Long hair around the neck and shoulders.

MARKINGS: The particular arrangement of coat colors, in size and shape, of a particular breed.

MONGREL: A dog whose father and mother are of no known breeds, or are of many different breeds. MOUSE: A deep gray coat color, like a mouse’s, sometimes seen on whippets.

MUZZLE: The mouth and nose of a dog. From this word we get the name for the arrangement of straps worn over the mouth and nose to keep a dog from biting. NOSE: A word which means a dog’s ability to follow a scent, as well as his physical nose.

PACK: A group of hounds that have been trained to work together, usually to hunt foxes.

PAD: The cushioned under part of the foot.

PARTI-COLORED: A coat that has two or more colors.

PEDIGREE: The names of the father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, and so on, of a dog’s immediate family.

PEPPER-AND-SALT: A coat color that is such a close mixture of black and white that it looks iron gray, as in a schnauzer.

PLUME: A fluffy tail, as in the Pomeranian or Pekingese.

POINT: The act of a pointer in thrusting his nose straight toward the hiding place of a bird and holding it there, tail straight behind him, until after the hunter shoots.

POLICE DOG: A dog of any breed who has been trained to help police find criminals or lost persons. Not correct to call a German shepherd simply a “police dog.”

PRICK EARS: Ears that are carried stiffly erect.

PUPPY: A dog that is under twelve months old.

PUREBRED: A dog is purebred when his mother and father are known to be of the same breed. Sometimes called “thoroughbred,” but this word should only be applied to horses, not dogs.

RAT TAIL: A long, thin, and almost hairless tail that looks a little like a rat’s, as in the Afghan.

RATTER: A dog of any breed who is good at catching rats, usually a terrier.

RED: A coat color that is more like the red of autumn leaves than the red of a fire engine.

RETRIEVE: To find and bring back game to the hunter, as a retriever does. Also to find and bring back a toy or a ball when thrown.

SABLE: A black shading in the outer coat, over a light undercoat, as in a sable collie. SANDY: A coat color that is light tan or yellowish, like sand.

SCENT: The ability to smell a track. Also the smell left on the ground by an animal, bird, or human, by which a dog can follow to where it is hiding.

SCREW TAIL: A short, twisted tail sometimes seen on a bulldog.

SEEING-EYE DOG: A name given to dogs of various breeds who have been especially trained to guide blind people.

SLATE: A dark, bluish-gray coat color.

SMOOTH COAT: A coat of short, hard, tight-fitting hair.

SOFT MOUTH: The opposite of xARv MouTx. A term given to hunting dogs who can retrieve dead or wounded birds without crushing them in their teeth.

STOP: A dent in the bone just in front of the eyes, where the nose grows into the skull. Not all dogs are required to have stops. A good Boston terrier has a definite stop. A good collie has hardly any stop at all.,/p>

TAWNY: A coat color that is a mixture of tan, brown, and yellow.

THOROUGHBRED: A word often misused to describe a dog that is PUREBRED. Correctly used only to describe a purebred horse, usually a racing horse.

TOPKNOT: Long, fluffy hair on the very top of the head.

TRACK: Footprints left by man or animal. When a dog follows these footprints by their scent, he is said to be “tracking.”

TRAIL: To hunt by tracking.

TUCK-UP: A thin belly that is “tucked up” under the ribs toward the rear legs, giving the dog a small waist, as in the whippet.

UNDERCOAT: The short, woolly hair next to the body in breeds which have a DOUBLE COAT.

VETERINARIAN: A doctor who has been trained to care for the health of animals. WATCHDOG: A dog kept to guard a house, family, or property. Such a dog usually warns by barking when a stranger intrudes.

WEB FEET: Feet that have extra skin between the toes to help in swimming, as in the Newfoundland.

WHEATEN: A coat color that is pale yellow, like wheat.

WIRE COAT: A double coat with a very harsh outer layer of hair, as in the wire-haired fox terrier.

WRINKLE: The loose folds of skin over the head and around the face and throat, as in the bulldog or bloodhound.

YELLOW: An eye color that is such a light hazel that it seems to be almost yellow.