How Do Dog Breeds Get Their Names? December, 2009

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Animal Trivia:

What is the name of this comic strip dog?
What is the name of the comic strip?
Who writes the comic strip?

Go to the end of the
newsletter for the answer.

How Do Dog Breeds Get Their Names?

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Did the Labrador Retriever originate in Labrador, or the German Shepherd in Germany? Were the first Irish Setters from Ireland?

dog in hat #1 Etymology is the study of word origins ~ basically how something came to be named what it is named. The etymology of dog breed names is truly fascinating, and often quite amusing.

The naming of dog breeds can be grouped into general categories:

- those named after people
- those named after places
- those named after the tasks they performed
- those whose names came from translated words

Dog breeds named after people
dog in hat #2

  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier - named after a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Guy Mannering. This the only dog breed named after fictional character.
  • Doberman (also spelled Dobermann) - first bred by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann - in Germany around 1890
  • Jack Russell Terrier & Parson Russell Terrier - named after Reverend John Russell - in England in the mid 1800's
  • Teddy Roosevelt Terrier - named in honor of a past U.S. President
  • King Charles Spaniel - named after Charles II of England
  • Samoyed - named after the Samoyedic people of Siberia who first bred these dogs over 3000 years ago.

  • dog in hat #3
    Dog breeds named after places

  • Newfoundland - for Newfoundland, Canada
  • Alaskan Malamute - both a place and a person namesake - as it is named after the Mahlemuts Tribe in Alaksa
  • Afghan Hound - for Afghanistan
  • Brussels Griffon - for Brussels, Belgium - its city of origin
  • Great Pyrenees - for the Pyrenees Mountains
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback - for Rhodesia, South Africa
  • Akita - for the Japanese island of Honshu in the Akita prefecture
  • Catahoula Leopard dog - for the Catahoula Parish in Louisiana

    dog in hat #4Dog breeds named after tasks they perform(ed)

  • Bulldog (aka English Bulldog) - bred in the 17th century for bullbaiting and cornering wild bulls
  • English Springer Spaniel - they "spring" game for hunters
  • Australian Cattle Dog - both a place and a task name - originally developed in Australia, to herd cattle
  • Harrier - the breed was originally designed to hunt hares
  • Anatolian Shepherd dog - both a place and a task name - originally from Anatolia (Turkey) and developed to herd sheep
  • Norwegian Elkhound - both a place, task and translated words - from Norwegian "Norsk Elghund" - meaning Norwegian moose dog dog in hat #5

  • Dog Breed Names - from translated words

  • Borzoi - from Russian "borzaya" - meaning quick dog
  • Bichon Frise - from French "barbichon" and "frise" - meaning curly lap dog
  • Papillon - from French "papillon" - meaning butterfly (so named for their ears)
  • Dachshund - from German "dachs" and "hund" - meaning badger dog
  • Basset Hound - from French "bas" and the "et" ending - meaning rather low (hound)
  • Schnauzer - from German "schnauze" - meaning snout

  • dog in hat #6 So - let's get back to the first questions asked above ~ German Shepherds did originate in Germany, and Irish Setters did come from Ireland.

    The Labrador Retriever answer is not as straightforward.

    Labs originated from the St. John's Water Dog, which came from Newfoundland. These dogs were imported to England, and were renamed. The new name was representative of a geographic area - and not a specific place. That geographic area used to be called "the Labrador" - and represented an area covering not only Newfoundland, but other parts of Atlantic Canada.

    P.S. We just liked the holiday dog pictures ~ they relate to nothing other than joy!

    Cyber Fiber

    morphology of a dog from Merriam-Webster visual dictionary online

    Words Words Words

    If you are fascinated by words, and their origins - the Online Etymology Dictionary is a nice resource.

    Maybe you're the kind of person who thinks words are nice, but pictures are nicer. Merriam-Webster has an Online Visual Dictionary. Click on one of their 15 category pictures - and get even more neat pictures!


    Pixie-Bob cats - Photos from Wikipedia - author is Nathalie Bent

    Pixie Bob Cats: a gentle giant in the cat world!

    The name says it all - this cat has been bred to look like a pixie-sized bobcat!

    This is one of the larger breeds of domestic cats ~ with males easily reaching 18 - 20 pounds.

    Pixie-bob cats have oodles of unique qualities ~

    • they chirp
    • they love water
    • they enjoy riding in cars
    • they can be easily leash trained
    • they get along well with other animals
    • they are the only breed accepted by any major cat association that allows polydactyly.

    The breed name can be spelled Pixie-Bob, Pixie Bob, or Pixiebob.

    If you're someone who really likes dogs but aren't sure if you would like a cat, this breed may just be the perfect fit for you!

    Pixie-Bob cat - Photo from Wikipedia - author is Nathalie Bent Norwegian Proverb:

    "It's better to feed one cat than many mice."

    Animal Trivia Answer:   Odie (the dog) ~ Garfield comic strip written by Jim Davis

    Odie and Garfield

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