Etymology of dog word

The term "domestic dog" is generally used for both domesticated and feral varieties. The English word dog comes from Middle English dogge, from Old English docga, a "powerful dog breed". The term may possibly derive from Proto-Germanic *dukkōn, represented in Old English finger-docce ("finger-muscle"). The word also shows the familiar petname diminutive -ga also seen in frogga "frog", picga "pig", stagga "stag", wicga "beetle, worm", among others. Piotr Gąsiorowski has suggested that Old English *docga is actually derived from Old English colour adjective dox.

In 14th-century England, hound (from Old English: hund) was the general word for all domestic canines, and dog referred to a subtype of hound, a group including the mastiff. It is believed this "dog" type was so common, it eventually became the prototype of the category "hound". By the 16th century, dog had become the general word, and hound had begun to refer only to types used for hunting. The word "hound" is ultimately derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *kwon-, "dog". This semantic shift may be compared with in German, where the corresponding words Dogge and Hund kept their original meanings. The term *ḱwon- may ultimately derive from the earliest layer of Proto-Indo-European vocabulary.


A male canine is referred to as a "dog", while a female is traditionally called a "bitch" (derived from Middle English bicche, from Old English bicce, ultimately from Old Norse bikkja. Since the word "bitch" has taken on derogatory connotations, nowadays it is less commonly used to refer to dogs). The father of a litter is called the sire, and the mother is called the dam. The process of birth is "whelping", from the Old English word hwelp; the modern English word "whelp" is an alternative term for puppy. A litter refers to the multiple offspring at one birth which are called puppies or pups from the French poupée, "doll", which has mostly replaced the older term "whelp".

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