Where Do Dog Breed Names Come From?

I thought this was really interesting…

What’s in a name? We’re exploring the origins and names of your favorite breeds. 

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posted to Blog by Randi Case, DC  CCSP

A dog breed’s name may reveal something about his origins, his intended work, or perhaps the person instrumental in developing the breed. Other times, a breed’s name is just a name… and occasionally a confusing one at that.

Australian Shepherds

For centuries, dog breeds have been named after geographical areas, the dog’s working purposes, or his appearance. For example, a Pointer points, a Shetland Sheepdog hails from the Shetland Islands, and the Curly Coated Retreiver has (surprise!): a curly coat. Other correlations between breeds and their names aren’t quite so straightforward. But what’s in a name after all. Wouldn’t a breed — by any other name, smell as sweet?

Affenpinscher: The name Affenpinscher loosely translates to Monkey Terrier. Let’s leave it up in the air if Affenpinschers look like monkeys. Suffice it to say, owners concur that the dogs are as clever and impish as monkeys.

American Eskimo Dog: Descending from European Spitz breeds, the American Eskimos Dog was developed for attractiveness and liveliness. Despite the name, the dog was not bred by northern Native Americans, but rather by German immigrants. (Maybe we Americans simply like to lay claim to lovely breeds!)

Anatolian Shepherd: The Anatolian Shepherd originated in the ancient land of Anatolia, now known as Turkey. Anatolia derives from the Greek word “anatole,” or “the East” or “sunrise.” The breed’s serious name corresponds to his serious purpose: shepherding and protecting in Anatolia. They certainly weren’t developed as a sporty playmate; their guardian/frontline defense role was critical to the survival of the shepherds, their families, and their livestock.

Australian Cattle Dog: Similarly accurately named, the ACD was developed in Australia to control cattle. The breed is sometimes referred to as a Blue (or Red) Heeler, because they move reluctant cattle by nipping at their heels, and because their coat coloring gives the overall appearance of red or blue.

Australian Shepherd: Now, just when we’re on an Australian accuracy roll, we move to the confusion. The Aussie was developed for herding livestock and all around ranch work, but not in the land down under. In fact, the Aussie is Made in America. Gobsmacked by this news? Your astonishment is justifiable. (well, history does suggest that the Australian title is connected to sheep herds brought in from Australia).

Australian Terrier: Bred to accompany Australian settlers on chores and keep their barns clear of rodents and snakes, the agile hard working Australian Terrier is both from Australia and a Terrier. So two for two with name accuracy.

Beagle: A lovable scent hound and popular companion, the Beagle’s name may derive from the French “begueule,” meaning open throat/mouth, or a Gaelic blend of the word “beag,” meaning little. Since we can’t pinpoint the exact derivation of the word Beagle, let’s talk instead about one of the world’s most famous Beagles, Snoopy. Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’ Snoopy character was based on his beloved childhood dog, Spike. Now that’s a beguiling Beagle derivation tale to share.

Boston Terrier:  Often deemed the American Gentleman, the Boston Terrier was indeed bred in the stables of Boston. But he’s not in the Terrier Group, so the name Terrier is perhaps confusing. Developed from bully breeds and Terriers, the Boston Terrier is in the American Kennel Club’s Non-Sporting group. {Let’s concede the name “Boston Non Sporting” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like “Boston Terrier” does!}

Catahoula Leopard Dog: We need to wander deep into the swamps of Louisiana to track down the origins of the Catahoula Leopard Dog. If you’re looking for Leopards, though, you’re off trail. The name Catahoula itself (possibly a mispronunciation of “Couthaougoula”) – is of Choctaw Indian origin, and loosely translates to “sacred lake.” The leopard in the name refers to the color patterns. The tough and adaptable Catahoula did, however, take on large animals such as wild hogs.

Chow Chow: An ancient breed with a lion-like scowl, the Chow Chow was developed in China as an all-around working dog. Presumably sailors bringing the dogs back to England gave the breed the Chow Chow name — as slang for cargo items, including the dogs.  Other explanations concerning the possible origin of the name seem more respectful, especially for such a confident, capable, and ancient breed of dog. We may never have the mystery altogether solved.

Dalmatian: The early Dalmatian worked sentinel duty on the Dalmatia border, the area on the eastern coast of Adriatic Sea. The name Dalmatia came from an ancient people called the Dalmatae. But today the breed is typically more recognized for either his spots or for running alongside fire-equipment carriages. And I’m guessing more of us can sing some of Cruella de Ville from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians than point to the ancient Dalmatia border on a map.

Dachshund:Merging the scrappiness of terriers and the tracking skills of hound breeds, the Germans developed the Dachshund centuries ago to hunt badgers. The dog’s development may have been complicated (their long bodies aided hunting in burrows), but the Germans stuck to a simple name. The dog breed that hunted badgers was called, most appropriately, a Badger Dog (aka, a Dachshund).

Doberman Pinscher: One of only a few breeds named for a person, the Doberman was named after Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a late 19th century German tax collector bothered by robbers. Dobermann developed the breed for both protection and companionship. The second “N” got dropped along the way.

Glen of Imaal Terrier: This spunky Irish-born Terrier was developed as an all-around farm dog, ratter, and (fact or legend, it makes a great story!) a turnspit dog to keep the kitchen rotisserie turning. The breed originated in the remote Glen (valley) of Imaal in the Wicklow Mountains. The name Imaal links to an Irish dynasty, the Uí Máil, who dominated the kingship of Leinster in the 7th century — until the Uí Dunlainge toppled them. Confused by all the Uí’s? Well, they do make for fun names for the little Glen Terriers….if you can learn to pronounce them.

Great Dane: Danes as we know them today were developed in Germany to hunt boar and protect estates. Despite the name, the Great Dane wasn’t developed in Denmark. In fact, the breed name comes apparently from a French naturalist, who saw the dogs in Denmark and called them Great Danish dogs. Note that Germans today call the breed Deutsche Dogge, or “German Dog.” Sounds like the Germans are spot-on with accuracy in this case!

Irish Setter: Renowned for his brilliant red coat, the Irish Setter was certainly bred in Ireland, and undoubtedly bred as a bird dog for setting. Name correctness? Check!

Parson Russell Terrier: The Parson Russell is a fox hunting terrier, aptly named for the Rev. John Russell. Who was this sporty Parson? He was the vicar of Swimbridge in 19th century England, but he’s more famous for developing Terriers than doctrine. Whether fact or fiction, it makes a good story that his sermons were short because he was eager to head off on the day’s hunt.

Plott Hound: The German Plott family of North Carolina bred hound dogs in the mountains to hunt bear. Since the dogs were Plott’s hounds, the breed became known as the Plott Hound. Not highly original, but as direct a correlation as it gets.

Pomeranian: The Pomeranian takes its name from Pomerania, where it was believed to have been developed from larger Nordic breeds to the size recognized today. Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. To learn more about it on the web, stay clear of distracting yet delicious-sounding Pomeranian Gingerbread recipes you’ll find (and I succumbed to!).

Rhodesian Ridgeback:  Developed in South Africa to hunt and guard, the courageous Rhodesian Ridgeback was later used (yes, in Rhodesia) to harass lions out of the bush, allowing big game hunters to take aim. The Ridgeback portion of the name stems from the distinct ridge of hair that grows backward on his back.

Rottweiler: Although the breed has origins with ancient Roman drover dogs, the Rottie hails from the areas of Rottweil, Germany. Rottweilers worked as all-around farm dogs and pulled carts for farmers who couldn’t afford horses or cows. A hard-working breed with a spot-on accurate name.

Saint Bernard: An 11th century monk named Bernard de Menthon founded a hospice in the Alps. The monks developed the Saint Bernard dogs in later centuries from local alpine mastiffs to work as watch and rescue dogs. As for the famous depiction of the dogs carrying casks of brandy….well, it may well be a creation of literature and art, but the image is too wonderful to toss out lightly.

Tosa Inu: So now we head to Japan to decipher the breed name Tosa Inu. Let’s start with the easy part: Inu means dog. Now pull out a map. Tosa is the name of the prefecture (state) on the smallest of Japanese islands, Shikoku. The Tosa, revered in Japan, has been around for many centuries. Plus he’s a dog with a history of strength, cultural ritual, and athleticism – loosely a parallel wrestling dog (complete with processions) to Japanese sumo wrestlers.

Xoloitzcuintli: An ancient Mexican breed, the revered Xoloitzcuintli chose their own unpronounceable name to keep humans humble. An alternative explanation is that they were named after an Aztec god associated with fire, lighting, and illness. Either way, the breed arguably wins for the most misspelled and hard-to-say dog name.

Got Food?

by Randi Case (originally published on mendhamchester-online.com)

One thing that dogs are good at is sniffing out a good meal.  Often, however, that meal is the sandwich that is sitting on the counter or the leftovers on the dinner table.  Eating “scraps” is a bad habit that is all too common.  Here are a few tips to keep the paws on the floor and off the counters…

First, “exercise is a ‘quick fix’ for many annoying dog habits”, says Justine Shuurman, owner of The Family Dog.  She recommends twenty minutes of aerobic exercise three times a day “until his tongue is hanging out of the side of his mouth.”  This will leave the dog tired and less likely to look for mischief in the kitchen.

Second, don’t give him the opportunity to find anything yummy where he snoops.  If the dog is rewarded by a tasty morsel, he’ll be back for more.  Best practice, Justine recommends, “If the food is THERE, the dog is AWAY.  If the food is AWAY, the dog can be THERE.”

Third, have the dog work for their food.  Pet stores often have ‘Dog Puzzles’ that keep the dogs engaged.  A kong, a kibble nibble, or a tug-a-jug give the dog a mission.  Dogs love this!  It also tires them out.

Finally, if you have a persistent pincher with years of food hijacking, it may be time to call in a PRO.  Go to the CCPT.ORG website to find a certified dog trainer near you.  Persistence, consistency, and a good trainer will help both you and your dog live happy, healthy lives…  Woof!