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Canine Nomenclature

What’s in a name? Davi studies the etymology of various breeds

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In the five years I’ve been a dog, never have I tracked down the story behind my breed. Yet here I am, discovering how Dachshunds earned that title and learning how a handful of other common breeds became so named.

While the naming process of some breeds is more obvious than others—just watch a Golden Retriever chase a tennis ball—you may be surprised to learn how some canine monikers came to be. Once you learn the origins of these names, you’ll likely nod your head in agreement.

 

POODLE

Despite the Poodle’s pop-culture reputation as pampered lap dog, this breed comes from a line of hard-working sporting animals—they retrieved fallen waterfowl. The name poodle derived from the German Pudelhund or Pudel (which in English means puddle), meaning to splash about, and the word Hund in German means dog or hound.

 

Schnauzer

Ever hear someone refer a person’s nose as a schnoz? The Schnauzer has a distinctively long, squarish snout—and that’s where the name originated: the German word for snout is schnauze.

 

Lhasa Apso

The mini-sized pup is originally from Tibet, where it served as a watchdog for Tibetan palaces and monasteries, by alerting the monks with its sharp, loud bark. Lhasa is the capital of Tibet; Apso means bearded.

 

Corgi

This small canine was so named for its size—‘corgi’ is the Welsh word for dwarf dog. The breed literally has dwarfism in its legs, and its short-legged stature let them successfully herd cattle, since they were close enough to the ground to avoid being injured by livestock.

Beagle

Though the exact origin of the breed is murky, there’s not much debate over how this peppy pup’s name came to be. The French word bégueule means noisy person or gaping throat. Given the Beagle’s affinity for loud, near-continuous howls during hunting endeavors, this name makes perfect sense.

 

French Bulldog

The Frenchie is not, as it turns out, from France. These little dogs originated in England, where they were popular with lace workers who kept them as companions and ratters. After the Industrial Revolution, many of England’s lace-makers immigrated to France, bringing their little bat-eared pals with them. The breed then became known as the French Bulldog.

 

Boxer

Many say this German breed gets its name from its habit of standing on its hind legs and boxing while playing. That’s accurate.

 

Dachshund

Ah, yes, the true eponym for this regal breed—not weiner-dog, as many think. No, our size and shape aren’t accidents—this is intentional beauty and grace. In fact, Dachshunds, or what many adoringly refer to as hot-dog dogs (OK, we’ll allow that), were specifically bred to have long, close-to-the-ground bodies so they could squeeze their way inside badger holes. It’s a hunting thing. Unsurprisingly, the German word Dachshund roughly translates to badger dog.

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