Dog/ Canine Terminology

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    Almond eye – Almond-shaped eye rim.

    Angulation – The angle formed by joints; particularly at the shoulder, upper arm, elbow, stifle, and hock.

    Anus – The outlet of the rectum.

    Apple head – A skull that is unusually domed or rounded.

    Apron – Long chest hair beneath the neck. Frill.

    Arched loin – Prominent musculature at loin.


    Bad mouth – Any incorrect bite, depending on the breed standard.

    Badger – A fine blend of brown, black, gray, and white hair.

    Barrel chest – Rounded rib cage.

    Barrel hocks – Outward-turning hocks, causing the feet to turn in.

    Basset – A low-set hound (from French basset)

    Bat ear – An erect ear with a broad base; rounded at the top and facing forward.

    Belton – A mixture of white and colored hair.

    Benched show – A dog show at which the dogs are restrained to sitting on the benches.

    Berger – French for sheepdog.

    Best in Show – Top award at dog shows.

    Best of Breed – Award at dog shows given to the best specimen of each breed in competition.

    Best of Group – Award at dog shows given to the winner of a group competition.

    Bird dog – A dog that tracks birds by air scent.

    Bite – The way upper and lower teeth meet.

    Blaze – White marking between the eyes and down the nose.

    Blue merle – A mixture of blue, gray, and black hairs.

    Blue – Nearly black.

    Bobtail – A dog that has either no tail or one that is docked very short.

    Bodied up – Well developed.

    Bouvier – French for cattle dog.

    Brace – A pair of dogs.

    Bracelets – Flings of hair on a dog’s leg left after trimming.

    Braque – French for pointer.

    Breastbone – Chest bone at front of the dog. Sternum.

    Breeching – Tan hair on the inner thighs.

    Brindle – An even mixture of black hair in lines or bands, covering a tan, brown, or tan coat.

    Brisket – Breastbone or sternum. Often used synonymously with chest.

    Broken color – Solid color intersected with another color.

    Broken-up face – Foreface characterized by a receding nose, deep stop, and wrinkles.

    Brush – A bushy tail.

    Bull neck – Short, thick neck.

    Burr – The inside of the ear.

    Butterfly nose – A dark nose with some light pigmentation.

    Button ear – A short ear that folds forward to cover the burr.


    Camelback – Arched back. Humped or roached.

    Canines – Pointed molars in the upper and lower jaw.

    Carpus – Bone just above the foot.

    Cat-footed – Having short, round, arched foot.

    Champion – A title awarded to a show dog which has accumulated a certain amount of points at several dog shows.

    Cheeky – Round, prominent cheeks that appear thick and protruding.

    China eye – A clear blue eye.

    Chiselled – A head that is particularly clean-cut between the eyes.

    Chops – Jowls.

    Cloddy – Heavy, low, thick-set.

    Cobby – Comparatively short between the withers and the hips.

    Collar – A marking around the neck.

    Conformation show – A show at which Championship certificates or champion points are awarded.

    Corky – Lively and active.

    Couplings – The body from the withers to the hips.

    Coursing – Hunting, usually of hare.

    Cow hocks – Hocks that turn inwards.

    Crank tail – Tail carried down, slightly bending upwards.

    Crest – The upper neck where it arches.

    Cropping – The trimming of ears.

    Cross-breed – A mixed breed. Mongrel.

    Croup – The back, from the loin to the hind legs.


    Dam – The female parent.

    Dappled – Colored, mottled markings.

    Deadgrass – Tan.

    Dentition – Number and arrangement of teeth.

    Dew-claw – Extra toe on the inside of the leg; virtually useless; it is often removed.

    Dewlap – Loose, pendulous skin beneath the throat.

    Digits – Toes.

    Dish-faced – A type of face characterized by an upward-slanting or concave nasal bone.

    Dock – To shorten a tail by cutting.

    Dogue – French for mastiff.

    Domed – A rounded, convex skull.

    Down-faced – Foreface with down-curved nasal bone from the stop to the nose.

    Drop ear – A folded, drooping ear; the opposite of an erect ear.

    Dry neck – Taut neck skin.

    Dudley nose – Flesh-colored nose.


    East-west feet – Feet that toe out. Slew feet.

    Ectropion – An ailment resulting in outward-turning eyelids.

    Entropion – An ailment resulting in inward-turning eyelids.

    Epagneul – French for spaniel.

    Estrus – The mating period for bitches.

    Even bite – When upper and lower teeth meet without overlap.

    Ewe neck – Concave curvature of the neckline.

    Expression – The impression created by the color, size and positioning of the eyes.

    Eyeteeth – The upper canines.


    Fall – Hair that falls over the face.

    Fallow – Pale color, varying from cream to light fawn.

    Fangs – The canine teeth.

    Fault – Any trait that conflicts with the breed standard.

    Fawn – A red-yellow with a brownish cast, of medium brilliance.

    Feathering – Fringe.

    Femur – The thigh bone, from the hips to the stifle.

    Fiddle front – Stance resulting from poor angulation at elbows whereby forefeet turn out, creating violin-like outline. French front. Chippendale front.

    Field trial – Outdoors competition for hunting dogs in which dogs are judged for their tracking, pointing, or retrieving abilities.

    Flag – A long tail, carried vertically.

    Flare – A blaze that widens towards the skull.

    Flat bone – An elliptical rather than round leg bone.

    Flat-sided – Ribs that are too flat.

    Flecked – Lightly ticked coat.

    Flews – Pendulous upper lips.

    Flush – To drive birds or other game from cover and force them to take flight.

    Flying ears – Any type of ear that sticks out wing-like from the face.

    Forearm – The foreleg between the elbow and pastern.

    Foreface – Front of the face. Muzzle.

    Forefoot – Front foot.

    Foreleg – Front leg from elbow to foot.

    Forequarters – Front part of the dog, excluding head and neck.

    Foxy – Alert, keen expression. Pointed nose on short foreface and erect ears.

    Frontal bone – Bone over the eyes. Forehead.

    Furrow – An indentation along the center of the skull to the stop. Median line.


    Gait – The manner and rhythm of forward motion – walking, trotting, or running.

    Game – Hunted wild birds or animals.

    Gazehound – A hound that tracks game by sight. Sight-hound. Sighthound.

    Gestation – Period from conception to birth; usually about 60 days.

    Griffon – A coarse-haired, terrier-like type of dog.

    Grizzle – A mixture of colored hair with a gray coat.

    Guard hairs – Stiff, long hairs which extend beyond the undercoat.


    Hackney action – Forefeet that lift high.

    Hare-footed – Having a long, narrow foot with tight toes.

    Hare-pied – A predominantly tan pied coat, resembling the color of a hare.

    Harlequin – Patched or pied coat, usually black on white color.

    Haunches – Buttocks. Croup.

    Haw – The membrane in the inside corner of the eye. Third eyelid. Inner eye.

    Haw-eyes – Drooping lower eyelid that exposes conjunctiva or third eyelid.

    Hazel – Light brown.

    Heat – Estrus.

    Heel – Hock.

    High-standing – Tall, long-legged.

    Hind foot – Rear foot.

    Hock – The joint between the second thigh and the pastern. Heel.

    Hocks well let down – Relatively short hocks that are close to the ground.

    Hound-marked – White, tan, and black color.


    Inbreeding – The mating of close relatives.

    Incisors – Upper and lower front teeth.

    Interbreeding – The cross-breeding of dogs of different varieties.

    Isabella – Fawn.


    Kink tail – A tail that is sharply bent.


    Layback – The angle of the shoulder blade when seen from the side. A face with a receding nose.

    Leather – Lobe of the outer ear.

    Leggy – Legs that are too long.

    Level bite – When the upper front teeth meet the lower, edge to edge. Pincer bite.

    Level gait – Movement whereby the wither neither rise nor fall.

    Linty – Soft-textured coat.

    Lion – Tawny.

    Lippy – Pendulous or ill-fitting lips.

    Liver – Deep brown.

    Loaded shoulders – Shoulders that project from the body because of over-developed muscles.

    Loin – The portion of the body that straddles the spine between the ribs and the hindquarters.

    Long coupled – A long loin.

    Lower thigh – Second thigh.

    Lumber – Superfluous flesh.

    Lumbering – A ponderous gait.


    Mane – Long, profuse neck hair.

    Mantle – Dark hair on the shoulders, back, and sides.

    Marking – Coloring on the coat.

    Mask – Dark shading onthe face.

    Median line – Furrow.

    Merle – Blue-gray with black flecks.

    Merle eyes – Brown and blue eyes with a black iris.

    Metacarpus – Pastern.

    Metatarsus – See Pastern.

    Milk teeth – First teeth.

    Miscellaneous class – A group of dogs where no regular classification is provided.

    Mismarks – Coat markings that do not conform to the colors of the breed.

    Moulting – Seasonal shedding of the coat.


    Oblique shoulders – Shoulders that slope rearwards; well laid back.

    Occipital protruberance – A prominent occiput.

    Occiput – Top of the skull, located towards the back.

    Otter tail – A round tail coated with short, thick hair that tapers toward the tip from a thick root.

    Out at shoulders – When shoulder blades are pronounced and jut from the body.

    Oval chest – A chest more deep than wide.

    Overhang – A pronounced brow.

    Overshot – A jaw whose upper incisors overlap the bottom incisors. Pig jaw.


    Pads – Soles of the feet.

    Paper foot – A flat foor with thin pads.

    Parti-color – Patches of at least two colors.

    Pastern – The region between the carpus and the foot; metacarpus. Rear pastern is the region between the hock and foot; the metatarsus.

    Pedigree – The written record of a purebred dog’s lineage.

    Pencilling – Black lines.

    Pied – Patches of white and another color.

    Pig jaw – Overshot.

    Pigeon-breast – Protruding breastbone in a narrow chest.

    Pig-eye – Small, steely eye.

    Pile – Dense, soft undercoat.

    Pincer bite – Level bite.

    Pluck – Strip.

    Plume – Long fringe on the tail.

    Point – The immobile stance taken by a hunting dog to indicate the location of the game.

    Pointer – A hunting dog that points.

    Points of the dog – Body parts and joints.

    Prick ears – An erect, pointed ear.

    Prognathism – Undershot or overshot jaws.

    Purebred – A dog whose sire and dam are of the same breed.


    Racy – Tall, lightly built.

    Rat tail – A tail that has a thick root covered with curls and bare tip.

    Retriever – A hunting dog that can be trained to pick up shot game.

    Ribbed up – Long, angular ribs.

    Ridge – A streak of hair growing in a reverse direction to the main coat.

    Ring tail – A tail that is carried up and around.

    Roach back – Back with a convex curve.

    Roan – Colored hair finely mixed with white.

    Roman nose – A nose with a high bridge.

    Rose ear – A small, drop ear that folds back to expose the burr.

    Ruff – Long, thick hair around the neck.

    Rump – Croup.


    Sable – Black hair over a sandy background. Golden to mahogany brown.

    Sabre tail – Curved, sabre-like tail.

    Saddle back – A back that is long and dips behind the withers.

    Saddle – Contrasting hair (color, texture, or length) that forms a saddle-like shape over the back.

    Scapula – Shoulder blade.

    Scissor bite – When the upper teeth closely overlap the lower teeth.

    Screw tail – Short, twisted tail.

    Second thigh – Hindquarters from stifle to hock. Lower thigh.

    Sedge – Deadgrass.

    Self color – One (whole) color, and maybe lighter shadings.

    Semi-prick ears – Erect ears with tips breaking forwards.

    Septum – Vertical line between nostrils.

    Service – Use of a stud dog.

    Setter – A type of long-haired dog that “freezes” in the presence of a game and flushes the game upon command.

    Sheepdog – A dog trained to guard and herd the sheep.

    Shelly – Weak, narrow, insubstantial body.

    Sickle hocks – When the hock joints are underextended, resulting in a sharp hock angle.

    Sickle tail – A tail that is carried out and up in a sickle shape (semi-circle).

    Single tracking – When footprints fall on a single line.

    Sire – The male parent.

    Skully – Thick and coarse through skull.

    Slab-sided – Flattened ribs.

    Slew feet – Feet turned out.

    Sloping shoulders – Shoulder blades set obliquely.

    Smooth coat – Short, close hair.

    Snipy – A pointed, weak muzzle.

    Snowshoe feet – Slightly webbed toes.

    Spectacles – Dark markings around the eyes.

    Spike tail – Short, straight, tapering tail.

    Spirited – A game dog is an enthusiastic hunter.

    Spitz – A type of northern dog, distinguished by a wedge-shaped head, erect ears, thick coat, and a powerful build. The spitz family comprises several breeds.

    Splay foot – A flat foot with spreading toes.

    Spring of ribs – A reference to the rib contours.

    Squirrel tail – A tail that is carried up and back over the topline.

    Stern – The tail of a sporting dog.

    Sternum – Breastbone. Brisket.

    Stifle – The hind leg joint located between the thigh and the second thigh. Knee.

    Stop – The depression beneath the eyes at the junction of the nasal bone and the skull.

    Straight shoulders – Shoulder blades that are truly straight up and down, rather than sloping.

    Straight-hocked – Hocks that are insufficiently bent.

    Strip – To remove hair on a wire-coated dog. Pluck.

    Stud book – A registry of the breeding particulars of pedigreed dogs.

    Swayback – A topline that is concave between the withers and hips.

    Sword tail – A tail that hangs straight down.


    Tail set – The way the tail is positioned on the croup.

    Team – A group of at least three dogs.

    Terrier front – Straight, narrow front.

    Texture – Feel (nature) of the coat.

    Thigh The region between the hip and the stifle.

    Thorax – Chest.

    Thumb marks – Black spots on the pasterns or on the head.

    Ticked – Flecks of black or colored hair interspersed on a white coat.

    Tied at the elbows – Elbows that are too close together beneath the body.

    Timber – Bone.

    Topknot – A tuft of hair on the head.

    Topline – The top of the back.

    Tricolor – Three colors. Frequently the black, white, and tan colors on hounds.

    Tuck up – A reference to the body depth at the loin.

    Tulip ears – Wide, stiffly upright ears whose outer edges curve slightly forward to resemble a tulip petal.


    Undercoat – A dense second coat that is hidden by a longer topcoat.

    Undershot – A kaw whose lower incisors overlap the upper incisors.


    Waist – A narrowing of the body at the loin.

    Wall-eye – Light blue eye.

    Weedy – Light in bone; unsubstantial.

    Well laid back shoulders – Oblique shoulders.

    Well let down – Short, upright metatarsals.

    Wet neck – A neck with dewlap.

    Wheaten – Pale yellow or fawn.

    Wheel back – A topline that arches over the loin.

    Whelping – The act of giving birth to puppies.

    Whip tail – Pointed, stiff, straight tail.

    Whiskers – Long hair on the muzzle and the jaw.

    Whole color – Solid color. Self color.

    Withers – The highest point of the body, excluding the head; located behind the neck.

    Wrinkle – Folded skin.

    Wrist – Carpus.

    Wry mouth – A mouth whose lower and upper jaws are not aligned.


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