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Dog Terminology

By Paige

Basic Dog TerminologyHere is a list of general dog terminology with a brief description to help you learn more about the world of canines.

Knowing the basic dog terminology doesn’t make you a better owner, but it does make you a smarter one.

Angulation
The angle formed by the joints of the shoulder, upper arm, elbow, stifle & hock.

Bad Mouth
Any type of unsatisfactory bite with regards to the specific breed standards.

Balance
Symmetry of conformation & proportion overall.

Barrel Chest
A rounded ribcage.

Bitch
Female dog.

Brachycephalic
A dog with a broad head and a short muzzle – Pugs are a good example.

Brisket
The chest or sternum region.

Canines
Sharp molars found in the upper and lower jaw.

Conformation
physical look of an animal.

Dam
Female parent dog.

Dealer
A person who buys & sells dogs on behalf of their owners or breeders.

Dentition
The number and arrangement of a dog’s teeth.

Dolichocephalic
A dog with a narrow head and a long muzzle – Greyhounds are a good example.

Dominance
An assertive characteristic of dogs, based on an instinctive need for leadership in packs.

Dysplasia
A developmental abnormality usually referring to the hip or elbow, but can be in regards to an organ of the body as well.

Dystropy
Abnormal and/ or problematic behavior in dogs.

Estrus
The season when bitches are ready to mate.

F1 Generation
Also called the first cross, the F1 generation is the offspring of 2 purebred dogs. The resulting puppies are F1 puppies.

F2 Generation
Also called second cross, the F2 generation is the generation after F1. Generally an F1 offspring bred to another purebred dog. The resulting puppies are F2 puppies. This can continue, F3, F4, F5 and so on.

Fault
Trait or confirmation flaws that conflict with official breed standards.

Feral Dog
A dog that has never been domesticated and lives totally wild.

Gait
The rhythm of forward motion in dogs – walk, trot & run.

High In Rear
A dog that is uneven with lower front quarters and higher hindquarters.

High-Stationed
Terminology for a tall dog with long legs.

Hip Dysplasia
A debilitating genetic disease of the hip ball & socket that can be very painful & require surgery to fix. Unfortunately this is all to common in many types of purebred dogs.

Hock
The large joint on the hind legs located between the lower thigh and the pastern.

In and In
The inbreeding of dogs with a complete lack of regard for the resulting problems – part of the reason for hip dysphasia problems.

Inbred
When to dogs who are closely related to one another and mated, their offspring are inbred (and likely to have genetic defects).

Inbreeding
The atrocious practice of mating animals who are closely related to one another by blood, such as mother & son, father & daughter or siblings.

Kennel Type
A bloodline or breed strain that has been developed by an individual from a specific kennel.

Line
A family of related dogs, generally bred by a single breeder or kennel.

Linebreeding
A technique used to preserve purity & encourage specific genetic features, linebreeding mates two dogs who have the same bloodline but are not closely related.

Lineage
Also called pedigree or family tree lineage is the genealogical decent of a line.

Loin
The area between the ribcage and the croup.

Mesatacephalic
A dog with a medium width head and medium length muzzle – Beagle is a good example.

Mutt
Also called mongrel & cur, mutts are mixed breeds of unknown lineage.

Pads
Thick padding on the soles of the feet.

Pastern
An area of the metatarsus which extends between the foot and the hock on hind legs and the metacarpal area of the front leg.

Pedigree
An official written family tree which tracks the lineage of a purebred dog.

Point
An unmoving stance that a hunting dog takes to indicate the location of game.

Pointer
A dog breed that points and is bred specifically for hunting.

Puppy Mill
A terrible place where puppies are bred in mass (often under severely inhumane conditions) for sale to dealers & pet stores.

Pure-Bred
A dog whose parents are both of the same breed.

Rib Spring
The arch formed by a dogs ribcage.

Roach Back
A convex topline that is overly arched.

Setter
A group of hunting dog breeds that freeze in the presence of game & flushes the game upon command.

Shelly
A shallow and narrow chest and body.

Sire
Male parent dog.

Sheepdog
A dog that is trained to herd and guard flocks of sheep.

Short-Coupled
Short in the loin region.

Spitz
A group of dog breeds that come from the north. They are distinguished by their wedge-shaped head, thick coat, erect ears & strong build.

Standard
The official requirements for a dog to register with their breed registry.

Stud Book
An official registry containing the breeding details for pedigreed dogs of a specific breed.

Swayback
A concave topline that is overly sunken.

Tail Set
The positioning of the tail on the croup.

Topline
On a dog, the topline is the line formed by the withers through the back & loin to the croup.

Tuck-Up
The area under the loin in dogs with small waists.

Typey
An animal that meets & exceeds breed standards.

Undercoat
A dense second coat characteristic of dogs in colder habitats, the undercoat is hidden underneath a longer topcoat.

Variety
A sub-type of a breed that is shown under its own category & can be bred with other varieties of the same breed.

Wall-Eye
A light blue eye, generally from a dilution gene & pared with coat patterns.

Whelping
The act of a bitch giving birth.

Wicket
A contraption consisting of two vertical bars & one adjustable horizontal bar which measures the height of dogs.

Feel Like Learning?

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2 Responses to “Dog Terminology”

  1. Linda G. says:

    The information provided is very helpful, but I’m still confused, and concerned about my standard poodle. She is a year old. At times, when standing, her back/spine curves downward. Is this the same as a “roach” back???? When I place my hand on her abdominal area, she will draw her back to a straight line.

    Your input would be greatly appreciated…
    Thanks!

  2. Paige says:

    Hi Linda,

    Generally a roach back will curve upwards in a convex line, animals that curve downward are called swayback. If you are concerned, be sure to ask your vet about it. :)

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