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🐩 The Complete French Dog Guide

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jul 7, 2020
French dog illustration

How do you say dog in French? What’s the French word for puppy? What about barking, howling? Breed names & fun idioms? Welcome to my complete French dog guide!

There’s a lot to be said about dogs in French. First of all, the French love their dogs, and it’s quite common to have a dog in France.

So first, let’s see how we say dog in French.

1 – What’s the French Word for Dog?

There are 2 French words for dog:

  1. Le chien – is French for male dog
  2. la chienne – is French for female dog

2 – Synonyms for Dog in French

The common synonym for a dog in French is “un toutou”.

In French slang, we also call a dog “un clebs”, “un clébard”, “un roquet”, “un cabot” but all these are derogative.

3 – How do you Say Puppy in French?

The French word for puppy is “un chiot”. It is always used in the masculine – le, un chiot – even for a female puppy.

“Les chiottes” feminine plural is a slang word for toilet in French !!

4 – French Dog Vocabulary

Now let’s study the French dog related vocabulary.

  1. Le chien – male dog
  2. la chienne – female dog
  3. le chiot – puppy, always masculine
  4. Une race de chien = a dog breed (I understand saying race in English doesn’t sound correct but it is the word we use for breed in French)
  5. Un éleveur = a breeder
  6. La truffe = the dog’s nose
  7. Le museau = the nose
  8. L’encolure (f) = the dog’s neck
  9. Le dos = the back
  10. La queue = the tail
  11. Les pattes = the paws
  12. Le garrot = the withers
  13. Des croquettes (f) = dog dry food
  14. De la nourriture pour chien = dog food
  15. Une promenade = a walk
  16. Un chien guide = a guide dog
  17. Un chien d’assistance = service dog

Chapter 10 of my bilingual French audiobook novel À Moi Paris L6 features a story about dogs. The dialogue is recorded at 2 levels of enunciation: traditional French and modern spoken French.

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5 – 🎾 French Dog Tools & Toys

  1. Une laisse = a leash
  2. Un harnais = a harness
  3. Un collier de chien = a dog collar
  4. Une caisse/ une cage de transport = a dog crate
  5. Une carpette = a dog rug
  6. Un panier = a dog bed
  7. Un tapis = a carpet
  8. Un jouet = a toy
  9. Un jouet à mâcher = chew toy
  10. Une balle = a ball

6 – French Dog Verbs

  1. Aboyer – to bark
  2. Hurler – to howl
  3. Grogner – to growl
  4. Gémir – to whine – cry
  5. Mordre – to bite
  6. Lécher – to lick

7 – French Dog Actions

  1. Un aboiement – a bark
  2. Un hurlement – howling
  3. Un grognement – growl
  4. Un gémissement – whining, crying
  5. Une morsure – a bite
  6. Une griffure – a scratch

8 – What Does a French dog Say?

French dogs say “ouaf-ouaf” .

Now you know how your dog speaks in French – but do you know how to speak to him/her. Here is how to speak to your dog in French

French dog saying ouaf-ouaf in French

9 – How to Speak to a dog in French?

Here are some common French dog training commands.

  1. Assis ! = Sit!
  2. Couché ! = Down!
  3. Reste ! = Stay!
  4. Pas bouger ! = Stand still!
  5. Au pied ! = Heel!
  6. Viens ici ! = Come here!
  7. Debout ! = Stand!
  8. Rapporte ! = Fetch!
  9. Saute ! = Jump!
  10. Donne ! = Let go!
  11. Aboie ! = Speak/Bark!
  12. Dehors ! = Go outside!
  13. Rentre ! = Go inside!
  14. Pas toucher ! = Leave it!
  15. Va ! = Go Ahead!
  16. Arrête ! = Stop!
  17. Cherche ! = Search!
  18. Attaque ! = Attack!
  19. Donne la patte ! = Shake a paw!
  20. Attends ! = Wait!

Un grand merci to French immersion teacher Eliane for providing me with this list. Read her bilingual French story – how I trained my French dog.

10 – Dog Breed Names in French

Unfortunately, I cannot list all the dog breeds and translate them to French.

Most of the time though, the breed names are quite similar between French and English.

So when you don’t know, I’d say put a French accent to it and give it a try!!

I’m going to list here the names of the French dog breeds which differ from the English dog breeds.

  1. Le caniche – poodle
  2. Le berger allemand – German shepperd
  3. Le teckel – dachshund
  4. Le labrador – labrador retriever (we never call them just “retriever” in French)
  5. Le Golden – Golden retreiver
  6. Le bichon – maltesse
  7. Le carlin – pug
  8. Le cocker – cocker spaniel
  9. Le yorkshire – yorkshire terrier
  10. le basset – basset hound
  11. le bulldog français – French bulldog!

For all the French dog breeds, I’ll direct you to wikipedia!

11 – French Dog Names

Common classic French dog names include Rex, Médor, Rintintin, Sultan, Fido, Mirza (f), Lassie (f)…

Check out my article about the most famous French pet names.

12 – French Pet Naming Tradition

Did you know there is a tradition in France to name your pet? Each year corresponds to a letter, so you are supposed to name your dog/ cat a name starting with that letter. For example, pets born in 2017 should have a name which starts with an N.

This pet naming tradition comes from naming pure breed pets, but has extended to naming any pet.

13 – Expressions With Dog in French

Here are 9 very common French idiomatic expressions about dogs.

To arrive like a dog in a bowling game

Arriver comme un chien dans un jeu de quille
Meaning: To turn up at a very bad time (= bad timing)

To have some “dog”

Avoir du chien
Meaning: To be attractive, to have a lot of charm. Used mainly for women

To have a dog’s personality

Avoir un caractère de chien
Meaning: to have a bad attitude, to be ill tempered

To have a dog’s pain (to do something)

Avoir un mal de chien (à faire quelque chose)
Meaning: To be in a lot of pain OR to find doing something very difficult

To sleep like a gun’s hammer ​

Dormir en chien de fusil
Meaning: To sleep in a fetal position, curled up in a ball​

To be in a dog’s mood

Être d’une humeur de chien
Meaning: To be in a very bad mood

In the name of a dog!

Nom d’un chien!
Meaning: OMG

To treat someone like a dog

Traiter quelqu’un comme un chien
Meaning: To treat them badly, physically or emotionally

To look at each other like china dog statues

Se regarder en chien de faïence
Meaning: To look at each other in a coiled, aggressive way​

14 – Beginner French Listening Practice – Dogs

Now it’s time to use some of this vocabulary in context. My daughter Leyla and I, we love Minecraft… So we both did French listening practice videos featuring Minecraft!

Here is the one Leyla did about French dogs (and French cats)

Bonjour, c’est Leyla, and welcome to French Today !

Today, I’m going to tell you about cats and dogs in French: here is the French transcript and the English translation of my video: scroll down to play it and learn the correct French pronunciation of all these words!

French Pets Vocabulary

Use the floating blue icon in the bottom right to hide/reveal the English translations below.

Toggle translation Hide/reveal translations

Les chiens et les chats sont des animaux de compagnie.

Dogs and cats are pets.

In the first part of this video, Leyla talks about cats in French – the horror!! I’ll let you follow the link to my article about “les chats” for the transcript.

Dog in French = Le Chien, La Chienne

Et maintenant, on va voir les chiens.

And now we’ll see the dogs.

On a beaucoup de noms familiers pour “un chien” : “un toutou, un clébard, un roquet, un cabot”. Ils ne sont pas toujours gentils…

We have many familiar names for “a dog”: … They are not always nice …

Mon chien ici s’appelle Rintintin.

My dog is called here Rintintin.

Une dame chien s’appelle “une chienne”.
Celle-ci s’appelle Lassie.

A female dog is called a bitch.
This one is called Lassie.

Lassie et Rintintin sont des noms de chiens traditionnels en France. Ils viennent de séries de télévision.

Lassie and Rintintin are traditional dog names in France. They come from television series.

Et un bébé chien s’appelle “un chiot”. Oh, il est mignon !

Baby and a dog called “a puppy”. Oh, he’s cute!

Les chiens aboient souvent. En français, ils vont faire “ouaf ouaf”.
Et s’ils voient un chat, ils vont grogner, c’est certain !
S’ils sont tristes, ils vont gémir: on dit aussi qu’ils pleurent mais ce n’est pas vraiment correct.
Quand leur maître part, ils hurlent parfois.
Et bien sûr, les gentils chiens ne mordent pas !

Dogs often bark. In French, they will do “woof woof”.
And if they see a cat, they will growl, that’s for sure!
If they are sad, they will moan: we also say they cry but it is not really correct.
When their master leaves, they howl sometimes.
And of course, friendly dogs don’t bite!

Et vous ? Est-ce que vous avez un animal de compagnie ? Si oui, comment s’appelle-t-il ?

And you ? Do you have a pet? If so, how is it called?

Voilà, c’est tout pour aujourd’hui.

Here you go, that’s all for today.

Remember to check out French Today dot com for blog articles and your free audio book to learn French like it is spoken today!

You may also want to subscribe to French Today’s channel on Youtube so you’ll never miss a video!

I wanted to take a minute to thank all the viewers that pressed like, shared my video and left a comment – this means the world to me. Please continue – I read each comment and your support really makes my day.

15 – Intermediate French Practice – Dogs and Wolves

What an adventure! In episode 8 of my learn French with Minecraft video series, I’m going on a boat ride hoping to find wolves to tame into dogs. But things don’t go quite as planned!! LOL!! 

Here is my article on how to learn French with Minecraft with all the episodes and tips on how to turn the French and English subtitles on/off, and how to best study French with my video series.

Est-ce que vous avez un animal de compagnie ? Si oui, comment s’appelle-t-il/elle ? Quand j’étais petite, ma chienne s’appelait Mirabelle. Et puis, en tant qu’adulte, j’ai eu deux chiens: Zip et Pixel (ci-dessous).

Do you have/had a pet? If so, what is his/her name ? When I was little, my dog’s name was Mirabelle. Then, as a grown up, I had two dogs: Zip and Pixel (under).

my french dogs Zip and Pixel

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