- skip - Brewer’s



This long article is subdivided into eleven parts:        

1. Dogs of note.

2. Dogs of noted persons.

3. Dogs models of their species.

4. Dogs in phrases.

5. Dogs used metaphorically, etc

6. Dogs in Scripture language

7. Dogs in art.

8. Dogs in proverbs and fables

9. Dogs in superstitions.

10. Dogs the male of animals.

11. Dogs inferior plants.


(1) Dogs of Note:

Barry. The famous mastiff of Great St. Bernard’s, in the early part of the present century instrumental in saving forty human beings. His most memorable achievement was rescuing a little boy whose mother had been destroyed by an avalanche. The dog carried the boy on his back to the hospice. The stuffed skin of this noble animal is kept in the museum of Berne.

Gelert (q.v.).

Tonton. The dog which was enclosed in an acorn.

Trayi.e. Trag = runner, or else from the Spanish traér, to fetch.

(2) Dogs of noted persons:

Actæon’s fifty dogs. Alcē (strength), Amarynʹthos (from Amaryʹthia, in Eubœa), Asʹbolos (soot - colour), Banʹos, Borʹeas, Canʹachē (ringwood), Chediæʹtros, Cisseʹta, Coʹran (cropped, crop-eared), Cyllo (halt), Cyllopʹotēs (zig-zag runner), Cypʹrios (the Cyprian), Draco (the dragon), Dromʹas (the courser), Droʹmios (seize-ʹem), Echʹnobas, Euʹdromos (good-runner), Harʹpalē (voracious), Harpieʹa (tear-ʹem), Ichnobʹatē (track-follower), Laʹbros (furious), Lacæna (lioness), Lachʹnē (glossy-coated), Lacon (Spartan), Laʹdon (from Ladon, in Arcaʹdia), Lælaps (hurricane), Lampos (shining-one), Leuʹcos (grey), Lycisʹca, Lynceʹa, Machʹimos (boxer), Melampē (black), Melancheʹtē (black-coat), Melanʹea (black), Meneleʹa, Molossos (from Molossos), Naʹpa (begotten by a wolf), Nebrophʹonos (fawn-killer), Ocʹydroma (swift-runner), Orʹesitrophos (mountain-bred), Oriʹbasos (mountain - ranger), Pachyʹtos (thick-skinned), Pamʹphagos (ravenous), Pœʹmenis (leader), Pterʹelas (winged), Stricta (spot), Theridʹamas (beast-tamer or subduer), Theʹron (savage - faced), Thoös (swift), Uʹranis (heavenly-one).

⁂ Several modern names of dogs are of Spanish origin, as Ponto (pointer), Tray (fetch), etc.

Aubry’s dog. Aubry of Montdidʹier was murdered, in 1371, in the forest of Bondy. His dog, Dragon, showed a most unusual hatred to a man named Richard of Macaire, always snarling and ready to fly at his throat whenever he appeared. Suspicion was excited, and Richard of Macaire was condemned to a judicial combat with the dog. He was killed, and in his dying moments confessed the crime.

Belgrade, the camp-sutler’s dog: Clumsy.

Browning’s (Mrs.) little dog Flush, on which she wrote a poem.

Lord Byron’s favourite dog. Boatswain, buried in the garden of Newstead Abbey.

Catherine de Medici’s favourite lap-dog was named Phœbé.

Cathullin’s hound was named Luath (q.v.).

Douglas’s hound was named Luffra or Lufra (q.v.).

Elizabeth of Bohemia’s dog was named Apollon.

Fingal’s dog was named Bran.

“‘Mar e Bran, is e a brathairʹ (If it be not Bran, it is Bran’s brother) was the proverbial reply of Maccombich.”—Waverley, chap. xiv.

Frederick of Wales had a dog given him by Alexander Pope, and on the collar were these words—        

“I am his Highnessʹ dog at Kew;

Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?”


Geʹryon’s dogs. Gargittios and Orthos. The latter was the brother of Cerʹberos, but had one head less. Herculēs killed both these monsters.

Icarʹios’s dog. Mæra (the glistener). Icarios was slain by some drunken peasants, who buried the body under a tree. His daughter Erigʹonē, searching for her father, was directed to the spot by the howling of Mæra, and when she discovered the body she hung herself for grief. Icarios became the constellation Boötēs, Erigʹone the constellation Virgo, and Mæra the star Proʹcyon, which rises in July, a little before the Dog-star. (Greek, pro-kuon.)

Kenneth’s (Sir) famous hound was called Roswal. (Sir W. Scott: The Talisman.)

Lamb’s (Charles) dog was named Dash.

Landor’s (Savage) dog was named Giallo.

Landseer’s greyhound was named Brutus. “The Invader of the Larder.”

Llewellyn’s greyhound was named Gelertʹ (q.v.).

Ludlam’s dog. (See Lazy.)

Lurgan’s (Lord) greyhound was named Master MʹGrath, from an orphan boy who reared it. It won three Waterloo Cups, and was presented at Court by the express desire of Queen Victoria, the very year it died (1866–1871).

Neville’s dog. It ran away whenever it was called. In the corresponding Italian proverb the dog is called that of the Vicar Arlotto. (See Chien.)

Mauthe dog. (See Mauthe.)

Dog of Montargis. The same as Aubry’s dog. A picture of the combat was for many years preserved in the castle of Montargis. (See Aubry’s Dog.)

Oriʹon’s dogs were Arctophʹonos (bear-killer), and Ptoophʹagos (Ptoon-glutton.) (Ptoon is in Bœotia.)

Pope’s dog was named Bounce.

Punch’s dog is Toby.

Richard II.’s greyhound was named Mathe. It deserted the king and attached itself to Bolingbroke.

Roderick the Goth’s dog was named Theron.

Rupert’s (Prince) dog, killed at Marston Moor, was named Boy.

Scott’s (Sir Walter) dogs: his favourite deerhound was named Maida; his jet-black greyhound was called Hamlet. He also had two Dandy Dinmont terriers.

Seven Sleepers (Dog of the). This famous dog, admitted by Mahomet to heaven, was named Katmir. The seven noble youths that fell asleep for 309 years had a dog, which accompanied them to the cavern in which they were walled up. It remained standing for the whole time, and neither moved from the spot, ate, drank, nor slept. (Sale’s Koran, xviii., notes.)

Tristran’s dog was named Leon or Lion.

Ulyssesʹ dog, Argos, recognised him after his return from Troy, and died of joy.

(3) Dogs, models of their species:

Argoss (a Russian terrier); Baroness Cardiff (a Newfoundland); Black Prince (a mastiff); Bow-wow (a schipperke); Corney (a bull-terrier); Countess of Warwick (a great Dane); Dan OʹConnor (an Irish water-spaniel); Dudepug); Fascination (a black cocker - spaniel); Fritz (a French poodle); Judith (a bloodhound); Kilcree (a Scotch terrier); King Lud (a bulldog); King of the Heather (a dandie-dinmont); Mikado (a Japanese spaniel); Olga (a deerhound); Romeo (a King Charles spaniel); Royal Krueger (a beagle); Scottish Leader (a smooth-coated St. Bernard); Sensation (a pointer); Sir Bedivere (a rough - coated St. Bernard); Spinaway (a grey-hound); Toledo Blade (an English setter); Woodmansterne Trefoil (a collie).


(4) Dog in phrases:

A dog in a doublet. A bold, resolute fellow. In Germany and Flanders the boldest dogs were employed for hunting the wild boar, and these dogs were dressed in a kind of buff doublet buttoned to their bodies. Rubens and Sneyders have represented several in their pictures. A false friend is called a dog in one’s doublet.

Between dog and wolf. The hour of dusk. “Entre chien et loup.”

St. Roch and his dog. Two inseparables. “Toby and his dog.” One is never seen without the other.

They lead a cat and dog life. Always quarrelling.

To lead the life of a dog. To live a wretched life, or a life of debauchery.

(5) Dog, used metaphorically or symbolically:

The dog. Diogĕnēs, the Cynic (B.C. 412–323). When Alexander went to see him, the young King of Macedonia introduced himself with these words: “I am Alexander, surnamed the Great,” to which the philosopher replied: “And I am Diogenēs, surnamed the Dog.” The Athenians raised to his memory a pillar of Parian marble, surmounted by a dog. (See Cynic.)

Dog of God. So the Laplanders call the bear. The Norwegians say it “has the strength of ten men and the wit of twelve.” They never presume to speak of it by its proper appellation, guouztija, lest it should revenge the insult on their flocks and herds, but they call it Möddaaigja (the old man with a fur cloak).

A dead dog. Something utterly worthless. A phrase used two or three times in the Bible. (See (6).)

A dirty dog. In the East the dog is still held in abhorrence, as the scavenger of the streets. “Him that dieth in the city shall the dogs eat” (1 Kings xiv. 11). The French say, Crotté comme un barbet (muddy or dirty as a poodle), whose hair, being very long, becomes filthy with mud and dirt. Generally speaking, “a dirty dog” is one morally filthy, and is applied to those who talk and act nastily. Mere skin dirt is quite another matter, and those who are so defiled we call dirty pigs.


A surly dog. A human being of a surly temper, like a surly dog.

Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing? (2 Kings viii. 12, 13). Hazael means, “Am I such a brute as to set on fire the strongholds of Israel, slay the young men with the sword, and dash their children to the ground, as thou, Elijah, sayest I shall do when I am king?”

Sydney Smith being asked if it was true that he was about to sit to Landseer, the animal painter, for his portrait, replied, in the words of Hazael, “What! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?”

The Thracian dog. Zoilus.        

“Like curs, our critics haunt the poet’s feast,

And feed on scraps refused by every guest;

From the old Thracian dog they learned the way

To snarl in want, and grumble oʹer their prey.”


Pitt: To Mr. Spence.

Dogs of war. The horrors of war, especially famine, sword, and fire.        

“And Cæsar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,

With Até by his side, come hot from hell.

Shall in these confines, with a monarch’s voice,

Cry ‘Havoc,ʹ and let slip the dogs of war.”


Shakespeare: Julius Cæsar, iii. 1.

(6) Dog (in Scripture language), whether dead or living, is a most degrading expression: “After whom is the King of Israel come out? After a dead dog?” (1 Sam. xxiv. 14.) “Beware of dogs” (Phil. iii. 2), i.e. sordid, noisy professors. Again, “Without are dogs” (Rev. xxii. 15), i.e. false teachers and sinners, who sin and return to their sins (2 Peter ii. 21).

There is no expression in the Bible of the fidelity, love, and watchful care of the dog, so highly honoured by ourselves.

(7) Dog in art.

Dog, in mediæval art, symbolises fidelity.

A dog is represented as lying at the feet of St. Bernard, St. Benignus, and St. Wendelin; as licking the wounds of St. Roch; as carrying a lighted torch in representations of St. Dominic.

Dogs in monuments. The dog is placed at the feet of women in monuments to symbolise affection and fidelity, as a lion is placed at the feet of men to signify courage and magnanimity. Many of the Crusaders are represented with their feet on a dog, to show that they followed the standard of the Lord as faithfully as a dog follows the footsteps of his master.

(8) Dog in proverbs, fables, and proverbial phrases:

Barking dogs seldom bite. (See Barking.)

Dog donʹt eat dog. Ecclesia ecclesiam non decimat; government letters are not taxed; church lands pay no tithes to the church.

A black dog has walked over him. Said of a sullen person. Horace tells us that the sight of a black dog with its pups was an unlucky omen. (See Black Dog.)

A dog in the manger. A churlish fellow, who will not use what is wanted by another, nor yet let the other have it to use. The allusion is to the well-known fable of a dog that fixed his place in a manger, and would not allow an ox to come near the hay.

Every dog has his day. In Latin, “Hodie mihi, cras tibi.” “Nunc mihi, nunc tibi, benigna” [fortuna]. In German, “Heute mir, morgen dir.” You may crow over me to-day, but my turn will come by-and-by. The Latin proverb, “Hodie mihi,” etc., means, “I died to-day, your turn will come in time.” The other Latin proverb means, fortune visits every man once. She favours me now, but she will favour you in your turn.        

“Thus every dog at last will have his day

He who this morning smiled, at night may sorrow;

The grub to-day’s a butterfly to-morrow.”


Peter Pindar: Odes of Condolence.

Give a dog a bad name and hang him. If you want to do anyone a wrong, throw dirt on him or rail against him.

Gone to the dogs. Gone to utter ruin; impoverished.

He has not a dog to lick a dish. He has quite cleared out. He has taken away everything.

He who has a mind to beat his dog will easily find a stick. In Latin, “Qui vult cædere canem facile invenit fustem.” If you want to abuse a person, you will easily find something to blame. Dean Swift says, “If you want to throw a stone, every lane will furnish one.”

“To him who wills, ways will not be wanting.” “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Hungry dogs will cat dirty pudding. Those really hungry are not particular about what they eat, and are by no means dainty. When Darius in his flight from Greece drank from a ditch defiled with dead carcases, he declared he had never drunk so pleasantly before.

It was the story of the dog and the shadowi.e. of one who throws good money after bad; of one who gives certa pro incertis. The allusion is to the well-known fable.        

“Illudit species, ac denʹtibus aëra mordit.”


(Down sank the meat in the stream for the fishes to hoard it.)

Love me love my dog. “Qui mʹaime aime mon chien,” or “Qui aime Bertrand aime son chien.”

Old dogs will not learn new tricks. People in old age do not readily conform to new ways.

To call off the dogs. To break up a disagreeable conversation. In the chase, if the dogs are on the wrong track, the huntsman calls them off. (French, rompre les chiens.)

Throw it to the dogs. Throw it away, it is useless and worthless.

What! keep a dog and bark myself! Must I keep servants and myself do their work?

You are like Neville’s dog, which runs away when it is called. (See Chien.)

(9) Dog, Dogs, in Superstitions:

Dogs howl at death. A wide-spread superstition.        

“In the rabbinical book it saith

The dogs howl when, with icy breath,

Great Sammaël, the angel of death,

Takes throʹ the town his flight.”


Longfellow: Golden Legend, iii.

The hair of the dog that bit you. When a man has had a debauch, he is advised to take next morning “a hair of the same dog,” in allusion to an ancient notion that the burnt hair of a dog is an antidote to its bite.

(10) Dog, to express the male of animals, as dog-ape, dog-fox, dog-otter.

(11) Dog, applied to inferior plants: dog-brier, dog-berry, dog-cabbage, dog-daisy, dog-fennel, dog-leek, dog-lichen, dog-mercury, dog-parsley, dog-violets (which have no perfume), dog-wheat. (See below, Dog-grass, Dog-rose.


previous entry · index · next entry


Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

previous entry · index · next entry

Dods (Meg)
Dodson and Fogg
Dog and Duck
Dog-fall (in wrestling)
Dog-grass (triticum repens)
Dog-head (in machinery)
Dog-headed Tribes
Dog-leech (A)

Linking here:

Aubry’s Dog
Black Dog
Gelert (g hard)
Lycisca (half-wolf, half-dog)