What Is a Male Dog Called?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:44:52 PM ET
Dogs
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A standard male dog is commonly known as a "dog." In technical terms, this implies that the dog hasn't fathered any young, nor has it been used for breeding. Animals are commonly called only one collective name without any clear distinction. However, this is where dogs differ from cats. Male cats are commonly referred to as tomcats, whereas the females are generally called cats.

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History of the Word "Dog"

The origins of the word "dog" is an aura of mystery. It's believed to have originated from the Old English word "docga," which means strong or powerful. It was used to describe a specific mastiff-type breed of dogs in the 1500s. Before the 1500s, dogs were commonly known as “hounds,” from the German word “hund.” The term “hund” is a masculine word, whereas “hundin” would be the feminine version. Male dogs were generally considered the default, and female dogs required a different name.

The word "cur" was used to refer to male dogs in general. But the usage subsided as the name carried an offensive sense to men. People didn't like using that word since it sounded like you were cursing.

The same case applies to the word “bitch.” Everyone knows the technical term for a female dog is “bitch.” But throughout the sociolinguistic development of the word, a negative sense has been attached to it. Now whenever someone says “bitch,” people tend to think of that as a curse, not a pet. Due to the stigma involved, people don’t call female dogs by this name anymore.

Technical Terms for Male Dogs

We'll start by pointing out that a group of puppies is called a litter in the professional breeding community, whereas a male dog that's the father of a litter is called a sire. When you read the pedigree of a dog, you won’t just see the word “dog” because they use professional terms such as “sire” or “stud dog."

Female dogs who have been mothers of litters are called a “dam.” If a female has not given birth to any litter, she's called a bitch or a female dog. So you’ve known the technical terms. But are they suitable for everyday conversation outside the breeding community when you introduce your dog?

Breeding Terms for Dogs

People generally only use the terms “sire,” “dam” and “litter” when they're talking about a dog’s pedigree. It means that these terms are only appropriate when used concerning other terms in a pedigree. For instance, when you introduce your dog to other people, you should not say, “My male dog is a sire” even though he is indeed the father of a puppy. The reason is that you are not talking about his pedigree. You are merely introducing him. You are not mentioning his relations to the female and his children.

When the conversation moves on to the part where you talk about his pedigree, then you can use the technical terms. You can say, “My dog is the sire of five litters. The dam is not here. She is breastfeeding her litter.” So, it's only appropriate to use technical terms to refer to a dog when the conversation is about its pedigree and its family relations are being made clear.