Dog - Etymology and Related Terminology

Etymology and Related Terminology

"Dog" is the common use term that refers to members of the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris (canis, "dog"; lupus, "wolf"; familiaris, "of a household" or "domestic"). The term can also be used to refer to a wider range of related species, such as the members of the genus Canis, or "true dogs", including the wolf, coyote, and jackals, or it can refer to the members of the tribe Canini, which would also include the African wild dog, or it can be used to refer to any member of the family Canidae, which would also include the foxes, bush dog, raccoon dog, and others. Some members of the family have "dog" in their common names, such as the raccoon dog and the African wild dog. A few animals have "dog" in their common names but are not canids, such as the prairie dog.

The English word "dog" comes from Middle English dogge, from Old English docga, a "powerful dog breed". The term may derive from Proto-Germanic *dukkōn, represented in Old English finger-docce ("finger-muscle"). The word also shows the familiar petname diminutive -ga also seen in frogga "frog", picga "pig", stagga "stag", wicga "beetle, worm", among others. Due to the archaic structure of the word, the term dog may ultimately derive from the earliest layer of Proto-Indo-European vocabulary, reflecting the role of the dog as the earliest domesticated animal.

In 14th-century England, "hound" (from Old English: hund) was the general word for all domestic canines, and "dog" referred to a subtype of hound, a group including the mastiff. It is believed this "dog" type of "hound" was so common, it eventually became the prototype of the category “hound”. By the 16th century, dog had become the general word, and hound had begun to refer only to types used for hunting. Hound, cognate to German Hund, Dutch hond, common Scandinavian hund, and Icelandic hundur, is ultimately derived from the Proto-Indo-European *kwon- "dog", found in Welsh ci (plural cwn), Latin canis, Greek kýōn, and Lithuanian šuõ.

In breeding circles, a male canine is referred to as a dog, while a female is called a bitch (Middle English bicche, from Old English bicce, ultimately from Old Norse bikkja). A group of offspring is a litter. The father of a litter is called the sire, and the mother is called the dam. Offspring are, in general, called pups or puppies, from French poupée, until they are about a year old. The process of birth is whelping, from the Old English word hwelp (cf. German Welpe, Dutch welp, Swedish valpa, Icelandic hvelpur).

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