Since female dogs are often referred to as “bitches,” some people wonder if there is a specific term applied to denote a male canine. The term “dog” has become universally accepted as a handle for both male and females of this companion species; however, many people insist that the name “dog” is actually gender specific and is reserved exclusively to reference a male.
Why is a Male Canine Called a Dog?
In general terms, a dog is a dog; whether male or female. However, when speaking in terms of animals used for breeding, a distinction needs to be made for clarity’s sake. Female dogs are referred to as bitches. Once bred and having whelped a litter, this same female is then called the puppies’ dam.
Intact males that are being considered to father a litter with a bitch are referred to as studs. Stud dogs are, obviously, reproductively intact and capable of producing offspring if bred to a female at the correct time in her season. If a stud dog is mated to a female and that pairing results in a successful litter, the dog is then called the sire. The difference between a stud and a sire is simply whether or not the union yielded puppies.
Some believe the term “stud” is traced back to the Old English word “studu.” Studu translates to “to prop upright” which is perhaps a reflection of the position the male dog favors during mating with a female. Some people believe this word has cruder origins and is in fact referring to the male genitalia and its condition during the act of procreation. In modern culture, the name stud is used to indicate someone who is particularly successful with the ladies.
The correct terminology for canines used in breeding programs is dog for the male and bitch for the female.
What Do the Terms Curs and Bitches Mean?
In days of old, the terms cur and bitch were bandied about. Today, the word “cur” has taken on a connotation that many find offensive, and thus, its use is no longer popular. Cur was used to denote a dog of unknown parentage, an animal we would refer to today as a mixed breed or a mutt.
Since language evolves with time, the word cur was eventually applied negatively to indicate a dog the person found unattractive or that had a nasty temperament. In time, cur was then used in a derogatory fashion to indicate someone of poor moral character.
Sadly, the commonly utilized breeding term “bitch” has also suffered the same fate. It has become a name that is used as an insult towards women, insinuating the woman is difficult, cantankerous, or moody.
What is the Correct Name for a Neutered Dog?
Though not commonly utilized, some people refer to a neutered dog as Jerry. It is unknown where this name came from or why the name Jerry was selected. Rarely is this term used amongst laymen, and particularly not by breeders who find this name rather offensive.
Though some seem to think the word “bastard” is the opposite of the female dog’s handle “bitch,” this term is not used to indicate a male dog.
Do Different Countries Use Different Terms for Male Dogs?
Many different languages and countries use different words to refer to boy and girl dogs. However, what is somewhat surprising to North Americans are some of the terms to indicate a specific gender selected by other English-speaking countries.
Male dogs in the UK are sometimes referred to as “rude.” This is not a commonly applied term but does see some use in this region.
Though in North America “mongrel” is often used to indicate a dog of unknown pedigree or a mixed breed, some Australians apply this term to male working dogs.
Where Did the Word “Dog” Come From?
The term “dog” is derived from the Old English term “docga.” Though the exact origins of this handle are unknown, experts agree that it is most likely that “docga” and later “dog” were terms given to set dog breeds. The term docga means strong and powerful and was most commonly associated with Mastiff-type dogs in the 16th century.
From the earliest of days, canines as a collective whole were referred to as hounds, a word derived from another Old English word: hund. At some point in time, hund was changed to docga and later to simply dog: the name we use today to indicate a canine of either gender. Initially, the word “dog” was applied only to canines that had particularly coarse fur, most commonly spaniels.
Interestingly enough, in early days, there were two different names given to dogs based on their gender. Male dogs were referred to as hunds and female dogs as hundins.
What are the Correct Scientific Terms for Intact Male and Neutered Male Dogs?
Most of the terms we use today for dogs are derived from proper scientific classifications. The names applied to male dogs today are as follows:
The correct scientific term for a dog regardless of gender
Male dog that is reproductively intact and capable of producing puppies if mated to a female that is in season
A reproductively intact male that has successfully produced a litter of puppies with a female dog
A male that has not been sexually altered, and thus, is capable or reproducing
A male dog that has been castrated, and thus, is unable to reproduce
What is a male dog called? Well, a dog, of course! In today’s culture, we use the term dog to indicate both male and female canines. However, breeders utilize different terminology when referring to canines of different genders. So though the name dog, at its roots, means a canine male; in today’s culture it’s perfectly acceptable if you call your fave furry female friend a dog too!