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Clever Dog Breed Nicknames

Dog breed nicknames can be quite clever. Where do they come from? The answers may surprise you and some have had these “special” names tagging along with them for generations. 

Dog breed nicknames arise because of some trait the dog possess, either looks or actions. Consider the “Monkey” dog, also known as the Affenpinscher because his face resembles that of a monkey.

Sometimes people start calling a dog a specific name based on where they came from and the extra name sticks. 

If location is not enough, then people might add a feature to come up with a different dog nickname. 

Which breed is the Cuban Silk Dog? The Havanese, because it has silky hair and the breed originated from Cuba.

When people can’t remember the breed name, they may come up with a new name just for convenience.  Few people would not recognize the Lassie Dog as the Rough Coated Collie. 

Some nicknames fit more than one breed so you can’t depend on it to steer you to your favorite breed.  Which breed is the Velcro Dog? Last time we checked, any dog that follows his person around can be called the Velcro dog.  That includes quite a few breeds.

Some breed names are only shortened versions of the real name. Maybe we just get lazy?

Tzus, Doxies, Dobies, and Rotties – Let’s face it some of those dog breeds are just a bit too long for today’s racing world. 

No one would blame someone from shortening the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier down to the "Wheaten". Or Rhodesian Ridgeback to "Ridgie".

Anything to simplify your life, Right?

Dog Breed Nicknames

And then, some breed fanciers would prefer to do away with names altogether and just use the acronyms,   OES, GSD, or APBT, GSMD!

OES  Old English Sheepdog

GSD German Shepherd Dog

APBT  American Pitbull Terrier

GSMD  Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Some breeds have some great nicknames. Here are a few of our favorites.


Whippet ~ "The Poor Man's Race Horse"

The Whippet was once bred to hunt rabbits but was later used in Northern England as a racing horse.


Airedale Terrier ~ "The King of Terriers"

The Airedale demonstrates all of the qualities that make a terrier a terrier. The Airedale is a very versatile dog, which does well in agility, search and rescue, obedience, protection and military work.   

Dog Breed Nicknames

Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen

A Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen sitting down on brown grassPetite Basset Griffon Vendeen

Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen ~
"The Happy Breed"

The nickname says it all. The PBGV always has a smile on his face and wag in his tail. See that smile?


Pug ~ "Multum in parvo"

Latin for "A Lot of Dog in a Small Space" or "A Lot in a Little." This dog is full of personality and gusto.

Dog Breed Nicknames


Bullmastiff ~ "Game Keepers Night Dog"

The Bullmastiff was originally produced from the Mastiff and the Bulldog to guard against poachers on the large English estates and stayed by his owner at night guarding the property.

Dog Breed Nicknames


A Keeshond dog standing in long grass, looking back at the cameraKeeshond

Keeshond ~ "The Dutch Barge Dog"

The Keeshond was originally bred by the Dutch to guard their barges and to be companions to workers on the barge.

Welsh Springer Spaniel

Welsh Springer Spaniel ~
"The Starter"

Developed in Wales, the Welsh Springer Spaniel was originally known as "the Starter," which it is still known as today.

Dog Breed Nicknames


Saluki ~ "The Royal Dog of Egypt"

The Saluki was the dog of Egyptian nobility. Although the Muslim religion declares dogs to be unclean, Salukis were declared to be 'sacred,' and thus the prey they brought down could be eaten.

Manchester Terrier

Manchester Terrier ~ "The Gentleman's Terrier"

A very alert and sharp-looking dog, the Manchester Terrier was developed as a ratter and for rabbit coursing. It was in Victorian times that he was first given the title of "the Gentleman's Terrier."

Dog Breed Nicknames

Dog Breed Nicknames

Shar Pei

Chinese Shar-Pei ~ "The Sharkskin Dog"

The Shar-Pei's other nicknames are the "Chinese Fighting Dog," and the "Chinese Bulldog." The Shar-Pei has a rough, sandpaper-like feel to it, which gave it this nickname.

Dog Breed Nicknames


Dalmatian ~ "The Plum Pudding Dog"

The name was used to describe the spots.  But other names were used too including the  Carriage Dog, English Coach Dog, and the Firehouse Dog.

Dog Breed Nicknames

Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier ~ "The White Cavalier"

The name began with the pure white strain of terriers bred by James Hicks. The colors have changed over the years, but the name still sticks.

Dog Breed Nicknames

Great Dane

Great Dane ~ "The Apollo of Dogs"

The name means most beautiful of Greek Gods.

Dog Breed Nicknames


Papillon ~ "The Butterfly Dog"

The breeds large erect ears resemble the wings of a butterfly.

Dog Breed Nicknames

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu ~ "The Chrysanthemum Dog"

When the hair starts to grow out on the face of a puppy, it goes in all directions and resembles the pedals of the Chrysanthemum flower.

Dog Breed Nicknames


Weimaraner ~ "The Grey Ghost"

They may not be the only grey breed, but their silvery grey color give a ghostly appearance.

Dog Breed Nicknames

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier ~ "The American Gentlemen of Dogs"

They may not be the only dog bred in the U.S., but their bold black and white coloration that resembled a gentlemen formal suit.

Dog Breed Nicknames

We hope you found this guide to dog breed nicknames interesting and fun - we certainly had fun researching and writing it! Please let us know if you are aware of any breed nicknames we have missed out, by the Contact Me link. Thank you!

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