A highly specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe dog breeds and their standards. The reader will find the key terms defined in the following glossary useful (from M. Luquet and R. Triquet).

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Active: Describes a dog that is always alert, in action, on the lookout, moving, hunting.

Aggressive: The tendency to attack without being provoked. This behaviour is unacceptable in all standards.

Albino: Describes a white coat caused by lack of pigment in the hairs.

Aquiline: Having a curved shape.

Arched loin: Arched curvature of the back.

Balanced: Said of a well-proportioned dog whose individual parts appear in correct ratio to one another.

Bare patch: An area lacking pigment.

Barrel: Describes a round thoracic region, or well-arched in cobby breeds.

Duhayer_Royal Canin

Basset: A type of dog having the body of a larger dog from which it is descended, supported by short legs. These are low-stationed dogs.

Bay: The sound a hunting hound makes when it barks; good voice.

Beagle: A medium-sized hound bred with excellent results from a larger breed. Smaller than the breed from which it is descended, taller than the Basset.

Belton: A white coat with ticking or roaning (orange, lemon).

Bi-colour: Said of a coat composed of two distinct colours.

Bichon: An abbreviation for the Barbichon descended from the Barbet. Toy breed with a long or short, silky, stand-off coat.

Black and Tan: Refers to a black dog with tan or sable markings.

Blaze: A narrow white band running up the centre of the face.

Blood: Breed. To inject new blood, to cross a dog with a bitch of another breed.

Bloodhound: A dog specialized in searching out large wounded game-a practice called “blood hunting” because the dog follows the blood trail. (Group VI dog breeds)

Blotch:Colour covering a large area on a white background.

Blue: The dilution of black coat colour.

Blunt muzzle: A short, flat muzzle.

Bobtail: A dog with a naturally short tail.

Brachet: A short-haired, medium-sized hound from the Middle Ages.


Brachycephalic skull: A short, wide, round skull (Bulldog, Pug).

Breast: The chest.

Brick-shaped: Describes a dog whose shape resembles a rectangle, the longest side of the rectangle generally being the length of the dog.

Brindle: Refers to a coat with more or less vertical dark streaking on a lighter colour.

Brisket: The chest, thoracic cavity.

Broad: Said of a wide, powerful chest.

Brown: Chocolate and liver are shades of brown. tan and beige are obtained by the dilution of brown.

Brush: A tail that resembles that of a fox.

Cape:The long, thick hair covering the neck and shoulders.

Cat foot:Round.

Chestnut: Fawn with a red or orange cast.

Chippendale Front: A dog with a Chippendale front has forelegs out at the elbows, pasterns close and feet turned out.

Chiseled: Clean-cut head and muzzle. Well-defined, precise lines.

Chocolate: A dark, reddish brown. A chocolate or liver coat is brown.

Cloddy: Said of a dog that is short, compact and thickset.


Close-coupled: Describes a dog that is comparatively short from the last rib to the commencement of the hindquarters.

Close-lying: Said of straight hair that falls flat against the skin.

Coat: Refers to the hair and its colour; sometimes refers simply to the colour of the hair.

Cobby: Said of a thick-set, compact dog with relatively short, strong, bowed legs. The Pug is cobby.

Coin-sized: The size and shape of a coin, like the spots on Dalmatians.

Collar: White markings around the neck. Hairs around the neck.

Collarette: A ruff formation around the neck.

Corky: Said of a lively, active dog that is constantly in motion.

Cropped: Refers to very short hair close against the body. Some cropped hair is called short in official standards.

Crossbreeding: The mating of a dog of one breed with a bitch of another for one generation to avoid inbreeding. Crossing of dogs of the same breed, but from different lineage or parentage.

Croup: The region of the pelvic girdle formed by the sacrum and surrounding tissue. When the croup is very sloped, it is referred to as goose rump.

Breeching: Long, thick hairs covering the thighs. Sometimes a fringe on the back of the upper thighs.

Dense: Describes very thick hair.

Dewlap: The fold of skin under the neck at the throat; can extend down to the chest.


Dish-faced: Said of a dog with a concave profile having slightly depressed frontal bones. Example: Bulldog, Boxer, Pug.

Duhayer_Royal Canin

Dolichocephalic: Having a long, narrow skull, as in that of the Greyhound.


Domed: Describes the skull of a dog with a convex profile, having arched frontal bones. Example: Bedlington Terrier.

Dwarfism: A balanced decrease in size of all body parts of a normal-sized specimen.


Ear: Depending on the breed, ears can be erect or pricked, pendulous, drop, semi-prick. The rose ear is a small drop ear that folds over and back, revealing the burr. In the button ear, the ear flap folds forward, barely away from the head, with the tip lying close to the skull.

Eye: Spaniels have oval eyes; Bulldogs have round eyes; Greyhounds have almond eyes.

N.B. In the almond-shaped eye, the tissue surrounding the eye is longer than the eye. The eye itself, of course, is round.

Fallow: The result of the dilution of brown, a variation of tan.

Fawn: A colour ranging from tan to red. Tan markings are fawn. The dilution of the fawn colour produces a tawny colour. Fawn red: fawn coat ranging from red to rust.

Fearlessness: The quality of a dog that fears nothing and may bite.

Feathering: Long hairs forming a fringe on the external ear, back of the legs, the tail and the chest.

Filled-up: Refers to a filled-up face: finely chiseled, smooth skin over the bones, flat muscles.

Flare: A white stripe on the forehead that often continues along the head.

Flashings: Irregular white markings on the face and chest.

Flecked: Said of a variegated coat with spotted markings (small dark spots on a white background).

Flushing Dog: A dog, such as the spaniel, that flushes game, i.e., forces the game out in the open without pursuing it like hounds and without indicating its presence like pointers.

Forehead: The portion of the head above the muzzle.

Forequarters: The region from the shoulder blades down to the feet.

Gait: The pattern of the footsteps. Natural gaits - walk, trot, gallop. Free gait - easy, untiring movement. Frictionless gait - made with no apparent effort. Balanced gait - uniform speed and stride.


Griffon: A medium- or long-haired pointer or hound with tousled, wiry or shaggy hair.

Hare foot: Long and narrow.

Harlequin: Refers to a multicoloured coat with patched or pied colouration on grey or blue; spots of black on white (patches of black on white, as in Great Danes).

Harsh: Describes hard, coarse, weather-resistant hair.

Hedge hunter: A dog that hunts in the brush. A dog that flushes game, but does not point or retrieve. (Synonym of Springer).

Height: The height of the body measured by a vertical line running from the withers to the ground when the animal is in a relaxed standing position. Size can range from 0.2 to 1 metre.

Herder: A dog used to herd stock.

High-Standing: Said of a tall dog with plenty of leg, like the Greyhound.

Hindquarters: The region including the croup and hind legs.

Hollow: Said of an area of the body with a convex profile.

Hound: A dog with drop ears that takes to the trail and tracks while giving tongue, eventually running down the animal being hunted. (Group VI dog breeds).

Interbreeding: The mating of two dogs of different breeds.

Isabella: A fawn or light bay colour.

Kissing spot: A round spot of colour on the head of the King Charles and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. A tan or fawn mark above and between the eyes on black and tan dogs.

Duhayer_Royal Canin

Large: Said of dogs that are larger than average (such as the Great Dane).

Leashhound: A hunting dog with a refined sense of smell that tracks silently on a leash.

Leggy: Describes a dog with long legs and giving the impression of being high off the ground.

Line: All the descendants of a common ancestor.

Liver: Brown.

Loin: The lumbar region posterior to the ribs and anterior to the croup.

Long back: Describes the back when the distance from the withers to the rump exceeds the height at the withers.

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Low to ground: Said of dogs with relatively short legs and well let down chest. (Dachshund).

Mantle: A dark portion of the coat on the back that differs in colour from the rest of the coat.

Marking: A white or other colour marking on different coloured background.

Mask: A dark shading on the face.

Mastiff: A large-headed, thick-set guard dog with strong jaws. Short-haired Molossian types are mastiffs.

Medium: Describes an average-sized dog.

Merle: A coat with dark, irregular blotches against a lighter, often grey, background. French dogs with this coat are called harlequin; British dogs are called blue merle.

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Mesomorph: A dog having a well-proportioned, muscular body. Example: Setters, Pointers, French and Belgian Shepherds.

Mismarks: Self colour with any area of white hairs.


Molossian type: A large thick-muscled guard dog with a large head and powerful body. Mastiffs are Molossian types.

Morphology:P. Megnin (1932) classified dog breeds into four main morphological groups:

- Braccoids: Fairly long muzzle. Marked stop. Hanging ears. Pointers, Spaniels, Setters and Dalmatians belong to this group.

Duhayer_Royal Canin

- Graioids: Long-bodied dogs with an elongated conical head. Straight skull. Small ears. Long muzzle. Indistinct stop. Tight-lipped. Slender body, thin legs, abdomen well tucked up. The Greyhound belongs to this group.

- Lupoids: Wolf-like. Prick ears, long muzzle, short, tight lips. Example: Belgian Shepherds.

- Molossoids: Massive, round head. Pronounced stop. Short, powerful muzzle. Drop ears. Thick lips. Massive body low to ground. Loose skin. Heavy-boned. Mastiffs belong to this group.

Mottled: Describes a coat with blotches of dark hairs on a lighter background of the same colour. Example: Australian Cattle Dog.

Multi-colour: A coat of several colours. The juxtaposition of coloured spots or patches.

Mute: Refers to a dog that does not bark or bay while trailing.

Muzzle: The facial region comprising the stop, the nose, and the jaws. Only the dorsal portion of the stop is included in the muzzle.

Nuance: A variation in the intensity of a colour.

Pace: A gait in which the left foreleg and left hind leg advance together, followed by the right foreleg and right hind leg.

Pack: An organized group of hounds that hunt larger animals.

Pad: The foot’s shock-absorber located underneath and behind the toes. The pads are covered by calloused, hard, rough, irregularly patterned, highly pigmented skin.

Parti-colour: Describes a variegated coat with two or more colours.

Patch: A limited area of colour or white in the coat.

Pear-shaped: Having the shape of a pear.

Pendulous: A long, hanging ear.

Pied: Refers to a coat with large patches of white and another colour. Example: Pied-Black (white is dominant); Black-Pied (black is dominant).

Pig Dog: A dog used for hunting boar.

Pigmented: Coloured by pigments.


Pips: The tan (fawn) spots above each eye giving the impression that the dog has four eyes. This is the typical pattern in black and tan breeds.

Plume: A long fringe of hair on the tail.

Point: The action or position of a dog that has found game. The dog freezes to indicate the presence of game.


Pointer:A dog that assumes an immovable stance when it scents a bird nearby. It “points out“ the bird with its nose. (Group 7 dog breeds)

Primitive: Related to the most ancient breeds closest to the ancestral wolf (Nordic breeds).

Proportions: The body parts in relation to each other. Each part considered separate as compared to the whole. There are many terms to describe a dog’s proportions: close-coupled, low-stationed, off-square, etc.

Puce: Dark brown, brown.

Red-Roan: Describes a coat with a uniform mixture of white and orange or fawn hairs.

Red: One extreme of fawn (from fallow to red).

Retriever: A hunting dog trained to find and bring wounded or killed game back to the handler.

Roan: A coat in which white blotches have a fine mixture of white and fawn hairs or a mixture of three colours (white, red, black or brown).

Robust: Describes a strong, hardy, heavy-boned dog.

Rolling: A transversal movement of the body with each step. A dog can have a “rolling gait”

Ruby: Bright red.

Rustic: A dog adapted to living outdoors in all kinds of weather without special care.

Sable: Describes a coat having black-tipped hairs on a background of fawn.

Saddle: The part of the dog corresponding to the area of a horse on which the saddle would be placed.

Sedge: A colour between fallow and red in the range of fawn shades.

Duhayer_Royal Canin

Self-Colour: A one-colour coat (except for lighter shadings), without white spots or hairs.

Self-Marked: Refers to a coat with white markings on a whole coloured dog.


Setter: A bird dog trained for net hunting in which the net is dropped over both the crouched dog and the bird. Like the ancient “crouchers”, the dog sets by crouching or half crouching.

Shaded: A light coat with dark areas.

Skeleton: The bones of the body and legs.

Skewbald: Describes a white coat with brindle markings (French Bulldog).

Smoky: A fairly light-coloured coat (fawn, sable) tipped with black, brown or blue.

Socks: White markings on the feet.

Sole: An improper term used to describe the surface of the paw pads.

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Spaniel: A hunting dog with long- or medium-length (often silky) hair, rectangular body outline, medium size. A mesomorph. Continental Spaniels are pointers. British Spaniels are hedge hunters.

Speck: A small light spot (fawn) on white background.

Speckled: Refers to a coat with small flecks or dapple.

Splashed: Refers to a white coat with patches of colour or a coloured coat with patches of white.

Spot: Any area of colour that differs from that of the background. The spot can be white or coloured. Spots have different names depending on size: fleck (small spot), patch (large spot), blotch (very large spot). If a coat has several juxtaposed coloured spots, it is a multi-colour coat.

Spotted: Describes a coat covered with small spots, including dappled and mottled.

Square body outline: Describes a dog whose height at the withers is equal to the length from the point of the shoulder to the point of the rump.

Standard: A description of the ideal dog. The first dog standard, written in 1876, was that of the Bulldog. Standards are often imprecise.


Stop: The facial indentation between the forehead and the muzzle where the nasal bones and cranium meet. Bulldogs have distinct stops; Greyhounds have almost no stop; Pointers have moderate stops.

Duhayer_Royal Canin

Straight: Describes the lines of the body. Example: straight back, straight front, straight in pastern.

Strain: The ancestor from which a family descends. A group of animals breeding amongst themselves for several generations without the introduction of new blood.

Svelte: Thin, supple, slender.

Tail: The guide mark for tail length is the hock. The tail is of medium length if it reaches the hock, short if it does not reach the hock, and long if it extends beyond the hock. The tail carriage can be described in many ways: horizontal, sabre, gay, sickle, scimitar, tightly curled (Shar-Pei), double curl (Pug), snap (Akita), docked (German Short-Haired Pointer), etc.

Tan: The fawn or tawny markings on black and tan dogs.

Tawny: Light fawn colour resulting from the dilution of fawn.


Terrier: From the French word terre (earth). A hunting dog that roots animals from burrows, that “hunts underground“

Thick: Said of an abundant coat.

Thorax: The length of the thorax is measured horizontally from the chest at the last rib. It is well let down when the brisket reaches slightly below the knees.

Tight-lipped: Having thin, firm lips.

Toy: A very small companion dog (Toy Poodle).

Track: A succession of footfalls, footprints (the imprint left by the foot as it strikes the ground). Action of a dog hunting game.

Trail: The route followed by an animal; the print or scent left along a path.

Trousers: Long hair on the thighs, longer than the breeching. For Poodles, the hair left on the legs during grooming – English Saddle clip (also called the Lion Clip).

Tufted tail: A tail with a tuft of hair at the end.

Turn-up: Describes a short, uplifted muzzle.


Undercoat: The fine, soft, dense hair under the outer coat.

Undershot Jaw: This term usually applies only when the lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw. This can be a fault or a characteristic of a breed.


Variety: A subdivision of breed; dogs possessing the distinctive characteristics of the breed, yet having at least one common hereditary trait that distinguishes them from other varieties (size, length and texture of coat, coat colour, ear carriage).


Voice: The baying of hounds on the trail. Hounds “give voice”, they do not bark.

Walleye: An eye that lacks pigment. The unpigmented portion of the eye appears to be a light grey-blue, sometimes whitish (Pearl Eye). Can affect one or both eyes. Acceptable in some breeds. Note: Not to be confused with heterochromatic eyes, where each eye is of a different colour.

Washed out: Said of a very light colour appearing as though it has been highly diluted with water.

Waterdog: A dog that hunts in marshy areas for waterfowl; particularly a retriever. (Group 8 dog breeds)

Wedge-shaped: In the form of a wedge, v-shaped, tapering.

Well-knit: Describes body sections that are firmly joined by well-developed (but not overdeveloped) muscles.

Well-muscled thighs: Thighs that are well-developed with rounded musculature.

Wheaten:A pale fallow or fawn colour.

Whip tail: A tail carried stiffly at back level, like that of hunting dogs.


Wire-haired: A very hard coat, rough to the touch with wiry hair.

Wise: Describes a dog that is calm, docile and even-tempered, but that will not be intimidated.

Withers: A point between the neck and the back. Height at the withers determines the size of the dog.

Wolf grey: A smoky fawn or sable coat.

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