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How 9 Popular Dog Breeds Got Their Names

Ever wondered why a Beagle’s called a Beagle, or where the popular Labrador Retriever got its namesake? Or, who the heck is Jack Russell and why is the energetic dog breed named after him? Read on to find out how these 9 popular dog breeds got their names.

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1. Jack Russell Terrier

It’s true, Jack Russell was a real person. But, how did he get a dog breed named after him? John “Jack” Russell was an avid hunter and enthusiast in England in the early 1800’s. According to legend, John was studying at Oxford when he spotted a small white terrier with tan spots. Thinking the dog would be perfect for fox hunting, Russell convinced the dog’s owner, a local milkman, to sell his dog, named Trump, to him. Trump became the basis for a new breed of dog developed by Russell, one that had the energy to hunt foxes all day combined with a short stature and bravery needed for following them into foxholes. And thus, the Jack Russell Terrier was born.

Fun Fact: A second dog breed, the Parson Russell terrier is also named after John “Jack” Russell.

2. Beagle

The most commonly accepted explanation for how the popular Beagle got his name will make sense to anyone that’s shared their hearts and home with special breed. The name traces all the way back to the 16th century when hunters used the French word becguele, which translates to “noisy person”, to describe the hound dog’s unique vocalizations during hunts.

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3. Poodle

Considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, the cleverly coiffed Poodles of today don’t exactly look like avid swimmers, but the breed originated in Germany to retrieve birds that had fallen into the water after being shot by hunters. The German word “puddeln,” meaning “to splash” was often used to describe the dogs as they darted after the fallen waterfowl. Eventually, puddeln evolved into the breed’s current name, Poodle.

Fun Fact: Although they originated in Germany, the French loved the intelligent and beautiful breed so much that it was adopted as France’s national dog.

4. Lhasa Apso

While it may not sound so simple, the origins of this breed’s name are actually quite straightforward. Originally bred as watchdogs for Tibetan palaces, this breed is named after Lhasa, the nation’s capital city. And, apso, the second part of this long-haired breed’s name, is a Tibetan word that means “bearded.”

dog breeds

5. Schnauzer

One look at the mustachioed profile of this dignified dog of the terrier group and it’s easy to see where his or her breed name originated! Schnauzer is derived from the German word “schnauze” which means snout or, sometimes, mustache. These bearded pups come in three varieties – Miniature, Standard, and Giant – and all three share that same distinctive snout.

6. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever is America’s most popular dog breed, yet very few people know the truth about where this breed’s name originated. Contrary to popular belief, this breed did not originate in a region of Canada now known as Labrador. They actually originated in nearby Newfoundland. In the 19th century, the Earl of Malmesbury brought the strong swimmers back to England and began training them to retrieve ducks he hunted at his estate. The Earl mistakenly referred to his pack as his “Labrador dogs” and the name stuck. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Newfoundland breed also originated it that same region.

dog breeds

7. Bouvier des Flandres

Here’s another breed name that’s easy to understand – so long as you speak a little French! This long, thick-coated working dog originated in Flanders in the northern region of Belgium, where he spent time on farms, herding sheep, pulling carts, and driving cattle. The French name Bouvier des Flandres means, literally, “Cow Herder of Flanders.”

8. Dachshund

Like many other breeds, the Dachshund’s name is derived from the task it was bred to perform. The little elongated dog’s name is formed from combining the German word “dachs,” or badger, and the word “hund” which means dog. Literally, Dachshund means badger dog, a name perfectly suited for the long, thin, short-statured dogs bred to fearlessly hunt those feisty badgers.

dog breeds

9. Dalmatian

The unmistakably polka-dotted Dalmatian got his name from the Adriatic region of Dalmatia, now part of modern-day Croatia, though historians are uncertain whether the breed actually originated in the area. Although they were widely used, most commonly as guard dogs, in Dalmatia since the 18th century, paintings depicting very similarly spotted dogs dating back to 14th century Europe and even ancient Egypt suggest they may have originated elsewhere.

Fun Fact: Dalmatians became the mascot for fire departments thanks to an innate and unique ability to live harmoniously alongside horses! Before modern-day fire trucks, horse-drawn carriages carried firefighters and their equipment. Dalmatians ran ahead of these carriages, clearing the path of people and other animals that might otherwise slow their journey.

So, were you surprised by how these popular breeds got their names? If you could create your very own breed, what would you name it and why? Tell us in the comments!

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