Dog Breed Names You May Be Mispronouncing

Some dog breeds have real tongue-twister names. Usually that’s because of their foreign origin. It’s not always easy to know how to pronounce names with a German, French, Dutch or other international background. Here’s an A-to-almost-Z pronunciation guide that will give you the confidence to ask about that interesting dog next time you see one in the park.

Do You Know How to Say These Dog Breed Names?

Side view of Alaskan Malamute dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Alaskan Malamute

This native North American dog's name may seem to have a straightforward pronunciation, but it’s often mispronounced as “MAL-a-mut” or “MAL-a-moot.” The correct way is "MAL-uh-myoot/mewt." Use the same pronunciation for the last syllable as if you were telling someone to “mute” the television.

Belgian Malinois

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Belgian Malinois

A herding breed from the Belgian town of Malines, this breed’s name is correctly pronounced as "mal-un-WAH." And it's "Belgian" (bel-juh n), the adjective, not "Belgium" (bel-juh m), the country.

Belgian Tervuren in the grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Belgian Tervuren

This breed takes his name from the town of Tervuren, east of Brussels. It’s pronounced "ter-VYOO-run." To be safe, just call him a Terv for short.

Bernese Mountain Dog sticking out his tongue

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Bernese Mountain Dog

Seems easy enough, but this Swiss breed is often referred to as a “Burmese” Mountain Dog. He’s from the canton of Bern in Switzerland, not the country of Burma in Southeast Asia.

Bichon Frise on a couch

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Bichon Frise

You might think "bad hair day" when you see this breed’s name, but he’s not a “bitchin’ frizzy.” Instead, say “BEE-shawn FREE-zay,” which is French for "fluffy white dog."

Cane Corso

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Cane Corso

This member of the Mastiff family hails from Italy. The word “cane” is Italian for “dog” and is pronounced “KAH-nay.” The word “corso” may mean “guard” or “courtyard,” and is pronounced “KOR-so.” Avoid saying “cane,” as in a walking cane. For extra credit, breeders and Italian speakers will be impressed if you know that the plural (more than one) is Cani Corsi (kah-nee kor-see).

Longhaired, smooth and wirehaired Dachshunds by the sea

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Dachshund

In German, this short but long dog's name is quite straightforward: "dachs" (which means "badger") and "hund" (which means "dog"). In other words, he’s a badger dog, and his name is pronounced “dahks-uhnd” or “dahks-hoond.” It’s often mispronounced as “daht-sun” or “dash hound.”

Dogue de Bordeaux Dog Breed

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

Dogue de Bordeaux

This French Mastiff's name is sometimes mispronounced as “doogh” or “doggee,” but as he’s from France, think fashion. His name rhymes with the word “vogue” and is correctly pronounced “dohg duh bor-DOH.”

Keeshond

Sam Clark, Animal Photography 

Keeshond

Originating in the Netherlands, this Spitz breed takes his name from a politician with whom he was associated, Kees de Gyselaer. The word Keeshond, then, means “Kees’ dog” and is pronounced “KAYZ-hund.”

Newfoundland dog breed

Alice van Kempen, Animal Photography

Newfoundland

Another case of a seemingly easy name that is often mispronounced. This giant, typically water-loving dog isn’t a New Finland or a New Found Land. Say “NOO-fun-lund” — or go with Newfie for short.

Two Kooikerhondje Dogs on Leash

Peter Smith, Animal Photography

Kooikerhondje

It’s tempting to just call this Dutch breed a “cookie hound” and be done with it, but with a little practice, you can say his name with flair. It’s “COY-ker-HUND-che.” The name has its roots in the Dutch words “kooi” (for "duck trap") and “hond” (for "dog"). The hunter, or decoy person, is the “kooiker.” The “je” on the end of the name is a suffix meaning “small.” A Kooikerhondje, then, is the small dog belonging to the duck trapper.

Papillon playing with toy.

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Papillon

Hone your French pronunciation skills and say “pa-pee-YONE.” It means “butterfly” and is a perfect description of this small Spaniel whose erect ears resemble the wings of a butterfly. Whatever you do, though, don’t say “pap-ill-leon.”

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

This one’s a mouthful; that’s for sure. Most people just call him the "PBGV" ("pee-bee-gee-vee") for short, but if you want to brave saying the whole name in French, it’s “puh-TEE bas-SAY gree-FOHN vehn-DAY-uhn.”

Rottweiler

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

Rottweiler

Often mispronounced as “rock-wilder,” the handsome black and tan dog is actually a "ROT-wai-ler," after the German town of Rottweil, where he originally worked as a butcher’s dog, pulling carts of meat to market.

Samoyed dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Samoyed

You’ve probably heard this fluffy white dog's name pronounced as "suh-MOY-ed." In reality, though, the correct pronunciation is “sam-a-YED,” according to the Samoyed Club of America. His nickname is Sammy, which offers an easy way to get around the pronunciation issue.

Three Schapendoes Dogs

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Schapendoes

This sturdy Dutch herding dog's name looks very much like "shapen-does," but it's actually pronounced "SHA-pen-dohs."

Schipperke dog breed

Lee Feldstein, Animal Photography

Schipperke

Shipporkey? Skipperk? While it might be pronounced differently in German or Flemish, in English-speaking countries, this small black Spitz breed is properly referred to as a “SKIP-er-kee.” In the Flemish dialect from which it originated, Schipperke means “little captain,” as these dogs are believed to have been watchdogs on barges.

Shih Tzu Smiling at Camera

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Shih Tzu

It may be tempting to pronounce this breed's name as “shit-zoo,” but that would be wrong: It’s “SHEED-zoo,” according to the American Shih Tzu Club. It’s pronounced the same whether it’s singular or plural — no need to add an S on the end if you’re referring to more than one.

Spinone Italiano

Sam Clark, Animal Photography

Spinone Italiano

He’s not an Italian ice cream dessert — that’s spumoni — but a versatile gun dog used to point and retrieve game. To give his name the correct pronunciation, say “spin-oh-nay ih-tahl-YAH-no.”

Portrait of a Vizsla

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Vizsla

When pronouncing this Hungarian dog's name, pretend you’re starring in a 1950s Cold War romantic thriller: My darling “VEE-zh-lah,” how will I ever live without you? It has the same “zh” sound that you hear in the word “vision.” “VEESH-la” is also acceptable.

Weimaraner

Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Weimaraner

To give the gray ghost's name its correct pronunciation in German, you would say “VY-mah-rrrrah-ner,” but most people in the U.S. pronounce the W and say “WY-mah-rah-ner." Either option is acceptable.

Xoloitzcuintli

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Xoloitzcuintli

Looks impossible to pronounce, doesn’t it? Take it piece by piece, though, and you’ll soon have the pronunciation of this Mexican breed's name down. Say “show-low-eets-QUEENT-lee.” See, those five syllables aren’t so bad. Or just take the easy way out and call him a “show-low” like everyone else does.

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