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A list of words, phrases and terms... all related to dogs.

There are 288 entries in the dog dictionary.
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Term Definition

AAFCO is an abbreviation for Association of American Feed Control Officials. They regulate Dog food product labeling, including product names, guaranteed analysis, feeding instructions, caloric information and nutritional statements.


ABRL is short for American Bouvier Rescue League. They are described on their website by the following quote: "A non profit organization dedicated to finding responsible and loving homes for misplaced, neglected and unwanted Bouviers." Most national breed clubs are affiliated with rescue organizations. Adopting a rescue Dog is a great way to give a purebred Dog a second chance. If you are looking for a pure bred Dog as a pet consider adopting from a rescue organization.


The concave socket in the hip that houses the femur head.

Addison's Disease

Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands fail to manufacture enough corticosteroids such as cortisol and aldosterone. This can happen if the pituitary gland fails to produce enough adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH, which signals the adrenal glands to produce the chemicals, or from an immune disorder where the body destroys its own adrenal tissue. Addison's disease disrupts normal metabolism as well as upsetting the balance of potassium, sodium, and glucose levels and if left untreated it can lead to death, but if well managed the Dog can live a fulfilled life. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, rear lameness, "depression" and lethargy. Because of the varied and indistinct symptoms, veterinarians often fail to make an accurate diagnosis in the early stages. Bloodwork is necessary to confirm Addisons disease. Middle aged, female Dogs seem to be the most affected.


The placenta after it is expelled from the uterus for each puppy born.


Aldosterone is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that regulates the balance of sodium and potassium in the body. It influences blood pressure and water retention by affecting the function of the kidneys. Anxiety, fear, and stress increase the production of aldosterone.


Alfalfa is available in a dried powder and contains vitamins A, C, E, K and B1 and B12. It is rich in chlorophyll, a potent antioxidant, as well as containing flavonoids, alkaloids and many chemical combinations that has made it a traditional herbal therapy for arthritis and other joint inflammation in both humans and animals. Alfalfa when fed to livestock has been shown to aid the body in absorbing certain nutrients in the intestine and may help animals that need to retain or gain weight. Alfalfa is rich in saponins and feeding excessive amounts of fresh alfalfa to horses has led to life threatening gastrointestinal conditions. Supplementing your dog's diet with dried alfalfa is deemed safe, but check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Always buy human grade Alfalfa powder from a health food store.


(See Alizine.)


Alizine, (Algepristone) is one of the safest drugs used to terminate an unwanted canine pregnancy. It is a synthetic molecule that blocks progesterone receptors in the uterus. By interfering with the normal availability of progesterone, the Dog can no longer maintain a pregnancy. Alizine can be used between 0 and 45 days of the pregnancy and depending on the time used, fetuses are either absorbed or partially delivered. Following treatment and abortion of the litter, a Bitch will have a shortened cycle, returning to estrus within 1 to 3 months.


Dogs, like humans, are diploid meaning that they have a complete set of genes from each parent. At a given location on the chromosome, there will be one gene from the mother and one gene from the father to determine the trait. Alleles are alternate forms for a gene. One of the genes may be dominant over the other gene and will pass the trait on to the offspring. The dominant allele is represented with a capital letter. The non-expressed gene is recessive to the dominant gene and represented by a lower case letter. A simple example is eye color in humans. Assume that brown eye color is dominant over blue eye color. If there is a gene for brown eyes (B) from one parent and a gene for blue eyes (b) from the other parent, the offspring (Bb) will have brown eyes. This combination of genes is said to be heterozygous because there are 2 different alleles for a given gene. If there is a gene for blue eye color (b) from each parent, the offspring (bb) will have blue eyes. This combination is called homozygous because both alleles for a given gene are the same. A Homozygous pair of recessive genes is the only way a recessive trait can be passed to the offspring since there is not a dominant gene in the mix. Within a population there are many different alleles for a gene and many possible combinations. All the genes in a given population at a given time is called the gene pool. In dogs, many desireable traits as defined by the breed standard, are more readily achieved with greater certainty through Homozygous pairings. B + B = BB. Inbreeding practices have created the breeds as we know them today. Homozygous pairings of recessive genes also are the result of inbreeding and can result in less desireable recessive traits that can affect the health and well being of offspring. Inbreeding also diminishes the gene pool resulting in the loss of varied genetic information.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins that are found in all the tissues of the body. The amino acids that a Dog can manufacture on their own are called non essential amino acids, but 10 amino acids must come from their diet, and these are called essential amino acids. Essential amino acids include arginine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The quality of the protein fed, relies on the number and amount of essential amino acids it can supply to the body. High quality proteins are Salmon, Turkey, Chicken, Duck and to a lesser extent Lamb and Beef.


A category of metabolism that refers to the bio-chemical reactions, chain of processes, and energy used by an animal to build cell components. (See Metabolism.)

Anal Glands

Small sacs located on either side of the anus that carry the Dog's scent and used to identify themselves and mark their territory. In most Dogs, the sacs are normally drained during daily bowel movements. If the Dog's stool is soft, the sacs may not empty on a regular basis and can remain full to cause pain or discomfort. When you see a Dog scooting his rump along the grass, it may be because of discomfort from full anal glands. Sacs may have to be manually drained by your veterinarian, but adjusting the diet to produce firm stools may help drain the sacs on their own.


A disease caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum or Anaplasma platys. The bacteria was formerly classified as Ehrlichia equi and the infection was called Ehrlichiosis. It is carried by deer ticks and follows a similiar vector path as Lyme, so dogs can have both infections simultaneously. White blood cell counts can be low as the bacteria invades and infects white blood cells. Symptoms include joint inflammation, fever, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Early treatment with Doxycycline most often knocks the bacteria down to a manageable level.


Referred to as the resting period in the reproductive cycle of the Female. Anestrus follows diestrus and begins when the progesterone level drops below 1ng/ml and ends when Proestrus begins. This period varies greatly between individuals and both genetics and environment play a role in determining the length of this stage. The average length of time is 3 to 4.5 months.


A term that refers to the angles formed when bones come together at a joint. The angles are important in the overall movement of the dog and in some breeds are reflective of their ability to do the job for which they were bred. Breeders will talk about the angulation at the shoulder, stifle, hock and pastern. The breed standard determines the desired angulation for each breed.


Pertaining to, or being in the front position.


A protein produced by the immune system in response to, and in an attempt to, neutralize an invading substance such as a bacteria or virus. Each antibody is unique to a specific invader and interlocks with it to destroy its capability.


A foreign substance introduced into the body such as a bacteria or a virus that triggers an immune system response reflected in the production of Antibodies.


Compounds that help defend cells against reactive oxygen radicals that cause cellular damage. Oxidative radicals have been linked to inflammation, aging and cancer. Common antioxidants are vitamins C and E. (see reactive oxygen species)

Aqueous Humor

Aqueous Humor is fluid that fills the area between the cornea, which is the clear shield that covers the front of the eye, and the Iris which is the colored part of the eye. By filling the space, the aqueous humor gives the eye its shape while feeding the cornea. As it drains from the eye, the fluid carries away waste from the lens. It is continuously produced by the cells of the ciliary body which is located just behind the Iris, and must be matched with an equal rate of drainage for the eye pressure to remain constant and the eye to be healthy. (see ciliary body, tonometry, glaucoma, IOP)


Arginine is one of the 10 essential amino acids required by dogs. It is fundamental in the healing of wounds, important for cell division, required for the maintenance of the immune system and the production of T-cells. It is also important in the elimination of waste through the kidneys.


Arteries carry blood in the direction from the heart to all areas and cells of the body. Veins carry blood in the direction from the body to the heart.


A plant native to China, Korea, and Mongolia, the root of which has long been used in Chinese medicine. In the United States research is looking at Astralagus as a treatment to strengthen the immune system of people who have been compromised after receiving chemotherapy or radiation as well as being tested for use on people infected with the HIV virus. It contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. According to the American Cancer Society website, there is laboratory evidence to support these claims although more testing needs to be done. Holistic approaches to dog care recommend Astralagus as an immune booster.


An allergic response to inhaled allergens such as pollen, dust or molds. It usually begins between one and three years of age and can limit itself to face rubbing, paw nibbling and mild scratching, or progress to an intense cycle of scratching and discomfort accompanied by secondary yeast and bacterial infections of the skin, inflamed ears, and misery for both the Dog and owner. Most Dogs will over time exhibit an immune response to more and different allergens. Because of the inheritable component of allergies, Dogs with Atopy should not be included in a breeding program.


The skin and leaves of the avocado plant contain a chemical called persin that can cause diarrhea, stomach upset and vomiting in Dogs. The pit also contains persin which can leach into the fleshy edible part. Many Dogs consume avocado flesh without any side effects and at least one Kibble formula uses avocado in their formula. Many people feed avocado to improve skin and coat in their Dogs. If you are worried about the safety of avocados, the best practice would be to avoid feeding avocados to your Dog or consult with your veterinarian for guidance.


The baculum is a bone in the penis of the Dog which is stored in the abdomen and when needed, it is pushed into the fleshy part of the penis to provide the stiffness required for insertion into the vagina.

Bench Show

A Dog Show in which all the entered Dogs must remain on the premises throughout the show, even when not being shown, so that they can be viewed, and can interact with attendees and spectators. The Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show is an example of a benched show.

Benign Heart Murmur

Also called innocent heart murmurs, they can be heard in young puppies and resolve themselves by 4-5 months of age. They are usually heard during an appointment for early vaccinations. Re-checking the heart a few months later is needed to make sure the murmur is not still present. Benign murmurs are always graded a 1 or 2 in intensity out of a rating from 1 to 6. They are more common in puppies with narrow thoracic cavities. The following are terms that apply to benign heart murmurs and even though they may apply to "real" heart murmurs as well, they are always associated with innocent murmurs. Ask your veterinarian if the murmur is systolic, crescendo-decrescendo (diamond-shaped), or considered musical.

Best of Opposite Sex

After the Best of Breed Winner is chosen, the best dog of the opposite sex to the breed winner is selected. It is abbreviated as BOS.

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