Ways To Say Dog in Italian
How To Say Dog in Italian
The word cane is the general term used to say dog in Italian regardless of breed or type. Cane sounds akin to the word “canine” which is from the Latin word canis, meaning “dog.” When used in a plural form, it becomes cani.
Although cane is the general word used to say dog in Italian, there is still specific term when referring to gender. So, cagna refers to a female dog. It could mean “bitch,” but let’s stick to “female dog.” It is from the Vulgar Latin word cania, still derived from canis. Cagne is its plural form.
Italians use the diminutive word cagnolino – from the word cagna – when referring to puppy or little dog. The word cagnolina is the feminine counterpart. When used as plural, it becomes cagnolini.
Cagnetto is the synonym of cagnolino which still refers to a puppy or a little dog. It is still a diminutive of cagna. Cagnetta is the feminine counterpart. In plural form, it becomes cagnetti.
Please do note that the word cucciolo (masculine) or cucciola (feminine), which means “baby” or “young animals” or “cub,” does not only refer to puppies but also to little birds and fish. It is commonly used by Italians.
To be specific, “cucciolo di cane” is the term for a puppy or baby dog. Calling your pet cucciolo because it’s cute and cuddly when it’s actually fully grown is a no-no.
When it comes to size, although cagnolino refers to small dogs, cane piccolo is also used. Piccolo means “small,” regardless of the dog’s age.
Years ago while I was jogging in Italy, a distraught man stopped me to explain that his dog was trapped in a steep ravine. He could push him from behind, but would I call the dog to come to me? The man addressed me with the formal, respectful Lei form of “you.” Having not yet mastered the informal, I did the same with the dog. The man nearly fell over laughing when I called out “Signor Cane” (Mister Dog) and entreated it to be so kind as to come to me.
Your amico a quattro zampe (four-legged friend) may inspire you to add new Italian words to describe its behaviors: abbaiare (bark), ringhiare (growl), scodinzolare (wag), mugolare (whine), latrare (howl) or guaire (yelp). But words in any language can’t really describe the way a dog fa la festa (gives a hearty welcome by wagging, barking and jumping) or warms your heart when it semplicemente si accoccola sulle tue ginocchia e ti fa compagnia! (simply snuggles up on your lap and keeps you company).
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