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Dog Glossary

Glossary of Dog Terms:


Achondroplasia: Improper development of cartilage at the ends of the long bones, resulting in a form of congenital dwarfism. A defect in most breeds and a requisite in others like Dachshunds and Basset Hounds.

Acquired Immunity: Immunity obtained either from the development of antibodies in response to exposure to an antigen, as from vaccination or an attack of an infectious disease, or from the transmission of antibodies, as from mother to fetus through the placenta or the injection of antiserum. Results in resistance to further infection.

Acute Disease: An illness that manifests rapidly.

Affenpinscher: A breed of small dogs of European origin, having wiry, shaggy hair and a tufted muzzle.

Afghan Hound: A large, slender hunting dog having long, thick hair, a pointed muzzle, and drooping ears.

Afterbirth: The placenta and fetal membranes expelled from the uterus following the birth of each newborn puppy.

Agent: See Handler

Agility Excellent (AX): A suffix title conferred on dogs for qualifying the requisite number of times in the Agility Excellent class at AKC agility trials.

Agility Trials: An organized competition at which dogs negotiate a series of obstacles and jumps in three classes of increasing difficulty. Suffix titles are earned at each level (Novice, Open, and Excellent) by qualifying a predetermined number of times.

Agouti: Used to describe Siberian Huskies, this color is the alternating bands of light and dark along each hair in the coat. Color definitions may vary by breed. Always check the breed standard for the definitive color description.

Akbash Dog: A breed of sheep dog native to Turkey possessing characteristics of both mastiffs and gazehounds.

Akita: Also known as the Akita Inu, a large breed dog of Japanese origin

Alaskan Malamute: A breed of sled dog developed in Alaska

Albino: A relatively rare, genetically recessive condition resulting in white hair and pink eyes.

All-Breed Show: Conformation show where all AKC-recognized breeds may be exhibited.

Allele: One member of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome.

Allergen: A substance, such as pollen or pet dander, that causes an allergy.

Allergy: An abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances, such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common indications of allergy may include sneezing, itching, and skin rashes.

Almond Eyes: An elongated eye shape, rather than rounded.

Alpha: Term used to describe the highest ranked or most dominant individual of one’s sex. Used of social animals: the alpha female of the wolf pack.

Alter: To castrate or spay (an animal, such as a cat or a dog).

Amateur Field Champion (AFC): A prefix title conferred on dogs that have earned the required number of placements and/or points in amateur stakes at field trials for pointing breeds, retrievers, and spaniels.

Amble: A relaxed, easy gait in which the legs on either side move almost, but not quite, as a pair. Often seen as the transition movement between the walk and other faster gaits.

American-Bred Class: A regular class for all dogs (except champions) six months of age whelped in the USA as a result of a mating that took place within the USA.

American Eskimo: Formerly called the Spitz, a small to medium size breed of companion dog originating in the U.S. in the twentieth century and characterized by its white, fluffy coat.

American Kennel Club: An organization, established under the laws of the State of New York, whose goals are to adopt and enforce uniform rules regulating and governing purebred dogs events; to regulate the conduct of persons interested in exhibiting, running, breeding, registering, purchasing, and selling dogs; to detect, prevent, and punish frauds in connection therewith; to protect the interest of its members; to maintain and publish an official stud book and an official gazette; and generally to do everything to advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running, and maintenance of purebred dogs.

American Water Spaniel: A breed of medium-sized spaniels originating in America having chocolate or liver-colored curly coat.

Anal glands: Glands which secrete a substance that is used by a dog to mark its territory. Located near the anus.

Anestrus: An interval of sexual inactivity between two periods of estrus in female mammals that breed cyclically.

Angulation: Angles created by bones meeting at their given joints.

Ankle: See Hock

Ankylosis: Abnormal immobility and fusion of a joint. Noted as cause of faulty tails in the German Shepherd Dog standard.

Anterior: The front assembly of the body.

Appenzell Cattle Dog: Also known as the Appenzeller, the Appenzell Mountain Dog, and the Appenzeller Sennenhund. One of the four Swiss Sennenhunds, a muscular and hardy dog bred for herding.

Apple Head: A round-shaped or dome-like head as seen in the Chihuahua.

Apricot: Used to describe Afghans, Pugs, Mastiffs, and Poodles, this color is a dull, medium-saturated orange (like the fruit of the same name). Color definitions may vary by breed. Always check the breed standard for the definitive color description.

Apron: Longer hair below the neck on the chest; also called the frill.

Arm: The anatomical region between the shoulder and the elbow. Sometimes called the upper arm.

Articulation: Where two or more bones meet.

Artificial Insemination: The introduction of semen into the female reproductive tract by artificial means.

Asthma: A chronic respiratory disease, often arising from allergies, that is characterized by sudden recurring attacks of labored breathing, chest constriction, and coughing.

Asymptomatic: Neither causing nor exhibiting symptoms of disease.

Australian Cattle Dog: Also known as the Queensland Heeler or Blue Heeler, a herding dog developed in Australia. A medium-sized dog characterized by much energy and an independent streak.

Australian Kelpie: A medium-sized Australian breed of sheep dog that comes in a variety of colors including red and black with white tips.

Australian Silky Terrier: See Silky Terrier

Australian Terrier: A small dog of a breed originally bred in Australia, having a coarse blackish coat with tan markings.

Auto-immune disease: A disease resulting from an immune reaction produced by an individual’s white blood cells or antibodies acting on the body’s own tissues or extracellular proteins.

Awn hairs: A part of the undercoat that is coarse and longer than the downy undercoat yet shorter than the primary guard coat.