Dog breeds and capital letters

Some names of dog breeds are capitalised and others aren’t. The ones that are capitalised are named after places, nations or peoples. Only the part of the name derived from the proper noun takes an initial capital.

Capitalised dog breeds include:

  • Afghan hound – originated in Afghanistan
  • Airedale terrier – originated in Airedale, England
  • Great Dane – originated in Denmark or Germany
  • Pomeranian – named for the Pomerania region in Central Europe
  • Samoyed – named after the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia
  • Scotch terrier – one of five breeds of terrier that originated in Scotland
  • Rottweiler – named after Rottweil, a town in Germany

Some dog breeds that take lower case are:

  • basset hound
  • bulldog bull
  • terrier
  • cocker spaniel
  • golden
  • retriever
  • pug
  • poodle

In practice, the trend towards more minimal capitalisation may be gaining ground in the dog world. In The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, Pam Peters says:

‘Many people would remove the capital from geographically named fruit and vegetables like brussels sprout, french bean, swiss chard, because they are grown all over the world. This was clear in responses to the Langscape survey (1998–2001)*, and the majority also resisted routine capitalization of alsatian and siamese. The names of animal breeds like these continue to be capitalized in publications produced by official breeder organizations, yet the trend away from capitals is evident in newspapers and books for the general market.’

* Langscape is a survey of contemporary English usage.

 
 

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