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American Dog Sayings and Idioms

Updated on June 10, 2013

Giving Puppy Eyes

This dog has "puppy eyes"
This dog has "puppy eyes" | Source

What are Idioms?

Many cultures, and even small regions, develop sayings over time that can be confusing to outsiders. These sayings are called idioms. One of the most famous dog related idioms in America is probably, "It's raining cats and dogs!" This dog idiom means that it is raining very hard.

There are many American dog sayings and idioms that can be confusing to English language learners and young children. The list below contains some of the most common idioms about dogs that are said by Americans, and their literal meanings.

Dog Idioms and Literal Meanings

American Dog Idiom
Literal Meaning
raining cats and dogs
heavy rain
dog eat dog world
a hard or difficult situation
let sleeping dogs lie
leave something alone/do not invite trouble
dog tired
very sleepy
like a dog with two tails
very happy
as sick as a dog
very ill
like a blind dog in a meat market
out of control/crazy
lucky dog
someone with good luck or good fortune
dog days of summer
very hot day
meaner than a junkyard dog
not a friendly person/mean person
can't teach an old dog new tricks
it is difficult to get someone to change how they do things
the hair of the dog that bit me
drinking liquor or alcohol that you have gotten drunk off of before
every dog has their day
everyone has good and bad days/usually said when someone is having success
puppy eyes
looking at someone with sad eyes and trying to get them to change their mind

Sleeping Dog Idiom Meaning

Never wake a sleeping dog OR let sleeping dogs lie means not to go looking for trouble or try to start an argument with someone
Never wake a sleeping dog OR let sleeping dogs lie means not to go looking for trouble or try to start an argument with someone | Source

More Fun Dog Sayings

Here are some other fun dog sayings with the meanings in parentheses:

  • Dog gone it! (gosh or darn)
  • Hot Dog! (wow or neat)
  • Love me, Love my dog. (my dog is important to me)
  • The dog did it! (someone trying to get out of trouble and blame someone else)
  • The dog ate my homework. (making excuses for not doing school work)
  • I'm in the dog house. (my spouse is mad at me)

How to Learn American Idioms and Sayings

Living in an area over time will help you learn American sayings and idioms, but if you need to find the literal meanings faster, check out these great resources on the web. These sites are intended for English language learners, but they are also great for kids to use as well.

Another way to learn idioms on your own is to watch videos or find printable worksheets on the Internet to practice matching idioms with literal meanings. It is great to see idioms in print because many times when people speak in idioms, English language learners can have a hard time figuring out each word in the idiom, and and may also have difficulty determining if part of a sentence is an idiom or the whole sentence is an idiom.

Common Animal Idioms

More Animal Idioms- Do you know what these animal idioms mean?

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    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      shielamaeperreno it is interesting to hear that dogs are just as popular for idiom usage in other cultures. I think it is interesting how interconnected dogs and humans are!

    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I hear it on Disney Channel with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cartoon....they sing "hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog" So it is still used :)

    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      ladydeonne....I am coming close to having more pictures of my dog than my kids....LOL!

    • shielamaeparreno profile image

      Shiela Mae Parreno 

      5 years ago from Davao City, Philippines

      Funny how you noticed and put those idioms together in this hub. I enjoyed reading it. Voted up and shared!

      And yes chrissieklinger, the other cultures do use a lot of idioms about dogs too (well, at least in my country we do). =)

    • Relationshipc profile image


      5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      You reminded me that my grandpa used to say, "Hot Dog!" all the time when he heard something exciting. I had totally forgotten about that, but it is a nice memory to have. :) Must have been popular in his time because not too many people use it now.

    • ladydeonne profile image

      Deonne Anderson 

      5 years ago from Florence, SC

      Love your dog! Great, unique, and fun hub. A refreshing change. Voted up and shared,

    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I got lucky with that photo and it does go perfectly with the puppy eyes idiom :)

    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I worked with some ESL learners over the years and idioms are so difficult for them and we use them A LOT in the English language....not sure of other languages and cultures do????

    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Good Lady- glad you found this helpful for ESL away!!!! I wonder if pinning, tweeting, and liking are considered idioms or just crazy social media slang...LOL!

    • chrissieklinger profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Americans love their dogs and I think that is why we have so many idioms for them.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is a veerrrry cute Hub. And that photo of the dog at the top is photo contest material!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Hot dog! I didn't know Man's Best Friend had such a place in cultural lingo. I like "He lies like a dog;" it says a lot.

      Good Lady's comment about language lessons reminds me of some cute misstatements I've heard from people who had not yet completely learned English idioms. I met a woman in Spain years ago who talked about not feeling well, and said if she didn't slow down, she would soon be 'Growing up flowers." (Translation - 'Pushing up daisies.').

      Fun hub - voted up and sharing!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      This is helpful, especially to advanced learners or for conversation lessons. Helpful resource! Pining this!

    • jellygator profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Cute! I hadn't realized there were so many phrases that used the word dog until you highlighted these familiar ones.


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