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Dog Idioms

Updated on November 25, 2017
Ben Reed profile image

Ben is a semi-retired sixty something, having spent 30 years working within the UK Utility industry. A father of 3 boys and grandad of 3.

What is an idiom?

This article contains twenty idioms that are related to dogs. Like all idioms, some are derogatory or negative in nature, but some however can be positive and complimentary.

An idiom is a phrase or an expression that cannot be taken literally.

When you use an idiom in everyday language, then it has a different meaning than the basic meaning or definition of the words as found in a dictionary.

An example of this might be "break a leg." If taken literally, then you are being told to break your leg. However, this phrase, or idiom is often used by actors to say "Do well" before they go out on stage.

I hope that enjoy this hubpage as much as I have in putting it together.


Done Up Like A Dogs Dinner - Idiom
Done Up Like A Dogs Dinner - Idiom

Dog Idioms numbers 1 to 3

1. Be like a dog with a bone.

To be relentless, to never stop.

A way of saying that someone is fixated on a topic. An example would be: "Can't you stop going on about wanting that new car, you are like a dog with a bone".

2: As Sick as a Dog.

A way of saying that someone is very sick / ill.

Usually refers to someone who is being physically sick. However, it can also be used to say that you are feeling extremely fed up, with a situation.

3. Done up like a dog's dinner.

Wearing clothes that are over the top - usually too fussy or silly for the event being attended.

Love Me, Love My Dog -Idiom
Love Me, Love My Dog -Idiom

Dog Idioms 4 to 6

4. Tail Wagging The Dog.

Meaning that a small part is controlling the whole of something.

Can be used to describe a situation where a recently employed person is suddenly running the business as if he owned it.

5. In The Doghouse.

A way of saying that a person is in trouble, usually due to a mistake that they have made.

This idiom can also be used to describe someone who is out of favor.

6. Love Me Love My Dog.

A way of saying that you should love everything, and accept everything about the person you love.

The English Oxford Dictionary defines this as: "If you love someone, you must accept everything about them, even their faults or weaknesses".

Dog Idiom #7

"Every Dog Has its Day."

A way of expressing that it is inevitable that everyone will have at least one moment of glory in their lifetime.

Every Dog Has Its Day - Idiom
Every Dog Has Its Day - Idiom

Dog Idioms 8 to 10

8. As Mean as a Junk Yard Dog."

A way of saying that a person is very mean. This idiom can be used to describe someone who cruel or eager to fight. Can also be used in a slightly different context: "They say that he is meaner than a junk yard dog, but he is actually quite sweet when you get to know him".

9. Dog Does Not Eat Dog.

Meaning: not to turn on your own kind. Usually associated with someone disreputable. Often refers to one person of low repute, not turning on another person of similiar low repute.

10. Better the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.

A way of a saying that it is better to be the leader of a small or low ranking group, than be a subordinate in a higher or more prestigious group.

As Mean As A Junkyard Dog - Idiom
As Mean As A Junkyard Dog - Idiom

Dog Idioms - from BBC Learning English - YouTube

Dog Idioms 11 to 13

11. A Dogs Breakfast.

When something is done very badly. Often referring to the way that someone is dressed badly. This idiom is also used to describe someone who is very messy and / or disorganized.

12. A Shaggy Dog Story!

Meaning: a story that can be funny, but usually ends up being ridiculously lengthy.

Can also be used in the context of someone telling a joke that has a meaningless ending.

13. Underdog.

A way of saying that someone is at a disadvantage and likely to lose a contest. Used to describe a team that not expected to win a contest.

A Shaggy Dog Story - Idiom
A Shaggy Dog Story - Idiom

Super Happy Funny Dogs Video - A Bit Of Fun

Dog Idioms 14 to 16

14. Dog Days.

Some say that there is a star called the "dog star" that can only be seen during a hot period of summer.

Refers to a period of hot, sultry weather.

15. Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

Meaning: to be pursuing an incorrect course of action.

Describes a situation where someone is wrong about the way of doing something. To make the wrong choice.

16. To See a Man about a Dog.

A way of saying that you do not really want to tell them where you are going.

Dog basking in the sunlight
Dog basking in the sunlight

Dog Idiom #17

"If You Lie Down With Dogs, You Get Up With Fleas."

A way of issuing a warning to someone - to say that if they do dangerous things they will have to suffer the consequence.

Dog Idioms 18 to 20

18. A Dog and Pony Show.

To lay on an elaborate presentation with the hope of gaining approval for something such as a product.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines this idiom as: "an event that is designed to impress people in order to make them buy something or invest money".

19. A Barking Dog Never Bites.

A way of saying that a person who makes constant threats, rarely carries them out.

20. Be Like a Dog With Two Tails.

To be very happy.

A dog and pony show - idiom
A dog and pony show - idiom

Please take a few moments to leave feedback - always welcomed

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    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @HappyTom LM: Thank you.

    • HappyTom LM profile image

      Tom Christen 4 years ago from Switzerland/Ecuador

      A great lens, thank you very much for sharing.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @knit1tat2: Thank you.

    • knit1tat2 profile image

      knit1tat2 4 years ago

      some of these I've heard but with different animals in the saying, still, no matter how say it, dogs are usually great people! Thanks for a cute lens, always nice to get smile!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @bossypants: Thank you.

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      bossypants 4 years ago

      I hadn't heard someo f these. Very educational! And, great pictures, too!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Lady Lorelei: Thank you.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I'm shocked that I have not heard many of these dog idioms before (where the heck have I been?) Seriously this is one ridiculously cute article and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @lionmom100: Thank you. Pugs can be really cute - but they can also look mean if provoked...

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      lionmom100 4 years ago

      I love these dog idioms. I was really amused by the pug being paired with Mean as a junk yard dog." Lol

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @anonymous: Thank you - its always good to spread a little joy.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Its always fun to visit one of your lenses. :)

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Loretta L: Thank you.

    • alenmic profile image

      alenmic 4 years ago

      Thanks for great lens...

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      Another great lens.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @alenmic: Thank you for the visit and comment - always appreciated.

    • alenmic profile image

      alenmic 4 years ago

      @beaworkathomemom: yes,i do, too..but how can a dog bark when it's biting?...^^..just kidding......

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @TonfaGuy: Thank you for your visit and comments.

    • TonfaGuy profile image

      TonfaGuy 4 years ago

      great lens. thanks.

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 5 years ago

      Great lens. I agree with the idiom "A barking dog never bites".

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I hadn't heard of "Be like a dog with two tails." before, fun!

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      I couldn't even remember what an idiom was until I read your definition - it's been waaaayyy too long since English 101! Great lens!

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      DebMartin 5 years ago

      I love these. And all the dog images. Well done. d

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      Love the images that you have found for these idioms. I think my favourite is the small dog barking up the wrong tree. wonderful fun and a great lens - blessed

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 6 years ago

      I love how you have found such charming images to illustrate each idiomatic expression. Very nicely done!

      My dad used to say he had to go see a man about a horse, but it makes sense using dog, too.

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 6 years ago from Central Florida

      These are so cute. You must have been collecting these sayings for a long time. Very creative lens.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I really love it. Thanks for sharing. 5 stars for you :)

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      June Parker 6 years ago from New York

      I really enjoyed your lens. Very clever with great graphics and images.