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English Phrases and Idioms About Dogs Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Culture, English Language, English Vocabulary

We’ve already learned about cats, so now it’s time for the dogs. People say that dogs are man’s best friend. Let’s learn about how our furry friends made it into the language with these English phrases and idioms about dogs.

English Phrases and Idioms About Dogs

My dog – Louie!

sick as a dog

Meaning: to be very sick

Example: “You’d better go home. You look sick as a dog.”

That dog won’t hunt.

Meaning: used to describe an idea that won’t work; predicting failure

Example: “Maybe you can just ask your boss for the day off.”

“No way. He’s really strict. That dog won’t hunt.”

a doggy bag

Meaning: a bag with food from home or a restaurant

Example: “Do you want to grab lunch?”

“No, I’m OK. I brought a doggy bag with some leftovers.”

My dogs are barking.

Meaning: my feet hurt

Example: “Wow, my dogs are barking! I just walked 5 miles!”

in the doghouse

Meaning: to be in trouble; usually a man with his wife or children with their parents

Example: “He’s in the dog house because he didn’t do his homework.”

Dog days of summer.

Meaning: the hottest time of summer

Example: “It’s so hot outside!”

“Yeah… these really are the dog days of summer.”

see a man about a dog

Meaning: something you say when you’re doing something you don’t want people to know about; a colloquialism meaning “go to the bathroom”

Example: “Are you leaving? You just got here!”

“No… just have to see a man about a dog.”


Learn more about this idiom in this video.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world.

Meaning: there is fierce competition; every man for himself; survival of the fittest

Example: “It’s a dog-eat-dog world at this company. If you don’t succeed, someone else will replace you.”

like a dog with two tails

Meaning: to be very happy

Example: “Look at the kids playing with their new toys! They’re just like a dog with two tails.

Why keep a dog when you can bark yourself?

Meaning: don’t do something you paid someone else to do

Example: “Why are you painting the wall? You already paid a painter! Why keep a dog when you can bark yourself?”

Every dog has its day.

Meaning: everyone gets lucky sometimes

Example: “Did you hear that Tom finally got a promotion?”

“Yeah, I did. Every dog has its day!”

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Meaning: it’s hard for old people to learn new things

Example: “Grandma, why aren’t you on Facebook?”

“Me? On Facebook?! You know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

Seasick Steve has a song named after this idiom.


Meaning: a person or team that is not expected to win

Example: “I always root for the underdog when I watch sports.”

He who lies down with dogs, wakes up with fleas.

Meaning: if you keep bad company, bad things will happen

Example: “I don’t like you hanging out with those kids. They’re always getting in trouble! You know that if you lie down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.”

like the dog that caught the bus

Meaning: when you’ve achieved a goal and don’t know what to do next

Example: “I got the new job, but I have no idea what’s going on at work. I feel like the dog that caught the bus.”

A Bloody Mary – the best hair of the dog.

hair of the dog (that bit you)

Meaning: to drink alcohol when you have a hangover; usually early

Example: “You’re drinking already?”

“Yeah, it was a crazy night last night. You know what they say – hair of the dog!”

When it comes to the “hair of the dog,” nothing beats a Bloody Mary! Learn how to make this classic cocktail in this short video:

Cats may get all the credit when it comes to funny internet videos, but dogs have some pretty great ones as well:

There you go, folks. Now you’ve got around 30 different English phrases and idioms about cats and dogs! See if you can try to use them in your daily life. It’s not easy using the idioms of another language, but it can be lots of fun.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.