The Dog Says Woof! Woof! Posted by on Jul 19, 2021 in Culture, Vocabulary

Image taken and used with permission from Christine Le

Last week, I wrote a blog about cats. It’s not fair for dog lovers if I don’t give equal attention to dogs. Thus, this post is dedicated to the word “dog”. Like cats, dogs also are one of the twelve animals of the Vietnamese zodiac.

Image taken and used with permission from Thao Le


  • Con chó (The dog)
  • Gâu gâu! (Woof woof!)
  • Giống chó (Dog breed)
  • Chó đen/Chó mực (Black dog)
  • Chó săn (hunting dog)
  • Chó hoang (Stray dog)


The Vietnamese have four popular giống chó (dog breed) to brag about.

  1. Chó Phú Quốc
  2. Chó Lài, also known as Dingo Dông Dương (Dingo Indochine)
  3. Chó H’mong
  4. Chó Bắc Hà


  1. Chó ngáp phải ruồi: Transliterated is “The dog got the fly by yawning.” It means a person got lucky by chance. For example, “Chó ngáp phải ruồi! It must be his luck to receive a pass on the examination without studying at all.”
  2. Treo đầu dê, bán thịt chó: Transliterated is “hang the goat’s head, but sell the dog meat.” This expression means to falsely advertise something to attract people and then offer them something else that is inferior or not the same.
  3. (Ghét nhau) như chó với mèo: transliterated is “(hate each other) like dog and cat.” It means don’t get along well. For example, “They hate each other and quarrel all day long như chó với mèo .”
  4. Chạy như chó phải pháo : Transliterated is “run like a dog met firecrackers”. It means to run away from someone/something in panic. For example, “Each time she saw that man, she chạy như chó phải pháo.”
  5. /bẩn như chó: Transliterated is “Dirty like a dog”. It means someone who doesn’t keep clean/sanitary. For example, “Look how messy his room is. He lives như chó.”
  6. Chó săn means hunting dog but also carries a connotation as a spy (derogatory term). For example, “In World War II, during the Japanese occupation in Vietnam in 1945, he worked as the chó săn for them.”
  7. Đồ chó chết: Transliterated is “Dead dog”. This is a derogatory term, like calling someone a “scumbag” in English. For example, “Don’t ever come here. You are đồ chó chết!


Vietnamese has a common lyric we sing to tease a person who appears to be trying to curry favor or flatter another person considered to be of more importance. Similar to children in the US singing “(Name) and (name) sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”, Vietnamese has a little folk song to tease people about flattering or “kissing up” to another person:

“Làm quen (to befriend)
Con chó leng keng
(the dog makes noise with his bell)
Con chó thổi kèn (the dog blows the horn)
Con chó làm quen (the dog is making friend)”

The dog in the little folk song is playing and trying to capture the attention of a person with his games. It’s a cute folk song used to tease someone.


The ancient Vietnamese believed dogs were a loyal animal, a good house guard, and a symbol of good luck. A living dog is raised to guard the living world but a stone dog “is raised” to guard the spiritual world. In old times, the Vietnamese had a custom of worshipping dogs in different forms. They would have a stone dog buried by the front gate of a house, on a pedestal, or on a worship altar, with the belief that the dog would chase away bad spirits and bring good luck to the house. The stone dog is the guardian as well as a deity for people to worship.

You can find the stone dog on both ends of the old Japanese Bridge, a very popular tourist destination in the old town, Hoi An, one of the UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Central Vietnam.

Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

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