"DOG" in different languages

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Words for “dog” have a common origin. One possible clue to a common origin of dogs comes from the similar words used in various languages for the species.


Throughout the world, many of the words we use for “dog” have common roots in ancient languages.

  • Ancient Chinese k’iuon
  • Modern Chinese Mandarin cao
  • Modern Chinese Cantonese gao
  • Ancient Japanese ken
  • Proto Indo-European k’uon
  • Arabic kalb
  • Hindi kukar
  • Urdu kutta
  • Gujarati kutro
  • Kurdish kucik
  • Hungarian kutya
  • Finnish koira
  • Estonian koera
  • Ancient Greek kun
  • Latin canis and its variant kani
  • Old Spanish can
  • Portuguese cao
  • Italian cane
  • French chien
  • Romanian caine
  • Moldavian ciine
  • Polynesian kur

In some Asian languages, the Indo-European “k” evolved or “sound-shifted” to “sh”. 

Kuon became shuon producing the Sanskrit shvan and Armenian shun.

In the Germanic languages the Indo-European “k” sound-shifted to “h”. Kuon became huon producing the German and Scandinavian hund, Dutch hond and English hound.

The English word dog might derive from the Old English docga, a “powerful breed of canine”.

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