5 Canine Catchphrases (National Dog Day)
  • 4-minute read
  • 26th August 2020

5 Canine Catchphrases (National Dog Day)

August the 26th is National Dog Day, when humans doff their caps to their canine pals. The event encourages responsible pet ownership and raises awareness of the large number of dogs currently in shelters.

It might seem weird to discuss this on a proofreading blog, where spelling and grammar are usually more prominent. But that would overlook the muddy paw prints our doggy friends have left on the English language. Today, then, we’re looking at some of our favorite dog-themed phrases!

1. Work Like a Dog

As the Beatles once sang, “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog.” Does this imply that John, Paul, George and Ringo had been chasing cats, sniffing bottoms and urinating in public? Nope! Thankfully, “work like a dog” simply means “to work very hard.”

Though we did hear that John Lennon liked to scoot across the floor on his backside.
Though we did hear that John Lennon liked to scoot across the floor on his backside.

2. A Dog’s Breakfast

If you’ve ever seen (or smelled) the unappetizing mixture of meat and jelly we feed dogs, you won’t be surprised to learn that describing something as “a dog’s breakfast” means it’s a mess!

Hungry yet?
Hungry yet?

We see similar canine negativity when we say something has “gone to the dogs.” Weirdly, though, the phrase “the dog’s bollocks” (if you’ll pardon the, ahem, informal language) means “excellent” or “the best.” We’re not entirely sure why dog testicles are so highly regarded, though.

3. Three-Dog Night

As well as being a ‘70s rock band, “three-dog night” means “a night so cold you need three dogs to stay warm.” Generally, though, we’d suggest using a blanket instead of three dogs (less chance of catching fleas).

Even dogs use blankets to stay warm these days.
Even dogs use blankets to stay warm these days.

At the other end of the temperature scale, we have the phrase “dog days of summer,” which refers to the hottest days of summer. It comes from the Ancient Greek and Roman belief that the warmest time of the year was caused by Sirius, the “Dog Star,” rising in the sky.

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4. Raining Cats and Dogs!

We’ll let the felines get a quick look in here, too, since “raining cats and dogs” means “raining very heavily.” The origins of this phrase might lie in the way that, in seventeenth and eighteenth-century England, the bodies of stray dogs and cats could often be seen floating down storm drains after heavy rain! Sounds like typical British weather to us.

Mind you, the literal interpretation of 'raining cats and dogs' is almost as disturbing as the historical meaning.
Mind you, the literal interpretation of “raining cats and dogs” is almost as disturbing as the historical meaning.

5. Every Dog Has Its Day

To end on a more positive note, “every dog has its day” means “everyone will eventually have some success or luck during life.” Oddly, one of the first recorded examples of its use comes from a letter sent by Queen Elizabeth I of England to her brother, who had requested a picture. Liz responded:

Notwithstanding, as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds where now I do write them in words.

We think this means she was happy to send the picture.

Liz was a particular fan of toy spaniels.
Liz was also a fan of toy spaniels.

Did we miss your favorite dog-themed phrase? If so, let us know in the comments below. And if you’d like any help proofreading something you’ve written, give our free trial service a go. Either way, though, we wish you and your canine friends a happy National Dog Day!

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