20 Ways to say “dog” in Spanish like a native speaker

How do you say dog in Spanish?… Easy answer: “perro”.

That’s basic, isn’t it? 

In Spanish, however, people say more than “perro” to refer to dogs. 

We could even say that there are some universal nicknames for dogs among the Spanish-speaking world. 

In this blog post, I’ll teach you 20 different words that people use to say dog in Spanish. 

Have in mind that, since I’m Colombian, all these replacements for the word “dog” make sense in Colombia.

I don’t know how people in other countries say “dog” more than “perro”, but if you do, let me know in the comments at the end of the article, I’d love to know more nicknames for our quadruped friends.

So, if you’re a cat lover, go take a nap, because this is dog time! 

1. Perro – Perrito

Everyone says “perro” in Spanish, after all, this is the translation for “dog”. 

Now, if you’re a dog lover, then you need to say “perrito”, which is the diminutive for “perro” (in English, it would be something like “doggy”).

But don’t let yourself be fooled by the use of diminutives in Spanish. 

It doesn’t mean the dog you’re talking about is small, It may be the biggest and the fattest dog in the world, but if you love dogs, you’ll always need to call the dog a “perrito”.

It’s just a way to express affection for these hairy friends. 

Here are some example phrases that include these words: 

  • El perro del vecino hizo popó en mi jardín: My neighbor ‘s dog pooped in my garden.
  • Mi perrito es el más tierno de todos los perros: My doggy is the sweetest dog of all. 

Also, have in mind that you can hear a little variation on these words depending on the genre of the dog: 

  • Perra: Female dog.
  • Perrita: Female doggy.

2. Cachorro – Cachorrito

Two puppies looking at the camera

My wife always says that the most beautiful time for dogs is when they’re “cachorros” or puppies in English. 

Actually, if instead of saying “cachorro”, you say “cachorrito”, you’ll sound like you really love puppies. 

In other words, “cachorro” or “cachorrito” refers to the youngest age in a dog’s life.

Hey, and you know what’s funny?… Some young people in Medellín use “cachorro” as slang to talk about their children in Spanish. 

Can you imagine yourself saying “Voy a llevar el cachorro al colegio”? 😅

I wouldn’t use that as slang, but it’s important for you to know that there are people who use that word this way. 

Anyways… Here are some examples to say dog in Spanish using “cachorro”:

  • Mi cachorro está enfermo y tengo que llevarlo al veterinario: My puppy is sick and I have to take it to the veterinarian. 
  • Voy a regalarle a mi hija un cachorrito: I’ll give my daughter a puppy.

For female puppies people say:

  • Cachorra.
  • Cachorrita.

Note: People use this word all around the world, not just in Colombia (except for the slang I just talked about).

3. Perrunchis

I don’t know why but I feel like there was a specific time in history, in which people fell in love with dogs. 

Suddenly everyone loves dogs, and this created some standard nicknames people use to say dog in Spanish. 

This is the case for the word “perrunchis”. 

People say it just to show some affection to dogs.

It’s kind of a funny game with the word ‘perro’, and it wouldn’t change despite the breed of the dog. 

The only way to know if it’s male or female, would be in the article before the word “perrunchis”: 

  • La perrunchis (Female dog)
  • El perrunchis (Male dog). Some people may say “el perruncho”.

Some examples: 

  • La perrunchis tiene hambre y no le he servido la comida: The dog is hungry, and I haven’t served its food. 
  • Este perrunchis solo juega y come, no hace nada más: This dog only plays and eats, he doesn’t do anything else.

4. Chandoso

People use this word in Colombia and it may be used in two different contexts: 

  1. If you hate dogs, and you want to express your contempt for them.
  2. When you want to express affection for your dog by saying that it’s ugly or dirty. It would be a message like “an ugly adorable thing”. 

Here are two examples for context number 1: 

  • Un chandoso me mordió: A dog (that I hate) bite me.
  • No me gusta ir a la casa de Soledad, ella tiene dos chandosos que huelen muy mal: I don’t like going to Soledad’s house, she has two dogs (that I hate) and they smell very bad.

Check out two more examples for context number 2:

  • ¿Y mi chandoso dónde está que no me ha saludado?: And where is my dog who hasn’t said hi to me? 
  • Yo quiero mucho a mi chandosa, ella me hace mucha compañía: I love my dog, she’s keeps me company.

To be honest, I don’t like this word very much because I like dogs. 

Actually one of my dreams in life is to have a beautiful golden retriever, and never call it a “chandoso”. 

I’ll get it one day when I get the money and the time to have a dog of that size! 😅

Also, remember that depending on the genre of the dog, you may say: 

  • Chandoso
  • Chandosa

5. Chanda

dog looking straight to the camera

This is how people in Colombia refer to dogs that don’t have a breed, it’s kind of a nickname for those who can’t be identified with a family of dogs. 

Once I read an article that said that most dogs in the world didn’t belong to a breed.

 I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, we may say that most of them are “chandas”.

Check out these examples with this word: 

  • Mi amiga adoptó una chanda. Es la chanda más hermosa que he visto: My friend adopted a dog that doesn’t have a breed. It’s the most beautiful dog without a breed I’ve ever seen.
  • Pobre chanda, está muy flaco: Poor dog (without a breed), it’s too skinny.

Something interesting is that people may use a diminutive to express affection as they say this word. That would turn “chanda” into “chandita”.

6. Can

The word “can”, which plural is “canes”, refers to any kind of dog in a very formal way. 

I’m sure that no dog lover would call his dog “my hermoso can” because that’s a word that you’ll hear more in documentaries, competitions, and you’ll even read it in books. 

Here are a couple of examples to say dog in Spanish using the word “can”:

  • El pastor alemán puede ser un excelente can. La policía lo ha seleccionado para usarlo en su organización: The german shepherd may be an excellent dog. The police have selected it to use it in its organization.
  • Este libro le enseña a entrenar a su can, para que sea un buen guardián para su hogar: This book teaches you to train your dog, so it’s a good guardian for your house.

7. Chico – Chica

Yes, you probably translated this word in your head, it means boy or girl. 

It’s basically the same thing we do in English when we call our dogs “boy” or “girl”.

You’re just showing affection to your pet, and it’s some kind of way to establish a relationship with an animal, for example: 

  • Buena chica Lulú, toma una galleta: Good girl Lulú, take a cookie.
  • ¡Vamos, chico! ¡corre!: Come on boy! Run!. 

Another very similar way to chico o chica is: 

8. Niño – Niña 

Both of these words can be translated as “kid”, but depending on the genre, it means “boy” or “girl”. 

Just a “chico” or “chica”, what we’re doing with these expressions is kind of giving an identity to the dog in Spanish. 

In fact, one time I met a dog whose name was Niña. 

It was a very particular name to me because I thought that the owner didn’t have enough creativity to come up with something better than that.

I mean, “Niña” sounds like just a title, right? 

Imagine if your name was “man” or “woman”, it wouldn’t be very original.

This is how people use this words to say dog in Spanish: 

  • Hola niño, ¿estás perdido?: Hi kid (dog), are you lost?
  • ¿Cómo estás perrito? Estás muy bonito, ¿cierto, niño?: How’re you doing doggy? You’re really cute, right kid (dog)?

9. Sabueso

A “sabueso” is a hound dog. 

These kinds of dogs are mostly used by the police in cities because they have good skills for haunting. 

However, most native speakers don’t know this, so if you hear someone saying “sabueso”, it means that this person is just talking about a dog. 

This word is not very common, and it’s a very formal way to talk about a dog in Spanish. 

I’m sure this word is easily found in books, like this: 

  • En la entrada de la finca había un viejo sabueso que ya no podía ver, pero sí olfatear: At the entrance of the farm, there was an old hound which couldn’t see, but it could sniff. 
  • La policía consiguió un sabueso para capturar criminales: The police got a hound dog to catch criminals.

10. Lazarillo

“Lazarillo” is the title people give to a dog that guides a blind person.

It may not always be used only on dogs, but mostly, if you say “lazarillo” native speakers will get a mental image of a dog. 

This is how people would talk about these kinds of dogs: 

  • Necesitamos un lazarillo para papá, ahora que ha perdido la vista: We need a dog (a guide dog) for dad now that he has lost his sight.
  • Vi a un ciego con un lazarillo caminando hacia la avenida principal, ¿debería preocuparme?: I saw a blind man with a dog (guide dog) walking towards the main street, should I be worried?

11. Mi bebé

pug in a blanket

Right, right… I know that some of you may be thinking that since “mi bebé” means “my baby”, we’re taking this “dog lover” thing a little too far. 

But, what are we going to do? 

This is how people refer to their pets these days, and you need to understand when they talk spontaneously, right? 

Related: 3 Shocking Reasons Why Spanish Native Speakers Talk So Fast For You (Even If You’ve Taken Lessons For Years In The Past)

This is something you may hear from native speakers talking to their dogs: 

  • Hola mi bebé. ¿Te quedaste solita todo el día?: Hi baby. Did you stay alone the whole day?
  • Voy a darle comida a mi bebé: I’m going to give food to my baby.

12. Mi gordo – Mi gorda 

Calling your dog fat is a way to express affection for it in Spanish.

I know, it’s weird, and I don’t have an explanation for this. 

But, you know what’s even stranger? I’ve heard human couples calling “gordo” and “gorda” to show some affection for each other.

It would be something like: “Te amo, gordo”, or “Gorda, eres mi vida”.

Funny, right? 

Now, if you’re talking to your dog, you might also use this expression like a nickname for him/her, like this: 

  • Voy a comprarle un hueso a mi gorda: I’m going to buy a bone for my fat (dog).
  • Mi gordo ha estado todo solo en la casa: My fat (dog) has been all day alone at home.

13. El guau guau 

“Guau guau” is supposed to be the noise a dog makes when it barks.

You know, like when an adult asks a child: 

How does a dog bark? 

And then the child says “Guau, guau”. 

Well… This is the answer a Spanish kid would give, I’m not sure how a dog barks for an English native speaker.

So, since this is the noise dogs are known for (in the Spanish speaking world), many parents tell their kids that a dog isn’t a dog, it’s “el guau guau”, like this: 

  • Mira, nena, es un guau guau, ¿te gusta el guau guau?: Look baby, it’s a dog, do you like dogs? 
  • Hijo, abraza el guau guau. Es bonito, ¿cierto?: Son, hug the dog. It’s cuite, right?

14. El peludo – el peludito

“Peludo” means hairy or furry, but hey… 

I wonder why do Spanish native speakers call dogs this way? 

I’m just kidding… of course, they’re full of hair, and since that’s one of the main features of dogs, people call them “peludos”. 

Native speakers may add a little more affection to this nickname with a diminutive: “peludito”. 

Here are two examples with these words: 

  • Necesito un peludo que pueda pasear y alimentar todos los días: I need a hairy (dog) that I can walk and feed every day. 
  • Hoy van a vacunar a todos los peluditos del barrio: They’re going to give vaccines to all the hairy (dogs) of the neighborhood. 

15. Chiquito – chiquita

dog looking up

This word means small, or if you’re saying this to a dog, it means “little one”. 

It’s just a sweet and lovely way to express affection to your dog. 

Native speakers even use this expression with their children as well, but this is no surprise, many dog lovers feel their pets as if they were their children. 

Are you one of those? 

If so, then you may tell your dog: 

  • Ven chiquito, ven aquí y toma una galleta: Come dog, come here, and get a cookie.
  • Hola chiquito, dejame acariciarte: Hey dog, let me pet you.

16. Bonito – Bonita

How beautiful is your dog? 

If you’re like me, then you probably agree that most ugly dogs are so ugly that they’re sweet and cute. 

In other words, there are no ugly dogs, all of them are “bonitos”, and that’s why “bonito” may become a nickname for a loyal four legs friend, like this: 

  • A ver, dame la patita. ¡Eso! Muchas gracias bonito, toma una galleta: Let ‘s see, give me your hand. That’s it! Thank you so much dog, take a cookie. 
  • Ya, ya ¿Por qué está bravo, bonito? ¿Ah? ¿Por qué?: There, there, why are you mad, dog? Huh? Why?

17. Pulgoso – Pulgosa 

The word “Pulgoso” is an adjective that comes from “pulga”, which is Spanish for “flea”.

If you call your dog “Pulgoso”, you’re communicating that it’s full of fleas, but this isn’t always the case. 

Sometimes, people call dogs “pulgosos” just for the sake of using a nickname on them, it doesn’t always mean that you have to give it a bath.😅

Here are some examples using “pulgoso” as a nickname: 

  • Hola mi pulgoso, ¿dónde está tu collar?: Hi my dog, where ‘s your collar?.
  • Hija, ¿ya le diste la comida al pulgoso?: Daughter, did you feed the dog?

And here are some examples for when your dog needs water and soap: 

  • Channel, necesitas un baño, estás pulgosa: Channel (name of dog) you need a bath, you’re full of feas.
  • Ese pulgoso necesita más que un baño, ¡dale un desparasitante!: That dog (full of feas) needs more than a bath, give him a dewormer!

18. Bola de pelos 

This phrase translates to “ball of hair”, and yes, I know your dog is not a ball, but bald men might probably feel a little jealous of how abundant dog hair is😅.

(I’m with you all guys, I’ll go completely bald in a couple of years too.)

Anyways… “bola de pelos” is a very common nickname for dogs, and people use it to express affection to their loyal dog friends, like this:  

  • ¡Amo a esta bola de pelos!: I love this dog!
  • Ahí viene una bola de pelos a saludarme: There it comes, a dog to say hi to me.

19. Firulais

You see a dog in the street and you don’t know his name, what do you call him? 

Would you say “dog” in Spanish? 

  • ¡Hola, perro!

Yes, you may do that, but Spanish native speakers would give him a generic name, and that would be Firulais. 

For native speakers, all dogs are called Firulais, like if they were born with a generic name waiting to be changed🤣.

Just imagine you’re walking down the street, you see a dog and you tell him: 

  • ¿Firulais, estás perdido?: Dog, are you lost?
  • Ataca Firulais, ¡ataca!: Attack, dog, attack!

20. Coso – Cosito

dog giving five to a woman

“Coso” is something like “cosa”, which means thing. 

You may use this word in Colombia as a way to replace the name of your dog, which you might have forgotten for a couple of seconds. 

You know, that kind of situation in which your memory fails and you just want to replace the name of something with a quick word. 

Now, if you want to add affection for the dog, you may use a diminutive and say “cosito”, like this: 

  • Oye… tú, cosito, ¡siéntate!: hey… you, dog, sit down! 
  • ¡Quieto!… ¡quieto, coso!: Stay!… dog, stay!

Conclusion

Spanish native speakers use lots of different titles and nicknames to replace the word “perro” in Spanish. 

If you’re unsure about how to say dog in Spanish, I suggest you go with “perro” (the basic translation), or if you want to be a little more friendly say “chico” or “chica”.

Don’t underestimate the power of dogs, they may be a great way to connect with native speakers.

Especially in Colombia, there are lots of dog lovers over here, and I’m sure that if you use this vocabulary with people like this, you’ll make friends pretty easily.

(Humans and dog friends) 😁.

Finally, if you know more nicknames and ways to say dog in Spanish, share them with me in the comments below.

Diego Cuadros is a blogger and a Spanish online teacher. He uses stories to help Spanish lovers understand fast-speaking native speakers, so they don't freeze and panic in conversations.

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