Dog Idioms: A Guide for English Learners

Have you ever wondered why dogs are often called man’s best friend? It’s because they have been loyal companions to humans for centuries. But did you know that dogs play a significant role in the English language? Many idioms and expressions feature our furry friends, and understanding them can help you communicate more effectively in English. In this article, we’ll explore some common dog-related idioms and their meanings, so you can talk about your four-legged friends in confidence!

A barking dog never bitesA person who makes a lot of noise is often less likely to actually do anything.“That guy is always yelling and screaming, but he never actually does anything. A barking dog never bites.”
A dog’s chanceA very small chance of success.“I don’t think we have a dog’s chance of winning this game.”
A dog’s dinnerA complete mess or a bad meal.“The new intern made a dog’s dinner of the presentation.”
A dog’s lifeA life of hardship or misery.“Working 12-hour shifts at the factory was a dog’s life, but it paid the bills.”
A dog’s breakfastSomething that is messy or poorly done.“The project was a dog’s breakfast from the start, and it’s no surprise it failed.”
A dog in the fightTo have an interest in a conflict.He’s not just an observer; he has a dog in the fight and wants to see his side win.
Barking up the wrong treeTo make a wrong choice or to be wrong about something.“If you think I stole your phone, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I haven’t been anywhere near it.”
Dog and pony showAn event that is designed to entertain or impress people, but is not very important or meaningful.“That political rally was just a dog and pony show.”
Dog days of summerThe hottest days of summer, which are usually in July or August.“It’s so hot outside, it feels like the dog days of summer.
Dog eat dog worldA world where people are always competing with each other and trying to get ahead.“In this dog eat dog world, you have to be tough to survive.”
Dog tiredVery tired.“I’m dog tired, I could sleep for a week.”
Dogged determinationA strong and persistent effort to achieve something.“That scientist has a dogged determination to find a cure for cancer.”
Every dog has its dayEveryone will eventually have their chance to succeed.“After years of hard work he finally got his big break – every dog has its day.”
Every man and his dogA lot of people.Every man and his dog is going to be at that party.”
Hair of the dogA drink of alcohol taken to cure the effects of a hangover.“I’m going to have a hair of the dog to cure this hangover.”
In the doghouseIn trouble or in disfavor.“I’m in the doghouse with my wife for forgetting her birthday.”
Let sleeping dogs lieDon’t interfere with something that is not causing any problems.“Let’s just let sleeping dogs lie and not talk about that anymore.”
Puppy-dog eyesBig, pleading eyes that are used to try to get someone to do something.“That dog is giving me puppy-dog eyes, so I can’t say no to him.”
Raining cats and dogsRaining very heavily.“It’s raining cats and dogs outside.”
Sick as a dogVery ill.“I feel sick as a dog. I think I’m going to throw up.”
Top dogThe most important or powerful person in a group.“That guy is the top dog in the company.”
Work like a dogTo work very hard.“I’ve been working like a dog all day.”

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