“Dog” in Japanese – Learn how to address our canine friends

Today, we will learn how to say “dog” in Japanese.

Indeed, it is a simple topic that may offer more than one would expect. While this isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to essential knowledge of the language, it’s a neat topic that can expand your Japanese comfort.

4 dogs sitting and looking straight ahead

Do you know how to read in Japanese? If not, this article has romaji versions of the vocabulary to help you out. However, we encourage you to learn the Japanese alphabet so you can read the words in hiragana and katakana, too.

Let’s go over all the ways to say “dog” in Japanese, accompanied by some sentence examples and related words to dog. Here we go!

Standard form of “dog” in Japanese

The standard word for “dog” in Japanese is いぬ (inu | 犬).

When you want to say the word dog with no added context or special meaning, this is the word to use!

Example Sentence

コムちゃんのしろいぬがとてもきれいですよ (komu chan no shiroi inu ga totemo kirei desu yo | コムちゃんの白い犬がとてもきれいですよ)

Komu’s white dog is very beautiful.

Other ways to say “dog” in Japanese

As we gave the heads up in the introduction here, there are other common ways or Japanese words to address pups.

Here are some of the most popular Japanese words to refer to our canine companions! We also threw in some additional information to bring some text to the new vocabulary!

“Puppy” in Japanese

You can say こいぬ (koinu | 子犬) for “puppy” in Japanese.

The original Kanji stands for a child dog or small one and is the same character used in the complete word for child, こども (kodomo | 子供). The latter Kanji means “dog.”

Example Sentence:

かれのすきなこいぬをなくしちゃってかなしくなったね (kare no sukina koinu wo nakushichatte kanashikunatta ne | 彼の好きな子犬をなくしちゃって悲しくなったね)

He lost his beloved puppy and became sad.

“Doggy” in Japanese

ワンちゃん (wanchan) is effectively Japan’s way of saying doggy.

ワン (wan) is actually the onomatopoeia for a dog’s bark in Japanese – it’s essentially how to say “woof!” ちゃん (chan) is a super popular suffix you will surely have encountered at some point.

It’s used when referring to small or cute things, or even between people in close relationships, as a way to make cute whoever’s name comes before it.

Although super cute and whimsical, this term is used by both children and adults alike. Sometimes, the term ワンコ (wanko) that carries the same meaning is used in its place!

“Pet dog” in Japanese

かいいぬ (kainu | 飼い犬) is a Japanese word for dog, which is more akin to the official word for a dog that is kept as a pet, for which reason, you can think of this as meaning pet dog.

The かい (kai | 飼い) in this Japanese vocabulary word comes from the verb かう (kau | 飼う), which means to own as a pet.

This word is one you’ll probably never hear in Japan unless someone wants to specify that a dog is owned as opposed to being a のらいぬ (norainu | 野良犬) or やけん (yaken | 野犬) or a stray dog.

Example Sentence:

それでカネロはのらいぬじゃなくてもず~っとそとにあそんでいてぜんぜんかえりたくないさ (sorede canero wa norainu janakutemo zu~tto soto ni asondeite zenzen kaeritakunai sa | それでカネロはじ野良犬じゃなくてもず~っと外にそんでいて全然帰りたくないさ)

So Canelo isn’t a street dog, but he always plays outside and never wants to come home.

“Pet dog” in Japanese but with more love

Another Japanese word for dog is あいけん (aiken | 愛犬). This also means “pet dog,” but more specifically, it emphasizes the owner’s love for their dog.

The initial word, あい (ai | 愛), represents affectionate love for a Japanese dog. If you’ve recognized the second character already, then great job – けん (ken | 犬) is another reading for… well, 犬!

Example Sentence:

あいけんかじゃないの? (aikenka janai no!? | 愛犬家じゃないの)

Aren’t you a dog lover!?

Japanese word “doggu” for dog

ドッグ (doggu) is a loan word from the English language. The word means “dog” in Japanese.

It is not uncommon to hear this used by the Japanese native speaker, but for the most part, it is accompanied by another word.


  • ドッグカフェ (doggu cafe | 犬のカフェ) — dog cafe
  • ドッグフード (doggu fuudo | 犬の食事) — dog food
  • ドッグハウス (doggu hausu | 犬小屋) — dog house
  • ドッグトレーナー (doggu torēnā | 犬のトレーナー) — dog trainer
  • ドッグウォーカー (doggu wōkā | 犬のウォーカー) — dog walker
  • ドッグパーク (doggu pāku | 犬の公園) — dog park
  • ドッグショー (doggu shō | 犬のショー) — dog show
  • ドッグアイスクリーム (doggu aisu kurīmu | 犬アイスクリーム) — dog ice cream
  • ドッグコート (doggu kōto | 犬のコート) — dog coat
  • ドッグトイ (doggu toi | 犬トイ) — dog toy

This Japanese word is also sometimes used within names such as in anime or TV series (think about a superhero dog, Misses Dog, etc.), especially to add a suave or even comedic touch!

Related vocabulary for dogs in Japanese

Here are a few Japanese phrases or related vocabulary for dogs:

  • もうどうけん (moudouken |盲導犬) — a guide dog for the blind
  • きょうじょいぬ (kyoujo inu | 共助犬) — a rescue dog
  • りょうけん (ryouken | 猟犬) — a hunting dog
  • のらいぬ (norainu | 野良犬) — a  stray dog
  • ポチ (pochi) — “pooch” or “poochie”
  • にほんいぬしゅ (nihon inu shu | 日本犬種) — Japanese dog breeds
  • ちゅうじつないぬ (chūjitsu na inu | 忠実な犬) — a loyal dog
  • わんわん (wanwan | 若い犬) — a young dog (onomatopoeic term)
  • めすいぬ (mesu inu | 女犬) — a female dog
  • かわいいいぬ (kawaii inu | 可愛い犬) — a cute dog
  • おかしくさいぬ (okashiku sai inu | 怒りっぽい犬) — a mad dog
  • いぬのもちぬし (inu no mochinushi | 犬の持ち主) — Dog owners
  • いとしいいぬ (itoshii inu | 愛しい犬) — beloved dog
  • くろいいぬ (kuroi inu |黒い犬) — a black dog
  • しろいいぬ (shiroi inu |白い犬) — a white dog
  • ハウンドいぬ (haundo inu |ハウンド犬) — a hound dog
  • ふるさといぬしゅ (furusato inu shu | 故郷犬種) — native dog breeds
  • おおいぬ (ōinu | 大犬) — big dog
  • いさいいぬ (chiisai inu | 小さい犬) — small dog

Common expressions related to dogs in Japanese

For some extra fun (and learning, naturally,) here are a few awesome Japanese expressions containing our beloved dogs – say one of these to your language partner to sound like a true Nihongo Champion!

“Distant howls of a dog”

Any guesses for this expression?

いぬのとうぼえ (inunotouboe | 犬の東保江)

“Distant howls of a dog.”

This typical Japanese expression brings attention to those who talk behind other people’s backs. These kinds of people can often be found spreading うわさ (uwasa | 噂) or rumors when no one else is looking!

“If a dog faces East, its tail is West”

いぬがむしむきゃうぁひがし (inu ga mushimukya o ha higashi | 犬が西向きゃ尾は東)

“If a dog faces East, its tail is West.”

This expression is used to say that someone is stating the obvious. This means that basic observations can reveal important truths. Just as a dog’s tail points opposite its face, simple facts can provide insights.

“A pet dog bites the owner’s hand”

かいいぬにてをかまれる (kaiinu ni te wo kamareru | 飼い犬に手を噛まれる)

“A pet dog bites the owner’s hand.”

This expression is typically written to describe the action of a dog biting its owner’s hand.

We have a similar version in English that goes, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,”… and that’s just what this expression is literally translated to! This is how it might feel.


As you can see, the Japanese really care about their dogs! Moreover, dogs are indeed a part of the human experience for so many cultures, near and far, in different forms.

Regardless of your personal disposition around dogs, these terms on how to say “dog” in Japanese are some that may come up while studying Japanese, so don’t be a dogged fool and get hip to the puppy pep talk!

がんばってください (ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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