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It’s all in the name!

3 February 2016

Following on with the theme of how some dog breed names came about, this week we look at three more breeds - all of which have been around for centuries.

It is believed that by Roman times, most of the breed types known today were well-defined and their qualities and functions recorded. Don't forget to post a photo of your dog on our Facebook page in the comments, in honour of our wonderful canine companions.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


King Charles Spaniel/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
To many people, it is impossible to spot the difference between these two breeds. However, they are entirely different, with separate breed standards, characteristics and identities.

However, one commonality is their name, which they both take from King Charles II, often depicted in paintings and tapestries with a small spaniel or two by his side.

It is believed that the King Charles Spaniel was crossbred with flat nose breeds in the early 19th century in an attempt to reduce the size of the nose. Attempts in the 20th century to restore King Charles Spaniels back to the breed of King Charles II’s time resulted in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which is slightly larger with a flatter head and a longer nose.





It is believed that the word Pug has had many meanings during the last 5 centuries. In 1664, records show that 'pug' meant "demon", "imp", "sprite", "monkey" and "ape". By the middle of the next century, according to The Oxford Dictionary, 'pug' had evolved to mean "a dwarf breed of dog resembling a bull-dog in miniature". Another possibility is that 'Pug' is actually a misspelling of 'Puck', a mischievous fairy/sprite appearing in many folk tales. Like so many questions regarding animal history, the answer to how the Pug got its name seems to be a ‘no-one-can-be-certain situation’. Certainly no-one is sure when or where the Pug arrived in Europe, however the Dutch are usually credited with being responsible for importing the Pug. Pugs were reportedly the official dog of the House of Orange after a dog named Pompey saved the life of the Prince of Orange.



Lhasa Apso


Lhasa Apso
An exotic sounding name, but the origins of this breed are fairly straightforward. The Lhasa Apso was originally bred as a watchdog for Tibetan palaces and monasteries. The ‘Lhasa’ part comes from the city of Lhasa, Tibet's longtime capital. ‘Apso’ is a Tibetan word meaning ‘bearded’. Their long coats act as insulation against the extreme climate of Tibet, and they have long hair over their faces to help protect them from the wind, dust and snow glare – hence the word ‘bearded’ in their name.