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DOG Idioms: 16 Useful DOG Idioms and Sayings


Dog Idioms & Dog Sayings! Useful list of common dog idioms & phrases in English with meaning, ESL printable worksheet and example sentences. Learn the idiom dog and pony show meaning and other dog sayings in English.

Useful list of cat idioms in English with meaning and examples.

DOG Idioms & Sayings

List of Common Dog Idioms & Phrases

  • (The) Tail That Wags the Dog
  • Dog in the Manger
  • Dog-and-Pony Show
  • Dog-Eat-Dog
  • Every Dog Has His (Its) Day
  • Every Man and His Dog
  • Fight Like Cat and Dog
  • Go See a Man About a Dog
  • Go to the Dogs
  • Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race)
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  • Puppies and Rainbows
  • Puppy Dog Eyes
  • My Dogs Are Barking
  • Rain Cats and Dogs
  • Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Dog Idioms with Meaning & Examples

Learn useful dog idioms and dog sayings with meaning and example sentences.

(The) Tail That Wags the Dog

  • Meaning: A small part of something that controls the whole thing
  • ExampleDarlene is the company president, but if you look closely you’ll see it’s really her assistant making the decisions. It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Dog in the Manger

  • Meaning: A person who prevents others from using something, even though the person himself or herself does not want it
  • ExampleBobby is being a dog in the manger – he won’t let the other kids play with his ball, even though he never uses it.

NoteThis idiom originates with a fable by Aesop about a dog who sleeps on straw that sheep could otherwise eat.

Dog-and-Pony Show

  • Meaning: A flashy presentation, often in a marketing context
  • ExampleThe salesman gave us a real dog-and-pony show, but I’m still not sure what the product will cost.


  • Meaning: Intensely competitive
  • ExampleReal estate sales is a dog-eat-dog world. It’s not for everyone.

NoteThis is most often used with world, as in this example.

Every Dog Has His (Its) Day

  • Meaning: Everyone has a moment of fame, power, or influence
  • ExampleJoe has had a run doff bad luck. But every dog has his day, and today he was singled out for praise by the president.

Every Man and His Dog

  • Meaning: Many people
  • ExampleEvery man and his dog wanted to interview me after I on the race.

NoteThis is occasionally used outside Australia.

Fight Like Cat and Dog

  • Meaning: Continually arguing with each other
  • Example: Those two fight like cat and dog, so please don’t put them together on the project.

Go See a Man About a Dog

  • Meaning: Go to the bathroom (said as a euphemism)
  • Example: I’ll be right back-I’ve got to go see a man about a dog.

Go to the Dogs

  • Meaning: To become disordered, to decay
  • ExampleThis has always been a nice hotel, but it’s going to the dogs.

Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race)

  • Meaning: To support a certain person in a competition
  • ExampleI’ll be happy working under either Carl or Sheila-I don’t have a dog in that hunt.

NoteHunt is the usual version in the USA.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

  • Meaning: To avoid stirring up a problem; to leave things alone
  • ExampleAlice and Maria have argued over office space in the past. It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie and leave them where they are.

Puppies and Rainbows

  • Meaning: Perfect, ideal (usually used slightly sarcastically, in contrast with a less ideal situation)
  • ExampleAt first my marriage was all puppies and rainbows, but then reality set in.

NotePuppy dogs and rainbows is also used.

Puppy Dog Eyes

  • Meaning: A begging look
  • ExampleI try to be strict with my daughter, but when she looks at me with those puppy dog eyes, I buy her candy.

My Dogs Are Barking

  • Meaning: My feet hurt
  • ExampleMy car broke down, and I had to walk all the way home from the mall. I’m OK, but my dogs are barking!

NoteA well-known shoe brand, accordingly, is called Hush Puppies.

Rain Cats and Dogs

  • Meaning: Rain very heavily
  • ExampleIt’s raining cats and dogs. Look at it pour!

Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

  • Meaning: To change someone’s long-established habits. Usually used in the negative: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • ExampleWe tried to explain social media to our grandfather, but it’s no use-you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Common Dog Idioms & Phrases| Image

Learn commonly used dog idioms and sayings in English with picture.

Common DOG Idioms with Meaning and Examples

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