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What's in a Name?

Craig Koshyk

As I worked my way through a few more chapters of my humungous book project last week, I realized that something as simple as the name of a breed, may not be so simple after all.

The most obvious difficulty in many cases is pronunciation. When it comes to tongue twister names there are some real doozeys among the continental breeds. Try saying Slovensky Hrubosrsty Stavac three times fast!

One obvious solution will be to provide a phonetic spelling of the name which best approximates the sounds of the original language. Another will be to list the FCI approved English translation of the breed name. Where no official FCI translation exists, I will provide the most commonly used English name for the breed.

With some breeds, English speakers have adopted the original name and anglicized it…with varying degrees of success. I cannot tell you how many different ways I have heard Weimaraner pronounced;


Even names that seem to be straightforward can sometimes be tricky to pronounce correctly. Since I speak French and have gathered most of the information on the various Braque breeds from French sources, I just assumed that everyone pronounced the word braque like the French do: "Brak", it rhymes with back. I’ve noted however, that many Americans say “Brock”, (rhymes with stock). I have no idea why.

Drahthaar is another name that gets mangled from time to time. The most common English twist on it is to put a “th’ sound in the middle. While Europeans say Drat- (rhymes with bat)-har, you will often hear North Americans say Drath (rhymes with wrath)-har. Some will change the “a” sound as well. They say Drawth-har.

So I guess I will have to come up with a quick and easy way to describe the various ways the names are translated and pronounced. And in so doing, I’ll explore some other questions such as:.
  • Does Spaniel really mean “from Spain” ?
  • Why do Hungarians call all birddogs “Vizslas” even the ones that aren’t actually Vizslas?
  • Is the Pudelpointer actually part Poodle?
  • Is Spinone a kind of icecream?
  • And finally, the “big can of worms” question that I’ll tackle in my next blog post: “Are German Wire Hair Pointers and Deutsch Drahthaars the same breed?”*
Stay tuned! Oh, and if you have a question about a breed’s name, feel free to ask. I will do my best to get to the bottom of it.

*The same question can be asked of GSP’s/Kurzhaars or Brittanies/Epagneul Bretons etc.