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GSD? PBGV? AWS? Can You Guess the Breed From Its Acronym?

You likely know that GSD stands for German Shepherd Dog, but there are less well-known acronyms. Also, we hear from the breeds themselves about their nicknames.

Lynn M. Hayner  |  Sep 2nd 2016

Nicknames come in handy for long-named breeds. The Xoloitzcuintli becomes the Xolo. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (30 letters!) becomes the Toler. A few breeds have acronyms for nicknames. Some acronyms, such as “EES” for the English Springer Spaniel, roll off the tongue. Try guessing the breed names solely from the acronyms. Then sit back to read each breed’s critique of his nickname.


Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen (PBGV) courtesy Susannah Cooper in text

PBGV courtesy Susannah Cooper.

Since you look bewildered, I’ll jump to the answer. I’m a Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, a lively French hound developed to hunt by scent. Petit means small in my native French. Basset means low to the ground. Griffon refers to my rough coat. And Vendéen is my homeland region in France. Because I have a Devil May Care personality, I don’t complain about names. I’ll mention, however, that most breeds have shorter, less-descriptive names. The Pug, for example, isn’t named the Small Short-nosed Smooth-coated China Dog (SSSCD?), now is he?  But given my own long name, I agree I need a nickname. PBGV is okay. Besides, many of our families simply call us Petits. That’s appropriately endearing.

2. SWD

SWD courtesy Marnie Harrison, Tracey Geddes photography

SWD courtesy Marnie Harrison, Tracey Geddes/Spanish Water Dog Club of America.

We’re Spanish Water Dogs, known for our distinguishing curly coat and energetic personality. Developed in Spain as all-around farm dogs, we have a pronounced herding instinct (i.e., we’re appropriately bossy). The word “water” poured into our name because we helped fishermen as well as farmers. We work hard on land, but we’re also skillful swimmers and eager retrievers. I suppose SWD is an acceptable nickname. Besides, you can call me anything you want as long as you call me to action!

3. GSD

GSD courtesy Connie Cabenela

GSD courtesy Connie Cabenela/German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

We GSDs are the distinguished and well-known German Shepherd Dogs. Captain Max von Stephanitz began developing us in the late 19th century specifically for trainability, loyalty, and an intense work ethic. For years we have led the canine world in service work, military and police duties, and home protection. We clearly require a sophisticated name. No silly nicknames for us. Call us something like “Shepherdy” at your own peril.  I suppose the acronym GSD suits us. Actually, that leads me to a comment about titles.  I suggest you address us individually as Sir or Madam. Yes, that works nicely, thank you very much.

4. PIO

PIO courtesy Barb Harris

PIO courtesy Barb Harris/PIO Club of the U.S.

I’m the Peruvian Inca Orchid, also known as the Moon Flower Dog or the Peruvian Hairless Dog. I’m a lively, elegant, affectionate, and swift sight hound. We’re rather renowned for a lack of hair. Apparently not only our owners, but their vacuum cleaners, love us. Most of us are hairless, although we also have a coated variation. We have many nicknames besides our acronym, including Chubacabra (a hairless folklore creature with a less-than-flattering, fictional story-line), living hot water bottle, and bed buddy. My spotted brothers are called Orchids. Viringo is one of our special nicknames. And not surprisingly, it means hairless.

5. AWS

AWD courtesy Arthur Heun

AWS courtesy Arthur Heun/American Water Spaniel Club, Inc.

We are Awesome Wisconsin Swimmers (known more correctly as American Water Spaniels!), developed in Wisconsin during the 19th century from varied spaniel breeds. We’re a multi-purpose sporting dog. We hunt, flush, and retrieve game. Great Lakes waterfowl are a favorite. But we’re not all about work. Since hunters need breaks, too, we were also developed for companionship. Although Wisconsin calls us their state breed, we’re relatively rare. My acronym is satisfactory, as long as you focus on the word Water. After all, I adore aquatic adventures.

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