Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

All about “doggo-speak,” the internet’s new canine lexicon

Photo: Warren Diggles Photography/Getty Images
Photo: Warren Diggles Photography/Getty Images

Many dogs live in this world, and the internet loves them all. If you consult the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, the world’s dog-sorting specialists, you will learn about 344 recognized breeds. The internet does not consult the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. It prefers an alternative taxonomy of doggos, puppers, shibbers, yappers, goodboyes, and other domesticated memes, as explained in charts like this:


NPR’s Jessica Boddy has investigated this new language, which she calls “DoggoLingo” or “doggo-speak,” and interviewed doggo influencers like @dog_rates and the founders of the Facebook group Dogspotting. According to Boddy, DoggoLingo is “cutesy” with its suffixes, “uniquely heavy on onomatopoeias like bork, blep, mlem and blop,” and ever-expanding. Any post that catches on among Dogspotting’s 540,000-plus members could bring a new term like “loaf” (big corgi) or “fat boi” into circulation. Older memes have had a lasting impact:

For example, the phrase “doing me a frighten,” used to describe startled dogs, comes from an image posted in late 2015 according to KnowYourMeme.com. In it, a tiny Rottweiler puppy shocks its parent with a flurry of borks. The parent replies, “stop it son, you are doing me a frighten.”

The origin of “bork” itself is less clear, but it’s clearly onomatopoeic. It’s perhaps most well-known thanks to Gabe the Dog, a tiny floof of a Miniature American Eskimo/Pomeranian whose borks have been remixed into countless classic tunes.

The borks of DoggoLingo now echo everywhere from Twitter to Facebook to Reddit to Slack channels you thought were for professionals to National Public Radio itself. If you are less charmed by the continuing onslaught of corgos and puggos—don’t say so in public, or the dog people will rip your heart out like Anubis—you can blame Australians for the linguistic contagion:

Though created in 2008, Dogspotting really took off in the summer of 2014, particularly in Australia.

This is significant because, as McCulloch points out, adding “-o” to words is very Australian. For example, where we’d say def to abbreviate the word definitely, Australians would say defo.

….James Moffatt, a performance artist who grew up in Adelaide and is not a member of Dogspotting, says he remembers doggo being used “as an affectionate diminutive to refer to dogs throughout my childhood.”

Regardless of one’s feelings about “defo” and “doggo,” we can at least thank Australia for starting the chain of events that led to the “noodle horse” image above.