DOG in Sign Language

ASL sign for DOG

ASL signs for DOG

What is the sign for "dog" in American Sign Language?

Meaning: A domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant hand with the small "d" handshape where the tips of thumb and middle finger are in contact while the index finger is upright and the palm is up. The middle finger and the thumb snaps a few times.

Etymology: This ASL sign may look like a snap to a naive eye but it's actually a fingerspelled loan derived from the three letters "D-O-G".

Variation: Dominant palm taps on the thigh twice. This is kind of obsolete or simply less used. It's often used with babies as part of "parentese" or "motherese".

Learner tip: You don't need to sign the combination of fingerspelled loan #DOG and tapping on the leg (as in a compound word) as commonly seen in non-native signers. This may be one of some hearing accent. :) Although, this doesn't really apply to parentese with baby when Deaf parent uses both ASL variations (not the compound of it).

Related signs


Opposite: Pet friend or sometimes foe: CAT.

Baby signing DOG

Watch how a child acquires the ASL sign DOG in a time lapse from baby to kindergarten age, including fingerspelling the word and signing the lexicalized loan.

Interesting to watch how the brain processes differently for fingerspelling (equivalent to writing letter by letter) and fingerspelled loans (equivalent to whole words, not letter by letter).

A drawing of DOG
Credit: Drawing by ASL-speaking coda at age 4.

Sign with dogs

It's not unusual to see owners or trainers using hand signals with dogs. However, in most cases, Deaf speak regular ASL with their dogs in the same way hearing caregivers speak English with their dogs.

Sometimes, owners have deaf dogs. Deaf owners describe similar "Deafhood" experience of deaf dogs, such as alertness, eye contact, sensing vibration, etc.

The video (2020) courtesy of Jayme Eyben demonstrated some commands in ASL with his cute dog, Winry.


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Some word entries have one of some tidbits in this section, such as minimal pairs of sign words, rhymes, etc. usually related to or associated with its word entry.

Written ASL

[Note: ASL writing is not an official standard. This sign language writing remains in a state of open space to allow room for experiment, evolution, and improvement.]

ASL writing for DOG

Written/contributed by Adrean Clark.

Written ASL for DOG

Experimental writing digits, 2015 or 2016 (the little circle system by Jolanta).

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