What is Doggo Lingo, and how does it work?

“Smol”? “H*ck”? What’s up with that? It’s Doggo Lingo.

Ever see posts misspelling common words like “small” as “smol”? Lamented the lax standards of posters’ spelling? It’s not a grammar problem, but instead it’s actually an internet dialect known as Doggo Lingo.

Usually it’s found on social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat when the posts feature an adorable puppy or cute kitty.

About half the time it’s cute, while the other half is slightly annoying.  For the most part, though, it’s self-explanatory – snoots are noses, borks are barks, etc.

Why is Doggo Lingo considered an internet dialect instead of, say, its own language by itself? Well, no one exactly can pin down the difference between a language and a dialect, but The Atlantic suggests that languages have literature and are written and standardized, while dialects are spoken and don’t have either solid rules or literature of their own.

There could be an argument that, as it exists on the internet, it’s already written and forming a code of rules for proper usage, and that if it’s already written, isn’t that sort of already literature?

On the other paw, Doggo Lingo is informally spoken, even though it happens to be typed out, and it’s occasionally used in real life dialogue.

Anyway, enough deep thoughts for now.

You know that funny lying-down position where your dog has her back feet sticking out straight behind her? That’s a sploot, according to online magazine Mental Floss. 

Especially fuzzy cats, Pomeranians and Samoyeds are known for their gigantic coats, and are thus “fluffs” or “fluffers” in Doggo Lingo.

Especially adorable and/or height-challenged animals are “smol,” which is one of the Doggo Lingo words that I as an English major I find slightly irritating.

The asterisks around non-swear words like “heck” or “hecking,” resulting in “h*ck,” are another feature of Doggo Lingo.

“I’m sure someone else did that before, but it was something original to me and I used it to such an extent that people associate it with the brand now,” WeRateDogs founder Matt Nelson told NPR in 2017.

Furry siblings are often referred to as “brofurs” or “sisfurs,” friends are “furiends,” and human (hooman) siblings are “hoobro” and “hoosis.”

Some famous Twitter dogs are even lucky enough to get their own “stuffy,” which is a wonderful Canadian term for any stuffed animal, though we learned it through the hockey dog community.

Any canine can be a doggo or a pupper, as shown in Zoe Dumont’s Instagram handle. Zoe’s owner is actress Emma Dumont of the Fox action drama The Gifted, based somewhat on Marvel’s X-Men characters.

While more people are using Doggo Lingo, that doesn’t necessarily mean its words will appear in a dictionary anytime soon, for as Mignon Fogarty (better known as Grammar Girl) notes, “a word has to be used a lot by many writers to make it into a dictionary.”

Still, that doesn’t completely rule out future Merriam-Webster references to “pupper,” either.

“The judgement dictionary writers make is based on use, not on ideas related to acceptability,” Fogarty continues.

Next: What are dog days, and why are they called that?

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