top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon

Entre chien et loup and other French animal expressions

French animal protection association SPA is advocating for the appointment of an Animal Rights’ Defender. We look at three French expressions related to dogs…

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

France's main animal protection society is calling for the establishment of a new state-appointed official - an Animal Rights’ Defender.

SPA (Société Protectrice des Animaux) President Jacques-Charles Fombonne told Le Monde that the position should be appointed by the president for a single term and that the chosen official should have administrative powers. 

The role would be similar to that of Claire Hédon, who was appointed the Defender of (human) Rights last year.

The idea of an Animal Rights’ Defender position was first raised in 2019 by former Minister of Justice Robert Badinter, the driving force behind the ending of capital punishment in France. 

Now, Jacques-Charles Fombonne wants to take advantage of the 2022 presidential election to advance the cause, arguing that 2% to 3% of voters will probably decide how to vote on the basis of this topic.

As a link with this cause, we look at three French expressions inspired by dogs:

Entre chien et loup (literally ‘between dog and wolf’):

This expression refers to the time of dusk, when it is “too dark to distinguish between a dog and a wolf”. 

It is attributed to the 13th century but is said to be much older, deriving from the Latin ‘inter canem et lupum’. Here, the dog, trustworthy and warm, represents the day. The wolf, menacing and unknown, represents the night.

Dormir en chien de fusil (literally ‘to sleep like the dog of a rifle’):

This expression relates to a sleeping position – on the side, with the legs brought up towards the chin. An English equivalent might be ‘the foetal position’.

In French, ‘chien’ has two meanings – dog and a metal part of a firearm which is pressed before pulling the trigger.

The expression could either be inspired by the animal, which tends to sleep on its side, or the ‘chien’ of the rifle, which resembles the sleeping position. 

Se regarder en chien de faïence (literally ‘to look at each other like dogs made of glazed pottery’):

This expression means to look at each other with suspension or mistrust.

Faïence is a term for tin-glazed pottery, named after the city of Faenza, Italy, where the technique was popularised in the 16th century.

In France, these earthenware decorations, in particular in the form of dogs, were placed on either side of fireplaces. The ‘dogs’ would appear to be staring at each other, as if suspicious of one another, which inspired the expression.

Related Articles

‘Train de sénateur’ and other French expressions you may hear

Marché de dupes: A French expression you may hear today

Sous une chape de plomb and other lead-related French expressions

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now