There is a dirty-looking dog wandering near your house. You notice the dog looks for scraps on streets day and night and it does not have an owner.

Is it natural to say "I think it's a wild dog" or "I think it's a stray dog" in this situation?

  • Is it natural to say? Perhaps you can check: wild animal, to see how to use the adjective wild.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 28 at 13:38
  • 1
    This is a zoology question not a language one. You need to be more precise about the dog. Is it one that's escaped from a house or born in the wild? What about its parents? Does it live in the countryside occasionally coming into town to feed, or mostly scavenge on trash? Does it look like a domestic breed? Is it canis familiaris or another similar species? Where in the world are you? (Simply being dirty doesn't tell you much, it might just belong to someone who lets their dog wander and doesn't clean it very often.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 28 at 14:49

2 Answers 2


It would be incorrect to call it a wild dog unless it belonged to one of the species of totally wild ones.

A stray dog is a domestic dog that has become separated from its owner and is wandering the streets. If a group of such dogs form a pack and rear young ones that have never had an owner, they become feral dogs (animals of a type that is normally domesticated which are living independently of people).

  • What if a stray dog gave birth to a dog. And that dog was raised mostly on streets by its mom stray dog?
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 28 at 14:31
  • Then it's a feral dog, as I explained. Commented Feb 28 at 14:42
  • So when is it called a wild dog? Does it have to live in the forest to be called a wild dog?
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:08
  • I directed you to a website listing the types of wild dogs, such as the Australian dingo. These are all distinct species, not descendants of domestic dogs. Commented Feb 28 at 16:27

I don't think it would be a wild dog. It could be a feral dog, but they are small in number as well. Feral dogs are stray dogs that have been on their own for so long that they've developed wild-like behaviours. Ferals are typically more apprehensive towards humans than regular strays and can be difficult to approach. Still, most of the dogs we see are just stray dogs. So, I would say it's most probably just a stray dog.

  • It's probably not a wild dog, like a dingo. But I think Vietnam may have "wild dogs" Also, stray dogs are usually not feral in a city.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 28 at 13:37
  • What if a stray dog gave birth to a dog. And that dog was raised mostly on streets by its mom stray dog?
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 28 at 14:27
  • I would use "wild dog" with the same meaning as "feral dog." Commented Feb 28 at 18:04

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