Names for domestic animals are often different for male, female and baby

In French, domestic and farm animals can be either masculine or feminine.
And they have baby forms too!

Unfortunately, they're highly irregular, so you have to learn them by heart!
Here is a selection of the most common ones: 

Male Female Baby English
un chien une chienne un chiot dog - bitch/female dog - puppy
un chat une chatte un chaton cat - female cat - kitten
un lapin une lapine un lapereau rabbit (buck) - female rabbit (doe) - baby rabbit/bunny/kitten
un lion une lionne un lionceau lion - lioness - lion cub
un taureau une vache un veau bull - cow - calf (veal)
un cheval une jument un poulain stallion - mare - foal
un coq une poule un poussin cock - hen - chick
un canard une cane un caneton duck (drake) - female duck - duckling
un mouton une brebis un agneau sheep - ewe - lamb
un cochon une truie un porcelet pig - sow - piglet
un cerf une biche un faon deer (buck) - doe - fawn

And here are some examples to listen to:

Mon père a un chien, Rex, une chienne, Lassie, et un chiot, Popo.
My father has a dog, Rex, a bitch, Lassie, and a puppy, Popo.

J'ai trois chats, deux chattes et un chaton.
I've got three cats, two female cats and a kitten.

Mon lapin Peter et ma lapine Bella ont eu un petit lapereau !
My rabbit Peter and my doe Bella had a little bunny!

Le lion Mufasa et la lionne Sarabi ont un lionceau appelé Simba.
The lion Mufasa and the lioness Sarabi have a lion cub called Simba. 

Dans ce champ, je vois deux taureaux, une vache et un veau.
In this field, I see two bulls, one cow and one calf.

Le cheval et la jument ont deux poulains.
The stallion and the mare have two foals.

Dans cette ferme, il y a deux coqs, dix poules et vingt poussins.
In this farm, there are two cocks, ten hens and twenty chicks.

Robert le canard et Joséphine la cane ont cinq canetons.
Robert the duck and Joséphine the duck have five ducklings.

Porcinet vit avec son père le cochon et sa mère la truie.
Piglet lives with his dad the pig and his mum the sow.

J'ai vu un cerf et sa biche dans la forêt.
I saw a deer and his doe in the forest.

La nuit, je compte les moutons, les brebis et les agneaux !
At night, I count sheep, ewes and lambs!

Le petit agneau suit sa mère la brebis.
The little lamb follows his mother the ewe.

Bambi est un faon.
Bambi is a fawn.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'ai trois chats, deux chattes et un chaton.
I've got three cats, two female cats and a kitten.


Le petit agneau suit sa mère la brebis.
The little lamb follows his mother the ewe.


Bambi est un faon.
Bambi is a fawn.


cow


Dans ce champ, je vois deux taureaux, une vache et un veau.
In this field, I see two bulls, one cow and one calf.


deer


J'ai vu un cerf et sa biche dans la forêt.
I saw a deer and his doe in the forest.


dog


Mon père a un chien, Rex, une chienne, Lassie, et un chiot, Popo.
My father has a dog, Rex, a bitch, Lassie, and a puppy, Popo.


duck


Robert le canard et Joséphine la cane ont cinq canetons.
Robert the duck and Joséphine the duck have five ducklings.


horse


Le cheval et la jument ont deux poulains.
The stallion and the mare have two foals.


lion


Le lion Mufasa et la lionne Sarabi ont un lionceau appelé Simba.
The lion Mufasa and the lioness Sarabi have a lion cub called Simba. 


Dans cette ferme, il y a deux coqs, dix poules et vingt poussins.
In this farm, there are two cocks, ten hens and twenty chicks.


pig


Porcinet vit avec son père le cochon et sa mère la truie.
Piglet lives with his dad the pig and his mum the sow.


rabbit


Mon lapin Peter et ma lapine Bella ont eu un petit lapereau !
My rabbit Peter and my doe Bella had a little bunny!


sheep


La nuit, je compte les moutons, les brebis et les agneaux !
At night, I count sheep, ewes and lambs!


Q&A

Michael

Kwiziq community member

28 June 2018

1 reply

Porcelet vs Porc

Example du quiz:

Porcinet vit avec son père le cochon et sa mère la truie.

Peut être on doit dire clairement que Porcinet (Piglet) est le nom d'un porcelet qui vit avec son père le cochon et sa mère la truie.

Ça a raison?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

3 July 2018

3/07/18

Hi Michael,


I think this example is taken from 'Winnie the Pooh' (Winnie l'ourson) and one of the character is a 'porcelet', a piglet called Piglet ( Porcinet in the French version).


Donc, vous avez peut-être raison!

Wendy

Kwiziq community member

23 June 2018

1 reply

I was always told not to use the female for a cat as it is very vulgar in French

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

26 June 2018

26/06/18

Hi Wendy,


It's all about context. There are a lot of words in French (as in English) which have sexual connotations. It is however in the eye (or ear) of the beholder .


There is absolutely nothing wrong with referring to your female cat as 'chatte'.


Hope this helps!

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

1 May 2018

4 replies

Why aren't there more questions for testing this?

There's like ten billion different animal names on this article alone, and yet only 7 are tested: chatte, lionceau, lionne, chat, jument, lapine, chienne. I've got 100% and I still don't feel anywhere near aced at it. It's frustrating.

steven

Kwiziq community member

28 May 2018

28/05/18

Probably because in daily speech it's not that critical to know the term for many of these, such as baby horse. English is my native tongue and I never even heard of the word foal. 


But if you're so inclined to learn them all, make flashcards and test yourself. It's not that difficult. 

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

3 June 2018

3/06/18

Can they just say, " female horse, " in French, for example, or " baby horse, " and skip over all those extra terms entirely? I mean, in English we don't usually call a female dog its name, we just say female dog.

steven

Kwiziq community member

3 June 2018

3/06/18

Good question. I think we should definitely know the difference for some of the more common animals like chien et chienne, but for the less common ones I don't know, unfortunately. 


In my personal opinion I wouldn't get too hung up on this particular lesson unless you're planning on studying zoology or something in France. The vocabulary will come in time. 

Rebecca

Kwiziq community member

24 June 2018

24/06/18

Yes, I wish there were more practice questions for each lesson. I would have at least 5 questions, ideally 10. That way, I would feel like I'd really learned the material. Two questions just doesn't seem like enough.

Michael

Kwiziq community member

18 January 2018

1 reply

"Porcinet vit avec ..."

Dans l'exemple Porcinet vit avec ..." il doigt être "Porcelet" au moins que son nom est "Porcinet."

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

26 January 2018

26/01/18

Bonjour Michael !

"Porcinet" is the French name of that beloved Winnie L'Ourson character ;)
I guess it's more of an affectionate term that was chosen there, rather than the accurate one.

Bonne journée !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

2 November 2017

2 replies

Three calves???

One of the examples is, "Dans ce champ, je vois deux taureaux, une vache et un veau." It is translated in the lesson as, "In this field, I see two bulls, one cow and three calves." - Why not one calf?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

You are absolutely correct: there's a mistake in the lesson.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

6 September 2018

6/09/18

I have just checked and it has been corrected. Thanks for pointing it out Susan.

Erika

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2017

1 reply

Stallion

Isn't a stallion called étalon?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2017

22/08/17

Bonjour Erika,
Selon le dictionnaire Collins-Robert c'est exact
___________________________________________________.
stallion
(ˈstæliən)
noun
étalon m (cheval)
_____________________________________
Le mot «cheval» est le nom générique pour «horse», «étalon» est le masculin et la jument est la forme féminin
J'espère que c'est utile pour vous.
Bonne chance et bonne continuation,

Mags

Kwiziq community member

3 October 2016

3 replies

I wasn't sure whether to use singular or plural form of lapreau.

In English it's plural, but I had an idea it woukd be singular in French. Why?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

6 October 2016

6/10/16

Bonjour Mags !

Could you give us the context for this question please, and I'll be happy to answer your question :)

Mags

Kwiziq community member

7 October 2016

7/10/16

The English sentence was "We don't eat baby rabbits". Nous ne mangeons pas de lapereau. But I wasn't sure if in French it should be singular or plural. In this context is it always the singular form?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 October 2016

10/10/16

In French, you could use either, with a slight nuance of meaning:

"On ne mange pas de lapereau." would mean "We don't eat baby rabbit" in general, as a type of meat here.
If you consider the baby rabbits as countable elements, then you could also use the plural: "On ne mange pas de lapereaux."

I hope that's helpful!

Advika

Kwiziq community member

15 July 2016

1 reply

La lapine - the female rabbit

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

22 July 2016

22/07/16

Oui !
Clever stuff underway!