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

Bambi est un faon.
Bambi is a fawn.


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.


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 Forum 8 questions, 15 answers

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?

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

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!

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

Asked 0 years ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

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!

Thank you. This has been a topic of much discussion in my local French club. 

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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.
Asked 1 year ago

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. 

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.

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. 

RebeccaB2
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.

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"Porcinet vit avec ..."

Dans l'exemple Porcinet vit avec ..." il doigt être "Porcelet" au moins que son nom est "Porcinet."
Asked 5 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
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 !

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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?
Asked 7 years ago
You are absolutely correct: there's a mistake in the lesson. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
CécileKwiziq language super star
I have just checked and it has been corrected. Thanks for pointing it out Susan.

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Stallion

Isn't a stallion called étalon?
Asked 10 years ago
RonC1
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,

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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?
Asked 8 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Mags ! Could you give us the context for this question please, and I'll be happy to answer your question :)
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?
AurélieKwiziq language super star
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!

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La lapine - the female rabbit

Asked 11 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Oui !

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Let me take a look at that...