I'm under the impression la mia cagna can be taken poorly, can it be appropriate to instead say la mia cane and the message still gets across? Is there a better way to express my dog is female in the sentence Di lunedi, ho portato la mia cane a tagliare i capelli?

  • 2
    In Italian, grammatical gender is fixed for most nouns, and does not necessarily coincide with the sex/gender of the person or animal the noun refers to. For instance, every tiger in the world is una tigre (feminine), no matter whether it is a male or a female.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 21:54
  • @dag Una pubblicità in TV, molti anni fa, invitava a "mettere un tigre nel motore"... Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


La mia cane is not a thing. I would argue that the standalone word cagna, though somewhat strong, is not considered a bad word unless explicitly referred to a woman, i.e. that, unlike its English counterpart bitch, its primary meaning is still a female dog. For a comparison, you can be sure that the primary meaning of troia is a derogatory term for a female prostitute, instead of the techincal meaning of female pig (you would call that scrofa).

If you want a more pleasant term for cagna, you can use the diminutive cagnolina (or cagnetta, which I don't personally like). Also animals don't have capelli: people do. Animals (may) have the collective mass of body hair, il pelo. Therefore

Lunedì ho portato la mia cagna/cagnolina a tagliare il pelo.

Added: For the general question of "disagreement in gender", the rule is that adjective and article must have the same gender and number as the noun they refer to. This irrespective of whether the noun agrees in gender with the object it refers to. Since cane is a masculine word, you would say il mio cane even if you decided to indicate a female dog by the word cane. E.g., you say la guida turistica è stata maleducata even if the tourist guide is a man. For the record, you don't necessarily need to specify the gender of your dog, and it is possible to indicate a dog and a cat of unspecified gender by the masculine terms cane and gatto.

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