Year old German Shepherd:

Scientific name for German Shepherd


Certain capitalization rules, such as the capitalization of animal names, in English can sometimes confuse native and non-native speakers alike. Spell check programs may help but should not be trusted entirely. Working knowledge of capitalization rules can be more helpful.

Capitals and Animal Names

The proper capitalization of animal names will depend on if the name is categorized as a regular noun or a proper noun.

  • A regular noun will not be capitalized; whereas, a proper noun will be capitalized.

The difference can be tricky. For example:

  • A regular noun or generic noun might be that of a category of animal such as dog, cat, or horse. These will always be written in lower case because there are a variety of species within that category of noun.
  • Individual species within the categories such as German Shepherd, Abyssinian, or Lipizzaner would be capitalized because they are proper nouns.

Another type of animal name that should be capitalized is the scientific name of a species. However, not all parts of the name will be capitalized. The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature breaks the scientific classification of animals into:

  • A binomen - the generic name and the specific name
  • A trinomen - the generic name followed by a specific name and a subspecific name

In this case, the generic name should be capitalized but not any other word in the name. For example, a dog would be Canis familiaris, a cat is Felis catus, and a horse is Equus caballus. Because these are considered Latin names, they follow Latin capitalization rules.

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Certain capitalization rules, such as the capitalization of animal names, in English can sometimes confuse native and non-native speakers alike. Spell check programs may help but should not be trusted entirely. Working knowledge of capitalization rules can be more helpful.


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