attack dog


: a dog trained to attack on command or on sight
: a person noted for harsh, personal, and usually public verbal attacks against others
a political attack dog
usually hyphenated when used before another noun
attack-dog tactics

Examples of attack dog in a Sentence

The charges against the candidate were made by one of the governor's attack dogs. his reputation as a political attack dog earned him the vice presidential spot on the ticket
Recent Examples on the Web Europeans introduced horses and large attack dogs to the Americas, as well as cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens that were cultivated in large-scale livestock husbandry, which dispossessed the indigenous of their lands. Marcy Norton, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Viciousness is the attack dog that hasn’t eaten in a week, and is drooling and barking and snarling. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, 30 Jan. 2024 McLean and Nocera are equal opportunity attack dogs. Alan Murray, Fortune, 16 Oct. 2023 Lizzo hired Marty Singer, Hollywood’s favorite attack dog. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 26 Aug. 2023 Who gave Oppenheimer’s security file to William Borden? A WWII veteran obsessed with the Soviet nuclear threat, William Borden in the early ’50s became the favorite attack dog of Oppenheimer’s enemies. Vulture, 25 July 2023 Chris Christie, Trump attack dog The former New Jersey governor is already using a tactic that other candidates may have to adopt: Attack Trump directly. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 16 July 2023 Beyond serving as Trump’s main attack dog and shield against the press for years—both on the campaign side and in the White House—McEnany was among the leading public-facing peddlers of false claims about the 2020 election. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 31 May 2023 Their complicated involvement in the two cases reflects the perils of the former president’s long habit of viewing lawyers as attack dogs or even political bosses rather than as advocates bound by ethical rules. Ben Protess, New York Times, 11 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'attack dog.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1939, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of attack dog was in 1939

Dictionary Entries Near attack dog

Cite this Entry

“Attack dog.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

attack dog

: a dog trained to attack upon receiving a command or upon seeing a certain object (as a person)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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