prairie dog


: any of a genus (Cynomys) of gregarious burrowing rodents of the squirrel family chiefly of central and western U.S. plains
especially : a black-tailed rodent (C. ludovicianus) that usually lives in extensive colonial burrows

Illustration of prairie dog

Illustration of prairie dog

Examples of prairie dog in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the next enclosure, a pair of prairie dogs perch on logs under the glaring artificial light of an overhead lamp. Wire Service, The Mercury News, 12 Jan. 2024 True to their name, the owls often occupy burrows excavated by prairie dogs in the western United States and gopher tortoises in Florida, but any appropriate burrow will be claimed by burrowing owls throughout their range. Sam Cooper., Charlotte Observer, 9 Mar. 2016 Our dogs chased prairie dogs, pheasants, grouse and antelope, and alerted us to rattlesnakes and jack rabbits. Sean Sherman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Nov. 2023 Other animals: Giraffe, alpaca, dromedary camel, Bactrian camel, hyena, porcupine, prairie dogs, hornbill birds, curassow birds, capybara, lion, horses, Grévy’s zebra, Indian rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, llama, anoa, African buffalo, bontebok and cassowary. Maura Judkis, Washington Post, 23 Oct. 2023 But make no mistake: These creatures are a prairie dog’s worst nightmare. Lee Powell, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 Birds line their nests with bison fur, and prairie dogs take advantage of the shorter grass found in grazing areas to dig their burrows. Carleigh Baker, Travel + Leisure, 7 Nov. 2023 Establishing colonies in the meadows of Bryce Canyon helped preserve the population, and today, over 600 prairie dogs call the park home. Sean Catangui, New York Times, 28 May 2023 Visitors to this park may be lucky enough to spot bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, bison, and black-footed ferrets. Josh Laskin, Travel + Leisure, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prairie 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

1774, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prairie dog was in 1774

Dictionary Entries Near prairie dog

Cite this Entry

“Prairie dog.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

prairie dog

: a black-tailed buff or grayish rodent of central and western U.S. prairies that is related to the squirrels and usually lives in colonies with many burrows

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