Do you capitalize animal names?

Capitalization rules are tough to remember in general and sometimes it can be challenging to remember rules for specific types of words.

Generic Animal Names

Generally, animal names are lowercased unless used in a title with title case. For example, “fox” and “panda” are generally going to be lowercase in a sentence. However, there are specific times when certain animal names may be capitalized.

Dog Breeds

Most dog breeds are lowercased unless they contain a proper noun, such as “German shepherd” in which case the proper noun (German in this example) is capitalized, but the common noun is lower case. Other examples include French bulldog or Scottish terrier.

Dog breeds where all words are lower case include cocker spaniel, golden retriever, and chihuahua.

Binomial nomenclature

In the scientific world, the scientific names of animals are capitalized using binomial nomenclature, which is a system that uses Latin words to classify living organisms. The structure uses two words to construct the classification: the Genus name and the species name.

The first letter of the Genus name is always capitalized and the species name is always lowercase. Also, the full name is always italicized.

Some examples of binomial nomenclature animal names are:

  • Homo sapiens (Human Beings)
  • Panthera tigris (Tiger)
  • Canis lupus familiaris (House Dog)

Pet Names

Pet names are considered proper nouns so they are generally capitalized. For example, “Garfield” would be capitalized since it is a pet name. However, when saying “Garfield the cat,” the word “cat” is lowercase since it is not part of the name. A confusing exception to this rule is of course “Felix the Cat” whose full name includes the word “cat” meaning it is capitalized in this case.

In general, capitalize just the name of the animal and nothing else.


To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.



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