Single in China: It’s a Dog’s Life

To be single is to be like an abandoned pup. Melodramatic, huh? In China, there’s a popular term for this unpleasant state of affairs: 单身狗 (dānshēnɡǒu), which translates to “single dog.”

“单身狗 (dānshēnɡǒu) Single dog” is an Internet slang. It refers to people who are single or who don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend. In China, this state is like that of a dog, afraid of being lonely and in need of company. It has a similar meaning as “光棍 (guānggùn),” but is a derogatory term and is usually used as a way of self-mockery.


Jié Kè:  Mǎ Kè,  nǐ yǒu nǚpéngyou le ma?
杰 克:马  克,你  有    女朋友      了 吗?
Jack: Do you have a girlfriend?

Mǎ Kè: Méiyǒu, wǒ háishì gè guānggùner ne.   Nǐ ne?
马  克: 没有, 我   还是  个  光棍儿        呢。你 呢?
Mark: No, I’m still a single. And you?

Jié Kè:  Wǒ yě háishì zhī dānshēn gǒu.
杰 克:我   也 还是   只   单身      狗。
Jack: I’m still a single Dog!

“单身(dānshēn)” means “single,” and “狗(ɡǒu)” means “dog.” As in many other countries, when you call someone a dog in China, it’s an insult. Because “狗(ɡǒu)” is normally a negative or derogatory word in Chinese. For example, “狐朋狗友(húpéng gǒuyǒu)” means “a pack of scoundrels” and “狗窝(gǒuwō) doghouse” means someone’s home is in a mess. But with “单身狗(dānshēnɡǒu)” that isn’t quite the case. Normally you would only call yourself “单身狗(dānshēnɡǒu),” and when you do it’s in a self-deprecating manner. You’re pitying yourself, but only in a joking way, kind of.


Wǒ shì yìzhī dānshēn gǒu.
我   是  一只  单身      狗。
I’m a single Dog!

Wǒ hé tā dōu méiyǒu nǚpéngyou, wǒmen dōushì dānshēn gǒu.
我   和 他  都    没有    女朋友,      我们    都是     单身       狗。
Neither I nor him have a girlfriend, we are both single dogs.

Feel free to use this terms with your friends as misery loves company, right? Just don’t over use it as it can become annoying. In any case, we know you’ve got charm, so when you’re done feeling bad get out there and use it! Anyway, being single isn’t all bad. Nobody else is gobbling up all the food in your fridge. If your home is messy, it’s your mess so it’s automatically better, and you get to walk around the house naked. If that’s not enough, Netflix is always there to keep you company. Open your queue and let your troubles fade into the glow of the television screen.
HSK 3 quiz
1. What is a “单身狗(dānshēnɡǒu)?”
A. a dog that has no mate
B. a person who wants to be single
C. a single person
D. a person in a relationship

2. Which word is synonymous to “单身狗(dānshēnɡǒu)?”
A.  光棍(guānggùn)
B.  狗窝(gǒuwō)
C.  狐朋狗友(húpénggǒuyǒu)

4 thoughts on “Single in China: It’s a Dog’s Life”

    1. jennifer.zhu

      Hi Ramnathan, I’m glad you like the article we posted. We will keep updating more interesting posts, please feel free to check.

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