Adorable List: 20 Animal Names In Vietnamese

Ling Learn Languages
6 min readAug 23, 2021

Original blog post:

Do you love animals? To me, many animals are so cute such as cats and rabbits. I love their pure soul, especially the baby animals. Watching fun videos of animals can help you relax sometimes. As you are learning Vietnamese, why don’t we learn some common animal names in Vietnamese today? Let’s get started!

6 Most Popular Animal Names In Vietnamese

Con Chó — Dog

Dogs are adorable and popular. In Vietnamese, you can call them ‘con chó’, or ‘chó’. The old Chinese-Vietnamese word for a dog is ‘cẩu’. However, this word is not popularly used in daily life to call dogs but used for insulting people instead. For example, ‘cẩu tặc’ implies people who steal dogs (dognapping), then sell them to restaurants or wholesalers.

Con Mèo — Cat

‘Con mèo’ or ‘mèo’ is common phrases to call cats in the Vietnamese language. There are less-common words for cat including ‘mão’ — used in the Vietnamese zodiac, ‘miêu’ — an old word.

Con Lợn / Con Heo — Pig

In Northern Vietnamese, people call pigs ‘con lợn’. Meanwhile, in Central and Southern Vietnamese, ‘con heo’ is used instead. A female pig is called ‘lợn nái’, while a male pig is called ‘lợn giống’.

If you travel to the mountainous areas such as Sapa, Ha Giang, you may hear people say ‘lợn cắp nách’. This is the name of small pigs that local people there raise at home. Once a week, they hold one to two small pigs under their arms and bring them to the Sunday market to trade. That is why the pigs are called ‘lợn cắp nách’.

Con Gà — Chicken

Con gà, or chicken, is one of the most popular animals in Vietnam. In rural areas, almost every family has some chickens, and some families even raise hundreds of chickens as their main source of income. A female chicken is called ‘gà mái’, and a male chicken (a rooster) is called ‘gà trống’. There are also other words to call different types of chicken such as gà chọi (the chicken raised for cockfighting), gà Đông Tảo, gà ác (chicken that has a black feather, black skin, and black organs).

Con Bò — Cow

‘Con bò’ is the name for cows. Cows are considered friends of Vietnamese farmers. They are used to work on rice fields, and some are raised for meat (it might sound funny if we think of how the farmers treat their animal friends). In addition, some cows are raised for milk (dairy cows or dairy cattle). Dairy cows are named ‘bò sữa’ in Vietnamese.

Con Trâu — Water Buffalo

Water buffalo (con trâu) is the national animal of Vietnam. They, together with cows, help the farmers in the rice fields. They help plow the soil and carry crops. Water buffalo is also mentioned in many Vietnamese poems and legends. In some provinces in Vietnamese, Haiphong, as an example, there is a water buffalo fighting festival every spring.

Other Vietnamese Animal Names

When traveling in Vietnam, you may also see other animals besides the most 6 popular ones mentioned earlier. Below is the list of the animals you can see in Vietnam and how to call them in the local language:

  • Con cá — fish
  • Con khỉ — monkey
  • Con ngựa — horse
  • Con chuột — mouse
  • Con gián — cockroach
  • Con rắn — snake
  • Con sư tử — lion
  • Con hươu cao cổ — giraffe
  • Con nai — dear
  • Con hổ — tiger
  • Con voi — elephant
  • Con bướm — butterfly
  • Con vịt — duck
  • Con thỏ — rabbit
  • Con ong — bee
  • Con kiến — ant
  • Con gấu — bear
  • Con cừu — sheep
  • Con nhện — spider
  • Cá voi — whale
  • Cá heo — dolphin
  • Cá mập — shark
  • Chuột túi — kangaroo
  • Gấu trúc — panda
  • Chim cánh cụt — penguin

What Are Common Pets In Vietnam?

In Vietnam, dogs (chó) and cats (mèo) are the most common pets. They are friendly and cute. Women, especially, really love cats.

In addition, some people also keep hamsters (chuột hamster), birds (chim), some kinds of fish (cá cảnh) as pets. Squirrels (con sóc), snakes (con rắn), and lizards (thằn lằn) are sometimes kept as pets by a small part of Vietnamese people.

What Animals Are Sacred In Vietnam?

Con Rồng — Dragon

Influenced by Chinese traditions, dragons are also sacred animals in Vietnam. They represent power, so their images were used for the King’s clothes in ancient Vietnam. As a result, dragon sculptures are popular in Vietnamese architecture, such as temples and the imperial city.

Dragon is also called ‘Long’ in Vietnamese. This word is used to name some places in Vietnam. For example, ‘Kinh Đô Thăng Long’ used to be the name of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. ‘Kinh đô’ is ‘capital’ in the old language, ‘thăng’ means to fly up, and ‘long’ means dragons. Therefore, the name ‘Kinh Đô Thăng Long’ has a beautiful meaning, the capital where dragons fly up.

You might have heard of Ha Long Bay (or Vịnh Hạ Long), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. ‘Hạ Long’ means descending dragon. The name was given to the bay because the limestones there looked like parts of a dragon when it descended to the bay.

Con Phượng — Phoenix

Phoenix is a beautiful animal in different mythologies, including Chinese and Vietnamese ones. Phoenix (con phượng) represents intellect. Its images were used in the fashion designs for the queen in ancient Vietnam and used as decoration as well.

Con Rùa — Turtle

The turtle represents longevity and wisdom. There are two tourist attractions in Hanoi where you can find the stories relating to ‘con rùa’.

The first place is Hoan Kiem Lake in the central of Hanoi. There is a legend about a turtle that provided the King a special sword, which helped the King and his people win the war. The King then returned the sword to the turtle, and it swam away. You can still find a towel in the middle of the lake, which was known as ‘Tháp Rùa’ (the Turtle Towel). There was a giant turtle that was more than 100 years old living in the lake. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago. People believe that it was the turtle that helped the King.

The second place is the Temple Of Literature (aka Văn Miếu Quốc Tử Giám). The temple was built in 1070, dedicated to Confucius in Hanoi, northern Vietnam. The temple also hosts the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first national university. There are currently 82 stone steles with the names of successful people who passed the national exams (aka doctors). Each stone stele was built on a stone turtle to honor the doctors.

Con Kỳ Lân — Lion

Lion is considered to bring luck. In the new year or the mid-autumn festival, some groups of people will wear lion customs and perform a special dance to wish luck to everyone. This tradition is popular in Vietnam and also in China.

I hope you learn some Vietnamese animal names as well as Vietnamese culture from this article. If you like learning Vietnamese phrases on any topic, leave your comment under this post. I will be happy to share with you more about Vietnam and the language.



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