Animals in French

There are currently billions of animals on our planet, and the moment will surely come when you will have to discuss at least one of them with a native French speaker. That means that you should learn some basic animal vocabulary in the French language - and we’re here to help.

First of all, don’t worry - learning the French animal names doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be fun and exciting, especially if you use interesting exercises or practice methods.

Secondly, we’re here to offer you just that. In the article below, you’ll learn the French words for the animals along with some interesting tips for learning them.

Ready to boost your vocabulary and learn how to say “a cat,” “a dog,” and “a seal” in French? Then read on!

French Animals - the Basics

First, let’s dive into the French translation of the most common animal names. Below, you will find several lists of the French words related to different types of wild and domestic fauna.

Note that we often use the masculine name of a certain species - however, there are also feminine forms if you know the animal is female. You might not come across them as often as the ones we mention below, but if you’re interested, you can also check them in the dictionary (just remember to do that correctly).

Pets - Les Animaux Domestique

Animaux domestic (domestic animals) are not the only name the French have for pets. More often, you will hear the phrase “animal de compagnie” used to mean “pet” - literally, “animal of company.” Here’s a short vocabulary list of the most common animaux de compagnie in French



un chat

a cat

(female: une chatte, kitten: un chaton)



un chien

a dog

(female: une chienne, puppy: le chiot)

The French - as well as many other languages - have their own translation for “meow” - miaou - and “woof” - ouaf.

Animals in French



un poisson rouge

a goldfish

un cochon d'Inde / un cobaye

a Guinea pig

une souris

a mouse

un perroquet

a parrot

un hamster

a hamster

un furet

a ferret

un cheval

a horse

une tortue

a turtle

Farm Animals - Les Animaux de la Ferme

Animaux de la ferme can literally be translated as “animals of the farm,” - nothing challenging there. The same rules work for the other types of animals. For example, you can say les animaux de la mer (animals of the sea) or les animaux de la forêt (forest animals).

Those can also be put in the singular form - for example, “Un poulet est un animal de la ferme.” (A chicken is a farm animal).



un poulet

a chicken

une vache

a cow

There's a French expression "Oh la vache !" ussed to show surprise, admiration, or disappointment. Its English translation would be "holy cow!"



un taureau

a bull

un mouton

a sheep

As in English, people can count the sheep to fall asleep faster in French. However, the French word mouton can be conjugated - so in French, you would count: “Un mouton, deux moutons, trois moutons…

Animals in French



une chèvre

a goat

A thing you should note here is that chèvre can also mean goat cheese - but in that case, it would be masculine.



un cochon

a pig

un canard

a duck

une oie

a goose

un âne

a donkey

un coq

a rooster

The last word you might have heard in relation to the famous French dish - coq au vin.

Land Wildlife - La Faune Terrestre

When you look at the names of the wild animals (or zoo animals, if you prefer) in French, you can see that many of them are similar to those in the English language. There are also some animal names derived from Latin - for example, un loup (the wolf), from which we have the famous (thanks to House MD) disease lupus.



le règne animal

the animal kingdom

un écureuil

a squirrel

un blaireau

a badger

un tamia

a chipmunk

un rat

a rat

A fun thing to note here: say the name of the movie Ratatouille out loud slowly. What can you hear? A good French speaker can hear the words “rat and ear.”



un hérisson

a hedgehog

un renard

a fox

un cerf

a deer

un ours

a bear

un loup

a wolf

une girafe

a giraffe

un éléphant

an elephant

un lion

a lion

un tigre

a tiger

un guépard

a cheetah

un singe

a monkey

a chimpanzee

un chimpanzé

un zèbre

a zebra

une fourmi

an ant

une araignée

a spider

un scarabée

a beetle

a cockroach

un cafard

un lapin/une lapine

a rabbit

Animals in French

Water Wildlife - La Faune de L'eau



les animaux marins

Sea animals

un poisson

a fish

Remember about the pronunciation here! Un poisson, /puason/ will mean “a fish”, while /puazon/, spelled as poison will mean “poison.”



un requin

a shark

une grenouille

a frog

un phoque

a seal

Are you familiar with the funny trend which grew out of someone googling “seal in French?”



une baleine

a whale

une pieuvre

an octopus

un calamar

a squid

une crevette

a prawn

un homard

a lobster

un crabe

a crab

une étoile de mer

a starfish

un dauphin

a dolphin

une méduse

a jellyfish

une anguille

an eel

un hippocampe

a seahorse

des fruits de mer

shellfish (as food), literally, “the fruit of the sea”

Flying Fauna - La Faune Volante



un oiseau

a bird

un aigle

an eagle

un moineau

a sparrow

un corbeau

a raven

une corneille

a crow

un rossignol

a nightingale

un dindon/une dinde

a turkey

une autruche

an ostrich

un paon

a peacock

un manchot

a penguin

un pigeon

a pigeon

un cygne

a swan

un hibou

an owl

une cigogne

a stork

un faucon

a falcon

une buse

a hawk

une grue

a crane

Animals in French

Animals in French - the Issue of Gender

Knowing the French animal vocabulary is not enough if you want to communicate fluently with native speakers. In that case, you also need to know which article to use with which name - even if we’re talking about the simplest words, such as chat (cat) or chien (dog).

First of all, most of the French animals have two different words for the same species of the different gender - for example, un chat and une chatte (male and female cat). Sometimes, just the ending changes, so this shouldn’t be a problem for you to learn them.

Moreover, as you speak about the animal in general, you will most often use just one gender, choosing one of the words we mentioned above.

In most cases, the main thing that changes if you decide to speak about the female or male animal is the article. Check our grammar point about the gender in living beings to learn more about that.

Nevertheless, there are some French animal words that refer separately to the female or male animal of a certain species. You can see that in the examples of the French words - for instance, un cheval (a horse), un étalon (a stallion), and une jument (a mare).

How to Practice Your Animal Vocabulary

Don’t just memorize the words you have above - if you do that, the only thing that might be left in your head is how to say “dog” and “cat” in French. Instead, use other, more engaging methods.

For example, create flashcards which help you remember the words better; do exercises online to practice them more; watch French movies, TV shows and YouTube videos related to the topic so you can immerse yourself with the French words; and, finally, download the apps that might help you learn them faster - such as Langster.

Final Thoughts: Learn the French Animal Vocabulary Easily

French vocabulary regarding the animals is very broad - so don’t expect yourself to learn all of it quickly. Instead, remember to practice and use the words in context more.

For better results, start simple - with “chien” and “chat.” Try to notice them when watching French movies or reading French stories, and use them more often in conversations. Then, slowly add the remaining vocabulary related to different animals so that you’re not stuck with just “chien” and “chat” forever.

Remember that you might not need all of that vocabulary in the future. Focus on the words that seem the most important to you - for now, that will be enough. And remember to have fun - after all, learning French should be exciting, not daunting.

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Beata Hardzei

Beata Hardzei loves languages and shares this passion through her writing. Speaking English, Polish, Russian, and French, she explores the nuances of foreign languages, aiming to make learning feel more like a journey than a task. Beata's background as a teacher and translator enriches her insights, helping you see language learning as an accessible, enriching experience.