Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "echar los perros" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

Have you ever heard someone say echar los perros in Spanish? This idiom is commonly used in Latin America to describe a situation where someone is trying to seduce or flirt with another person. However, the literal translation of this phrase is “throwing the dogs.”

The Origin of “Echar Los Perros”

The origin of this idiom is not clear, but some believe it comes from hunting dogs that were trained to chase after prey. In this context, echar los perros could mean releasing the dogs to go after something.

Usage and Meaning

In modern usage, echar los perros has taken on a more figurative meaning. It can be used when someone is making advances towards another person in a romantic or sexual way. It can also be used when someone is trying to convince another person to do something they may not want to do.


Juan estaba echándole los perros a María toda la noche en la fiesta. (Juan was hitting on Maria all night at the party.)

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “echar los perros”

The Spanish language is rich in idiomatic expressions that are used to convey certain meanings or situations. One such idiom is echar los perros, which can be roughly translated as “to put the dogs on someone”. This expression has a long history and its origins can be traced back to ancient times.

In the past, dogs were often used for hunting and protection. They were trained to track down prey or defend their owners from danger. As a result, they became associated with power and control. Over time, this association evolved into a metaphorical meaning where putting the dogs on someone came to represent exerting one’s influence over another person.

The use of this idiom became more widespread during the 20th century when it was commonly used in Mexican slang. It was often employed by men who would use aggressive tactics to pursue women romantically. In this context, echar los perros referred to making advances towards someone in an overly persistent or forceful manner.

Today, the idiom is still widely used throughout Spain and Latin America but its meaning has evolved once again. It can now refer to any situation where someone is being pressured or pursued relentlessly by another person.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “echar los perros”

When it comes to understanding a foreign language, idioms can often be the most challenging aspect. The Spanish idiom echar los perros is no exception. While its literal translation may refer to dogs, its figurative meaning is quite different. This idiom is commonly used in Spain and Latin America as a way to describe someone who is making unwanted advances towards another person.

Variations of the Idiom

Like many idioms, echar los perros has variations that are used in different regions or situations. In some parts of Latin America, for example, people may say “tirar la onda” instead of “echar los perros”. Both phrases have similar meanings but use different words to convey them.

Another variation of this idiom can be found in Spain where people might say tirar los tejos, which translates to throwing tiles. This phrase refers to someone who is trying to get the attention of another person by throwing small objects their way.

Usage Examples

The usage of this idiom can vary depending on the context and situation. For instance, if you were at a party and saw someone continuously flirting with another person despite their disinterest, you could say: Ese chico está echando los perros a esa chica y ella no parece estar interesada.

In other cases, this idiom might be used more playfully between friends as a joke or teasing remark. For example: No me eches los perros que ya tengo dueño.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “echar los perros”

When it comes to understanding a foreign language, it’s important to not only learn individual words but also idiomatic expressions. One such expression in Spanish is echar los perros, which translates literally as “throwing the dogs.” However, this phrase doesn’t actually have anything to do with canines. Instead, it’s a colloquial way of saying that someone is making romantic advances towards another person.

If you’re trying to improve your Spanish skills or simply want to expand your knowledge of idioms from around the world, it can be helpful to explore synonyms and antonyms for phrases like echar los perros. Some similar expressions in Spanish might include “tirar la caña” (casting a fishing line) or “tirar el anzuelo” (casting the hook). On the other hand, an antonym for this phrase might be something like “dar calabazas” (giving pumpkins), which means rejecting someone’s advances.

Of course, understanding idioms goes beyond just knowing their literal translations or finding synonyms and antonyms. It’s also important to consider cultural context. For example, while flirting may be seen as harmless fun in some cultures, others may view it as inappropriate or even offensive behavior. Additionally, different regions within Spain and Latin America may have their own unique variations on this idiom or entirely different ways of expressing romantic interest.

In order to truly grasp the meaning behind an idiom like echar los perros, then, you need to delve deeper into its cultural significance. This might involve studying regional dialects or reading up on social norms and customs within Spanish-speaking countries. By doing so, you’ll gain a more nuanced understanding of not just this particular phrase but also the broader culture that surrounds it.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “echar los perros”

Exercise 1: Role Play

Find a partner and practice using the idiom echar los perros in a role play scenario. One person can be the one who is trying to flirt or seduce, while the other person can be the one who is being pursued. Use different variations of the idiom and try to make it sound as natural as possible.


Person 1: Oye, ¿quieres salir conmigo esta noche?

Person 2: Lo siento, pero no me gustaría que me eches los perros.

Exercise 2: Fill in The Blank

Complete these sentences by filling in the blanks with appropriate words or phrases related to echar los perros.


No me gusta cuando alguien _____________ en el trabajo.

Answer: Me está echando los perros.

1. Siempre que voy al barrio chino, hay hombres que _______________.

Answer: Me están echando los perros.

2. Mi amiga siempre se queja de que su jefe le ________________.

Answer: Está echando los perros.

3. Cuando salgo por la noche, trato de evitar lugares donde haya mucha gente tratando de ____________________.

Answer: Echarte los perros.

Exercise 3: Translate

Translate these English sentences into Spanish using echar los perros.


He’s always trying to hit on her at work.

Answer: Él siempre está tratando de echarle los perros en el trabajo.

1. I don’t like it when strangers hit on me at the bar.

Answer: No me gusta cuando desconocidos me echan los perros en el bar.

2. She’s tired of her boss constantly flirting with her.

Answer: Ella está cansada de que su jefe le esté echando los perros constantemente.

3. My friend is really good at avoiding guys who are trying to pick her up.

Answer: Mi amiga es muy buena evitando a los chicos que le están echando los perros.

By practicing these exercises, you’ll be able to confidently use the idiom echar los perros in various situations and impress your Spanish-speaking friends!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “echar los perros”

When it comes to using idioms in a foreign language, it can be tricky to get them right. The Spanish idiom echar los perros is no exception. This idiom has a specific meaning that may not be immediately clear to non-native speakers, and there are some common mistakes that should be avoided when using it.

Mistake #1: Taking the Idiom Literally

The literal translation of echar los perros is “to throw the dogs,” but this does not accurately reflect its intended meaning. In Spanish, this idiom means to flirt or make advances towards someone in a persistent or aggressive manner. It’s important to understand the figurative meaning of the idiom rather than taking it literally.

Mistake #2: Using the Idiom Inappropriately

While echar los perros can be used in many situations where flirting or making advances is involved, it’s important to use this idiom appropriately. Using it in a professional setting or with someone who is clearly not interested can come across as inappropriate and disrespectful.

  • Avoid using “echar los perros” with colleagues or clients in a professional setting.
  • If someone expresses disinterest or discomfort, do not continue to use this idiom.

By avoiding these common mistakes and understanding how to properly use the Spanish idiom echar los perros, you can effectively communicate your intentions without causing offense or confusion.

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