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

Idiom language: Spanish
  • IPA: /eˌt͡ʃaɾle los ˈperos/ [eˌt͡ʃaɾ.le los ˈpe.ros]
  • Syllabification: e‧char‧le los pe‧rros

In Spanish, there are many idioms that may seem confusing or even nonsensical to non-native speakers. One such idiom is echarle los perros, which literally translates to “throwing the dogs at someone.” However, this phrase has a much deeper meaning in Spanish culture.

The Origin of the Phrase

The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in Mexico. The phrase was likely inspired by the behavior of dogs when they are attracted to something or someone. Dogs will often follow and pursue their target relentlessly, just as a person who is echarle los perros will pursue their romantic interest with persistence and determination.

The Meaning of the Phrase

Echarle los perros is an idiom used to describe someone who is trying to seduce or court another person. It can be used in both positive and negative contexts depending on the situation. For example, if a man is pursuing a woman with good intentions and genuine feelings, he may be described as “echarle los perros.” On the other hand, if a man is being overly aggressive or disrespectful towards a woman, he may also be described as “echarle los perros,” but in a negative sense.

English Spanish
To throw the dogs at someone Echarle los perros a alguien
To pursue romantically with persistence Cortejar con persistencia y determinación
To seduce or court someone Seducir o cortejar a alguien

Understanding the nuances of this idiom is important for anyone looking to communicate effectively in Spanish, especially in romantic situations. By learning about the origin and meaning of echarle los perros, non-native speakers can gain a deeper appreciation for Spanish culture and language.

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

The Spanish language is known for its colorful idioms and expressions, many of which have deep historical roots. One such idiom is echarle los perros, which can be translated to mean “to hit on someone” or “to flirt aggressively.” This phrase has a long history in Spain, dating back to the 19th century when it was commonly used among young men trying to impress women.

During this time period, Spain was undergoing significant social changes as a result of industrialization and urbanization. Young people were moving from rural areas into cities in search of work and new opportunities. As they navigated these new social environments, they developed their own slang and idiomatic expressions that reflected their experiences.

One theory about the origins of echarle los perros suggests that it may have been inspired by the behavior of actual dogs. In Spanish culture, dogs are often seen as symbols of loyalty and devotion. However, they can also be aggressive in pursuit of their desires. It’s possible that young men began using this phrase as a way to describe their own romantic pursuits, comparing themselves to persistent dogs who never give up on what they want.

Over time, echarle los perros became more widely used throughout Spain and Latin America. Today, it remains a popular expression among Spanish speakers around the world. While its origins may be rooted in a specific historical context, its meaning continues to evolve with each passing generation.

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

Variations of the Idiom

While the literal meaning may sound odd or even offensive, echarle los perros is actually a common expression used in many Spanish-speaking countries. However, its meaning can vary depending on where you are.

In some places, such as Mexico and Argentina, it means to flirt with someone aggressively or persistently. In other countries like Spain and Colombia, it can mean to intimidate or harass someone.

Examples of Usage

Here are some examples of how echarle los perros can be used in different situations:

– Juan was echarlingo lesperritos at Maria all night long.

(Juan was flirting with Maria all night long.)

– The boss was always echarlingo lesperritos at his employees.

(The boss was always harassing his employees.)

– I don’t want to go out with him again; he kept echarlingo me lesperritos.

(I don’t want to go out with him again; he kept persistently flirting with me.)

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


The idiom echarle los perros is used in situations where someone is trying to seduce or flirt with another person. Some common synonyms for this expression include:

  • “tirar la onda”: This expression translates to “throwing the vibe” and has a similar connotation as “echarle los perros.”
  • “ponerse pesado”: Literally meaning “to become heavy,” this phrase is often used to describe someone who won’t stop flirting even after being rejected.
  • “insistir mucho”: This phrase simply means “to insist a lot” and can be used in situations where someone is persistently trying to win over another person’s affection.


If we look at the opposite of echarle los perros, we might think of phrases that convey disinterest or rejection. Here are some possible antonyms:

  • “dar calabazas”: Translating literally as “to give pumpkins,” this phrase means to reject someone’s advances.
  • “ignorar por completo”: To ignore completely may be an effective way of showing disinterest in someone’s attempts at flirting.
  • “ser indiferente”: Being indifferent towards someone’s advances can also communicate a lack of interest.

Understanding the nuances of idiomatic expressions can be tricky, but it can also provide valuable insights into a culture’s values and social norms. In the case of echarle los perros, we see how important flirting and seduction are in Spanish-speaking cultures, as well as the potential for unwanted attention and harassment.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “echarle los perros”

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blank

In this exercise, you will be given a sentence with a blank space where the idiom echarle los perros should be inserted. Choose the correct form of the idiom from the options provided.

Sentence Options Answer
I saw Juan _____ Maria at the party last night. A) echando B) echaron C) echan D) echa A) echando
The boss is always _____ his employees to work harder. A) echando B) echaron C) echan D) echa A) echando

Exercise 2: Role Play Activity

In this exercise, you will role play a scenario where one person is trying to echarle los perros on another person. This exercise will help you to understand how this idiom is used in real-life situations and give you the opportunity to practice using it in conversation.

Scenario: You are at a party and you see someone you like. Your friend notices and encourages you to talk to them. You decide to echarle los perros on them.


  1. Choose a partner to role play with
  2. Decide who will be the person trying to “echarle los perros” and who will be the target
  3. Use the idiom “echarle los perros” in your conversation
  4. Switch roles and repeat the exercise

This exercise can also be done in a group setting, where each person takes turns being the person trying to echarle los perros. This will give everyone an opportunity to practice using this idiom in different scenarios.

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

When using the Spanish idiom echarle los perros, it is important to be aware of common mistakes that can lead to misunderstandings or even offense. This phrase, which translates literally to “throwing the dogs at someone”, is commonly used in Mexico and other Latin American countries as a way of expressing romantic interest.

Avoid Using It in a Literal Sense

One common mistake when using this idiom is taking it too literally. While the phrase does involve dogs, it has nothing to do with actual animals. Instead, it refers to someone who is aggressively pursuing another person romantically.

Avoid Using It Inappropriately

Another mistake is using this idiom in an inappropriate context. For example, if you use it with someone who isn’t interested in you romantically or if you use it excessively, it can come across as creepy or harassing.

To avoid these mistakes, make sure you understand the proper usage and context of echarle los perros. Use it sparingly and only with people who have shown interest in you romantically. By doing so, you’ll be able to express your feelings without causing any confusion or discomfort.

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