As Fit As A Butcher’s Dog

Meaning of “As Fit as a Butcher’s Dog”

The phrase “as fit as a butcher’s dog” means a person is extremely fit and healthy even in a challenging situation. In fact, the allusion shows that a butcher’s dog is given meat and scraps of meat after an animal was slain and sold. The dogs may even be overweight by eating all the scraps and not necessarily fit.

Origin of “As Fit as a Butcher’s Dog”

The phrase “as fit as a butcher’s dog” originated from A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar Words written by John Camden Hotten. It was published in 1859. Hotten states that this simile is often applied to married men. In the past, however, it meant that there is a something very close to a person, but he has no access to it exactly like a butcher’s dog that cannot touch the beef though it can eat scraps if allowed.

Examples in Literature


The Faller by Nick Ambrister

He stands at the edge of a tall mountain looking down the sheer drop.
Seconds pass.
The man jumps!
Nothing stops his fall.
Rocks smash his frail limbs like matchsticks.
End over end till he finally hits the valley floor 2,800ft below,
His body of bloody broken mass.
Why did he jump?
Because he enjoys it.
He’s the faller.
This jump is his 318th off this mission.
Broken limbs, pupled body, severed head, fatal injuries and death
Are an occupational hazard.
It’s ok.
The destructive injuries vanish after 30 minutes and
The faller is as fit as butcher’s dog
And mad as a psychopath to jump again.
Witness a freak: the faller.

This is a narrative poem packed with an inspirational story. Here ‘The Faller’ is about a person who likes to dive from the high hills or cliffs. Despite the dangers involved ‘the faller’ enjoys jumping off the cliff. The writer uses the phrase to describe how ‘the faller’ had survived and is as fit as a butcher’s dog even after the nasty fall and injuries.”

Example #2

Stanley’s Story Volume One by Stanley Graham

“A regular customer was Ted Lancaster (no relation to Charlie), he used to come in at about six o’clock and stay until about nine. He and his brother Eric drove for West Marton Dairies near Skipton and as always on his way home with a load of empty bottles from Nelson when he called in. He used to park his wagon outside the pub and get about five pints down his neck before he went home to Dorothy for his tea. He lived in the street behind the shop at Sough and so we were neighbours. I got on well with Eddie and it wasn’t long before I was going with him to Nelson on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon, helping him with the work, doing a bit of driving and having a few drinks on the way round. There was no pay but I was never short of milk and cream and it all helped. I was as fit as a butcher’s dog of course in those days and the heavy work of shifting bottles and cans was nothing to me.”

The narrator of this story talks about Ted Lancaster, his brother Eric, and his work routine. He is fascinated by them as he worked for them during that time. He accepts that there was no pay but he always received milk and cream for the work he did. Though the work was hard, the narrator uses the phrase to describe his health. He didn’t mind doing the heavy lifting.

Example #3

Memoirs of a Serial Hiller by Alan Butterworth

Back to Work

“I was eighteen, a teddy boy, engaged in to be married, fit as a butchers dog and learning a trade. I returned to work after that month in the Outward Bound School, full of it all. My department looked a sorry sight after the Lakeland hills – which I harboured a grudge against for a couple of years, but life had to go on. Trafford Park, during the rush hour was madness, with thousands of bikes and a never ending stream of buses brining people to and from work. I remember lots of fog and evil smog, when Trafford Park and most of the Manchester had disappeared as I rode to work.”

This paragraph has been taken from the book, Memoirs of a Serial Hiller, the story of friends having lived with each other for decades. In this chapter, the author explains his past when he was eighteen years old. He also mentions about the industrialization during that time. Many people lost work, but the narrator explains that despite the challenges he had a job at Lakeland hills, and he was healthy.”

Example #4

Shipman patient ‘was fit as a butcher’s dog’ by Helen Carter July 01, 2001 from The Guardian

John Hopwood, Mr Bardsley’s son-in-law, told it: “He was generally as fit as a butcher’s dog. Old age had nothing to do with Joe’s death, he was far too fit and strong. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him mentally or physically.”

This short paragraph is taken from a news report by Helen Carter published in The Guardian in its July 01, 2001 publication. The new article describes the suspicious death of Joseph Bardsley, who was 83 years old. The phrase is used by Mr. Bardsley’s son-in-law as he confirmed that Joseph was healthy during the time of his death.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Sharon doesn’t eat anything but junk food, and still she is as fit as a butcher’s dog!”

Example #2: “Harry is getting as fit as a butcher’s dog. It’s not good for his heart as he grows old.”

Example #3: “Jeremy seems as fit as a butcher’s dog, yet he needs a long time to get up from his chair. I feel he’s getting lazy.”

Example #4: I am as fit as a butcher’s dog, though I look healthy. I am rather weak, and I need a break from work.”

Example #5: “You are as fit as a butcher’s dog to look at, but you are not getting any stronger.”