pooch. A slang term for a dog, especially a mongrel.
The word first saw print in 1924, according to the OED, as a slang term for dog. Dick McQuillen of the web site Word for Word, quotes Eric Partridge (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 8th ed.) as saying this about pooch: “Perhaps it is cognate with the German Putzi, a fairly common name given to a lap dog.” McQuillen said that this was the only reference he could find. The American Dialect Society listserv had a lively and largely uninformative exchange on the subject a few years ago. One correspondent suggested that pooch was a reference to the dog's jowls; another that pouch was a pocket and still another pointed to dog names: Pucci (Italian) and Poonch (hindi). I tend to think it is a corruption of “porch dog,” an alternative designation for the yaller dogs of the rural American South.
I have been able to find no metaphorical uses of the term “pooch.” However, it has often been a nickname for athletes, most notably Pooch Donovan who coached football, track and field, and boxing at Harvard in the late 19th century. More recently, you will find the athlete and actor Pooch Hall.
1. McQuillen, Dick. 2001. Word for Word. Plateau Press. Accessed Aug 30 2001 from http:// plateaupress.com.au/ wfw/wfwindex.htm.
2. Wilson, Douglas G., Geoffrey Nunberg, and Dale Coyle. Re: A Guess on Pooch=Dog Origin. American Dialect Society Mailing List. American Dialect Society. Accessed Jun 2 2008 from http:// listserv.linguistlist.org/ cgi-bin/ wa?A2= ind0309A&L= ADS-L&P= R1845&I= -3&m=27606.
3. Harvard Re-Engages Pooch Donovan. 1915. New York Times. Apr 15. Accessed Apr 12 2008 Accessed from http:// query.nytimes.com/ mem/ archive-free/ pdf? res= 9F05EFDD153EE0 33A25756C1 A9619C946496D6CF.