Running dog is a literal translation into English of the Chinese/Korean communist pejorative 走狗 (Chinese: zǒu gǒu / Korean: 주구 / Jugu), meaning lackey or lapdog, an unprincipled person who helps or flatters other, more powerful and often evil people. It is derived from the eagerness with which a dog will respond when called by its owner, even for mere scraps.
The phrase running dog has been in use in since the Qing Dynasty, and was often used in the 20th century by communists to refer to client states of the United States and other capitalist powers. Its first recorded use in English was in Edgar Snow's 1937 reportage Red Star Over China:
“Vanguards of young Moslems were . . . urging the overthrow of the ‘Kuomintang running-dog’”.
- “Dog,” 8f, Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989
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