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A Polish diplomat gave Catherine the Great a little dog, then, by observing the little dog, he found out who was Catherine's secret lover.

In a hierarchical organization, people who are two layers above you always look nice, but the ones appointed immediately above you always betray their masters' attitudes.

I wonder if there is an English word for this role played by little dogs.

Thanks,

closed as unclear what you're asking by user140086, tchrist, Nathaniel, Centaurus, Jim Dec 21 '15 at 0:51

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  • Clever little dog. Is there a word for this in some other language that you are aware of? – Mitch Dec 19 '15 at 18:43
  • 狗腿子 in Chinese (a dog's leg), often used to say that there is no need to hit back at the one who offended you because he is just a dog's leg. – George Chen Dec 19 '15 at 18:51
  • I'm not sure if I understand completely. Is the implication that you can judge a master by his minions? – Kit Z. Fox Dec 20 '15 at 1:18
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    I'm confused. Are you saying that 'one's lieutenants betray the leader's true intentions' is the same as 'a dog's leg/no need to retaliate against someone so unimportant'? THose don't seem comparable at all to me. Can you elaborate? – Mitch Dec 20 '15 at 4:30
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    There is a saying, "You can judge a man by the company he keeps." but that's not quite what you're looking for I think. – Jim Dec 21 '15 at 0:51
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While not a noun to describe the dog itself, the idiomatic dead giveaway serves your purpose quite well:

Something that reveals a fact or an intention completely. The car in the driveway was a dead giveaway that someone was at home.

Alternatively, just giveaway can be sufficient:

Something that reveals a fact that was meant to be concealed. (Often with dead.) The way he was walking was a giveaway to the fact that he was the one who was injured.

This particularly emphasises the idea that the fact was intended to remain hidden.

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