shrubs and small trees of the genus Cornus, 1610s, earlier dog-tree (1540s); the first element sometimes said to have been perhaps dag -- cf. dagger, dag (v.) "to pierce or stab" (1630s, perhaps 15c.) -- the trees have hard, white wood that was used in making skewers; another
name for it was skewer-wood. But another guess is that the tree was given the name in reference its fruit, which was called dogberry from 1550s, and dog had implications of "cheap, inferior."