Choosing Dog Names
Your dog's name says as much about you as it does your pet. The name you pick out can help define your relationship with your dog -- a more human name might mean your dog is no different than a child would be to you, while a name like "Hunter," "Tracker" or "Champ" might help illustrate a working dog's function in society. An offbeat name effectively displays your cleverness to your friends, while a popular, well-worn dog name might indicate a desire to cling to the comfortable, classic, tried and true. And other names might point out a fun or beloved quality or quirk of your pet's, be it a physical quality (think "Patch" or "Blackie") or part of his personality ("Dash," "Sugar," "Pop Tart").
But whether you're thinking quirky or popular, here are some things to keep in mind when naming your dog:
1. Choose a name your dog can recognize and respond to easily. One or two syllables is ideal. Your dog may have trouble coming to you if you're yelling "Maximillian IV!" from the other end of the dog park.
2. Pick a name your pet can grow into. "Baby" the dog won't be a baby forever.
3. A classic name will be easier to call your pup in public as opposed to "Killer" or something equally cruel or embarrassing.
4. If you must name your dog something long (show dogs sometimes have a sentence for a name, often including their kennel and title if they're champions), keep the shorter "call name" in mind, as that will most likely become your dog's working name.
If you're curious about what's popular in the dog name world, here are the Top 10 Dog Names on Dogster.com.
Popular Female Dog Names: Bella, Lucy, Daisy, Molly, Maggie, Chloe, Sadie, Sophie, Lola and Bailey
Popular Male Dog Names: Buddy, Max, Jake, Charlie, Rocky, Jack, Toby, Bailey, Buster and Bear
Related Advice from Other Dog Owners
When you rescue a dog from a shelter, it's ok to change its name
Changing his name from the name assigned at the shelter is fine and it's a good way to get your dog to learn his new name. Get a handful of yummy treats. Feed them one at a time, saying the pup's new name in varying tones and volume as the food hits his mouth. This helps create a positive association with their name, and ultimately helps with recall too.
~Karolyn W., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer/Boxer
How to Teach Your Dog His Name
I would suggest classically conditioning the name: Put a treat into your dog's mouth. As the treat touches your dog’s tongue, say your dog's name. Vary the way you say the name, trying to include every way you may say your dog’s name in real life. Include nicknames. Do this many times throughout the day, using different intonations, in different rooms, at different times, with different treats. Your goal is to do this 5000 times - honest!
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Wine or Liquor Names
I know a few of my friends that named their dogs after quarterbacks. Mine are named after liquors and good wines! I had one that was named Cognac, easy two syllables, like "Jaeger," or "Alize," kind of fun.
~Sandra D., owner of Dobermans
How We Named Our Adopted Dog
Our rescue dog was previously named 'Kade' a hard name that didn't suit this loving, gentle, mistreated little soul at all.
Although we could have chosen any name, we felt he should have a similar sounding name to be easy to learn and not confuse him. We chose to call him Jake (now known as Jakey Boy or Jakey Loo!!) as this would sound similar to him. Otherwise we love the name Buster and our previous soul mate was a rescue dog called Max (who we always called Maxi or Maxwell House!)
It should be a name that reflects your dog's place as part of the family, not something just to be original in my opinion, but an original name that does both is grand. My childhood dog was Major, as my WWII veteran grandad thought it was a cool name. He was a black Lab - my dog - not my grandad!
~L T., owner of a Jack Russell mix
Human names for dogs
We've always given our dogs human or semi-human names. Here are some of them from over the years: Sherlock, Jessie, Regis, Margo, Tasha, Charlie, TeddyBear, SugarBear, HoneyBear, LolaBear, Caliope (called Callie) LeRoy, Carmine, Caldonia and Crystal. Someone once gave me good advice - name the dog a two syllable name that doesn't sound like a command, such as "Moe."
~Denise L., owner of mixed breed dog pound dogs
Name them for a relative or historical character
Annie was a gift from a friend. She was one of a kind in a brood of six presented by a mixed breed mated with an unknown. It was my greataunt's name.
Hayley was a Cardigan Welsh Corgi found covered with mud and wandering on a country road alongside her brother and taken to PAWS. I named her Hayley because it had the British connotation of "from the fields."
Anastasia was another PAWS dog. They named her that and I liked it because it reminded me of my paternal grandparents, who came to America from Russia in 1900. The name she mostly answers to is Ana, but I also call her Anakins, or Sweet Little Brown Dog.
I guess you could say that my way of naming my dogs is to relate them to a relative or something in history I know about.
Their quirks or mine?
My husky I named Rocky because he ate gravel in the driveway when he was a puppy.
Monkey got his name because he crawled all over my roommate when she tried to hold him.
Java (my dog and Monkey's littermate sister) got her nickname because she looked like a coffee blend.
They know their nicknames, too: Chunken Munken or Chunky Monk and Miss Javs or Java Waba -- which can easily and readily be shortened to MONK! and JAV!! when discipline, attention, or recall is necessary.
~Jacqui M., owner of a German Shepherd
Naming Dogs After Family Members
If there is someone in your family that you would like to honor by naming your dog after them -- an aunt, uncle, grandmother, etc. -- you should always make sure that the family member is a fan of dogs. As example, dog lover Aunt Lucy might be honored to have your dog named after her, but Grandpa Steve, who never really loved puppies, may just think: "Boy! You're naming a dog after me?!"
~Mathea T., owner of a Schnauzer
Nothing Wrong with Bob
I've been around dogs all my life, usually two at a time. My parents owned them. My brother owned them. Girlfriends owned them. Even though most of the time their dogs adopted me as the head of the pack, I have only actually owned one dog.
I decided when I finally got ME a dog, I wanted to name it Bob. Well, my chance came when a stray entered our neighborhood and after three months of trying to catch it, I finally did. She was an adorable dog about a year old. Everyone said, "She's a girl. You can't name her Bob!" But I did. She loves the name. She doesn't know it's a boy's name. At least it's a name, whereas Poopsie and Precious or Cuddles and Flopsie aren't even names. They're adjectives.
Name your Dog from the Heart!
When I went to pick up my Bichon Frise from the SPCA, he was originally named BICHON JOHNSON by the shelter. Awww, c'mon! He looked like a Mickey to me, not a big ole football player. So from the heart I named him MickeyFin. He is a super little white fuzzball. He seems to love the name.
~Joyce G., owner of a Bichon Frise
Go for the Weird and Wacky Names
Since my dogs are rescues and since I have a weird sense of humor, they all got new names. I have Bugz, Calimari, Taco, and Squid. There aren't too many with names like this.
A Dog Who Is a Dragon
My German shepherd's name is Saphira. She was named after the dragon in the book Eragon. I get comments on her pretty and elegant name.
~Danielle S., owner of a German Shepherd
Spend Some Time with Your Pup First
My new pup is named Digit. He was born with a small genetic "defect" -- one of his paws including his pads and digits, didn't fully develop before his birth. But it doesn't stop him from having a good time!!
~Nilah W., owner of an American Pit Bull Terrier
And don't forget a middle name....
When you really want them to listen, it helps to have a middle name! How quickly did you turn around when your mother used yours?
I have a Jenks Michael and a Cocoa Marie. My neighbors have a Buck Rogers and a Toby Ann.
~Jenifer A., owner of a Labrador Retriever
Careful what you wish for......
We picked Kali Ma (Kali Ma, called the "Dark Mother," is the Hindu goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction) because she was black and spunky. However, the latter turned out to be quite prophetic!
~D.K.E., owner of a Labrador mix