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Show Dog Names: From Fancy to Bizzare

Written by: Melvin Peña

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Sussex Spaniel

Show Dog Names: From Fancy to Bizzare

Whenever there’s a conformation dog show on television, I’m sure there’s a sizeable segment of the viewing population that laughs or shakes their heads when the competing dogs’ names are announced. No dog show is immune from the strange dog name phenomenon, be it New York’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Birmingham’s Crufts, or the rotating international venues of the World Dog Show. Have a gander at the names of some recent winners from each competition:

  • Vjk-Myst Garbonita’s California Journey (German Shorthaired Pointer, Westminster Best in Show, 2016)
  • Burneze Geordie Girl (West Highland White Terrier, Crufts Best in Show, 2016)
  • Ops I Did It Again Del Cuore Impavido (Bearded Collie, World Dog Show Best in Show, 2015)

Any number of questions surely spring to mind after seeing only these three examples. Do their owners, trainers, and handlers actually have to call the dogs by these names? Can you imagine having to say, “King Arthur Van Foliny Home! Time for dinner!” or “Who’s a good dog? Is it you, Efbe’s Hidalgo At Goodspice?”

Why do purebred, pedigreed show dogs have such unwieldy and absurd names? Are there any rules, guidelines, or limits to the kinds of names that competitive show dogs can have? We have answers to these questions and many others! Let’s begin, shall we?

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What’s in a Name?

If you watch HBO’s ultra-popular television show, Game of Thrones, you know that names and titles make a difference, whether it’s Arya Stark continually stating that “a girl has no name” or Daenerys Targaryen announcing herself as “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.” The Stark direwolves have much more manageable names by far.

When registering a dog, male or female, with a kennel club or a conformation dog show organization like the American Kennel Club in the United States or Crufts in the United Kingdom, the names read out by announcers sound more like the Targaryen title than any of the nicknames her advisors give her. The truth of the matter is that there are both guidelines and restrictions on competitive dog show names, but there is no universal standard or pattern to them. The rules governing dog naming are not even consistent between major organizations such as the AKC and Crufts.

show dog names
There are strict rules for registered AKC dog names. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The 21 Unique Show Dog Names


  • Carlota Somerled de Suarias. With a name like this, you’d think this Beagle belonged to the royal family. This beautiful dog took home the best of breed at one of the Westminster Kennel Club dog shows.
  • His Royal Highness Prince Gizmo House of Gremlin. This Border Terrier, who also answers to just “Gizmo,” has an almost fancy-sounding name until you get to the last part, that is. He looks like the perfect Border Terrier and not like a gremlin to us.
  • Warland Protector of Shelterock. Though it sounds like a name fit for a warrior, this Airedale Terrier won the 1933 Westminster Best in Show.
  • Courtenay Fleetfoot of Pennyworth. When this blue fawn and white Whippet retired in 1965, he was shown over 85 times, including a Best in Show win at the 1964 Westminster Kennel Club show.
irish setter in dog show
Image Credit: Canden Scales, Shutterstock


  • Good Enough For Government Work. This Briard, also known by his shortened name “Gibbs,” may have retired in 2019, but his name certainly is one to remember. Gibbs was the number one Briard and the Westminster breed winner three years in a row until his retirement in 2019.
  • Dreaming of You Night Raider. This Border Collie has been a busy boy. When he’s not competing, he’s producing offspring with such bizarre names as Bizzyberry Blast Off and Tiger Time.
  • Captain Morgan Cranberry Kiss. Though this name sounds more like something you’d order at the bar, this Wirehaired Pointing Griffon has tons of accolades under her belt, including being the top-winning show female of her breed of all time.
  • Spank Me Hard Call Me Crazy. This Pomeranian may be small, but with a name like that, he is surely unforgettable. Also known as Spanky, he won Best in Show at the 2014 Tidewater Kennel Club event.
  • Zorrazo Xplorer PT. This Spanish Water Dog from Canada won Best of Breed at the 2019 Westminster show, even though his name sounds like a new Toyota SUV.
  • Order in the Court. This fluffy Keeshond has five all-breed Best in Show under his belt. Also going by “Jango”, this adorable pup also boasts several regional specialties.
  • Co-Pilot, Wheels Up! Yes, this Golden Retriever has a punctuation mark in his name. Also, going by Kodi, this sweet pup sure lives up to the “co-pilot” part of his name, according to his owner, who says he’s always by his side.
  • Afterglow Agent Orange. This Toy Poodle is much sweeter than his herbicide-inspired name would suggest. Also going by Waffle, this little ginger cloud has a fluffy coat that would make any female in the 80s envious.
  • Playing With Fire V Gleishorbach. This Dachshund also went by the much easier-to-say nickname “Cinders.” She had many accolades under her belt and won 32 Best in Specialty Shows until her passing in 2019.
  • Tickle Em Jock. This Scottish Terrier was the first of his breed to win Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show in 1911.
  • Banana Joe V Tani Kazari. This black toy Affenpinscher also answered to “Joe” and won Best in Show at the Westminster Show in 2013.
handler position her dog for judging in a dog show
Image Credit: Lakeview Images, Shutterstock


  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow. This Toy Fox Terrier, known as Chicka most of the time, fits the breed standard perfectly with her proud and alert stance and erect and pointed ears.
  • Frat Party. This Cocker Spaniel is no stranger to the show circuit, with dozens of “Bests in Specialty Show” awards under his belt.
  • Say It With Bacon. This Australian Terrier is a spirited and adorable little guy with tons of accolades under his belt, such as Best of Breed at Montgomery and Best of Breed at the AKC Invitational
  • Fulla Bull Soulja Boy. This sweet French Bulldog took home best of breed one year at the Westminster Kennel Club show. He has also produced offspring with just-as-memorable names, such as Fulla Bull Grandmaster Flash.
  • Bedrock Bombshell. This Flintstones-inspired name belongs to a beautiful Boxer. Also known as Wilma, Bedrock Bombshell is the top-winning boxer in AKC history!
  • Mr. Blobby. This Cardigan Welsh Corgi doesn’t let his less-than-sophisticated name hold him back. He’s won Best in Breed several times and has 52 challenge certificates to his name.
handler and golden retriever puppy in dog show
Image Credit: Raywoo, Shutterstock

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Guidelines for AKC Dog Names

Some pieces or forums you see online erroneously generalize the patterns in show dog names. They tend to offer naming structures that follow a particular order, something like “Name of Breeder” followed by “Individual name of the dog.” As we’ll see a bit later, the fact is that these patterns and structures are only consistently developed and followed by breeders and kennels themselves. They are not set up by dog show organizations, which tend to be proscriptive in nature rather than prescriptive.

By that, we mean that the AKC and Crufts naming guidelines tell dog owners what they cannot do for registered dog names, rather than outlining any particular format that must be adhered to. A great deal of show dog naming practices have more to do with kerning and program printing practices than anything else. These are some of the major limitations that the AKC sets:

  • The dog’s name must be no longer than 50 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • If a name exceeds 36 characters, there is an additional fee.
  • Characters in the name must be from the English alphabet.
  • Diacritical markings (umlaut, tilde, or circumflex, for instance) are allowed, but are not printed.
  • Kennel names cannot be included without the kennel’s approval.
  • Standard Arabic numerals can be used or spelled out, but Roman numerals only at the AKC’s discretion.
  • No titles, or any other official dog show terminology, including breed names, may be part of a dog’s name.
  • No inflammatory language or obscene words can be used.

My very favorite limitation in the AKC’s official naming guidelines is that, at any one time, there can only be 37 dogs of a particular breed with the same name. The strictures listed above go some way to explaining why show dogs have such bizarre names. Since registered names are subject to character, language, and repetition restrictions, clearly show dog owners must get creative. If you’d like to see whether your dog’s name passes muster, the AKC has a site where you can try it out for yourself!

show dog names
Dog show names have more limitations than formal patterns. (Photo via Pixabay)

Guidelines for Dog Names at Crufts

If you thought the AKC was picking nits with its restrictions on dog names, The Kennel Club, the AKC’s British equivalent, has even tighter rules. Nearly 20 percent of all dog names submitted are rejected. Here are some of the dog naming guidelines from the other side of the pond:

  • Registered dog names must be more than one word, but no more than 24 characters in total.
  • No duplicate names are permitted.
  • The owner or breeder’s surname cannot be used.
  • Kennel names must be pre-approved and must be the first word in the dog’s name if approved. If the applicant is not the breeder, but the kennel name is approved, it must be the last word in the dog’s name.
  • Numbers and abbreviations are not allowed as part of a dog’s name.
  • Like the AKC, no titles, nor any dog-specific terminology, including breed names, can be used.

Also like the American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club (UK) has a site where users can check whether a provisional dog name or kennel name is acceptable.

show dog names
This dog’s registered name is “Whilby’s Ungulate Pinbill,” call name “Jim-Jim.” (Photo via Shutterstock)

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So, Where Do Dog Name Patterns Come From?

The generalized pattern we mentioned above, to wit, “breeder/kennel name” and “dog name” are not mandated by either AKC or The Kennel Club. Inasmuch as there are recognizable or repeated patterns, they are completely in-house among the various registered and reputable breeders and kennels. Because they produce so many litters of puppies, keeping them straight is a priority.

Kennels and breeders develop their brand by the terms and themes that appear in their dogs’ names. To return to the Game of Thrones theme, a breeder may name one litter of puppies after the characters in House Stark, and the next litter for ones in house Targaryen. Naming practices and patterns, whether they include the kennel name or not, are part of how these organizations build name recognition and reputation.

Finally, it may not surprise you to learn that registered dog names, as complex and strange as they can be, are not the names by which these dogs are called on a daily basis. Purebred dogs always have two names: the “registered name,” which is printed in dog show programs and announced on television, and their “call name,” which is the one for normal use. For instance, in the intro, we namechecked “Efbe’s Hidalgo At Goodspice,” a Sealyham Terrier from Canada who has won a host of domestic and international competitions. Around the house, he goes by “Charmin.”

Featured Image Credit: Kayla Bertagnolli, as captured at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

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