The big day has arrived! You’re bringing your new puppy home! Everything is ready. You have a collar and leash, puppy food, bowls, a brush and comb, a bed, toys – the works! All you have to do is go pick up your little furball. Only one thing remains. The name. What are you doing to call your puppy? Naming a puppy is a big deal! Your puppy is going to hear his or her name thousands of times in a lifetime. So, how do you choose a name?
Ways to choose a name for your puppy
There are probably as many different ways to choose a name for your puppy as there are names. Here are some approaches you might try:
Human names or nicknames. Giving your puppy/dog a human name or nickname is very popular right now but that hasn’t always been the case. In times past dogs often had names like Shep, Patch, Dash, Flush (for a Spaniel), and other names that might indicate their job, something about their appearance, or their personality. Today people tend to humanize animals more than they once did so dogs are more likely to get names like Peyton, Julie, and Samie. Research shows that about half of dogs today have human names or nicknames.
Appearance or personality. Naming your puppy/dog something that reflects his appearance or personality is still very popular. About one-fifth of dogs today have names such as Dash, Chase, Blackie, and, you guessed it, Spot. Does your dog have lots of spots? How about Freckles? Is he fun-loving and playful? You could name him after a comedian.
Breed heritage. If you have a purebred dog or a dog bred to do a job, you can always use your dog’s family history as a name source. This works even if you have a mixed breed dog and he has links to certain place or breed. You can name a Scottish dog Angus, Duncan, or Isla; an Irish dog could answer to Rufus, Seamus, Colleen, or Fiona (also works for Scottish girl dogs); a French dog could be Solange, Collette, Henri, or Bonaparte! If your dog is a shepherd or herding breed, look for ranch names. A water retriever? How about some boating terms? Use your imagination or check out some history web sites. You’ll find plenty of historical names and famous people.
Entertainment. TV shows, movies, music, and pop culture are also great sources for puppy names. Shania, Beyonce, Adele, and Shakira would all make great names for female puppies while Bruno would be a terrific name for a male puppy.
Tips for naming your puppy
Here are some helpful tips for naming your puppy.
- There’s no rush. It’s often a good idea to get to know your puppy and his personality a little before you gift him with a name. You might be determined to name your puppy something serious when you first meet him only to discover after a few days that your puppy is a complete clown. There’s nothing wrong with waiting a couple of days so you can get to know him or her better.
- Choose a name that’s easy for your puppy to understand. Naming your puppy “Archibald” might sound cute but it’s a mouthful. “Archie” is short and cute, easier for a puppy to understand, and it has the great advantage of ending in “ie” which seems to be a winner when you’re training a dog. Names that end in “ie,” “ee,” or “y” seem to be favored by dogs, or at least they are easy to use when you’re calling and training your dog.
- Remember that you have to use the name in public. It might seem funny to name your puppy “Suck Face” and he will learn to answer to the name but you will have to use this name in public, fill out vet forms, get his dog license, and tell your mother his name. It’s usually better to choose a nicer name.
- Avoid names that sound like obedience commands. If you ever plan on teaching your puppy to “sit,” “come,” “stay,” “lie down,” or “heel,” don’t choose a name that sounds like one of these commands. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of names that sounds like the word “No.” Of course, many dogs end up believing that their name is something like “DamnitJack,” but that’s a different issue.
- Be careful about names that are too cutesy. Some people like really cutesy names for puppies and dogs but be careful about naming your puppy something like “Pup Pup” or “Sweet Pea,” especially if he’s going to grow into a 150-pound adult dog. These names might work if you have a Toy breed but they can seem odd with bigger dogs.
- Let the family help. If you have kids, consider letting them help choose the puppy’s name, or at least offer some suggestions. A puppy or dog becomes a member of the family so naming him or her is a good way to get everyone involved.
- Be careful about naming your dog after relatives. You might think that it’s a great honor to name your puppy after Great-Aunt Hilda but she might not feel the same way. It would be a shame for her to write you out of her will because she felt insulted that you named your puppy after her. Before you name a puppy or dog (or any pet) after a relative, check with them first.
Most popular names
According to pet insurance companies, these are the top 10 male dog names of 2018:
And these are the top 10 female dog names of 2018:
There are no big surprises on these lists. Most of these names have been popular for at least the last 10 years. Oliver is rising and Tucker is falling in popularity but they are still in the top ten. Luna and Bailey are rising among female names. But Bella and Max have reigned supreme for many years. Who knows when some new name will pop up in the top ten list? Notice that nearly all of these names are very human. There’s not a Spot on the list, though there is a Rocky and a Bear.
Choosing a new name for your puppy can take some time. Try to get to know him or her so the name will match the puppy’s personality. We hope the tips offered here are helpful but the name you select is always a personal choice. As long as you and your puppy are happy with it, that’s really the most important thing.