What’s In a Name? Naming Your Dog

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.
Book of Proverbs

Some people believe that names can affect the way people behave and how they feel about themselves. Puritans believed this and gave their children names like Felicity and Obedience in hope that the children would live up to their names. But could the same thing be true of dogs? Would you feel as comfortable petting a dog named Killer or Psycho as you would petting Waggles or Molly? Choosing the name for your dog is an important decision, but along with showing off your originality, perhaps you should try to capture the essence of your dog, too.

In the past we tended to name our dogs based on some physical or personality trait, like Spot or Rover. However, today we think of dogs as real family members, and the latest trend is to give dogs human names, names that we would give our children. According to the ASPCA’s official list of top 30 pet names, the two most popular names are Max, Maxie, Maxwell or Maxine, which means “the greatest” in Latin, and Sam, Sammie or Samantha, which means “listener.” Scanning the list you will also find Buddy, Ginger, Jake, Maggie and Charlie, a list not unlike a grade school attendance roster.

But not every dog is given a human name. The list also contains some tried-and-true oldies that are still popular, like Lady, Buster, Patches and Pepper. And these names give you an idea of the dog, either his personality or appearance.

Dog names arise from many popular categories. For example, movies and television have inspired such names as Beethoven, Radar, Scully, and Rocky, while the arts have given us Beowulf, Bronte, Plato, Elvis and Mozart. Chanel and Calvin materialized from the fashion world, and geographically speaking, Dakota, Sydney and Paris are also on the map.

But let’s not forget about the dog’s personality. Names that reflect the very nature of your pet may be the way to go. After all, we probably have a pretty good picture of a dog that’s called Mayhem, Frisky, Adipose, Morpheus or Couch Potato.

How do you go about naming your dog? You might want to observe your new pet for a few days and see if the personality suggests a name. But, for a start, keep the following tips in mind: